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Friday, February 7, 2014

Make a 3 Dimensional Skeleton Key Design in Fabric

My name is Ann and I'm a pillow-holic.

I have a bit of a pillow obsession with over a dozen on two couches in my living room and half a dozen on my master bed. Then more on a little love set. And maybe a few more on those wing chairs... 
Plus, I make LOADS of shabby chic pillows from muslin and burlap for my shop, JangoJB on Etsy. Here are a few as photo props for a local photographer. So pretty!


I love the muted colors of the mixed fabrics and the wonderful textures of canvas, muslin and burlap, plus the pretty crocheted pieces. 

I recently discovered a way to add a three dimensional design to a pillow using an old technique called trapunto, which is Italian for "to embroider." This easy stitched and stuffed process makes wonderful stand out, dimensional designs and here's how I did it.




I chose this simplified skeleton key because I love their vintage look PLUS they seem to go with any decor style. Just check Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, Pier One and West Elm. You'll see skeleton keys  everywhere!


I used muslin for this project since it's my favorite fabric for home decor. It's inexpensive, easy to work with, a nice neutral color and works up beautifully. For the front of your pillow cut two matching pieces of fabric in  a size that will fit your pillow form. Be sure to add a 1/2" seam allowance to each edge.


I use a blue ink quilting pen because the marks disappear when you spray the fabric with water. I outlined a simple skeleton key shape (this one is grunge board from Tim Holtz). You could also use a number 2 pencil but draw lightly, since the pencil marks will not wash out.





I simplified the detail within the key head to make it easier to stitch.


 Set your sewing machine stitch length to 3 or 2, since you want small stitches for this project. Sew around the shape and use your judgement, going slowly, turning each angle with the needle DOWN to make sharp corners. Feel free to simplify your design as you sew, this technique is very forgiving and looks better with a simple shape. For example, I eliminated the little bumps in the shaft when I stitched this key.



Sorry for the poor contrast in this pic, but if you look you can see I've stitched the outline of the key in matching thread with small stitches.






Next you will clip several small openings in the backside of the design thru ONE LAYER OF FABRIC ONLY. This will give you the openings for stuffing your shape. I used the blunt end of a crochet hook to get the small pieces of stuffing into all the small areas. You can also use a needle to "wheedle" the stuffing into place smoothly. Stuff your shape evenly until it is softly plump.





Here you can see the small slits in the backside of the fabric with the stuffing showing through. Once your stuffing is in place, hand sew each slit closed. Your stitches do not have to be pretty, just as long as they work. Do not draw too tightly or you will distort your stuffed shape.

If you used the disappearing ink quilting pen, spray your design with water to erase the ink. Once it is dry you can iron your pillow top around the stuffed shape. 

I finished my pillow with a simple envelope style back then put it on a prestuffed pillow form. This whole project took me about an hour to complete. Sweet and simple and I LOVE how this came out! The color and texture and 3D key are right in my design sweet spot. This cool skeleton key pillow is PERFECT for my bedroom. I'll call that a win win!




And now I have some other design ideas...like a simple branch with leaves and a bird for springtime, Halloween bats, pumpkins or skulls...and how about 3D initials? Or a shamrock for St. Patrick's Day? And what about Thanksgiving and Christmas? I'm excited now to make them all. They'll be totally unique, I can guarantee it.

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