Ain’t she a beaut?

I got a sewing machine for Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks Mom and Dad! Ain’t she a beaut?

Beaut |

I recently took a sewing class at Lill Street Studio and loved it. My friend Caitlyn let me borrow her sewing machine for a few weeks after the class and it only solidified the fact that I reeeeeeeeally wanted one of my own.

My mom is a whiz on the sewing machine. So anytime I wanted to sew myself a scrunchie, she was there to thread the machine and fix my mistakes. Even with her help, the last time I tried to sew something was in high school when I wanted to make some pajama shorts. I sewed the leg hole shut. Three times. I never finished the shorts.

But after 12 years of running away from the sewing machine, I’m ready to face it head on.

I started this blog to encourage you that you are creative, so act that way! And to hopefully inspire you to tackle something handmade, even if it scares you. Now it’s my turn. This sewing machine scares me because I have no clue what the heck I’m doing. So you should know that anything I post about sewing is experimental and meant to show you that if I can do it, you can do it! So get out that machine you’ve had stashed in your closet for too many years without touching because we’ve got work to do!

I decided my first project needed to be something very very simple. And what’s simpler than 4 straight lines?

Pillows |

One afternoon later, I have two lovely new pillows brightening up our living room. I generally followed these instructions, and here’s how it went down:

First I chose fabric. Lucky for me, my talented interior designer mom let me raid her fabric sample collection over Thanksgiving. So I pulled out a few contrasting patterns and a soft velvet. I cut them down to fit the two pillow inserts I have. (And in the process realized that cutting square corners is probably the hardest part of sewing.)

pillow fabrics |

I already had two pillow inserts to work with. One from an IKEA pillow that I got home and kicked myself for buying. And another insert that I had from a past never-realized project.

pillow inserts |

Once I had the pieces cut, I pinned them right sides together with openings on the bottom.

pinning pillows |

After sewing around the edge with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, I trimmed off some excess fabric, turned the pillow covers right side out, and ironed around the seams. (Take a hint from me, and don’t sew with velvet the first time you pull out your machine. It was a nightmare and I changed the fabrics for Pillow #2 so that I wouldn’t have to use the velvet again.)

ironing pillow covers |

Stuffing in the pillows was so satisfying! The only thing left to do was handsew the openings closed while watching The West Wing. You won’t get to see any photos of my handsewing. I still need to learn how to make those stitches invisible…

sewing the pillows closed |

It took me about the same amount of time to sew the pillows closed as it did for CJ and the gang to get President Bartlett’s poll ratings up 9 points. So I’d say it was a successful day all around.

handmade pillows |


11 thoughts on “Ain’t she a beaut?

  1. This is so exciting, Lauren! I, too, got a sewing machine for Christmas! We should have a sewing party. I’m eyeing a skirt pattern, but I’m struggling to find the right fabric. Also, great West Wing reference. #addicted

  2. Ahh! Awesome! You know, I was thinking of getting you a sewing machine for your big 3-0 birthday coming up because I get so sad seeing your pinterest board called “when i get a sewing machine” full of such awesome projects, none of which will ever be made. but they will now! and it looks like a super awesome machine! Now that you’re a sewer, you need to get thyself here: It’s an AWESOME fabric store, perfect for a lot of the projects you have in your pinterest board.
    LOVE this post!

  3. Very happy for you! I like the fabric choices. I’m glad Beth mentioned the Needle Shop, but we just realized that it just moved to Lakeview (near the Trader Joe’s). It used to be down the street from Covenant in Bucktown.

    I also need to tell you how happy it makes me that you’re sewing while watching the West Wing! Sounds like you’re already in season 3?

  4. Yay! Welcome to the club! Like you, I have had a wee bit of exposure to sewing in the past, but always with a lot of help from others; however, I so much want to become proficient on my own. I got my own machine this fall, and have enjoyed making a few beginner projects on it (though I still have miles to go). I’m working my way through Raechel Myers’s Sewing 101 course online. I highly recommend it if you’re looking to learn your machine as well as some of the basics. It culminates in a project that uses a pattern (A Market Bag). I’ve had my fabric for that project since September, but still have more lessons to complete before I’m there. They’re not time consuming…I just got distracted by holiday crafts! ;-) Anyway, that was a long plug, but hopefully helpful. Have fun on your new machine! (Those pillows look AWESOME by the way.)

  5. Lauren, next time try to make your pillow covers with an ‘envelope’ back. NO handsewing the seams shut. I bet you could find instructions online. I just wing it with mine-and they dont always come out very well. Find a quilting store and take a class or 2. You will learn lots of good techniques for things other than quilts and lots of great tools to help with your sewing projects.
    Good luck to you-and Grace :)


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