Recently, while browsing Pinterest, I came across the quote “Creativity takes courage.” For me, this really rang true. I used to sew in high school, but since then, I have avoided sewing by building up years of inertia in the form of excuses, anxieties and indecision - What if it doesn’t turn out right, what if I choose the wrong colour or fabric, what if I don’t like the finished product, will I have wasted money on materials? This may sound silly. However, I absolutely believe that it does take courage, of a sort, to select those materials, to make those first cuts, to move through a new project step by unfamiliar step. In fact, when I googled this quote, I found that it is generally attributed to famous French artist Henri Matisse. This makes me feel better about the fear I feel to sew. If this guy believes that creativity takes courage, then damn it, it does.
I think that, the extent to which a person feels the need to summon courage to create, depends partly on personality, and partly on resources of time and money. But more than this, there is something inherent to the creative process itself that is, and I think should be, daunting. Should be, because, as Richard Sennett argues, engaging in craft and art teaches us something about what it means to be human, about overcoming obstacles, about continuing on in the face of uncertainty.
You know what else is daunting? Cutting straight lines out of fabric without a pattern piece for a guide. I did not see this one coming, but I was honestly at a loss to figure out how to get this fabric cut into perfect 20.5 x 20.5 squares. Luckily, M-cat was on standby for moral support (as usual).
I think I was missing the proper tools. I will be picking up a rotary cutter, a clear ruler, and a self-healing cutting mat for future sewing projects. I was determined, however, to complete these pillow forms without making another trip to the store. This tutorial suggested using the floor boards as a guide. I tried this but, given that our house was built sometime in the 1800s, the straightness of the floor boards wasn't especially trustworthy. So, what I did, was use a piece of paper to get the right angles on the squares, and a measuring tape to extend the sides of the square beyond the length of the paper.
Fabric of your choice* (I used a 100% unbleached cotton)
T-square ruler (Optional, I used a sheet of paper)
Thread to match your fabric
Turning tool (optional)
Stuffing (I used about 1 1/2 pounds of 100% polyester stuffing for 2 pillows)
Wash, dry, and iron your fabric.
Cut your fabric into the desired size, adding 1/2 inch for a seam allowance. (I wanted to make a 20 x 20 inch pillow form, so I cut out two 20.5 x 20.5 squares.)
Pin the fabric squares, wrong sides together.
Leaving a 1/2 inch seam allowance, begin at the edge of the gap you want to leave, and sew around the edges of the pillow form, leaving a 4-5 inch gap in one side for the stuffing. (To sew around the corners, use tailor’s chalk to make a mark 1/2 inch from the edge of the fabric at each corner. While sewing, stop when you hit the mark, lift the presser food and pivot the fabric 90 degrees. Continue sewing around each corner.
Trim excess fabric around corners.
Turn pillow form right side out, use your finger or a turning tool to push out the corners. Fill with stuffing until you reach the fullness you want.**
To stitch up the remaining side, fold in the seam allowances at the edge of the gap you left in the seam and pin together. Sew together with your machine or by hand.
*How much you need will depend on the size of the pillow form you want to make. I made two 20 x 20 inch pillow forms, so I used about 1.5 meters of fabric.
**I suggest filling the pillow more than you think you need to, as they will flatten over time with use.