Sewing can be a precise art of measurements and strategies. But at times, it’s kind of fun to loosen the standards and try for something less typical—and the results can be quirky and intriguing! This is what I like to refer to as Picasso Sewing. The title is a bit misleading since there’s structure and definition to Picasso’s works, but the idea of odd elements that don’t necessarily fit together is a fair representation of what you could create if you try for a more lenient method of making your next sewing project.
For example, a Picasso throw pillow, which I recently did!
First, I chose fabrics that fit together without matching in the most conventional sense—two patterns that are both based on geometric shapes and lines of color.
The primary colors stand out from one another, but the blue fabric includes a similar pink shade to what’s on the pink. The most distinctive difference between these two fabrics though could be the pieced-together look of the blue fabric. Whereas the pink blocks are solid pieces, the blue ones were already a patchwork design since multiple geometric shapes form the overall design. The fabric choices essentially match in a shared pink color and a general foundation in geometry, but they’re different enough to create a mismatched look.
For the backing, I chose a different pink fabric that comes with elastic-esque lines of fabric.
That elastic quality made this fabric a gamble since I didn’t know how the bunched areas would work when the front and back were sewn together, but remember that I was taking risks with this one!
Once I had my out-of-the-fox fabric selected, it was time to start piecing together the front part of my pillow. I chose to go with a patchwork design, but I was lenient with how I put the patches together—and even how I cut them. Basically, I cut out a piece of one fabric, then cut other fabric shapes that were similar, but not necessarily exact, in size. Once I had pieces that looked (to my eye) sensible for a patchwork project—an estimation of approximately 2-3 inches in either direction—I decided on the pattern those pieces would take and started sewing the blocks together.
This is another step where basic sewing strategy was put on a shelf to create something more Picasso than an average throw pillow. I didn’t pin the individual blocks together, and I tugged them so that they fit alongside their neighboring pieces essentially on whims. I just tried to get a good amount of space for each block of fabric, and I didn’t worry too much about making everything exact and organized.
The result was an interesting setup where the blocks were tilted and varied in size, and I love it!
I did give a bit more thought to piecing the lines of blocks together by using a handful of straight pins, but the messy appearance still exists in this pillow!
I ended up adding a fourth row of blocks to get the pillow a little bigger (I seriously eye-balled and compared fabric blocks to get every measurement here), but after that, it was time to apply the backing. To do that, I was again unorganized in my methodology. I laid the top layer of the throw pillow on the backing material, then pinched the backing fabric enough to where there would be extra space between the layers for filling.
I only used less than a dozen straight pins to keep the layers of fabric in place as I sewed far enough from the edges of the top layer’s fabric to allow excess material on all sides.Next, I sewed along all of those sides until there was one patch of open space left to insert the filling, then finished sewing the rest once the filling was inside. Since I had the elastic element to consider for the backing, at times, I had to allow bumps between stitches to make up for the excess fabric for all of this sewing detail.
After that, I’d intended to shred the edges to make this a raggedy throw pillow, but once I cut off the larger portions of the backing fabric, I found I already liked the raggedy look that the unclean edges brought to the product. So rather than rocking the boat by shredding the ends, I just cut off pieces that *needed* trimming—like excess thread or very shredded parts of the fabric.
There are two details about my process that I’ll mention in addition to this basic strategy. The first is what I used for filling. This is a creation that’s not intended to look or be sophisticated, so I used a series of old shirts to stuff into the pillow. If you’re going for something that’s more concerned with comfort, you might want to try for a more standard filling.
The other detail is that this process, since it ends with a ragged final product, can be forgiving for mistakes because it’s understood to look a little worn. For me, that came in handy because I didn’t leave enough fabric to completely link the patches in at least one spot, causing a gap. Since it’s okay for this pillow to look imperfect, I was able to sew up that spot without worrying that the thread would be seen, then add that thread-repair-look at a couple of other spots that didn’t need it.The result seemed like a structural decision to bring that ragged quality to life rather an error in strategy.
The final product is a pillow that’s Picasso-like in its leaning and varied-sized blocks, and so very raggedy with its frayed ends and fake repairs. Had I gone strictly by the books, I might not have come up with something so imperfect looking—and I really would be missing out because I adore this pillow! The moral of the story? Don’t be afraid to bring a little imprecision and a lot of Picasso to your sewing to create unique products! Sure, strategy is great, but loosening the guidelines in sewing can be awesome, too!