I’m not much of one to totally overhaul a room or totally swap out my decor from season-to-season, regardless how highly House Beautiful suggests I embrace Hunting Coat Red for summer, but I knew that the felt pillowcases weren’t something that was going to work when the weather turned around. Sure, for the last 5 months they were plenty cozy and comfy, but relaxing on the couch against felt on an 80-degree day is like wrapping yourself in a blanket in a sauna.
And with that, it’s out with the felt, onward with something new to freshen up the space. Something a little lighter. And since it was an opportunity to mix it up, maybe a little more colorful too. Something that might complement the flowers I rotate on the living room coffee table. Maybe… like this:
Yep, just like that it was out with the felt, in with the cotton and summertime stripeys.
Inspired once again by West Elm, I set out to create my own version of its Outdoor Sunset pillows using very khaki-esque fabrics and a slew of new paints. I think it’s quite apparent by now that I glean a lot of inspiration from this store, and I’d probably spend a lot less time trying to recreate everything I see at West Elm if there were actually a retail location in our area that I could just buy items at without second guessing mass shipping charges. Hint, nudge, Eastview Mall please, hi.
Sure, buying straight from the source would be one way to go, but by DIY’ing my own design only cost $20, saving me about $103 from what I might have paid for a quartet of pillows in person. The radical alternative to heavy gray felt has to be a cotton khaki or linen, I’m not sure you could convince me otherwise, so I picked out two neutral bolts of fabric at JoAnn’s, each priced at $8.00/yard but marked down thanks to an in-store sale of 50% to a happy $4.00/yard. Buying 1.25 yards of each only set me back $10, and was just enough for me to make two pillows from each cut of fabric (that’s four pillowcases total, math wizard).
I did pre-wash the fabrics for good measure, and then attempted to iron them back out flat. This fabric does not react like a wrinkle-resistant chino, FYI, I felt like I was ironing forever, or for at least the length of two episodes of The Big Bang Theory.
There’s no special construction to these pillow covers because I like to keep things simple and stick to what I know when it comes to using my very basic sewing machine; nothing about the design in this tutorial is overly complex, it’s a pillow case. But if you’d need a more comprehensive overview, refer to the sunroom chair cushion post that I did recently. Fold fabric in half, sew the edges so it’s like a pillow case, add a zipper, be lounge-y.
Side note: Yard and rummage sale season is starting up again, and one of my first great finds of the spring was this big bolt of thread, an exceptional 25-cent discovery in a golden shade that matches and complements many of the colors in my house palette. High-five.
I showcase this find because I quickly found a reason to put it to use: to create a faux-piping with a little contrast stitching along the edges of the pillows.
To create stripes on the pillows similar to the West Elm inspiration, I selected four fabric paints from Michael’s in varying sheens but complementing and reasonably neutral tones; priced at just $1.79 for each 1 ounce container, there was plenty of paint to complete this project (and much leftover for additional projects too).
Before you paint, remember to slide a piece of paper between the layers of material; you won’t be happy if the paint bleeds through accidentally. I used pieces of thick cardboard which not only prevented any bleed-through, but also gave me a solid painting surface.
Taping the pillows wasn’t a necessity for creating clean edges in the same way you’d want it to on a wall application, but it was helpful since I wanted to make sure the hand-painted lines stayed level and straight. You know how when you write on blank paper and your handwriting slants as hard as you try to keep it straight? Right. This simple tip kept me in line.
I alternated the color applications, doing some thin lines, some thick lines, moving the tape further down the pillow case to continue to give myself the guide lines that I needed.
I only applied to the lighter of the two fabrics, leaving the darker tan cushions completely plain and unadorned to balance the new set a little bit.
The metallic paint is a clear favorite; in store I had wished there to be more metallics, but the selection was pretty picked over. Allegedly the yellow has a velveteen finish that reacts like embossing powder when you hold a hot iron over it, but I didn’t actually try that to prove it; I wanted my paint to be flat and smooth, not overly textural.
When I was done and the colors had dried, voila.
And on the couch, a pleasant mix of metallic and matte finishes really brighten up the place. With a true sunset selection of colors, hopefully these pillow cases will hold up through the fall months.