A huge thank you to CafePress for sponsoring today’s post! As always, I am committed to only partnering with companies and products I really truly love and I’m happy to be able to give a big thumbs up to CafePress today!
When CafePress invited me to come up with a DIY project using one of their products, I was excited and challenged. I spent hours poring over literally thousands of options on the CafePress website before landing on my final idea – I wanted to create pillows with a vintage anatomical heart print and then personalize them with hand-embroidery for a twist on the classic “Home Is Where The Heart Is” sentiment.
I started by downloading this vintage anatomical heart image from The Graphics Fairy and then I hopped onto CafePress’s custom pillow design option. I chose the 20×20” square canvas pillow in “natural” and sized the image to fill the entire customizable space. (Actually, here is a link to the exact pillow I received in case you want one too, but I thought I’d share how easy it was to choose and upload a design since this idea is easily tweaked!)
When the pillows arrived in the mail, I set aside the inserts (I was happy to find that the pillows have zippers on the bottom edge!) and ran the pillow covers through the wash, following the instructions on the tag.
I had read online that prewashing was recommended for my first DIY step…
Tea staining! I wanted to tone down the bright white color and give the pillow covers an antiqued appearance. I’d never tried tea staining before, but it turns out that it couldn’t be easier and it’s the perfect way to visually “age” almost any textile item!
Step 1. Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove and add 4 “family size” tea bags. I used Community tea bags, but I doubt the brand is important – I just wanted a dark-colored tea rather than anything green or herbal which would give a different hue.
Step 2. Allow the tea bags to steep for a few minutes, although the water will almost instantly turn a dark brown color. Remove the tea bags with tongs, squeezing the excess concentrated water back into the pot.
Step 3. Run your pillow cover under the sink for a moment until wet. Wring out the excess water, then add to the pot of tea. Use your tongs to swish it around in the tea, making sure that all parts of the pillow cover are submerged and saturated with tea.
Step 4. After 15 to 30 seconds, use the tongs to remove the pillow cover from the tea. I carried my pot over to the sink and used the tongs to help squeeze excess tea into the pot before dropping the [hot] pillow cover into the sink. Run cold water over the pillow until it is cool enough to pick up, then run it under the cold water until the water runs clear.
(I repeated this step for each pillow cover – there was plenty of tea in the pot for multiples.)
Step 5. Wring out the pillow cover and run it through the dryer to help set the tea stain. (Note: the pillow cover tags recommended tumble dry low, but I used high heat on mine without ill effects. Use your own best judgment.)
Voila! A perfectly warm shade of vintage canvas:
Step 6. Time to practice your best script. I grabbed a piece of paper and practiced writing out family members’ names in a wide and open cursive script. Small loops and details are not your friend for our next step…
Step 7. Once you have practiced and chosen your best examples (does this feel like elementary school to anyone else?), use a pencil to lightly draw the names around various points of the heart.
This is the pillow I made for us – naturally our “family” includes our two cats, Tiny Tina and Abby, and our chinchilla Pocket.
Step 8. Hoop it! Choose a starting point and stretch that section around a small embroidery hoop.
Step 9. Grab your embroidery floss in the color of your choice, thread an embroidery needle, and begin backstitching* around a name. You can pretty much go around the name the same way you wrote it.
*Here is a very clear and easy to follow tutorial on how to backstitch.
Don’t worry if your stitching isn’t perfect – a little bit of wonkiness just adds to the charm! I wanted mine to look handmade (just not handmade under the influence of too much “Christmas cheer”, if you know what I mean).
Step 10. Repeat step 9 for each name around the heart. It just so happened that each name took about the same length as a Gilmore Girls episode… Marathoning a show on Netflix while stitching is completely optional, but highly recommended.
Repeat again for each consecutive pillow you make. Did I mention that I decided to make one for my side of the family and one for my husband’s as well? I was an embroidering machine!
Finally, stuff your pillow form back in and enjoy the finished product!
Here is the pillow I made for our small family, in which Bryan and I are outnumbered by our pets…
(P.S. How awesome would it be to include a new baby announcement on a pillow like this? Nope, sorry, not pregnant, just creative…)
A much more filled-in version from my side of the family:
Some close-ups of the no-doubt-about-it-hand-stitched-stitchery, although I am pretty proud of that “G”.
And for Bryan’s side of the family, I threw in a little bit of pink for fun! Why not?
Ha. All those hearts side by side on my couch just crack me up. I realize the design is more than a little quirky, but I think my family has come to expect that from me by now! And I love that it’s an offbeat way to express a cliché yet still very true idea – home IS where the heart is!
So tell me, are you inspired to add any personalized embroidery to your home (vintage body part imagery or not)? Just think of all the possibilities!
Mekenzie @ interiorsbykenz.com says
THIS IS AMAZING! Like, I don't have enough words for home much I love this project. You nailed it big time.
Thank you Kenz! You get a big mushy virtual hug for that! 🙂
Alexis Middleton says
I have to second that – NAILED IT
Cassie @ Primitive & Proper says
this is SO fun! you are brilliant and full of great ideas!
Thank you Cassie! You're so sweet! <3
Staci @ My Friend Staci says
VERY cute and creative idea! I love the idea of personalizing something ready-made.
Thank you Staci! Yes, I agree – it opens up a world of possibilities!
For My Love Of says
That G totally gave me goosebum *applause*
Yay! I'm so gosh darn proud of that G 😉
Amber Wills says
Oh my gosh Brynne!! These are amazing!! Also high five that we both posted about hand sewn things today! AND in red thread. We are basically the same person. 😉
I know, how perfect! Hey – if you've got some extra red thread laying around, I know of this great project idea for you… 😉
Katja Kromann says
This is so awesome and amazing and I just love it. Your stitching has that wonderful dimension to it and I just love this whole design.
Thank you Katja! <3
Wow, totally fun. love these! Pinning!
Ashley, thank you so much! You're my hero! 🙂
That is soooo amazing! What a genius idea! It's always nice to see my name on something, too…..that never happens.
How awesome! Gillian is my younger sister – we would always browse those racks of Christmas ornaments/souvenirs etc. with names printed on them trying to find our names in vain. So I know what you mean! 🙂
Jess McGurn says
I think you need a show. So creative and unique! That pillow is just quirky enough to be perfect!
Aw, thank you Jess! That is the sweetest comment! <3
Caitlin @ Desert Domicile says
So awesome Brynne! Great gift idea 🙂
Thank you Caitlin!
Adorable! I love the vintage look so much! You seriously win the internet's award for most patient.
Aw, thanks Michelle! I'll take it! 🙂
This is such a fun idea, so well executed! That G is something to be proud of indeed. As a Gretchen, I know better than most people how tricky cursive Gs are 😉
Thank you Gretchen! It was a Christmas miracle 😉
Stephanie Volkert says
Totally cute! If I did this, I'd definitely have to include our furbabies too – the two dogs and the hedgehog! It's been years since I cross stitched, but I think I remember the basics.
Yes, the furbabies are totally part of the family!
It had actually been quite a while since I attempted any embroidery too! But it was pretty easy to pick back up on!
Kim @ NewlyWoodwards says
I seriously laughed out loud at "sorry, not pregnant." This is an AWESOME project. I love the addition of the names in stitching. So cute and homespun, and a perfect mix with the design. Love this.
Haha, I'm glad! I've accidentally set off a pregnancy rumor before that had my extended family calling to congratulate before I had a chance to clarify, so better play it safe! 🙂
Thanks Kim! <3
Laurel Stavros says
So great, so creative!!