Sunday, January 15, 2012

The LSU Pillow

My brother Sean just graduated from Louisiana State University in December. (Don't bring up the BCS Championship game. We're not talking about it!) I knew I wanted to make him something LSU-related, so I figured I'd try a pillow with one of the logos on it. Originally, I was going to shoot for just a regular old "LSU," then I thought I might get a little adventurous and do the fleur-de-lis with the tiger's eye inside it. It's pretty cool looking, but I couldn't find an image of it that I would be able to trace. I opted to go with the tiger head logo.

This was my first really ambitious embroidery project. Until this point, I had only done outlines. But I had purchased a black transfer marker, meaning that all I had to do was print an image out backwards, trace the image, and iron it on the fabric. Couldn't be too hard. I used some leftover tea towel-weight fabric I had and I ironed on my traced image. However, the marker lines ended up being really thick on the fabric, so I couldn't just do an outline. You'd see all of the marker lines. I'd have to fill in the whole thing with stitches.

I wasn't sure how to begin, so I just kind of attacked it, one color at a time. Black first, then gold, then white, then the purple "LSU." It took forever, probably about 2 weeks of stitching for a couple of hours every night, but I was pretty impressed with how it turned out. Once you start filling in an outline with stitches, it doesn't really matter how you go about it. All of the little stitches just contribute to the big picture. The fabric puckered a bit with all of the stitches, but perhaps that was unavoidable. After all, there were so many stitches.

The problem then became, "How do I get this onto the pillow fabric?" I bought some black cotton yardage at JoAnn -- nothing too impressive, but it would serve the purpose. I hand-stitched the embroidered material onto the black fabric, but then I had all of those stitches showing. I decided to cover them with a border of purple ribbon, but the ribbon was pretty uncooperative. It was more like craft ribbon -- not great for stitching.  I tacked it on with embroidery floss (as shown below), but I wasn't confident it would stay put. So, I ended up doing satin stitches all along the border of the ribbon, on both sides, just to keep it secure. This part of the project took me the longest by far. It was also difficult to get the needle through so many layers of fabric. But I did it for my little bro!

Once I was satisfied with the embroidery/ribbon situation, it was time to make the pillow cover. I followed a tutorial I found online (wish I had saved the link), but actually making the pillow cover was pretty simple. I had purchased a small pillow form from the craft store, so I just measured using that, allowing a little extra room for the thickness of the pillow. Since this is was in my Pre-Sewing Machine Era (PSME), I hand-sewed the whole thing. I cut the fabric in one long piece to save me from having to stitch one side. (The fabric is just folded over the top of the pillow.) This ended up putting the embroidered square slightly off center (it's a bit low on the pillow), but I wasn't about to start over! All in all, it wasn't the most efficient process, and it may not look too pretty (especially the part I had to stitch up after I turned the whole thing right side out), but it's finished. I figure no one will be paying attention to the pillow's stitching, anyway. It's all about Mike the Tiger.

Here it is, in all its purple-and-gold glory:

Sean seems to love it, and it's taken a place on the couch in my dad's rec room. At first, he made fun of me for my new embroidery/sewing hobby, but after receiving this, he seems to have laid off a bit. In fact, he's been showing it off to anyone who comes to visit my dad's house! I think its safe to say it was a success, but I won't be rushing to make another one any time soon... unless I find myself with a few free weeks and an overabundance of patience to spare!

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