Thursday, October 30, 2014

Decorating on a budget, DIY sweater throw pillows, and stump side tables

I love throw pillows. I also love to switch them up for the different seasons, but it's not always in our budget to pay for brand new pillows. Not to mention that many stores sell the feather pillow inserts separately from the pillow cover.  So not only do you need to buy the pillow cover, but then you also have to factor in the price of the pillow insert.  And since nice feather pillow inserts can run anywhere from $14-$26 at places like Pottery Barn, updating a room with a few new throw pillows can get expensive pretty quickly.

Of course you can buy cheaper pillows at places like Target, but I've decided that I really like the feather pillow inserts so much better than pillows stuffed with polyester filling.  Feather pillows are softer and squishier and they always plump back up very nicely.  They don't lose their shape over time either like cheaper pillows do.  And once you have invested in all the feather inserts you need, you can just switch out the pillow covers seasonally or whenever you're ready for a change.  So I've decided the investment in feather pillow inserts is worth it.  But since I am just beginning to build our feather pillow collection, I needed to find ways to do it within our budget.

I read one day on the Nester's blog that to save money, she buys feather pillow inserts at thrift stores and then just runs them through her washing machine and dryer to sanitize them.  Sounded kind of genius to me, so the last few times I've gone to the thrift store, I searched through the pillows to see if I could score any feather pillow inserts. And what do you know... I've found quite a few.  Yesterday, I found five.  They are only $5 each, so I stocked up.

Since Fall has hit here in northern Virginia, I have really had an itch to get some cozy pillows on our couch.  I've been dreaming about some sweater pillows like these:

But, even on sale, these pillow covers cost more than I want to spend right now.  So since my desires are the mother of my creativity, I decided to try to make my own sweater pillow covers from thrifted sweaters (since I didn't have any old sweaters laying around).  

While I was thrift shopping, I looked for well-made, quality sweaters that were soft and had interesting patterns, textures, or lines in them.  I also checked for stains, holes, pills, etc...  Be picky.  Find something you really like or walk away.  Always keep your end product in mind, because you want to love it when you're done.  It's also important to make sure that the sweater you pick is big enough to cover your entire pillow or you will be sad when you go to make your pillow and it doesn't fit.  

Besides sweaters, I looked through men's plaid shirts and women's skirts for any other fabrics, textures, or designs that I thought might make a good pillow.  In the end, I bought two gray sweaters to use for my sweater pillows and a women's linen skirt that I thought could work for a pillow cover too. 

I'm not going to go into any kind of sewing tutorial for you here because I am not a good sewer.  I just try to cut and sew straight lines.  I sewed three sides of the pillow on the sewing machine, then flipped my pillow right side out, stuffed the pillow insert in, then hand-sewed the final side closed.  Pillows are probably one of the simplest things to make, so if you've never sewn anything before, this would be a great first sewing project.  Give it a shot!

Here are how my two sweater pillows turned out

The first one:

The second one:

Our couch and my swinging chair are instantly cozier now!  I'm pretty happy with them both.  Total cost for each pillow including the feather insert and the sweater was about $13 each.  So I think that's pretty good.  They have at least partially satisfied my desires for sweater pillows.... although I may need to make a few more for our couches in the basement.

As a side note, I've been wanting a stump side table for quite some time now.  A few weeks ago, a neighbor set a whole bunch of wood out on the road for the trash truck and I spied a good log in the pile that I thought would make a good side table.  After hauling the log over to my house, I peeled off the bark, sanded it smooth, wiped it clean, made sure it was dry and had no bugs in it, and then I painted and distressed it.  Although it's not perfectly flat across the top, it's perfect enough to hold my books and coffee when I'm sitting in my swinging chair.  And the best part ... it was free!!

What about you?  Are there any fun ways you've found to decorate on a budget?   


  1. Cute pillows! I need to try my hand at making one, I have an old sweater that would be perfect!

  2. I love your new template:) Also, I want to run right out to the thrift store to snatch up some sweaters and flannels to make pillows! Thanks for the fun idea.