DIY: VW Bus Pillow, Part 1

After many pleasant minutes ogling fabric online for Zeke’s VW bus pillow, I ended up with a print I grabbed at whim at Gather Here (370 Broadway, Cambridge). The print is geometric & groovy, flower-like without actually being flowery. But I only found a wee scrap–a fat quarter! I don’t care. I’m forging on.

I considered using linen for the VW bus print, but fabric paint is tricky stuff, and I wasn’t sure how it would sit on linen’s bumpy texture. Instead, I went for Kona natural cotton and neon orange fabric paint.

Is it boastful to say that I found my VW bus stencil from a couple of years ago helpful? I printed it out and cut the freezer paper stencil following my own instructions (you are being kind and optimistic if you think I could have retained this information unaided). I will post the complete pattern for the pillow when I’m done (for future me!).

Alphabetical Bookcase

Embrace your inner librarian! Wear cat glasses and a lot of wool cardigans! Above all, alphabetize!

I painted this bookcase for a school library to (loosely) organize paperback picture books, but I think it would be fun to have in a kid’s room. I used precut cardboard stencils and leftover paint from other projects. The bookcase was leftover, too, and languishing in the basement. I set the bookcase on the ground for browsing, but I think the stencils would work well vertically, too.


VW Bug Pillow

Tell the truth: are you focusing on the VW bug pillow or are you coveting the vinyl chair held together with lime green duct tape? Sorry, but it’s a one-of-a-kind treasure that only the luckiest few can possess.

Summertime may not be optimal for freezer paper stencils–using an iron in 90-degree heat can be a wilting experience. But well worth it, of course. (Here are step-by-step instructions.) This VW bug pillow follows the VW bus pillowcases I made earlier this year in a series I’m now calling Vehicles I Have Known and Loved.

For the VW bug pillow, I used a pattern for an envelope enclosure. Beige linen in the front, groovy cotton print in the back, and orange piping.

Next up for the vehicle stencil series is the true love of my childhood . . . the 1974 mini Winnie (that’s Winnebago, for the uninitiated). Long before I grew up to own a vinyl chair, I longed for this camper.


Freezer paper stencils, part III

Finally (!) a birthday party that was an unqualified success. First, half an hour of trying to float Polly Pockets with balloons, which is apparently hilarious if you are eight. Yes, they will sail up to the ceiling! Then, a busy hour of making freezer paper stencil t-shirts, topped off with chocolate cake.

The stenciling was the perfect level of difficulty for four crafty eight-year-old girls. We used stencils from some of those little Dover books to make patterns, except for my daughter who wanted to stencil a Union Jack, figures. The girls traced their patterns on the paper, and I cut them out–OK that was a little frantic–and ironed the paper to the shirts. Then, the girls painted using sponge brushes. It took a little convincing for some that it wasn’t necessary to paint inside the lines, but once they got going they were great.

A few hints in case you want to try this activity. Put a layer of paper, wax or freezer, between the layers of fabric. Some paint soaked through to the back of my daughter’s t-shirt. (She was more than happy to apply paint liberally…) Get started early, because the paint takes some time to dry. Iron on the reverse side of the fabric for 30 seconds. I’m not sure why the reverse side, but the Union Jack has stayed bright and cheerful through several washes.

All the girls were so pleased with their shirts, and it was really nice to send them home with something useful and substantial. A reprieve from goody bags!

Freezer Paper Stencils: VW Bus Pillowcases

Punch buggy. (Or in this case, Punch bus.) Spring is here & so is the VW bus parked outside my house. (The sign in the window says: Hippies Use Backdoor.)

So in honor of the reappearance of spring and VW buses, I decided to give some old white pillowcases new life. Plus I wanted to make something for my 11-year-old who is easily embarrassed by T-shirts proclaiming anything, let alone T-shirts homemade by his mother, so I figured pillowcases were a safe zone, free from 5th grade peer review.

I cut a stencil on freezer paper from an image of a VW bus that I downloaded online. As I’ve mentioned before, freezer paper stencils are wicked easy & satisfying. Here is the complete how-to. To trim the pillowcases, I bought a half a yard of Happy Camper fabric from the Monaluna Circa 60 Beach Mod line for Birch Fabrics (available at Fabricworm). I should’ve bought a yard, but I was too cheap ($8.25 for half a yard!). It’s organic, alas.

 (The print is darker than how it appears on Fabricworm.)

No room for error. The pressure was on! I sewed the fabric directly onto the existing pillow trim (I split the seam for the trim–but not the rest of the pillowcase–to make it easier to sew). For the edge that you see on the outside of the pillowcase, I folded 1/4″ of the fabric, ironed, and sewed as close to the edge as I could. For the hem inside of the pillowcase, I folded 1/4″ over twice to completely encase the raw edge. Not sure if this is the best way to add trim, but it looks decent and adds a pleasing weight to the end of the pillow.