vintage varsity letter pillows

I had the opportunity to create these pillows from vintage varsity letters. My client is a “sentimental freak” and had these saved up. She came up with the idea based on my upcycled letterman jackets. She envisions putting them on the bunkbeds which will be used by her grandchildren in the house she is building. I can just picture it!

She wanted the letter on one side and the recipient’s information embroidered on the back. She selected a fabric from Hobby Lobby which is reminiscent of a vintage wool fabric. She also selected a white lip cord trim. As you can see, I put an invisible zipper on the back side a few inches above the bottom. The lip cord was challenging enough – I didn’t want to attempt to insert both the lip cord and a zipper along the bottom.

I love this Purdue letter. It belongs to my clients father who will turn 98 next week!

A note about the lip trim. My Janome does not have a cording foot. Well, it does, but it’s for very thin cording. I purchased their zipper foot a number of years ago to apply piping. It’s a foot that allows you to adjust the position of the foot. I tried using that on the cording and it didn’t seem to work very well. There are several video on how to apply cording trim. Not only is it tricky to apply, but you also have to re-twist the ends together to make it look continuous. I finally have the method down and, some day, may make a video to share. I looked for the type of cording foot recommended in the videos but Janome does not make them. I purchased an inexpensive set on Amazon that was supposed to work with low shank machines.. The needle hole was off center. My husband drilled it out so I could use it and it worked the best for me. I tried all different techniques and by the 18th pillow, I think I finally got it! I applied the lip cord to the pillow front, starting at the bottom. You have to leave several inches hanging off to weave in later. With the zipper foot I tried sewing next to the cording, but you can’t get close enough and it shows. One video said to stitch right into the cord. So using the grooved cording foot placed right on top of the cording, I moved my needle into position two – slightly left of center. This worked well and the needle went right through the trim. I stitched the trim around the pillow and stopped a few inches before the starting point. At this point, you have to remove the cord from the ribbon, I unraveled and flattened the cording closest to me. I then took the “top” cording, placed it next to the “bottom” and unraveled and flattened that to make it look continuous. I realize this may be challenging to visualize. I’m writing it here mainly for my own memory! If I get time, I’ll photograph and/or video the process.

I took the photos in the Anne Cate studio and in the Matchworks Building. Such an interesting space!

I’ve so thankful to work with my creative client and proud of the result! These will be offered in my shop but, as always, feel free to contact me with questions!