Posts Tagged ‘year long project’

My husband showed this video to me about Phil Hansen, an artist who developed neurological damage resulting in permanent shakiness of his hands, and how, after coming to terms with this challenge, actually used it to his advantage and as a platform to take his art to a new level. Super inspiring!

Lately I’ve been thinking about my 52 Pillows project, and sewing in general, now that my daughter is in remission and we’re not spending nearly as much time at the hospital as we have been the past 9 months. Mr. Hansen’s story started me thinking about how I could make pillows without actually sewing. Here’s what came to mind.

Chocolate Pastry Pillows

We used this Chocolate Raspberry Pastry Pillow recipe as a guide, if you want to try it. Or follow our directions below to make your own Chocolate Pastry Pillows…

(Thank you to my mom for watching the baby so I could do this and to my son for being my helper and taste-tester.)


  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp. water
  • All-purpose flour
  • 1 pkg. (17.3 ounces) Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
  • 1/2 of a 12-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Baking cocoa (optional)

Beat the egg yolks and water in a small bowl with a fork.

Sprinkle the flour on the work surface.  Unfold 1 pastry sheet on the work surface. Roll the pastry into a 16-inch square. Brush the pastry with the egg mixture. Cut the pastry sheet into 16 (4-inch) squares. Repeat with the remaining pastry sheet.

Sprinkle the flour on the work surface. Unfold 1 pastry sheet on the work surface. Roll the pastry into a 12 to 16-inch square.


Cut the pastry sheet into either 9 (3-inch) or 16 (4-inch) squares, depending on how big your sheet is. Repeat with the remaining pastry sheet. Make sure you cut the same amount of squares from both pastry sheets. Move half the squares onto a cookie sheet (or 2). (I used wax paper on the cookie sheets but the original recipe didn’t say to do prepare the cookie sheets in any way.)


Brush all the pastry squares with the egg mixture. (Turns out we don’t have a pastry brush anymore so I used a spoon.)

Place 1 teaspoon chocolate pieces and 1 raspberry in the center of each pastry square.  Fold the pastry over the filling to form a triangle.  Crimp the edges with a fork to seal.  Prick the tops of the pastries with a fork.  Brush the pastries with the egg mixture.  Place the pastries onto 3 baking sheets.  Freeze for 15 minutes or until firm.

Place approx 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 teaspoons chocolate pieces in the center of the pastry squares on the cookie sheet (depending on the size of your squares.)

Using the half of the pastry squares without chocolate, put the top on each of those squares with chocolate - to create the pillow.

Using the remaining half of the pastry squares (without chocolate), place one square on top on each of those squares with chocolate (to create the pillow.)


Crimp the edges with a fork to seal.


Prick the tops of the pastries with a fork. Brush the pastries with the egg mixture. Freeze for 15 minutes or until firm. (Our freezer is too small for cookie sheets so we put it in the fridge instead for 25-30 minutes.) In the meantime, heat the oven to 375°F.

Heat the oven to 375°F. Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.  Sprinkle with the confectioners' sugar.

Bake for 15-25 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. (Ours came out yellow-brown — using a spoon instead of pastry brush made the egg thicker than it was supposed to.)

Let cool then sprinkle with the confectioners' sugar.

Cool slightly then sprinkle with the confectioners’ sugar (and baking cocoa if you like). (Tastier when warm.)



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Back in February, in the middle of our daughter’s most intense chemotherapy treatment, my sister brought a bunch of gorgeous fabric and spent a morning with me in my studio under the guise of my making pillows for her. I think her real plan was to create a diversion for me and make me laugh a lot. It worked. Other than patching my son’s pants, I’ve hardly spent any time in my studio since December.

It took me 2 months to get these 5 pillows done for her, but they are done, and just in time for her birthday!

They’re nothing special in technique or skill, and admittedly aren’t my best work (I’m distracted and a bit out of practice) but they are fun colors and look great in her house…




My favorite

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Baby’s napping. Never know how long she’ll sleep… My son’s been wanting a fuzzy purple pillow… I have had the instructions for “The Ten-Minute Pillow” for, I don’t know, 7 years or more, so today seems like a good time to put them to the test…




4:13-4:16 Measure and cut the fabric (3 minutes)

4:17-4:22 Hem the short ends (including the time to change the needle and thread) (5 minutes)

4:27-4:36 Measure the overlap and underlap. (Realize in straying from the original instructions of making a 12×12 pillow, I’ve missed something and mine is too wide for the 14×14 pillow form I plan to use. I re-measure overlap and underlap, pin and serge. The serger gets hung up on the thick layers so I re-sew on my sewing machine.) (9 minutes)

4:37-4:38 Turn right side out and insert pillow form. Done! (1 minute)

Total: 18 minutes (but if you take away 8 minutes for my overlap/underlap mishap, I’m about at 10 minutes)

AND…. another happy customer! (Probably my happiest EVER!)

Try The Ten-Minute Pillow yourself and let me know how long it takes you. Here are the instructions, courtesy of Claire Schaefer and the Greater Phoenix Chapter of the American Sewing Guild.

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A year and a half ago I launched a year-long creative project, 52 Pillows, where I committed to creating a new pillow every week for a year with the intention of elevating myself out of surviving and into thriving. I wanted to transform my life through creativity, to not be bogged down by my circumstances, to “bring myself back to life!” 

I didn’t make it even halfway through my project before I started seeing big results. Little did I know when I started what my circumstances would be, the kind of creativity, nor the type of transformation my life would undergo!…

In the past year and a half, I found out I was pregnant and welcomed our baby girl into the world. She is now almost 10 months old. Creating another person was a serious, full-time creative project in itself! And I never felt so alive as when I gave birth to our daughter. Along with my beautiful baby have come months of sleep deprivation. Even now my daughter rarely sleeps more than 2 hours at a time, day or night. Admittedly, I have plenty of days where I don’t handle things well or rise above my circumstances, but overall I feel I’m doing really well, all things considered. So even though my transformation doesn’t look the way I expected or anticipated, the results so far are thrilling. And who knows what might happen as I continue my project!…

Pillow #21 has taken me 5 months to finish. Things just don’t get done as often or as quickly with a baby in the house! I’ve enjoyed having a creative project to look forward to working on, especially on those really challenging parenting days. And what an accomplishment it feels like to have finally finished it!… For #21 I used a JoAnn Fabrics free pattern I picked up last year. (I’ve included the instructions at the bottom of this post if you want to try it yourself.) I was happy to find a use for scraps from favorite projects and had a lot of fun putting this pillow together.

Who knows how long it will take to get to Pillow #22. I’m not ready to commit to a weekly creation yet, but I do have 2 more pillow projects in the wings I’m looking forward to starting.

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What do you get when you mix 2 days of beautiful sunny 60 degree weather sandwiched between weeks of 30 degree days and 6″ of fresh snow AND unpopular brooch ribbon I’d pulled from inventory and didn’t know what to do with? Well, this week, the result was this…

Admittedly, not my favorite, but disappointments are part of the process… Until next week…

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I found this jacket in my studio closet.



I made it in the late 90s, created the pattern and the stencil designs, invested hours of time and effort into it. Published in the Belle Armoire Magazine, I’m very proud of this jacket and have found it hard to part with inspite of its being terribly outdated. BUT it’s been using up valuable storage space so something’s gotta give. What to do? Give it a new purpose…


How to Make a Jacket into a Pillow

Lay the jacket flat, then fold the edges in to approximate the size and shape of pillow you want…

Mark roughly, with a removable pencil or pen, the dimensions of the pillow on front and back, if needed. Then take out the lining either by unpicking or cutting…

Unpick the hem, then take out the side seams either by unpicking or cutting…

(You might also need to take the sleeves off depending on your jacket or pillow)

Now mark off the dimensions of your pillow with a ruler and removable pen or pencil. (Mine is 18″ x 18″)

Then add a 1/2″ seam allowance using your ruler and removable pencil/pen…

(Do these steps for both back and front of jacket)

Lay the jacket front flat and pin through all the layers of facing/lapel to stabilize…

(The front button closure will serve as your opening, where you will insert the pillow form)

Cut around the outer line you drew, both front and back, keeping pins in place. Then BASTE where you’ve pinned to stabilize all the layers.

Undo the buttons. Now place front and back pieces RIGHT sides together and pin…

Then STITCH 1/2″ from raw edges all the way around. Use the front button area to turn the pillow right side out…

Use a point turner to push the corners out, press if needed, then insert your pillow form…

Button the buttons and you’re done!

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I’ve been thinking about this pillow design for quite awhile so decided it would make a great 1st pillow for my project. The red dupioni silk is a leftover scrap from my sister’s bridesmaid dress and it deserved to be made into something lovely, like my sister.  = )

This is a lumbar type pillow measuring 18″ wide by 8.375″ tall. The flowers are handmade with satin ribbon.

I am having all kinds of perfectionist issues arise about this pillow. Like… I should have started with a more funky design and… what a terrible photograph, among other things. On the other hand, I’m getting pretty practiced at contradicting my inner perfectionist. Maybe it’s not a funky design, but I like pretty things and this is pretty. And the photo, well, it’s not great, but the day I finished it we found out we had to leave town the next day for a funeral. I’ll retake it when I have time. All in all, I think it’s a decent start…

1 down, 51 to go!

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