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DIY Hmong pillow 7

Other than sporadic curtain hemming, I haven’t touched my sewing machine much over the last two years. So I took some baby steps towards more sewing by churning out two pillows last week.

DIY Hmong pillow 1

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but Hmong pillows are having a good run in the design world. I jumped on that wagon a while back when I bought a Hmong lumbar cover for Mabrey’s room. Since then, I’ve purchased two more Hmong pillow covers. I love their imperfect tribal patterns, rich colors and the history behind them. I thought it would be fun to make a few for the boys’ room. This simple project was the perfect way to ease back into (hopefully more) sewing.

Hmong fabric tends to come in narrow widths which makes it ideal for lumbar or bolster pillows and even table runners. I purchased my fabric here and it was about 12″ wide and roughly 8′ long. I decided to make two lumbar pillows. I bought two 12″ x 20″ down pillow inserts to accommodate the 12″ width of my fabric.

FYI – Just in case you don’t already know…pillow covers should measure an inch or two smaller than their respective inserts for a nice plump pillow.

DIY Hmong pillow 2

There are a million and one tutorials out there for envelope pillows so I won’t bore you with another. I loosely followed this tutorial with a few tweaks to fit the measurements of my lumbar inserts. The only cuts I had to make were lengthwise (the 12″ width was perfect!) and I had two finished pillows in less than fifteen minutes. FIFTEEN MINUTES. And that includes the time it took me to set up and thread my machine. The main thing to keep in mind is that you want an overlap of 5″ or so on the back of the cover so your insert doesn’t bulge out of the opening. Also, right sides facing in when you’re sewing.

DIY Hmong pillow 5

DIY Hmong pillow 3

DIY Hmong pillow 4

I’m happy with how they turned out. I spent about $34 on each pillow – cover + insert. It isn’t pennies but it’s definitely affordable when you consider most quality Hmong pillow covers (inserts NOT included) run upwards of $50.

DIY Hmong pillow 6

I tossed the new pillows on the bunk in the boys’ room but they could work just about anywhere. They would make great travel pillows, too.

I have a small scrap of fabric leftover from this project. I’m itching to make something with it. I might just have to bust out my sewing machine again. Whoa, baby steps. Setting the damn thing up is usually the rate-limiting step for me. Then I realize I don’t have any thread on my bobbin and I’m ready to quit before I’ve even started. How long has it been since you fired up the ol’ sewing machine? Are you working on any sewing projects?

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

37 Comments

21.August.2014

Your pillows are beautiful. I love the fabric.

I have a sewing machine but I cannot sew but just yesterday I decided I was going to learn after discovering Nate Berkus now has a fabric line at Joann’s. Nothing like a little inspiration from you and Nate.

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replied on August 21st, 2014

An envelope pillow is a good project for beginners!

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21.August.2014

Love these pillows!! Where did you get the fabric?

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replied on August 21st, 2014

I linked to it within the post. I found in on etsy.

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21.August.2014

I complained about my old sewing machine for years. Then my husband bought me a very nice new one two Christmases ago. That was 4 months after our daughter was born. Sewing with an infant or toddler around isn’t happening. She just turned two, and now we have a newborn also. Anyway, that brand new sewing machine has never even been threaded. My husband teases me about it. He should have known to buy me a new espresso machine instead. :)

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21.August.2014

Gorgeous! I’ve never heard of Hmong patterned fabric before but it’s quite beautiful.

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21.August.2014

I haven’t sewed anything all summer. I sympathize with all of the effort it takes to set up the machine. I usually keep my machine out, but always end up sewing with whatever color thread I used last (has been a turquoise/blue for the last couple projects).

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I got a sewing machine from my aunt a few years ago which I started to learn on but the only place I have room to use it is the dining room table where I have about 48 hours before the husband starts to nag me about it being all out. So there’s not much practicing I can get done in two evenings :/ Maybe someday I’ll have a me space where I can leave it out!

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21.August.2014

You should consider making more and selling them via etsy. I would gladly pay you $50.00 or upwards up for one. :) Beautiful pillows. Love the fabric.

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21.August.2014

I just made fabric napkins for back to school lunches. It was fun to take my daughter to the fabric store and pick out a few fabrics. They are a quick project we will remember all school year.

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21.August.2014

great! thanks for sharing your etsy source. I love the other pillows you have on the boys beds as well. did you get those on etsy as well? I can’t wait to see the final reveal. So far it is looking pretty great! good job!

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21.August.2014

They look awesome! And did I miss where the gorgeous black, orange & grey cross pillow is from?

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replied on August 21st, 2014

The other (non-DIY) pillow is from H&M! I found it on clearance when I was visiting my sister near DC earlier this summer. Had to have it.

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21.August.2014

Those are beautiful! I’ve been sewing a ton lately. We have an almost 2-year-old girl and a baby boy on the way… budgets are tight, but little clothes are cute, so I’ve been on a tear making things for my daughter. Just finished a quilt (um, that I started for her a year ago), and I’m working on some pajamas that don’t make her flip out when they go over her head (seriously, what is with that??)

I had some red and white mattress ticking that I’ve turned into pillow covers for my living room recently, too, and I’ve been very happy with that look.

Saving tip? Buy ugly pillows at Target when they go on super clearance. They’re less expensive than a pillow form, and you won’t feel guilty about covering them up right away!

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21.August.2014

I sew primarily on paper, but this looks like a good beginner project for the fabric-challenged :)

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replied on August 21st, 2014

I remember learning to sew on paper!

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replied on August 22nd, 2014

I was wondering what you meant. Never heard of sewing on paper. I learned something new. You can do it. This would be a good thing to start with. Have fun with it.

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replied on August 22nd, 2014

@AlisonG I’m a scrapbooker and use a sewing machine to add texture to my projects :)

21.August.2014

My first sewing machine is currently en route from Amazon. This might be a great first project!

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21.August.2014

I can’t even sew a button on forget a pillow lol I use the iron on transfer stuff to hem my curtains.

Off the subject but how is your fiddle leaf? I killed mine :(

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replied on August 22nd, 2014

Mr. Fig is thriving! I think I may have to transfer him to a larger pot soon. Still not sure what I’m doing right.

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21.August.2014

I’ve been sewing since I was about 7 years old, so that means nearly 50 years! Yikes, I must be old! Don’t give up on sewing; it gets easier the more you do it. Don’t ever unthread your machine; just cut off the spool and tie on a new one when you need to change colors. Lift the foot and pull your new thread through, then thread the needle. Get several bobbins and fill them with commonly used colors. Anytime you have trouble with your machine, change to a new needle. This solves about 90% of problems. Be sure to have plenty of extra needles on hand. Hope these tips help. Sewing can be so satisfying. I can’t imagine life without it!

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replied on August 22nd, 2014

Thanks for the tips, Peggy! I sew for several hours each week but always forget about changing out the needle until I’ve been fighting with my machine for waaay too long.

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replied on August 22nd, 2014

Thank you for the tips!

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21.August.2014

So excited you posted this! I have been dying to know how to make my own Hmong pillows because convincing the hubs that we need one which costs upwards of $50 for just the pillow case isn’t cutting it in our house. Like you said $34 isn’t pennies but it is way cheaper! Cannot wait to bust out the sewing machine to try some (I also have my eye on making some other leopard pillows…) Thanks for sharing!

xo
Annie Thompson
AllThingsBigAndSmallBlog.com

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replied on August 22nd, 2014

You could make it even cheaper by using less expensive, contrasting fabric for the back and using the Hmong fabric only on the front!

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Beautiful fabric! It’s no wonder you’re itching to use the scraps! I try to sew a little every day. The sewing zone is my happy place.

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22.August.2014

Did you buy cotton or hemp fabric? I’m drawn to the simpler indigo geometric shapes (if there’s some fading, all the better); the one you chose is lovely.

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replied on August 22nd, 2014

Mine is hemp. It’s thick but not scratchy at all. Almost reminds me of a well-worn cotton canvas but softer.

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22.August.2014

I love your organic chemistry reference to the rate-limiting step. I still say that all the time! I have a super fancy sewing machine (it was a hand-me-down) and I like to quilt but haven’t done it in years. I made a pillowcase for my son and it turned out really well, so now I feel like I need to sew a lot more. Baby steps!

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replied on August 22nd, 2014

Chemistry nerds unite!

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22.August.2014

Dana, what model do you use? I have sewed much since middle school home ec, but my mom and grandmother were always whipping up home decor, costumes, and the odd doll dress when I was growing up. I’ve been toying around with buying a modern entry level machine, and your gorgeous pillows may be the deciding factor.

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replied on August 22nd, 2014

It’s a Brother CS-8072. Steve gifted it to me over a decade ago! It’s not the fanciest thing but does what I need it to do and I’ve never had a problem with it.

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22.August.2014

I absolutely LOVE your style. Will you come decorate my house?

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22.August.2014

Love the pillows and the fabric. Thanks for sharing the source. I think you should frame the remnant.

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23.August.2014

That fabric is beautiful! I don’t know what Hmong is. Where did you get it? I have bunches of fabric from kimono’s that would look elegant as a pillow case. Thanks for the idea!

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23.September.2014

[…] had a small scrap of fabric leftover from the Hmong pillows I made a few weeks ago. I’m trying not to let too much time pass between sewing projects (my sewing […]




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