by Susan Beth
Space Saving Ideas
Frugal Storage Solutions
Crafting Without Spending Money
I got this idea from a friend, and I think it's worth sharing. We live in New England, which means we have very cold winters. Since we turn the thermostat down to save dollars on heating, we need to have lots of blankets, comforters and afghans handy for winter months. The problem is, these are all extremely bulky items which means throughout Spring/Summer/early Fall they hog storage space.
What my friend does is turn them into pillows! Floor pillows, throw pillows, heap of pillows in the corner reading nest pillows. Instead of filling up your linen closet, they now are useful year round.
If you have any sewing skills at all, it's very easy:
- Take the item you want to store, and experiment with folding it up until you find a shape that would make a useful pillow. This will become the 'filling' of the pillow.
- Measure the pile to determine the size for the cover. Since pillows work best if they're rather firm, what you do is wrap a tape measure around the pile (the width of the top, down the side, across the bottom, up the opposite side) and pull it tight enough to 'compress' the filling to a suitable of firmness. Do the same type of measure going the other way (the length of the top, down, across the bottom, up).
- Cut two rectangles of cloth. For floor pillows you'll want something sturdy, and darkish patterned materials won't show dirt as easily. Throw pillows can be made from whatever suits your decor or whatever leftover material you have to hand. Each piece should each be 1/2 your 'width' measure by 1/2 your 'length' measure. (Don't bother adding on extra material to allow for what will be lost in the seams. Your pillow will end up an inch or two smaller and thus a little firmer...trust me, firmer is better in this case.)
- Put the two pieces of cloth together, right sides together, and sew 1/2" seams on three sides and about three inches on each end of the remaining side. (That is, leave just the center of one side open.) Restitch these seams a hair away from the first line of stitches to reinforce them.
- Tie the fabric in each corner into a small single knot -- this will create a sort of 'third dimension' to the cover, eliminating what would otherwise probably be saggy, not very well filled flat corners. (Alternate, if you know the technique: open the corners and fold them 'the other' way, and stitch a diagonal 'squared off corner line' a couple of inches long in each corner. This is easy to do, but hard to explain just in words, so I'm not trying.)
- Turn the pillow cover inside out. This actually brings the "right" side of the fabric to view. Tuck/shove your folded up blanket into the cover, and then close up the rest of the fourth side. You can use strips of velcro, zippers, etc, if you want the cover to be taken on and off frequently. I just basted them shut by hand. I figure I'll only be putting the covers on and taking them off once per year, so why get fancy? It only takes a few minutes to do the sewing, and cutting the fairly large stitches open will take seconds.
If you are into sewing, you can make the covers as ornamental as you like: embroidery, needlepoint, applique, patchwork, fancy closing techniques. You can also experiment with different shapes -- try rolling a blanket to make a 'sausage' pillow. Fold a couple of blankets together to make a larger pillow. Have fun!
Or, if you want the absolute minimum of effort: just use ordinary pillow cases! Fold the comforter or whatever to a suitable width, stuff it into the pillow case, and machine stitch (long stitches -- 6 to the inch -- so you can re-open it easier come winter) the opening shut after folding down inside any extra length of the pillowcase.
From my experiments:
- Polyester type 'puffy' comforters turn into floor sized pillows.
- Cotton thermal blankets and afghans turn into pillows suitable for tossing on couches/window seats.
- Personally, I wouldn't do this with 1) real down comforters (I'm afraid they might not fluff up again properly) or 2) items made from satin or other materials that might retain sharp creases, though my friend says they come out fine. She just pops them in a dryer and tumble them for a bit on 'cold' setting.
"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money please send it to MyStory@stretcher.com
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