When Kitty came home from nursery on Wednesday I asked her oh so casually if she could just pop upstairs and put a couple of cardigans on her bed. She headed up and the rest of the family tried to creep subtly after her because there right in the middle of her bed, wrapped in a big pink ribbon with a bow, was her new pillow cushion.
So much for saying that I was shelving this project until January; I’ve finished it instead. And I’m so pleased that I have because I absolutely love it.
But then once Kitty decided that it was going to be hers (about thirty seconds after I finished darning in the final ends of the crochet front and she scooped it off for a hug), I had a certain amount of encouragement, persuasion and insistence to carry me along the way. So on Monday morning Elma and I dived into the fabric stash and pulled anything I thought could even possible work and then we all sat on Pip’s bedroom floor and narrowed our choices down to a generous handful of colours that seemed to go well with the colours in the crochet.
The original plan was to use an orphan star block that I made as a sample for a baby quilt I made for a friend as the starting point for the back. It’s very cute because it has a baby Kitty handprint in the middle and someday I’m going to do something amazing with it but the more I played with it the more I realised that the colours were just a bit too strong and it was competing with the ripples, not complementing them.
With that put to one side Kitty and I just started playing around with the fabrics and I watched to see what she pulled to the front. If I’d thought about it I probably could have guessed; it was the very tail end of a fabric covered with cake and chocolates and jelly and ice cream and she loved it. So we fussy cut six little squares and then I sliced up the rest of our fabric selection and set to making six very scrappy little log cabin squares for the back. It’s a real mix of fabric. Some are from a few fat quarters that were companion pieces to the cake squares, some you will have seen crop up in other projects over the years and one is a fat quarter that I must have bought just because it was a great green and finally broke into for a couple of strips.
I know I sometimes feel that my house is a little over run and that perhaps I should pare down the craft supplies, but I really love that I made this from start to finish from things found around my house that were spare and entirely without any plan. That’s as near as you get to making something out of nothing isn’t it.
But as for the details, the cake centres are 3″ and the strips cut to 1 1/2″. There wasn’t any particular rhyme or reason to the piecing, the strips sat on the corner of my desk and Kitty sat in my lap and picked up whichever one she fancied next, our only rules that we tried to use each pattern at least once, and none of the patterns could touch each other.
I piece log cabins using whole strips and cutting them to size afterwards rather than trying to cut everything beforehand which is great for some impromptu piecing and makes my sewing look so much more accurate.
After three rounds of logs the squares were wide enough but not quite tall enough so I joined them vertically in pairs and then added an extra strip top and bottom to finish it all off.
With the back completed I joined all of the leftover strips and ‘lasagned’ them to make the little inner pillowcase flap, with a little extra strip on the end to get the length right, and then finished off the inner edge with some pretty bias binding that was poking out of a bag on my desk.
And then came the challenge. I sat and trip to work out just how I was going to put it all together. It’s a pillowcase, and frankly it’s embarrassing how long it took me to figure it out and how long it took me to go and get a pillowcase off the bed to help.
For the record, to make a pillowcase with an inner flap, you first sew the inner flap to the ‘front’, right sides together. Then to make the case itself, layer the ‘front’ right side up, the ‘back’ on top of it, right side down (so right sides together) and then fold the flap up and over the ‘back’ to make a sandwich with the ‘back’ as the filling. Then sew around three sides and when you turn it the right way around again you will have a beautiful pillow case with all the seams tucked away where you can’t see them.
My ‘back’ was actually the crochet front but it works just the same.
Initially I intended to sew it together so that none of the edges of the crochet were hidden in the seams so that it made the most of those lovely ripples but while I think I’ve just about worked out in my head how you would do that, I couldn’t make it work with the inner flap and the other bits and bobs that were already in motion so I sewed to square off the points, lining up the edge of the fabric with the low point in each ripple row.
The sewing itself was really very easy; I put the walking foot on my machine, used my ordinary straight stitch and always sewed with the cotton fabric on the bottom. It came together like a dream, apparently crochet sews easily.
And for the final touch, Kitty had been asking for buttons, longing for buttons and pleading for buttons. When I put the pillow into the case it looked good, but not quite perfect, the crochet is so very drapy and flexible that it was trying to pull away and it just needed a little something to anchor it in place. Ten minutes with my button jar and a sewing needle and three small buttons were attached, perfect to hold the crochet in place. I didn’t make buttonholes or button loops or anything complicated, I just choose buttons that are small enough to push through the existing trebles.
Kitty was away at nursery when I finished, with Elma drawing on the etch-a-sketch and Pip planning stealth manoeuvres to get his high chair and himself nearer to my desk and those oh so yummy looking pins, which was why it was wrapped up and on her bed. Her reaction was everything we could have wanted; a scream of excitement, a dive onto the bed to give it a huge cuddle, and, perhaps most tellingly, she went to bed with her cheek on the crochet side. According to her is is her pink rainbow and it’s hers. Definitely hers.
I’d love to tell you that it fulfilled my ultimate purpose of having a nice cushion to lean against while reading Paddington but alas, Kitty was not going to part with it for all the world and I was duly provided with her usually pink spotty pillow instead. And if that doesn’t say true love and adoration, nothing else could.