Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Asterisk Pillow in All Its Glory

hello asterisk pillow!
The Asterisk Pillow, Casa Kyle

I met Leslie last year at PR Day Austin 2011.  When she introduced herself to folks, she would say, "I'm Leslie--the Other Leslie in Austin".  The Other Leslie in Austin has a delightful blog called The Seasoned Homemaker.    It turns out Leslie teaches sewing in Austin as well as living there.  This summer she posted a series of tutorials on pillows that were really a broad education in the basics of sewing.  I have been sewing since age 12 and learned things in the tutorials I only recently learned or started doing in the past few years or never even tried at that point (like French seams).    She is serious about her tutes, and they are spot-on.  Detailed instructions, with pix, no stone goes unturned in her tutorials. 

I saw her ampersand pillow tutorial and had to have it.  (Wouldn't it be cute for an engagement photo? Couple sits on couch holding the pillow between them?)
By the time I got around to making it, I changed it to an asterisk. 
I used Leslie's piping tutorial to make piping for the second time in my life.  The first time is here.  It really is easy to make your own piping.

Then came time for the asterisk.  I had saved some asterisk templates from my reverse applique phase (one attempt is here).   But none of them were large enough for the pillow.  I had planned on going to Staples and getting one of them enlarged but I didn't.  So I had to enlarge it the old fashioned way, using a technique I learned in high school art class.

I got out some graph paper (a notepad left over from my old job)....and traced around the two templates I had. 

How I enlarged an asterisk template
Why I felt the need to autograph this "piece of work", I don't know.

And then I traced it on the "grid interfacing-type-stuff" which is used for tracing patterns. The grid there is 1x1 inch. So the larger of my asterisk templates would produce a 14x14" asterisk--perfect for a 16x16" pillow.  But I wound up folding it into quarters and cutting....which is why it doesn't really follow the lines I drew...
asterisk template
The turquoise fabric I used is uplostery fabric remnant that has been in my stash for ages.
I used heat and bond on the turquoise fabric.
Then I cut out the asterisk using my rotary cutter.
Then I fused it onto the pillow front.
asterisk heat and bonded on
Then I stitched it onto pillow. I used a zig zag stitch set at stitch width 3 and stitch length, er, it was probably 1? I can't remember, it was last weekend. But I played with some samples first to get the stitching to be what I wanted. I guess my note to myself for next time is to stitch OVER the raw edge and onto the base fabric a little bit, so that the raw edge gets completely covered.  You can see I didn't always get the entire raw edge covered so it's fraying a little.
using a zig zag stitch with small stitch length
And then it looked like this:
asterisk now sewn on (front)
and on the back it looked like this:
asterisk now sewn on (back)
So I got to use my Kai needle craft scissors, with double curved blades. I bought these at the ASE and OMG how did I live without them? They are AMAZING. Look at how easily you can snip off threads when the blade is curved doubly?  You can get really close to the fabric without contorting your hand or the need these scissors in your life!
demonstrating the Kai needlecraft scissors N5130 double curved blades
Also you can see this is one of my samples where I was trying to figure out stitch length for the applique; and also practicing that tight curve.  And I threw some piping on top so you can see the piping I made.

At that point I finished up the pillow as per her tutorials (a combo of the envelope pillow and the piping tutorials).

Asterisk pillow
Here it is on my living room couch
asterisk pillow on my couch
My living room decor is Hawaiian-style.  I feel like the asterisk could also be vaguely flower-esque.
my living room
If I make this pillow again, I will enlarge both back pieces so there is more of an overlap.  My pillow is kind of bursting out the back, but I think that's probably due to operator error or deviations (using larger seam allowances, and larger widths for finishing the exposed edges of the back of the pillow (the "envelope" part where the pillow is inserted).  I might sew in snaps back there or buttons/buttonholes.

The other pillows on the red couch are from Pier One, but the pillow on the ivory chair is one I made in 2009. It's the Amy Butler Mum Pillow, which I blogged about in several posts, the last of which is here. The free pattern for it is here on Amy's site.

It always looked a little flaccid in the corners so I used some stuffing to fill it out last weekend--MUCH better.
Amy Butler Mum pillow, restuffed
I have always adored the pillow--it makes me smile.
Amy Butler Mum pillow, restuffed
So here is a teaser for what I'm working on now:
Burda Style 7253 in progress
It's Burda Style 7253.
That rose button is just pinned on for the photos.
Burda Style 7253 in progress
Look at how nice and even the gathers are on one side but not the other. Hmmm...I will have to play with that. I used my serger for gathering, but I was paying more attention to getting the band width right, and not as much about the gathers, when sewing the band to the dress front.  I'm still tweaking the fit, and have to bind armholes and sew the back kickpleat and hem.

Here are the Princeton Farmers Market flowers from 3 weeks ago. I have bought pretty much the same bunches the last two weeks too, they are very similar! I think this might have been the last week for the flowers as it hit 32F on Friday night. (then today it was 75F....)
Princeton Farmer's Market Flowers
I love their vibrant colors! These are zinnias and have become my go-to flower after the end of the black eyed susans. I especially love the green ones (just one in this photo).

Last weekend I harvested the remaining 3 mini-pumpkins (gourds). So I harvested 7 total and gave 3 away.
Pumpkin Family Portrait picture day:  pumpkins A (2 months), M (21 days), and J (1 month)
And finally, I decided to start cooking again. Here's my dinner tonight:
chicken noodle soup
Chicken noodle soup, made with parsley from my garden.  I felt proud of my "knife skills" tonight.  Chopping used to take ages and now it's relatively fast.  Improvement, progress, yes!

So thank you to the Other Leslie in Austin for posting such great tutorials, and for encouraging general sewing improvement all around!   By the way, right now she is doing a 31 day series of tutorials on embroidery machines, if you're interested.

By the way, if you're on Blogger, could you please check your stats and see if they have disappeared?  All my stats for page views/sources/etc seem to have been reset today back to 0????    Why?  How?  I don't know???  I don't know who to write to about it?  I liked my stats!  At least my blog still exists, and the comments are still there....  OK, I just googled "blogger stats reset" and it happened to everyone with a blogger blog...I'm not the only one...phew!

Be well!!


  1. I like your pillows! And my blogger stats weren't reset, so I don't know what's up with yours or why some people were effected and not others. Weird.

  2. Maaaan. Now I have to make some pillows! Between Faye's carnival of skirts, Ruthie's patchwork project, and your fantabulous pillows, I am going crazy with indecision over here! I adore your living room and really want to spruce up mine. My den is exactly how I envisioned it. My living room...not so much. Thanks for sharing! Everything looks great!

  3. I love the asterisk pillow! I'll have to make one for myself and I want the exact same colours (if I can find them).

    The shape reminds me of amoeba doodles I used to do at school...


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