Thursday, March 8, 2012


As we enter the early spring, at least by the warm temperature at this latitude - at the TX/MX border – I begin to think about my annual trip to the north to see my two sons, daughter-in-law, grandchildren, and other relatives. And as always, I’ve got to make some handmade gifts for my dear ones. Those are usually knitted clothing items or decorations for the rooms of my grandchildren and something from the kitchen for the adults – candy, cookies, jars of jams, etc. This year I’ve come up with the idea to make my two grand daughters faux headboards for their twin beds made from pillows. So, my task - as is the subject of this post - was to come up with a design for some brightly colored, quilted pillowcases that are the focus of this project.

I decided to make two tie quilted pillowcases for each girl – one for the wall and a matching one for the bed. I’ll travel by plane or bus carrying the quilted pillowcases. It will be up to my son and daughter-in-law to provide the pillows and the decorative rods and help me put the rods on the wall. (I hope they won’t mind too much the way I get them to do extra work completing “my projects”.)

Why pillow headboards are popular
Nothing catches the attention more in a bedroom than an attractive headboard. But not all beds come with headboards, and the formal ones that can be purchased or made by a skilled carpenter are expensive. So, we have the option of creating our own informal wall treatments (faux headboards) that, colorfully done, can liven up the decor of any bedroom.

Some faux headboards include curtain rods or other horizontal tubes fixed on the wall above the bed where various attractive things can be hung. And there are several simple methods for making this type of headboard. Here, we focus on the pillow headboard. You won’t need much design talent and only rudimentary carpentry skills to make this one. And a hanging pillow headboard gives any bedroom a comfy, informal look.

More than just attractive, the hanging pillows serve an important purpose. It’s a perfect place to keep extra pillows that, otherwise, are inevitably on the floor in the morning. Beyond that, what with a longer rod, multiple hanging pillows and a round bolster, a regular twin bed can do daytime duty as a daybed.

Tie-quilted pillowcases give your bedroom a country look
About this project
With some pillowcases, ribbon, a nicely designed fabric for the quilted part, quilt backing, needle and thread and a decorative rod, you can manage to nicely display your extra pillows and find them in place (on the wall) every morning. The best part is that you may already have most of the makings for this project in or around your home.

After researching this topic on the Internet, I realized that the main problem with most of these pillow hanging projects was that they were not sturdy enough for small children and would end soon with ripped pillow cases and rods pulled off the wall. That’s why I decided to use both a top and bottom hanging rods with the hardware firmly attached to the wall by anchors or toggle bolts, along with four ribbon loops and buttons on the pillowcase.

Try out this project. You’ll be happy to know that it can be made with inexpensive materials and quickly completed with a minimum of hand sewing. According to my calculations, the approximate cost for each ribbon decked, quilted pillowcase is $20 and about $15 for the matching one for the bed. That, of course, doesn’t include rods or pillows. And you may already have extra pillowcases and fabric or find these items at the thrift store, so you might not have to spend so much at all.

Pattern for a pillow headboard and two quilted pillowcases
- 2 decorative rods - as wide or a little wider than the bed with their hardware. For economy sake, these rods could also be pipes, dowels, or even small cleaned-up tree limbs for a rustic cabin look. And, instead of commercial rod brackets, you could use industrial sized eye hooks. Open hooks might pose a hazard for children.
- 2 standard-size pillows, not the deluxe or overstuffed kind – one for the bed and the other for the wall.
- 2 standard pillowcases in a solid color
- 6 yards of 1” grosgrain ribbons in one or two colors- that’s about 42” for each of 4 ribbon rounds. (Grosgrain ribbon is relatively expensive and can be substituted with some other kind of ribbon or fabric strips that were the proper size.).
- One yard of plaid or repeating pattern cotton cloth that coordinates with the color of the pillowcases (That’s a half-yard for each pillowcase. Same for padding below.)
- One yard of fleece or other soft fabric for quilt backing. This easily could be something recycled - like an old adult-sized sweatshirt
- 8 medium-sized buttons - can be in coordinating or contrasting colors - for the wall pillow. Having buttons on a bed pillow, while perhaps attractive, isn’t a very practical option.
- Sewing needle and heavy cotton or nylon thread (for the buttons)
- Scissors
- Straight pins and large safety pins
- Measuring tape
- Drill
- Wall anchors or toggle bolts
- Crochet thread and upholstery needle
-  Soft sport-weight yarn for the ties

Lay out the two pieces of fabric on a table. Be sure that the batting layer is slightly smaller, maybe a ¼" on all four sides, than the top fabric. Measure all sides to make sure the placement is centered correctly. Pin quilting piece in place.

Fasten safety pins where the ties are to go. It’s a lot easier to adjust the placement of safety pins than to have to try to remove a bunch of ties. Make the ties of all three layers – decorative fabric, batting, and top of pillowcase. You’ll probably need to put a piece of cardboard inside the case to make sure you don’t pin (or tie) the backside to the front side. Then make the 20 ties or the number you want to join the pieces.

Using crochet thread, blanket-stitch the quilted piece in place on the front side of the case.  (I use large, obvious blanket stitches with embroidery thread in a bright color to add even more handmade decoration.)

Put the pillowcase face side down on the worktable. Cut four pieces of 42"-long ribbon. Place each ribbon in position as shown in the picture. Fold the ribbon in such a way that the seam where the two ends meet is exactly in the back of the pillow. There should be 2 inches of ribbon, doubled, extending to accommodate the top rod and another 2 inches, doubled, at the bottom for the bottom rod. Pin the ribbon in place every 4 inches down the front and back from the side of the case. Using fabric glue, attach the ribbons to the case. Hand-sew the two ends to the backside of the case. Repeat with the other three ribbons. (The length of the ribbon extensions might have to be llonger depending on the diameter of the tube you’re using.)

Take care to sew on the buttons, as shown in the picture, through both front and back of the ribbons and pillowcase. Correctly attached buttons will help prevent ribbon slippage and case ripping.

Rod placement should be 4" more than the height of the pillow when it’s flat against the wall above the bed and centered over the bed. Attach the second rod under the first and 2" above the bed. Drill and screw the brackets or other type hooks to the wall using wall anchors or toggle bolts.

Insert a pillow into the case and hang the pillow from the curtain rod. Put the rod on the wall. Run the second rod through the ribbon at the bottom of the case and put it in place.

When your pillow creation is hung up over the bed, everyone will admire your smart handiwork. And your quilted pillow headboard can be the inspiration to do even more country–style decoration.

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