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Dress up your decor with pillows

Published: Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 4CALIFORNIA LIFE
Last Modified: Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012 - 8:25 pm

Want to change the look of a room in a day?

Focus on the pillows.

Pillows are easy to make or to buy sofa-ready. They can be as fancy or unadorned as you wish. They add notes of color and texture that catch the eye and sometimes beg to be touched.

This time of year, pillows add a soft seasonal (and personal) touch to couches, beds, chairs and anywhere you want to be comfortable. And they make great gifts, too.

"I know people who change their pillows four times a year; every season, different pillows," said Gina Damoulos, co-owner of Triad Plus Fabrics in Roseville. "Some people change their dining room seat covers seasonally, one set for Thanksgiving and another for Christmas."

The options are endless. Damoulos knows firsthand. She's made hundreds of pillows.

"There's an amazing number of trims and fabrics," she said. "There's so many things you can do – front and back. And pillows are a quick spruce-up to make your house look different."

Specializing in fabrics for the home, Triad is a go-to pillow-making source. The 12,000-square-foot warehouse holds thousands of yards of upholstery fabrics plus trims, pillow forms and fill. The company also makes pillows to order.

Triad recently hosted almost 300 people at a twilight sewing event where they got ideas for fall and holiday projects, including lots of pillows.

"It was absolutely spectacular," said Peter De Carlo, Triad's general manager. "All the gals here made items. The amount of response we get is great. It's not to sell anything, just to get ideas."

"Sewing is coming back," added Damoulos, who credits social media sites such as Pinterest for spurring new seamstresses.

Said De Carlo, "It's not just expressing creativity, but saving money. People are sewing again."

Triad's popular classes attract 25 to 30 people each week for free lessons in cloth-based projects. Pillows always are a popular topic and great for beginners of all ages. Most designs can be made in an hour or two; some in under 30 minutes.

Don't know how to sew? No problem. Triad's Bonnie Treadway teaches "no-sew" pillows – just cut, wrap, pin and knot. Sometimes fabric glue comes in handy, too.

"We want to make it as easy as possible," Damoulos said. Think of putting a diaper on a pillow, folding and pinning under the cloth edges. That's the basic concept behind the easiest no-sew pillow.

Treadway also makes no-sew bolster pillows. A little more complicated, these pillows use fabric glue to close seams and attach trim. The tubular pillow is rolled in a piece of fabric. The length-wise edge is tucked under and glued shut. Fabric on the two ends is bunched in rubber bands that's then hidden with ribbon or trim. More trim is glued around the pillows at each end to add a finished look.

Pillows can get complex. Treadway's "star pillow" (the topic of a Triad class project) features interlocking squares like a three-dimensional quilt block.

"The star pillows can be made in all sizes," Damoulos said. "Bonnie makes little stars and fills them with sand for pin cushions. They're so cute."

Damoulos finds inspiration for more pillows from many sources.

"I love Pinterest," she said of the photo-sharing site. "I'm always getting ideas from what people 'pin' up. I'm a very visual person. If I can see it, I can figure it out and make it myself."

That's how she spotted some floral creations, made of concentric ruffles around a cloth-covered button atop a pillow. (The same effect can be done with ruffled lace.)

Another discovered design featured a "mum" made of cones of fabric circles, inspired by a similar pillow Damoulos spotted in a Truckee store.

Each circle was folded in half, tacked with a stitch or glue to form a cone, then stitched or glued into place on a fabric background. The effect was a 3-D bedtop bouquet.

"The pillow in the store was priced at $180," she noted. "You could make it for a small fraction of that."

That's another reason pillows are a popular project to make – they're economical. Most pillows take less than a yard of fabric. They can be made with scraps, samples or remnants.

Currently hot in pre-made pillow fabrics are big impact colors – orange, deep purple, grays, silvers and turquoise blue. Ikat geometric prints, inspired by Guatemalan and Indonesian weavers, are popular, too. So is anything French, from script prints to traditional fleur-de-lis.

"(Faux) fur is super hot," Damoulos said of fake lookalikes. "People love it. It's warm and cuddly – and washable, too."

So, pile on the pillows. You'll feel cozier all winter.


• Triad Plus Fabrics: 8801 Washington Blvd., Suite 107, Roseville, (916) 788-4350. On the end of a warehouse complex, this mammoth store is a destination. The largest home decorative fabric warehouse in Northern California, it features hundreds of choices and free classes.

Find class schedule online at Better Homes & Gardens offers an online library of free patterns, most of them requiring only beginning sewing skills. Watch the "how to make a pretty pillow" video at : This website offers free pillow patterns and lots of basic instructions; great for beginners.

– Debbie Arrington

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