Family Craft Ideas

with Leah

I'm Leah--wife, mother, editor, writer, photographer, and rickrack apologist. There's craftiness in my DNA, but between the kids and my work and the house and the television and my blogs (http://www.agirlandaboy and, among others), I have to keep my projects quick and easy if I hope to finish them before my boys (born December 2008 and July 2012) graduate from college. You're a working mom and you're busy too, but if you still want to get your craft on, join me here for some fun projects!

DIY Trim the Tree Pillow

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Here’s how you know you’re a grown-up: you fill your house with decorative pillows no one’s allowed to lean back on. It’s silly, yes, but it’s also a great way to update a room. Plus, decorative pillows are an easy way to get festive for the holidays, and if you make them yourself, they don’t even have to cost $50 like they do in all the catalogs. This one cost me about ten bucks, all told:


(Another tree craft! I know!)

Do you like it? You can make one too, I know you can.

What you’ll need to make this the hard way:

  • pillow
  • safety pins
  • curved needle
  • lace or other trim (I used 1.5 yards)
  • thread to match your lace/trim
  • embellishments (beads, sequins, buttons, etc.)
  • a good chunk of time

What you’ll need to make this the easy way:

  • pillow
  • lace or other trim
  • fabric glue

I made mine the hard way (because of course). Here’s how I did it:

I found some plain gray woven pillows in a two-pack for $16 at TJMaxx. Score! If you can’t find a plain pillow you like (or at a price you like), buy a cheap ugly pillow (I’ve seen them at Ikea for like $3) and then sew a simple cover for it out of any material you like. A nice neutral linen would be lovely. That was my original plan before I found those gray beauties.


Have fun finding lace or decorative trim you love. Anything will do–fringe, tassels, pompom garlands, ribbon, ric rac–but keep in mind that the project will go faster and look better if your trim is wider rather than narrower.


(And you don’t have to use green either.)

I loved the way this moss-colored lace stood out against the gray pillow, and I thought the pointed edge would make a good-looking tree. I really should have ironed it first. Learn from my mistakes!


Lay out your lace on your pillow to get it arranged how you want (i.e., centered on the pillow and more or less evenly spaced between rows). Start with the bottom and work your way to the top in a zigzag. Pin the edges into place so nothing shifts while you sew.


With matching thread, hand-stitch the lace onto the pillow. I sewed along the top edge of the lace, leaving the bottom free, and I did extra reinforcement where the sides folded over each other.


If you’re sewing onto a removable cover, you might be able to use your sewing machine, depending on the type of trim you’re working with. If you’re sewing directly into a pillow, you’ll want to get a curved needle like this:


This step took…a while, as hand-stitching does if it’s not something you do on the reg. If you hate to sew and/or don’t have a lot of time, this is where you’d simply glue your trim to your pillow using fabric glue. GUESS WHAT I WILL BE DOING NEXT TIME? Apply the glue with the pins in place (but not ON the pins) so your tree doesn’t get wiggled all out of shape.


Once you’ve sewn everything down securely (or let the glue dry overnight), that’s it, you’re done! You’ve made a cute pillow! Go you!


If you want a little more embellishment, you can sew or glue on little “ornaments”–beads, paillettes, buttons, charms, whatever. I was going to use sequins on mine, and I even started attaching them with different colors of embroidery floss, but then I decided I liked the plain tree so much better (and it was taking a long time and I didn’t want to be still attaching sequins comes New Year’s), so I put the shiny stuff back in the drawer for another day and gave my new plain pillow a squeeze.


Now that I’ve made one (and know there’s an easier, faster way) I kind of want to make a dozen of them. White lace on a red pillow! Gray trim on a beige pillow! A tree made with strips of ribbon rather than one continuous strand in a zigzag! A whole forest of mismatched trees running the length of a bolster pillow! How many more do you think I can make in the next twelve days? How many are YOU going to make?

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