Monica had quite a few yards of beautiful, roughly woven, natural, cotton fabric which she inherited from her seamstress/weaver great-aunt. She kept this in her basement waiting for inspiration to strike.
In an unrelated post a while back, we wrote about some cool brass stencils we found at Earthwise. They were originally from an old granary in eastern Washington. Monica talked about waiting for inspiration to strike before doing something with them.
Inspiration did indeed strike Monica, genius that she is, and she put the two together and came up with the idea of making stenciled pillow shams. Our goal was to make these shams look like they were made from old feed sacks – intentionally casual, and “un-designed” (learning as we went that making things look “un-designed” is the hardest challenge of all!). We did a little test using fabric paint in light gray, black, red and then stitched willy-nilly over the top with dark brown top stitching thread. Another thing I just learned is that “willy-nilly” is not recognized as a word by spell-check, yet “wiily-billy”, “willy-silly”, “willy-dilly”, “willy-hilly” and “willy-filly” are. What does “willy-dilly” even mean?
Back to the pillows….
We used Martha Stewart’s Crafts paint and mixed it with a fabric medium (2 parts paint to 1 part medium). After heat setting for 30 seconds with an iron it is washable.
We had large numeral stencils from another project (doesn’t everyone?) and used those for the background numbers, choosing numbers that correspond to the numbers on the granary stencils. We lightly brushed on the paint inside the stencils, overlapping the large numbers and small type. It looked best when the paint was irregular and didn’t get applied in too heavy a coat.
After the paint dried, we top stitched the decorative stitching. We sewed on big metal zippers on the top of the fabric on the back panel to give access for the pillow insert. Finally we sewed back to front and top stitched the edge. The finished result – click on images to see slideshow:
We had a lot of fun on this project – sewing like girls instead of hammering like girls.