Monday Quilting: Felix The Fox Den Pillow

When we moved, I culled my sewing room. I could have brought 7 years’ worth of sewing flotsam and jetsam into our new home, but I welcomed the opportunity to purge. Oddly, I found it most difficult to part with my quilt scrap stash. I decided to keep my “blue & white” stash, my “rainbow” stash, and Lila’s baby/toddler clothes for quilting.  I also allowed myself to keep the several dozen finished blocks I discovered while culling.  Everything else was binned or re-homed.

In the process of clearing out the dross, I got excited about rendering these shards of pretty fabrics into Beautiful Things we could enjoy around the house.  I thought I’d share a bit of my weekender quilting every Monday around here, how’s that?

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He keeps his skull collection on the mantel, picked up in the field and kept after cataloging and cleaning.

This is our family room/Stephen’s work-den. He works from home, too.  In our old place we shared a much smaller room for work/sewing/stashing his camping, fishing, field and painting gear. I like this room; it’s as cozy, comfy and interesting as he is. I thought it would be nice to start here with a few pillows and eventually a throw to enhance (but not change) the den-feel of his space.  Then I can move on to other rooms…

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I found Felix the Fox on Shape Moth while looking for 6″ animal blocks.  He’s 10″ and detailed, but I still wanted to call him into being. Stephen liked him, too, so I whipped up Felix over the weekend.

As a little girl, I was a keen pillow quilter. I liked the symmetry and order of quilt blocks, and the magic of making lovely things from tiny scraps of fabric. I did not, however, have the attention span to make more than one or two of the same square, so I made pillows. My seams were variable at best, and I stuffed them without much thought for durability. Those pillows had a tendency to leak fluff through split pieced seams if I used them as pillows, very disappointing.

Now that I’m a grown up pro crafty lady, I know how to make much nicer finished pillows that I can use. With Felix, I used batting, backing, and a side zip. Like a boss:

Once I finished paper-piecing the square, I layered fusible Pellon behind Felix. It is nice and secure once fused. Pillows are a great way to use ordinary quilt batting scraps, too, though it needs to be pinned or basted. I added an extra layer of Pellon to make the center square more prominent, and added a backing fabric.

Then I pinned a bit along the brown border to secure the layers. I used a regular foot to quilt Felix, starting at the border seam. This worked fine because it’s a very small bit of quilting, fused together. I echoed the square in a sort of spiral-with-corners, using the edge of my foot to space the lines evenly. Then I traced the edges of Felix’s body and his different colors with a line of stitches. Originally, I thought I’d heavily quilt the background, but I stopped here because he seemed quite charming enough. Then I squared off the edges of the block/batting/backing sandwich.

After that, I inserted an invisible zipper along one side of the block, joining it to the pillow back. Again, I didn’t use anything special, just my regular invisible zipper foot. Then I stitched the rest of the pillow front to the back, trimmed the corners, and turned.  I pressed and steamed the whole pillow before adding the pillow form. If/when I do this again, I’ll use a longer invisible zipper because it was hard to insert the form. I won eventually, though! I used a 10″ invisible zip on a 15″ square pillow, but 12″ would be easier.

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Voilà! I smile every time I see Felix, and while the second layer of batting is subtle I think it gives a nice effect, a little like embossed tin:

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Do you make quilt pillows? Any tips for including the men in your life in the quilty-sewy endeavours? Have you made Felix before, or another paper-pieced animal? What was the hardest thing to let go of last time you culled the sewing room?


19 comments

  1. He’s so cute ;o) I hate ‘wasting’ scraps too, and the fabrics you fall out of love with before you get to use them. I recently used a lot up quilting and decor weight fabrics by sewing a stack of tote bags and coin purses for the craft stall at our school fete.

    • Thanks! Ah, the fallen-out-of-love ones… The florally orange I used for the backing and the pillow back was a bit like that… I bought heaps for a particular quilt, then decided I hated the color with the other ones…! That’s a great idea, using that kind of fabric for fete sewing… (Americans- School Fetes are like craft fair bakey fundraiser things..)

  2. Hello! Nice to see you again! :) My current fave use of scraps is bunting. I am a tad addicted, and am working on 35m of proper double sided stuff for hiring out, as opposed to the one sided pinked strings we sell in the shop. And lampshades. It takes less than .5m of a cotton to makeup to a 12 inch diameter shade so I have squirrelled away some pieces I think will be perfect for them. I just need the time!

    • Hi Mrs C! Ah, I keep intending to write to you and not getting there. I hope you’re doing well in the new shop? Bunting! When I first heard of sewing up bunting, I wasn’t that into it but Kylie has some really cute ones she uses in the shop.. I bet yours are niiiice. Maybe that’d be a good Lila project, sewing lots of triangles…

      And lampshades, it’s like you’re reading my mind… I’ve been thinking of dabbling there myself. Any quick tips for a lampshade newbie?

      • It IS a good one for Lila. I sew them like I am chain piecing, from top to tip then putting the next one under the foot, then work my way again from top to tip, cutting the next one and turning it as I go. Then no troubles with the point getting caught up under the foot. Then turn, press and top stitch the same way.
        Lamps, well, if you can find the bits over there that would be a good start, I have lots of inquiries from Oz at our Etsy shop where we sell kits and I jsut find it hard to believe noone is making them over there. I can email you the instructions for ours – I reckon a clever person like yoursef could pick it up easily, and avoid the inevitable newbie mistakes that way :)
        Shop is good, performing better, life is lovely. Come over to SentfrommyiRon and say hi! :)

  3. That’s great (actually the design reminds me of a collage fox I made a few years ago), and as a non-quilter I never completely understood the batting part, but you’ve made it quite clear. I used to hand-sew cushions out of old t-shirts and other bits, nothing too fancy, sewing-wise, but I enjoyed it. Then I somehow ended up with lots of cushions that no one wanted, and stuffing them *properly* with enough cushion stuffing so they kept their shape was working out quite expensive, so I stopped… Maybe I’ll get back to it again…

    • Oh, he would make a good collage..! I like to pick up ugly pillows on clearance at homeware shops. I can ditch the cover and use the form, then it’s really easy to make a new cover. :D It’s usually cheaper to do that than to buy forms outright… Hooray, hope you get back to doing something you love!

  4. It’s gorgeous and I loved following your process. I have just started a big patchwork project (all by hand!) and am still not sure if I’ll be able to quilt it myself (either by hand or with a regular machine). But that’s a logn way off yet. Love the Piccadilly Circus painting by the way!

    • Thanks so much, Chica! Oooh, I love big quilts, I have one percolating here for my new bedroom… But yes, it can be so intimidating to quilt them! I’m alright with smaller things like Felix or 1m x 1m throws, but if it gets much bigger I really struggle. I think for my next big quilt, I’m going to send it to one of my quilter friends in Brisbane. I used to work with her, she taught me a lot, and nowadays she takes in quilting… Has one of those big machines. Anyway, might be worth looking into it, I like to quilt, myself, but for a big project it’s just really hard to handle on a small machine…

      Thanks, about the painting! Stephen started it a few years ago as a wedding present for friends who now have two kids, lol. It used to live in a closet but I like it and want him to finish it for our friends, so I put it on display… ;)

  5. Hm, hardest stuff to part with are the kids tshirts I swear I will repurpose. And I have, but they keep piling up. I have hacked the good bits into a save bag and use the rest for rags, but I fear the good bits may not work out together. Strangely, ditching MY worn out makes and fails is far easier.

    • Awwww, I feel ya! I find it really hard to let go of old Lila clothes, especially if I/we made them and we love the fabric… I found a few little squares shaped like dresses I want to use for her quilt, maybe an applique square or something would be nice for the t-shirts? I use jersey scraps in my blocks, I just fuse lightweight woven interfacing to the back and away I go… :)

  6. He is SO ADORABLE! What a great way to give a man some sewing love. It is a hard thing to achieve.
    I’ve got a couple paper piecing things I want to try. I’ve never done a pillow like that before.
    I’ve been doing my best to declutter as I move as well. No sense letting that stuff guilt me in another house. If I haven’t worked on it here I won’t do it there. I’m also trying to finish up the WIP that have resurfaced.

    • Thanks, Em! I laid back on him last night while working at the couch, very comfy Foxie, too. I was sold on paper piecing when I went to a quilt exhibit here a few years ago. They had one enormous quilt on display with thousands of tiny, perfect little points and squares and shapes. It turns out it’d been paper pieced by Australian women on their way to this country… The same exhibit had an unfinished paper pieced bed quilt, the paper was old newspapers and letters from the family home, it made the quilt into a really cool time capsule… I always tear my paper out, though.

      Yes! No guilt! I kept asking myself while I culled “Have I used this in the past 6 months, year? Will i use it for something in the next 6 months?”

      Ooooh, and the WIPs, yes, I found so many really nice WIPs while I was moving… Several quilts of WIPs, lol…

  7. He’s great Steph, a really nice addition to a beautiful cosy room. I’ve only done a little paper piecing and none for a very long time. I must try some again, you’ve inspired me. Great to read your blog again, it’s a lovely way to keep connected with you. Take care of yourself.

    • Hey Jane- Oh, thanks so much for commenting here! :D You know, Lyn taught me paper piecing…. It took aaages for it to sink in, but once I “got it” I have hardly done any piecing that wasn’t paper pieced… Oooh and I hope you like my next-week quilting post, it’s the UFO/WIP of Susan’s amazing medallion quilt… :D I decided to use the flying geese and “waves” blocks, and put a mariner’s compass in the middle… !

      • My paper piecing efforts were very basic Steph, nothing as intricate as Foxy :). I look forward to seeing what you’ve done with Susan’s quilt. I think I only completed about 5 of the blocks for that one, but I did find all the patterns the other day. Another one to add to the list. Very impressed with the invisible zip you used as well, zips scare me and I always avoid them lol. Pity I never had an opportunity to get a lesson from you when I was able to. Oh well might have to come visit you some time. Happy sewing :)

  8. Cute cushion. I like the idea of adding an extra layer of batting behind the feature square to add dimension. Looks lovely. You’ve inspired me to make some quilted cushions :)


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