A pillow is a fun item to hook. You can do so much with a pillow sized rug. Make a chair seat, hang it on the wall, rest it on a trunk, coffee table or use it as a chair cushion for your home. It's rewarding to treat yourself with a smaller project after completing a larger rug, and if you are into selling your hooked items, small trumps large any day. A tourist with limited room in their suitcase will happily pay for a smaller piece, not just for the cost but also its packability. A set of coasters, a trivet, chair pad or pillow will fit nicely among folded clothing without creating a lot of extra weight.
The airlines haven’t done much to help the retailer in this country. Placing strict weight limitations on luggage can prevent supporting local businesses. I hear it all the time…"I'm packed to capacity, I really want this but I can’t go over the 50 kg limit!"
So unfortunately, tourism dollars aren’t what they used to be. A word of advice, if you want to go into the retail business find smaller, lighter items to sell, something that fits in the pocket, purse or carry on. Larger items are often bypassed for the smaller keepsake. Only a few of your customers will opt to have the item shipped home, 95% of them will just walk away. Years ago, you sold more items during the tourist season than all year long, helping you to get over the slump of the leaner months. It’s not like that anymore. Between recessions and paying for extra baggage, the traveler is less about consuming and more about window shopping.
So back to the pillows. Who doesn’t love a good pillow. Beautiful to look at and comfort for the head. They hook quickly, in two or three days to a week so there’s instant gratification for your toil. And as for gift giving, it’s much easier to give a project away when it worked up quickly.
Finishing the pillow can be as easy as hooking it. Apparently the idea first came from Linda Ruth and Pam Haughn shared it with our group. This clever idea sure changed the groan factor to WOW when sewing a back on a pillow. There aren’t any buttons to fuss with or button holes to create, because they’re already there! It’s ‘sew’ easy and another way to recycle those fabulous Pendleton shirts.
Easy Steps to the Perfect Pillow Back
Step 1 – When hooking the border on your pillow, Sue suggests hooking one extra row of loops all around the outside...use a #6 or larger cut. This is the row you will sew the backing to.
Step 2 - Find a complimentary coloured Pendleton shirt (maybe even use a bit of it in the front of the pillow for a custom appearance or you can dye the shirt to match the existing wools), button it up and cut out the square you need for the size pillow you have. If the shirt has a pocket on it you can leave it on or carefully remove it with a seam ripper. If you are making a 16" x 16" pillow you would cut 17”x 17” square out of the shirt to back it.
Step 3 – Assuming you have already steamed and ziz-zagged 3/4”- 1” out all around your hooked pillow top cut it out, place the right size of the hooking with the right side of the placket and pin together. Usually the buttons will run horizontally across the middle of the pillow so make sure it’s in the right position.
Step 4 - Now work from the hooked side and run the pillow through the sewing machine staying in the center of that last row of loops. The two pieces will be thicker than what you normally sew through so make sure the tension is set properly so there isn’t any bunching and pulling on the shirt placket underneath as it goes through the machine. Hooking directly on the loop will prevent gaps when you turn the pillow inside out and no backing will show on the edge.
Step 5 – After you have sewn around the entire pillow cut each corner off, leaving at least 1/2" so you don’t have a lot of bulk when you turn the pillow right side out. Unbutton the placket, turn the pillow right side out, steam press and bulkiness out, insert your pillow form and voila you have the easiest pillow imaginable. No sewing the usual gap shut that you forced the pillow form into. No sewing on buttons or making those dreaded button holes. You have a pillow that opens easily and it is very attractive to view. Your pillow will look professionally put together if you are selling in a boutique or impressing a loved one.
Tip – If backing shows anywhere around the edge use a coloured marker and rub it along the exposed burlap or linen. Markers come in all sorts of colours so you can match pretty much any shade. Especially if the border was hooked in dark colours a bit of burlap or linen peeking through can be off putting.
Also, don’t turn your nose up at a linen or cotton placket; this is a way to recycle any shirt front. Just because the rug is hooked in wool doesn’t mean it has to be wool everywhere. As long as the colour is a match, any material can be used.