An Instant Family Heirloom


A creative way to make a beautiful ring pillow that will be passed down through the generations, is by using antique fabrics already a part of your family’s heirlooms! Grab your grandmother’s antique fancy napkins, and get to a-sewing!

This ring pillow is made out 150-year-old napkins that were a wedding present to my mom and dad in 1971:

They came from my grandmother’s friend’s antique store.

I just LOVE the shimmering fabric embossed with a leaf design and that gorgeous celestial blue thread. It looks almost Colonial, although I’d be majorly impressed if they were THAT old. I should have one of my PhD scientist-y friends do some carbon dating on the thing. Or something.

Take a look-see at the finished product:

As you can maybe sorta tell from the picture above, I didn’t sew it PERFECTLY. Whatever. Nobody’s going to look at any ring pillow that closely.

How did I do it? I pinned the two napkins together and sewed two rows right on top of each other (for extra strength) on each of the four sides, leaving a hole on one side for stuffing the pillow. I was originally going to flip it inside out to hide the fringe, but I decided I liked the fringe so left it as-is, being sure to cut the threads close to the fabric so the sewing looked neater.

I stuffed it full of natural wool that I carded. Haha. Reading that now, that sentence looks ridiculous. But it’s true. I went to Waldorf schools growing up, which if you know anything about Waldorf, you’ll know that those schools are all about the natural arts and crafts, including shearing sheep, carding, spinning yarn and knitting socks from said yarn. You know. The usual. 😉 So I had some old wool lying around from my Waldorfian days, and I put it to good use.

I had to restuff my pillow once, because the first time was stuffing FAIL. Altogether too lumpy. After round two of stuffing and prodding and pulling (until one of my seams was rather distressed, sniff, sniff) I sewed up the hole and got to picking out a button to put in the center. Later on, I’ll get some skinny blue ribbon to secure the rings to the pillow. I haven’t figured out how to attach the ribbon to the button yet. Maybe sew it directly onto the button…

Anyway, the button. Can I just say how excited I am about this button?

I had a lot of contenders in my button box. Isn’t that heart box darling? (Sarcasm.)

I had them all laid out when my mom pointed out the pretty ivory fabric button with hand-embroidered eyelet, and said “Oh, your grandma made that button! It was for an eyelet bathrobe she made for me when I was expecting…”

Sold! On the grandma-pregnancy-robe-button! Which is the name I gave my button.

Have you sewed your own ring pillow? Did you use a pattern, or use any family heirloom fabrics? I could envision making a lovely one out of two handkerchiefs, a small crocheted tablecloth, a christening gown or two doilies.

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