Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Portrait Pillow by Unicia R. Buster

Photos have been long seen as a way to document life so that we may remember what has transpired. In the twenty-first century, photos are the cheapest and most easily accessible way of documenting our lives. People have captured these moments directly on websites like Flickr, Facebook, YouTube and DropBox; in ordered print books from Shutterfly, Snapfish, iPhoto, MyPublisher and Blurb; on items like blankets, coffee mugs, mouse pads, t-shirts and canvas from Walmart, Walgreens, VistaPrint, Zazzle and CafePress; and in craft projects like scrapbooking, photo collages, decoupage and photo quilts. With photos, the possibilities are endless.

Over the next several months, I will post examples of different ways to present favorite photos of loved ones (living or deceased) beyond a traditional photo album or in a frame. Reason: It is a unique way to showcase a special person in your life, to not only reflect on a favorite shared moment, but to promote story telling and conversation about that special someone when others enter your life.

Portrait Pillow
Below are portrait pillows I made for others.

This photo was taken from a Facebook photo of a young boy who died early in life.

This photo sent to me electronically via email and was taken using a cell phone camera. The people are still living.

These photos were sent to me electronically via email and were taken using a cell phone camera. The people (and pets) are still living. These were done as a set.

  1. 1 sheet of Printable Fabric
  2. Computer/Inkjet Printer
  3. Digital Image
  4. 100% Cotton Fabric in 2-4 colors
  5. Thread
  6. Needle or Sewing Machine
  7. Scissors
  8. Pillow form size 14”sq.
  9. Iron
Majority of my supplies were purchased from Joann Fabric and Craft Stores. You also may purchase these items from AC Moore, Michaels and Walmart Supercenter.
I like to use 100% cotton fabric
because it's easy to sew, comes
in a multitude of colors and it's durable.
Choose colors that compliment the
photo used keeping in mind the
person's favorite color(s).
Price ranges from $2-$12 per yard
Basic 14'sq. pillow firm.
Price $5.39 at Joann's on line
Colorfast Printable Fabric. Once
treated, the color lasts for several
washes. Price is about $20 for
10 8.5"x11"sheets. Also comes
in packs of 3, 6 and 20.

  1. Prewash fabrics so the colors will not bleed into your picture when washed. Iron flat.
  2. Size the photo in a photo editing program to your desired size. (Note: the larger the image, the less fabric you will have around the image. Keep size smaller than 8.5” x 11” [size of printable fabric]. Square size works best for easy measuring). I used Photoshop but any photo editing software will work.
  3. Print the image on the printable fabric. Printer must be inkjet. There are many types of printable fabrics. Make sure to follow instructions. You also, if you're adventurous, make your own.
  4. Follow the directions on the printable fabric package to make colorfast.
  5. Cut out your image leaving a quarter inch seam allowance.
  6. Decide how many colors you want to use and make measurements for each strip. (For example: for a 6.5” sq. picture, you will need two 6.5” x 2.5” pieces, four 10.5” x 2.5” pieces, two 14.5” x 2.5” pieces and two 14.5” x 10” pieces for the back.)
  7. Stitch the two smaller pieces, one to the top of the photo and one to the bottom of the photo, right sides together. Unfold and iron seams flat.
  8. Stitch two of the next size pieces to both sides of the photo, right sides together. Unfold and iron seams flat.
  9. Stitch the remaining two next size pieces, one to the top of your square and one to the bottom, right sides together. Unfold and iron seams flat.
  10. Stitch the remaining two (largest) strips to the sides of your piece, rights sides together. Unfold and iron seams flat.
  11. Make a hem on the 14.5” side of both of the 14.5” x 10” pieces. 
  12. With right sides together, pin the two pieces to the square piece. The edges will overlap in the center.
  13. Stitch around all four sides
  14. Clip the corners.
  15. Turn inside out and insert the pillow form through the back opening.
  16. You may embellish using fabric markers and/or fabric paints to add name, birth and death date, beads, buttons, etc.


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