Saturday, February 27, 2010

Projects: The K Family's Coat of Arms

This is our couch and the lovely new pillows we picked up at PB:

I love the pillows, but I think the couch needs a few smaller throw pillows to give the space a more cohesive look. I'm really not sure that's the best word. What I mean is that I think it needs patterned pillows that contain the colors of the couch, the wall and a little bit of gold to tie it all together. Make sense?

Initially, all I could think about was this pillow (it doesn't exactly meet the aforementioned criteria, but is colorful and lovely)...

...which I have been in love with since I first saw it several years ago. Cat Studio's geography line is awesome, but it's also a little pricey for a decorative pillow. So, a few weeks ago I decided to attempt my own embroidered pillow. I'm that dumb.* I went to our local library and checked out the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Embroidery Stitches, made a run to JoAnn's to buy floss, fabric and one of those round things you use to keep the working surface tight, and then got to work. Notice that I didn't buy a pattern. Oh no, I decided to make things even more complicated by designing my own. Keep in mind that when I started drawing my pattern I had not even practiced a single stitch.

You know what, though? I'm really enjoying it. I've only been stitching while watching the Olympics at night, so it's been a slow process, but I finally finished outlining the shapes and I've even filled in a couple of the objects (alright, most of one and all of another). Instead of doing a geography theme, I picked symbols that represent each of us: the letter K, a bicycle, a calculator (G's request because it "represents both math and computer science"), French horn, trumpet, tennis racket, globe and a book. Yes, we are nerds.

Here's the template I labored on for three hours two Saturdays ago:

The template itself was no small project. I searched Google for images of the items I wanted to include, printed them, simplified them, and then traced them with pencil onto a sheet of tissue paper. After tracing them with pencil, I went over them again with a thin Sharpie. I think the pattern turned out okay.

And here's the work in progress as of this morning:

I'm not going to lie. It took a long time to trace all of those shapes with black floss. I was a little too eager early on and spent a long time outlining the shapes, only to develop a minor case of wry neck. Since then, I've been good about spending only an hour on it most nights.

My fill stitches are far from exceptional, but they work. Unfortunately, they're loose enough that I'm not going to use the finished piece as a pillow, though. I fear it would unravel quickly, and that would be embarrassing. Instead I'm going to frame it and hang it somewhere. It's not perfect, but it's fun and I've been working hard on it. Plus, it's unique. If anything, it's unique.

This, of course, means I'm back at square one and I need to find throw pillows.

Have you ever taken on a big crafty project with no background experience? Tell me all about it. I can't be the only one!

*I should note that I have a problem with taking on large crafty projects that take on a life of their own and then sit in dark closets for long periods of time. And yet I keep finding more opportunities to start new projects.


  1. I love the embroidery! What a creative project! I did the same thing with quilting. I'd never even used a sewing maching before and suddenly bought a machine and decided a king sized quilt would be my first project. It worked out well though. Great job!

  2. Thanks, Jenny! It's been a fun project. You should start a blog about your quilts. They're so pretty!

  3. Wow. I'm impressed. I would never have even gotten all the items on the paper. I've tried several times to design and make my own curtains. Each time I get about two steps in and then lose all patience and short-cut the rest of the steps to the end product. Which is why they've fallen apart and required re-making multiple times.

  4. You might not like making curtains, but I bet your could write a super awesome story about the process. Love you!