Throw Pillow Surgery

When I was in high school, I was really into this Live Journal community called “T-Shirt Surgery.” It still exists – see? Basically, t-shirt surgery involves taking a big old t-shirt and turning it into something cute, like a sassy halter top or a studded vest or something. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and desperately wanted to be a part of such a hip movement, so I begged my mom to buy me a sewing machine. After a lot of obnoxious pleading, she obliged, and I was soon stitching pink satin ribbon ruching into the sides of every heinous Goodwill shirt I could get my little high school hands on. It was just adorable.

Like many of my adolescent hobbies, my t-shirt surgery phase was not terribly long-lived. But! I still have my sewing machine, and I still use it. Except now, I cut up throw pillows instead of neon XXL shirts that say “Dad’s It and That’s That.”

This pillow is from West Elm. I bought it because I liked the pattern and it was on clearance, but it was larger than all my other throw pillows, and it was stiff and uncomfortable.

Blue throw pillow before surgery - via Glitter and Goat Cheese

This one is from One Kings Lane. I love the watercolor look and the colors. But again, it was stuffed with poly fill, which I’m just not into.

Throw pillow surgery - the before - by Glitter and Goat Cheese

I felt brave a couple weeks ago, so I decided it was time to put my surgeon’s mask back on. The first step to dismantling a fabric item is to rip the seams open with – you guessed it – a seam ripper.

How to rip open a pillow seam - via Glitter and Goat Cheese

It was unbelievable how much poly fill was stuffed into these pillows. I pulled it out and saved it for a rainy day. It’s currently taking up a lot of space in two garbage bags in my office closet.

I wanted to make two pillow covers from each existing pillow, so I bought some basic Kona cotton in solid contrasting colors from Joann. The colors were good, but the fabric was a bit thin, so I lined it with white muslin.

It’s generally a good idea to make your pillow covers a little smaller than the inserts so that they’re not loose and saggy. I made mine 19″x19″. For this size, you need a 20″x20″ square for the front, and two 13″x20″ pieces from the back. That gives you an extra 3″ on each back piece for the overlap. My Kona cotton and muslin were 44″ wide, so I only needed half a yard of each per pillow.

Cutting overlapping back pieces for envelope throw pillow - via Glitter and Goat Cheese

As long as you’re making a cover that’s the same size or smaller than your original pillow, you should have plenty of pretty fabric to cut your front square. Just be careful with that seam ripper!

After I cut my fabric, I pressed, pinned and sewed a half-inch hem on one long side of each 13″x20″ piece. You want the fabric to look nice where it’s going to overlap. A seam gauge is your best buddy for the pressing and pinning part.

Ironing a throw pillow seam allowance - via Glitter and Goat Cheese

Sewing an envelope throw pillow seam - via Glitter and Goat Cheese

Then, I laid my pretty 20″x20″ piece of fabric face-up, and laid the two hemmed 13″x20″ face-down on top of it.

Making an envelope pillow cover - via Glitter and Goat Cheese

Next, I sewed all the way around the square, leaving a half-inch seam allowance on each side. (That’s how you get the finished product to 19″x19″.) This part is easy, so don’t be a dummy/sloppy sewer like me and let this happen.

Twisted envelope pillow cover - via Glitter and Goat Cheese

You’ll also notice that I don’t have a full half-inch on every side, because I didn’t cut a perfect square. Did I mention I’m not great at this?

Let’s just switch colors and look at one of the pillows I didn’t screw up, OK? (For the record, even if you do make this mistake, you won’t be able to tell once the pillow cover is turned inside-out. So don’t worry ’bout it.)

So anyway, the back should look like this.

Envelope cushion cover - by Glitter and Goat Cheese

And the front will look like this.

Envelope pillow cover - by Glitter and Goat Cheese

Don’t forget to sew back and forth a few times at each corner to make sure they’re super-strong.

I like to cut the excess fabric off with pinking shears to avoid fraying.

Sewn envelope pillow cover - via Glitter and Goat Cheese

Then, you just turn the whole thing inside-out, using a chopstick to poke out the corners if necessary, and shove your pillow insert into it. (I always buy the Ikea Fjadrar down inserts for $6.99. And I don’t want to know how they get those feathers, so please don’t tell me.) Easy!

Completed blue watercolor envelope throw pillow by Glitter and Goat Cheese

Updated blue graphic throw pillow by Glitter and Goat Cheese

I actually think I like them better with the contrasting solid on the back, instead of the pattern on both sides.

Completed envelope throw pillow cover by Glitter and Goat Cheese

So now, because they have down inserts, they’re super soft and comfy, and I can finally karate chop them. I like doing that. Don’t judge me.

Completed colorful envelope throw pillows by Glitter and Goat Cheese

Plus, I have a matching pair of each, which really calms my inner crazy person.

Updated throw pillows by Glitter and Goat Cheese

Ahhh, symmetry.

Speaking of my inner crazy person, please don’t look at my icky sofas or my carpet. I’m super self-conscious about how gross they are. Just humor me and DON’T LOOK.

Would you ever cut up a throw pillow just to sew it back together again? Or am I a total whack job?

Our Real Live Piece of Art (And Our Living Room)

Remember when I posted about how badly I wanted a large piece of colorful abstract art? Well, apparently, my super-talented best friend (who just happens to be an artist) read the post, because look what she painted for us!

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Abstract blue and purple art

Isn’t it beautiful?! It was a Christmas gift, but we just finally got to bring it home after our trip to Cape Cod in August. I had shown Alisa some pieces I liked and suggested a few colors, but the rest was all her, and it is absolutely perfect.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Abstract art in blue purple pink and yellow

It fits perfectly into our living room, which I suppose I might as well show you, so you can see the where the painting lives. (If you’re interested in seeing what the living room looked like when we first moved in, there are photos in this post.)

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Gray blue and purple living room

Please do not judge us for how shlubby our furniture looks. The two beige couches are old, and the Ikea Kivik chaise … Well, it came that way. It’s comfy, but not super cute.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Colorful living room

As you can see, this room doesn’t really have an official color scheme. Anything goes!

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Living room with DIY gold Ikea Vittsjo shelf

Hey, look! It’s my gold Ikea Vittsjo hack!

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Colorful living room with framed maps

Those two framed maps are my Cape Cod treasure and ghost maps. They may be my second favorite thing in the room. They live in what a friend recently called my “ocean corner.”

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Framed Cape Cod maps

There are two Cape Cod maps, a gold seahorse, a coral lamp, a watercolor-y pillow and an octopus. And I didn’t even notice I put them all together, I SWEAR. I guess I just miss living near the coast, so I brought the coast to Atlanta subconsciously, ya know?

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Colorful throw pillows and painted midnight blue door

Oh, and there’s my kitty cats! (Can you spot both?) And our midnight blue front door!

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Living room with blue purple and pink abstract art

And there’s one more photo of the painting, because it’s the bomb. Thanks, Alisa!

House Tour: The Dining and Living Rooms

The house tour continues!

Directly off the kitchen is the dining room. No more eat-in kitchen for us, but we’ll live. We found that when we had both (in our first place, which was huge but WAY too far from downtown), we never used the dining room. So, this dining room will hopefully do double-duty.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Dining room and kitchen

You’ve already seen quite a bit of my dining room inspiration, so I’ll just move right along. You should know, however, that the vertical blinds have already been taken down and burned. PHEW. (OK – we didn’t really burn them, but I wanted to!)

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Dining room

While we’re gaining a dining room, we’re losing our foyer and “sitting room,” so we have plenty of furniture to stuff into this room. In addition to our new dining set, which will seat eight with both leaves in the table, we’ve got to fit a china cabinet, a sideboard, a console table, and two Ikea Rast dressers. It’s going to be a challenge.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Dining room from living room

The living room is next to the dining room (and also accessible from the entryway).

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Living room from dining room

It has three windows, and a gas fireplace(!!!).

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Living room

For some reason, I have very few photos of the living room, but these two pictures I took of the couches for Craigslist do give a better idea of where the living room connects to the front door/entryway.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Living room couches

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Living room wall
(Incidentally, does anyone in the Atlanta area want to buy these couches and matching ottoman? They haven’t sold yet, and they need to GO!)

Our current living room is about the same size, but has more wallspace, so I wasn’t sure how we were going to fit everything. To get a better idea, I measured the walls and our furniture, and used to create a rough layout.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - - Floor plan of living room and dining room

Glitter and Goat Cheese - - 3-D Living room and dining room

We’re keeping our current furniture for now, but I can’t wait to replace our dingy beige couches with something charcoal and velvet. My goal is for the living room to feel comfortable, but stylish. Fashionable AND functional. I don’t want anything fussy or formal, and I want people to walk in and feel at home.

Here are some of my favorite inspiration photos:

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Warm living room via Marcus Design
Karen‘s home via Marcus Design

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Jennifer Margolin's home via Glitter Guide
Jennifer Margolin‘s home via Glitter Guide

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Erika Brechtel's home via Glitter Guide
Erika Brechtel‘s home via Glitter Guide

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Victoria Webster's home via Marcus Design
Victoria Webster’s home via Marcus Design

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Living room via Savvy Home Blog
Via Savvy Home

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Lauren Seeman's home via Small Shop
Lauren Seeman’s home via Small Shop

While I was collecting these, I noticed that almost all of them have several things in common: Neutral-colored walls; neutral-colored, comfortable-looking couches; pops of color via accessories, textiles and art; brass/gold accents; and fur/sheepskin pieces. I have most of these covered already, and will definitely be introducing more. I have to squeeze in a gold spray-painted Vittsjo hack (like this one) somewhere!

So, them’s the plans for the dining and living rooms. And that’s the entire first floor of our house! It’s not super-spacious, but it’s cozy, and we love it.

Got any suggestions? I’d love to hear them!