Devil on my shoulder throw pillow


I had a lot of time to think while I was sewing this little project and I got to wondering why I hadn’t sewn much before. After much consideration I decided that I blamed my primary school for my late entry into the sewing world. I’ve dabbled with sewing before, but I have never quite enjoyed it as much as I do now. I think my aversion to actually trying to properly sew is because I was forced to do it at primary school. No, I know – we were all forced to do a lot of things at primary school that we didn’t enjoy. But, in my little, middle-of-the-road primary school in suburban Johannesburg, in the mid 90s, sewing to me embodied an awful sexism that was rife in this primary school at the time. I know this sounds so melodramatic – I know! But the fact is, it still gets me annoyed. My ridiculous sad story is this: in my final year of primary school there were two classes where boys and girls were separated, PE (ok, I can let that one go) and…. home economics/ wood work. The boys trotted off to learn how to make stupid mini cricket bats, and us girls went to learn how to sew and knit – like we lived in Stepford! And even as a 12 year old it to me beggared belief that my primary school was enforcing these ridiculous gender stereo types. What sort of message were they trying to send to us?  Now I want to be clear that I actually enjoy sewing and knitting, but I also enjoy woodwork. And I didn’t appreciate being told I had to sew because of my sex. I think it would only have been fair to allow every pupil the right to choose, and/or teach every pupil how to sew and make useless mini cricket bats! Seriously it’s not difficult….

Anyway – I’m into sewing now, but not in a traditional way (*gives finger to primary school). I present you the “Devil on my shoulder throw pillow”.


Why devil on my shoulder? Well because this pillow summarises all the excuses David and I use with each other to get out of doing household chores/ the excuses I say to myself to avoid getting off the couch:

– “There is a pug on my lap” – anyone in our household who has a sleepy pug on their lap is excused from moving (because a sleepy pug is generally preferable to an awake pug who insists on staring at you until you play with him), which often results in bribing a sleepy pug to sit on your lap. Which results in said pug becoming even more aware that he runs the household and harder to control – I know, its a horrible cycle…

– “The TV gets lonely” – because no TV should feel unwanted

– “Dominos texted and offered to make us pizza” – true story

– “We will start our healthy eating plan tomorrow” – usually precedes another bottle of wine and ice cream

-“MORE WINE” – usually follows the above

There are more, but this is getting embarrassing because I’m sounding like a lazy alcoholic (to which some may say, “if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…”)

So how to do this… Well I came across some free motion embroidery on Pinterest, and my goodness these are some amazing ideas out there. Basically free motion embroidery is where you sort of use your sewing machine as a way to sketch with cotton. All you need is a free motion embroidery foot which is relatively inexpensive online (mine cost about 3 pounds). It’s different from a normal sewing foot in that the first thing you do is either lower or cover the feed dogs (I cover the feed dogs because I have a cheaper sewing machine). The feed dogs are the little teeth that sit underneath the material and feed it through the sewing machine. The actual foot is also different as it hovers just above the material so that you can move the material around in any direction you want. It takes a little bit of getting used to.

Here is more of a guide than an actual tutorial:

1. I had some old grey pillow cases lying around that I didn’t like. So I used these as the base for the project. It’s a great project if you have pillow cases that you don’t like anymore and/or are stained or ruined in some way. (You can of course sew your own- that would be far more awesome, and there are loads of tutorials online for how to do this. And it is a great beginner project).

2. I cut a piece of black fabric to size using the pillow case as a template. I cut the fabric slightly smaller than the pillow case as I wanted the edges to show.

3. I embroidered my bad thoughts onto the piece of fabric using my free motion embroidery foot.

4. I hand sewed the embroidered fabric onto the pillowcase with a contrasting embroidery cotton.