It’s that time of year! A little more sparkle and magic entices us, sugar tries to persuade us, and in Alaska, the darkness overtakes us. I have always loved decorating for Christmas, to a fault, actually. But this year, with children ages 10 to 3 1/2 months, seeing the excitement for not just the day, but the full season makes it all the more rewarding.
For several years I have been eyeing Pottery Barn’s Christmas throw pillows. If you hadn’t noticed, I seem to have a weakness for throw pillows. After making my embroidered pheasant pillow for my blue chair last fall, it seemed a little out of place during Christmas. However, I found myself pregnant at the beginning of last December, and being sick, I only did the basics when it came to decorating.
I’ve thought of making a poinsettia pillow, or a snowy owl, or a cute little row of stockings. But none of them really spoke to me, and all of my décor has to be something I really like or has meaning, otherwise it goes. So I saw a picture in Pottery Barn’s catalogue of this swan throw pillow and that struck me. I have a thing for swans, the Lord has spoken to me profoundly and so many times through those elegant birds. So while they’re a thing of beauty, they’re also special to me. So I was inspired. As the Pottery Barn pillow was in the kids catalogue, and although truly whimsical, I wanted a more grown-up, elegant version.
First off I sketched a picture of a swan, which for me is the hardest part. You can find the template I made to make one yourself here: swan template for 18×18 pillow.
I ended up using only one piece for the wing rather than the two I originally sketched. I cut out the full swan in a large velvet pillow sham I had from IKEA.
Then I cut out a wing in the same, and the beak in a dark grey heavy-weight cotton fabric. I used wunder-under to attach the wing to the body of the bird for a layered look. Then I used more wunder-under to attach the full bird to the linen 18×18 inch square. I used a narrow but tight zig-zag stitch to carefully encase the raw edge of the swan. I re-used the piping from the original sham, and used the same velvet on the back creating a subtle contrast to the velvet and tying in the swan with the piping and the back.
And then, because it’s Christmas, I wanted a little sparkle. But after the “prickly pillow” (which was a beautifully beaded pillow made from repurposed napkins) I completed last Christmas and ended up gifting to my mom, I knew it couldn’t be quite as elaborate. So I used some Swarovski-crystals I repurposed from wedding dresses I used to work on, and some silver beads to create just a couple of stars in the sky. My boys were still dismayed about the beads, I told them it was boy repellent. They don’t have to sit there, we have plenty of other seats in the living room. Besides, the blue chair has so affectionately been renamed the “boring chair” by the boys, because well, maybe it has become a time-out chair a few too many times.
I love, love, love my new swan pillow. And I would love you to make one two. (Just don’t sell it as your own idea is all I ask. Please and thank you).
And did you see the gorgeous swan ornament in the background? My hubby gets mega points for that one. He was in Phoenix and I asked if he happened to see an Anthropologie to stop in and get me one thing. He told me he was pretty sure there were no Anthropologie’s in Phoenix and about an hour later he called, “Ok, I’m here, what do you want.” I had eyed it online, and though he refers to it as a giant fur-ball, I think it is the most exquisite ornament I have ever seen. The feathers lightly dance and float catching every little movement of air. I love it!
If you have any more questions in making a swan pillow, don’t hesitate to ask. I know this isn’t a very detailed tutorial, and is geared more for an intermediate to advanced seamstress. I’m assuming you know how to construct an 18×18 pillow, and have worked with wunder-under and can complete it with very basic instructions.
More Christmas to come!
P.S. I am so sorry the photos are so dark and dreary. Welcome to Alaska, which is impossible to photograph this time of year without massive amounts of expensive photography gear. I get about 2 hours of direct sunlight each day for the next two months, and that’s only if it’s not cloudy. So bear with me. I’m doing my best.