Laurie Smithwick - Handcrafted pillows

The Process

When I went to pick out textiles, I decided I liked two directions for the pillows: simple and classic, and interesting patterns. I love the clean look of the punctuation marks on the natural white. And I love the tension of the print on top of a pattern. So I went with both.

I’m not a seamstress by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I’m learning to sew right now, project by project, thanks to the internet and friends who offer timely assistance and advice. So I found a pattern for a super simple envelope pillow. No zippers, no buttons. Just a square with overlapping flaps. All in all I think it took me about one hour to make each pillow.

Once I chose the punctuation marks I wanted to use, it took me a while to decide what size to make them. I knew I wanted them large, but not so large that they rolled off the sides of the pillows. I decided not to silkscreen the punctuation since I was really only doing one or two pillows. Instead I used freezer paper stencils. You trace your shape onto freezer paper and cut it out with an x-acto knife. Then you iron the freezer paper (slick side down) directly onto the fabric and dab the paint on with a sponge brush. Let it dry and peel the paper off. It’s incredibly simple, and nearly impossible to mess up.

The last step was to iron the paint to soften it a little and then stuff the pillows. Since these pillows aren’t sewn shut, I used pre-made pillow forms (from Ikea). If I were going to make more of these, I think I would create my own forms to give me more control over the firmness and thickness of the pillows. Still, these work pretty darn well.