Sunday, January 31, 2021

Quilt Your City on Pillows

Out of wall space? How about making some quilted pillows?

I might not have thought of this, if I hadn't been asked. A neighbor saw my pandemic porch quilt show (the subject of my last several blog posts), and commissioned me to make four 18" pillows, including two with scenes from our town, South Pasadena, which is part of Los Angeles. We negotiated a price and a backing color - grey - and I was off. It took about two weeks, and here they are. 

The first one in the lineup above represents the town's Gold Line MTA Train crossing. For research, I took my family on a masked Christmas Day photo safari. Action photography is not my forte; it was surprisingly challenging to catch a shot of a train in mid-intersection. But I got a few.

I also photographed our town's iconic "walking man" statue, next to the station. My daughter did a little leap for me, and she provides scale for just how tall this guy is.

The photos helped me set the scene. 
I imported a walking man photo into my CorelDraw program, and traced it, to make the statue outline. Just for fun, the client and I decided to add a small person with the same profile striding in the opposite direction.
There are two coffee shops next to the tracks, so I created a blue table with coffee and pie in the corner. The small shiny black circles on the railroad crossing pole are tiny, vintage black plastic buttons. 
On the back flap, there's a departing train. 
The second scene that the clients requested was our town's 19th century watering trough. Most of the time, it looks like this.
But on Thursday afternoons and evenings, it's surrounded by a lively farmer's market. So I circled my trough with goodies. Here's how the piece looked flat. 
The ostrich is our town's mascot - 100 years ago, South Pas. was home to an eccentric tourist-trap ostrich farm. Historians say it put  us on the map. 
(The ostriches were not purple, I just did that for fun. The farm no longer exists, which is sad for our town's economy, but happy for the ostriches, who were forced to schlep the tourists around in large wooden carriages.)
Here's the scene as a pillow. 
And I added some more food fabrics to the back. 
The two other pillows that my clients requested were a swimming pool pillow - here it is before assembly...
...and then after the pillow was inserted. 
The clients got the idea from the swimming pool quilt I blogged about a while back, with a tutorial about how I gave the pools depth with sturdy fusible interfacing and reverse applique, HERE

Finally, they wanted a pillow with my tessellating coffee cups design. Before stuffing, it looked like this.
....And after stuffing: 
Showing this pillow on Facebook led to a discussion in which my candid friends agreed that these look less like coffee mugs with handles (my intention), than some kind of bird or alien heads. Whatever you think it looks like, if you want to make your own version, the pattern is in my "Quilts for Coffee Lovers" PDF booklet on etsy, HERE

Have you made quilted pillows?


  1. My mother, who moved to South Pasadena in 1929, used to talk about the Ostrich Farm, as well as the Mt. Lowe Railway and the big hotel on Raymond Hill. When my parents remodeled an old farmhouse on Magnolia Street in the 1940s, they collected free used bricks from Raymond Hill, left after the hotel was torn down.

    1. Thanks for chiming in, how wonderful that your mom remembered those iconic places! And that there's a house on on Magnolia that has bricks from the Raymond Hotel (do you remember the street number?). I would have loved to see the hotel, it must have been beautiful. An ostrich farm could be fun, conceivably, if the ostriches were treated well and not forced to cart people around!

  2. These are all great! A wonderful to document your town history and bring the outside in. I love all the details you added to bring even more meaning to each piece.

    1. Thanks, making the scenic pillows was even more fun than I anticipated. Especially doing the fun stuff like the little table and the reverse walking man! I think anyone could do their town, and they really make a good gift!


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