Here is another completed project for my Holiday Challenge: turning a square pillow into a smocked round pillow for my older sister. I finished it last week but only just got around to posting about it. The pattern I used was from One-Yard Wonders, and while I don't think I did such a great job, it was another winner from this book. (Full disclosure: I'm a member of Amazon Associates, so if you click through the book link and purchase anything on Amazon, it may result in my earning a small -- very small -- referral fee.)
This was almost-wholly hand-sewn. It was my first time smocking anything, and wow was it time-intensive. I had to use 1-inch grid fabric (fabric that looks like grid paper with 1-inch squares), poke holes in it for 1.5-inch squares, then transfer the marks onto my pillow fabric by marking dressmaker's/tailor's chalk through the holes. Then I had to draw lines between the chalk dots and use those as guides for where to hand-sew the points together. OK, I know that sounds confusing. And in the actual doing of it I was definitely confused. Precision and focus were necessary for this project, and to be honest I was distracted a lot because of the busy holidays and the seemingly-never ending process of moving. 1) I had to stop and restart several times, so that I had to figure out what to do all over again several times, and 2) the relearning process was made worse by the fact that the chalk marks would fade due to my own hands rubbing on the fabric. Another issue was one that I seem to have more often than I would have expected, which is that the fabric I used for the pillow was an inch too narrow. Usually fabric comes in either 45" or 60" standard widths, at least according to the patterns you buy. But it often seems that fabric actually comes in 44" or 56" or something NOT standard. In this case, it meant that there was one row of smocking that couldn't be completed properly, so there is a bit of a bunch in a row that I couldn't quite fix. So in the photos above, you only see the good sides.
What I'm particularly proud of, however, is the fact that I covered the buttons myself. I almost didn't cover the buttons, with the excuse that I am a beginner, but I'm glad I found a way to do it because the pillow looks way spiffier with matching buttons. I found a good tutorial to make fabric-covered buttons. Then I found a good tutorial to sew the buttons into the pillow with the least amount of piercing -- amazingly, I only had to push the tufting needle through the pillow ONCE.
The pillow isn't perfect and there was too much fabric for the size of the pillow used, but it doesn't look too bad and it was a good learning experience overall. It's something I would try again if I had the time.