The other day I got this email from Houzz about things they have for sale. They had some gorgeous stuff for sale, and there were a lot of things that had this vintage industrial vibe going on that I just love. But on the listing was also this French Scripted pillow. Yes, I really like the pillow, but at $97, that wasn’t happening.
Besides that, I don’t have any idea what it says. I can pretty much figure out the amour part and of course, Paris, but if it doesn’t say oui, oui, my French is exhausted.
If you just look at the pillow, it looks like it’s made of newspaper clippings, old letters, stamps, ads…. I happen to have a bunch of that stuff for my own family because I LOVE genealogy and have been researching my family tree for over 30 years. Why couldn’t I use my own bits and pieces to make a pillow personal to my own family. Because I love genealogy, I end up being the dumping ground for any and all things related to the family, so I just had to dig a bit to find just the right clippings.
If you are not the repository for your family memorabilia, there is probably someone in your family who has these family treasures tucked away somewhere. You don’t have to keep any of the items, you just need to be able to scan them into a computer file.
The above season ticket was my Great Grandmothers to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904, also known as the St Louis Worlds Fair. I also have the footprint of my mom on her birth certificate, the ticket from the World Series game my husband and I attended in 1979 ($12 lower reserve, we lost), my husbands great grandfather’s muster roll in the civil war when he was taken prisoner. There is also part of the first census my parents were ever on…they were on the same census page since they lived 2 doors down from each other. There is also part of a newspaper clipping from when my great grandfather was lost in the Crazy Mountains of South Dakota and never heard from again.
So, unlike the $97 pillow which I can’t read, I could make a pillow which tells a story…my story.
Of course, now I had to find all my clippings and scan them into the computer. I was lucky, I already had most of these on my account on the website Ancestry. There were a few postcards I still wanted to include as well as a few letters but that didn’t take long.
Once you get all your memories scanned, they will need to be cropped to the portion of the picture that you actually want on your pillow. I use Picasa as my photo editor of choice…so in Picasa, I converted the image to black and white, then used the “Boost” editing option to get rid of muddy backgrounds. You can see how the gray background on the Season ticket disappears, as well as the Sepia background on the tombstone. All in all, I had about 23 images.
Once you’ve selected all your photos, in Picasa you’ll want to create a collage. Choose PICTURE PILE (looks like a bunch of scattered pictures), NO PICTURE BORDER, and SQUARE – cd cover. The above picture shows how the pictures look when they are first imported into the photo collage. This is your time to play. All of these pictures can be rotated, dragged or resized until they fill up your square. If one item is especially important, it can be centered or made larger
Once you’re happy with your collage, go ahead and CREATE COLLAGE.
One other thing you can do while you’re still in Picasa is add text. If you notice in the French pillow, Paris is written out as well as Amour. Go into your collage and edit, ADD TEXT. Just start typing whatever is important to you. Could be your home town, honeymoon, country of origin, favorite vacation, parents home…. Once it’s typed in, it’s very easy to change the font, the font size and it can even be rotated. When everything is just the way you want it, save the file, because we are headed over to the software PUBLISHER.
What I like about Publisher, and what you can’t do in Picasa, is print your picture any size. Because we want our pillow to fit a 16 inch pillow form, we’re going to create our own custom size banner of 16 x 16. This is the largest you can make it without going to 6 sheets of paper…as it is, it will print out on 4 sheets of paper. Import your picture from Picasa and make sure it fits your 16×16 blank banner you created by dragging the corner.
This is a print preview showing exactly how my pillow will look if it’s printed out. While my borders are super small on the sides, they will still work, I only need 1/4″. The only border that is too small to sew is the top border on the second row.
To get this to be a pillow we are going to have to actually print on to fabric. That’s right, send fabric right through that inkjet printer you have sitting at home.
Basically, you attach a blank 8 1/2″ by 11″ shipping label to your fabric which makes it stiff enough to feed through a printer. I covered the process in a bit more detail on my Mom’s Old Letters Pillow. Gail, over at My Repurposed Life covers printing on fabric in a Lot more detail here. If you don’t have shipping labels, apparently freezer paper also works according to Lesa at Home Frosting
Now, getting back to printing this image… supposedly you can change the “vertical overlap” in Publisher print settings to give more of a border but once I tried that nothing happened. To get a seam allowance I could use on the bottom two sheets of paper, I ended up cutting the fabric 1/2″ longer than the paper and folded it over the top, taping into place.
Once the folded over fabric was securely taped and ironed flat, it actually fed through the printer.
I would recommend using Fray Check for your edges before taking off the sticky backing. Since the seam allowances are so small, you don’t want to chance losing any due to fraying fabric. Fray check goes on wet but dries clear.
Time to sew the pillow. I would suggest pinning in place before actually starting to sew, the writing needs to be lined up exactly. I sewed the top two pieces together, the bottom two pieces together (ironed open the seams), then sewed the top to the bottom. Finished off with a pocket pillow and a 16″ pillow form. Once again, I am going to send you over to Mom’s Old Letters Pillow if you would like more instruction on how to make a pillow or head on over to Pinterest for tons of pillow making instructions and use your favorite.
I hope you will make an heirloom you will be able to cherish for years.
Now I’m thinking about doing one for my mother-in-law for mother’s day. I’ll have lots of time to gather my bits and pieces.
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