Even though Valentine’s Day is considered a holiday for lovers, we’ve always given gifts to our hearts’ delights, our daughters. It’s a nice way to say “I love you” on a day when the rest of the world is planning candlelit dinners and decadent desserts.
Howard sticks with the tried and true candy, stuffed animals, and flowers. (Yes, the sweet man sometimes buys flowers for his daughters.)
When they were younger, I always got undies for the girls. I wanted them to know that pretty underwear is something you wear for yourself, if only because it makes you feel special. There were, and are, lots of cute cotton undies and camisoles for in the stores around Valentine’s Day, so don’t get the idea I buy my daughters slinky lingerie!
Now that my daughters are old enough to buy their own underwear, I decided to go a different route this year. So I made decorative pillows for my girls for Valentine’s Day. I was so excited about both the process and the anticipated outcome that I had to leak these photos on Instagram, knowing both Savvy and Tessa would see them:
Yes, quilted pillows. Tessa has been asking for a throw pillow for her bed, so I went for a challenge.
Tessa likes blues and yellows, and is lucky enough to live on the California coast. Her dorm bedding is in those colors, so she and I chose a group of blues, aquas and yellows, many with marine, coastal or nautical themes, for her quilt I’m making her (still in process).
Another of her loves is classic VW buses, so when I saw this free pattern from Tula Pink, I knew immediately what I’d make for Tessa. I don’t have any of the featured fabric, but we did get lots of seashore-themed prints for her quilt.
The front is a multi-layered appliqué, which is then quilted for softness and texture. It was fun playing with the fabrics to decide what would be the bus, the background, and all the little automotive details.
The pattern substitutes an SW (for Tula’s Salt Water fabric collection) for the VW on the bus’s front medallion. But since it’s for Valentine’s Day, I machine embroidered a heart.
The whole front is quilted in straight lines one-half inch apart, going all the way across the background and the bus itself.
I quilted the bottom part of the pillow back the same way.
For the top half of the pillow back, I did something a little different: I appliqued a heart on the fabric, then quilted around and around the heart.
It’s basically a heart-shaped spiral. I started off with a half-inch interval for the quilting, then widened it gradually, adding some random-sized spacing here and there to make it look more organic.
I think it resembles the ever-expanding ripples of a heart-shaped stone dropped into the water. (Okay, I know the ripples wouldn’t be heart-shaped, but humor me, will ya?)
The pillow is supposed to have an envelope closure, which is the kind I like best, since there are no zippers or buttons to mess with.
Ahem. You will notice that there are indeed buttons on the back of this pillow. The pillow insert is extremely puffy, so I plan to blame it on that. But the truth is, I MAY have skimmed over the the cutting guidelines for the the two back pieces. Possibly. I’m hoping that with enough lounging about on the pillow, it’ll squish down to a less buxom silhouette.
But let’s return to the front, shall we? Isn’t she adorable?
For Savvy’s pillow, I decided to go in a different direction. The fabrics for her quilt-to-be are in shades of red and gold, so that made it easier to use a standard red heart-y Valentine-y theme.
Now, Valentine’s Day is kind of an anti-holiday for Savvy. She loathes all that romantic shlocky nonsense. Nevertheless, I knew she would like a pillow with lots of red, and she had hinted that I could make something for her from the Ikea music fabric that Howard bought me.
To start, I took a few corners of Savvy’s red quilt fabrics, as well as some of my red scraps, and cut out ten heart shapes to applique.
Instead of embroidering an X on one of the hearts, I got the bright idea to quilt the whole front of the pillow in an X shape, to incorporate the “cross my heart” theme. I decided to quilt first, then applique the hearts on top, so the X grid gave me a bonus: stitched guidelines for placing the hearts.
I sewed a big X from corner to corner, then started quilting V-shapes into the center and back out. I started off stitching 3/4 inch from the center, then narrowed the increments by 1/8 inch until I got to 3/8 inch, then increased by 1/8 inch gaps back to 3/4 inch.
You can get a better impression of the rhythm of the quilting from the back side.
For the back panels of the pillow, I used the same method I did for Tessa’s: horizontal lines on the bottom …
… and an appliqued heart with heart spiral quilting around it for the top part.
I stuck with a half-inch interval throughout for this one. Again, it’s a bit easier to see from the back side.
I put the tenth heart up a little higher on the back piece than I did for Tessa’s pillow.
It made sense in my head, but the heart is harder to see on the finished pillow than I anticipated. Once again, I choose to blame the fat pillow. On the plus side, I measured the pieces properly on this one, so the back overlaps as it should and doesn’t need any fasteners.
So there you have it: two handmade pillows for my two lovely daughters. Now I’ll box ’em up, and try to find some Girl Scout cookies to tuck in with them (what?! I made the pillows; I’m not baking as well!), and ship ’em off to college.
Happy Valentine’s Day!