Tuesday, May 10, 2016

the all-knowing eye pillow

I have been totally enjoying my sewing time lately. Yes, that's true. I haven't been blogging, and there is so much to share with you. I have participated in swaps, made several pillows, gone on a retreat, had major (non-sewing) down time....Life is good! The beautiful Rike from Stuttgart asked me to post about my sew pixel play and especially the pillow I was working on for the #PCSwapAS swap organized by littleislandquilting and @imasavonasic. So, here is the juice (a juicy read) about how I came up with the pillow. : ) Grab a cup of coffee or a fresh tea to read all about this wonderful design. You can make one too!

My (secret) partner for the pillow swap liked the fabric designers Jennifer Sampou and Jen Kingwell; this was filled out on her registration form for the swap. I had a charm pack of Shimmer 2 by Jennifer Sampou (because I do love her fabric!), and thought I would start there. I wanted to make a simple design and designed these two pillow tops in EQ7 using Jennifer's fabric collection.

These two designs were my starting point.

Criss Cross Tumble


Both of these designs appealed to me as far as simplicity and color; I like it simple. I was ready to start my project and looked up my partner one more time on Instagram to see if I could find out some more information about her tastes and style. Then I read in her caption that she was the former editor of a patchwork magazine. My heart sunk. My simple designs were not going to impress her, I thought to myself. She is used to something a little more cutting edge. Okay. Time to get the ol' thinking cap on. I thought about it for a couple of days and this idea jumped into my head.

My starting point - Design - Fabrics

I opened my charm pack and separated the colors into lights and darks. This collection is quite even, so it was a little tricky to get the right amounts. I started cutting one-inch squares with my handy grid ruler. I layered a few, but since the fabric shifted a little, and I was cutting rather small, most of the squares were cut out individually. I arranged them onto a fusible fleece with the lighter fabrics towards the middle to make a shadowed sphere or eye. I tried not waste the fabric on the outer circle that were not needed. Since this sheet measures over 24 inches, I ironed small sections of fabric at a time. This was probably the most difficult step. : ) It did drop once (or twice) on the floor.

Starting with over 24" of fusible fleece and 1" squares

After everything was ironed and set in place. I sewed in rows just as outlined in the Sew Pixel Play Tutorial. I ironed all seams open and had no concerns with the seams opening since I sewed with a smaller stitch length. My advice is to turn off your steam, otherwise you will get burned. (Experience!) You do not need a small iron, just one without steam.

Ending with half of what I started with!

The next step hurt a little - to cut the circle, but it really looked nice in the end. Not all of the edges were cut off that had fleece showing, but they would be covered by the next fabric in the seam allowance. So much work and now I was cutting it all apart. ; (

Circle cut

The first phase was now finished. It turned out exactly the way I wanted it to. : ) Now onto the tricky "improv" part. I drew out on full 18" piece of paper what I wanted to achieve. I erased and re-drew until I got my circles just the way I wanted. (This is what I call "controlled improv.") I tried to use EQ7, but it just wasn't doing what I wanted it to do. This is a total lack of operator error!! I did print out the inner circles from EQ7 though.

Phase Two begins

After my center circle was finished, I cut out and labeled the rest of the sections and template carefully and traced onto the correct fabric with a 1/4" seam allowance. I sewed them together in full circle sections. The inner part sewed together perfectly. I had to work a little more on the outer part to get them a little more even. My 1/4" seam allowance was not that accurate. Granted with improv, it doesn't matter that much, but I was trying to achieve exactly what I had envisioned and what I had drawn out.

Sewn together in sections with templates

Goal achieved. It worked! As with most steps throughout the creation process, I usually sew something together in the morning and hang it up somewhere in the house. I look at it, analyze it, re-think it, and modify in my head. After a couple of days, I move on to the next step. This is where I stopped and thought the most. The inner ring was not jumping out enough and the yellow was blending in too much with the linen.

Pillow top sewn together

I decided to throw in a bit of hand stitching around the inner circle to make the eye come alive. I hand-traced over the seam allowance from the inner circle with a Frixion pen and bought some matching cotton floss. Which one do you think matches the best? I think I used the bottom one.

Time for some hand stitching

I finished with the hand stitching and machine quilted the rest of the pillow with matching threads. If you haven't noticed yet, there is no batting in this pillow. I (think I) used a fusible fabric on the backside of the main pillow top. I didn't want it to be puffy.

I used a large echo quilting outlining the eye on the linen fabric as well. You have to look twice to know it is really quilted. : )


The top was finished - onto Phase Three - the back. Now, I could have done a simple backing with zipper, but I wanted to show off with some fabric manipulation. I took some of the backing fabric and folded it into thirds as well as strips from the linen. I inserted the blue into the linen so no seams were visible. I top-stitched the blue strips in place with blue thread on the top and linen on the bottom.

Making accent insert strips for the back of the pillow

I made six or seven of th inserts and debated about how long they should be. I didn't want them too short or it might be too puffy when it sits on a sofa. I cut them to about five inches long, twisted, and basted to the other fabrics before assembling. It is a quick accent to really make a "wow" on any patchwork piece!

Top portion of the backside

And after sewing both sides together, this is what you see. Now doesn't it look better with the accent hand stitching around the center eye? I think so! I also asked a few people if I should put piping around the pillow. I love piping, but I think it would have ruined the design of drawing your eye into the middle or to the corner rather.

"Das Auge der Weißheit" - Front

And if I were to do this back a second time, I would either make the inserts shorter, or make the zipper so it would fall in the middle rather than at the bottom. : )

Back of "Das Auge der Weißheit"

And because I wanted to make something to match the pillow, I made a cute little mug rug too. This time I cut out 3/4" squares instead of one inch, and they were reduced to just 1/4" after both side seams were sewn. Here is a photo of just the columns sewn and pressed open. I think I like the idea of long bricks, and think I will try this once withe pixel method.

All columns are sewn and pressed

I cut out another circle with my handy-dandy (cheap inexpensive) circle cutter. I think this circle measures about 2 1/2 - 3 inches. I don't quite remember. It must be that lack of estrogen. : )

Two and one half inch pixelated circle

I wanted to create the same type of eye on the mug rug and wanted to make rings around it as well. I started with cutting a whole in a charm square slightly smaller than the original size. This method did not work!! Although I tried twice, it was just not the right technique.

A very daring technique that didn't work for me.

Then I remembered seeing this great tutorial from Allison at Campell Soup Diary for her Freezer Paper Drunkard's Path. This would be an excellent way to use it. I appliqued right over the freezer paper and left the paper inside. I cut some of it back later.

The freezer-paper method worked like a dream.

I layered the circle until I got a similar pattern as the orginal. I loved to watch it grown. I think I should have stopped here. What do you think?

And here is the final mug rug...

Matching mug rug

I used a simple single-fold 1 3/4" binding and machine stitched in the ditch to keep it in place.

There is just no comparison to the original pillow though. I think the framing in the blue totally killed the design on this mini. It might look okay, but I really should have stopped at the blue fabric. It just really looks so much more colorful and vibrant.

"Das Auge der Weißheit" pillow and mug rug

Thank you for joining me today and reading about how I designed and created the pillow for my pcswapas partner, Michelle, called "Das Auge der Weißheit" or "the Eye of Wisdom" as you would translate it into English. I think you might even say the all-knowing eye, but I couldn't find information on this exact term. I don't normally pick a German title for my creations, but it just seamed better! Michelle was totally happy with her pillow. You can see more pictures on my Flickr Feed or on Instagram @easypatchwork.