Category: Pillow Talk

4 Fun Facts About These Zia Sun Pillow Shams


The traditional Zia sun motif was created by the indigenous Zia peoples of New Mexico to symbolize the importance of both the sun and the number 4 in their culture. In keeping with that cultural tradition, here are 4 fast facts about these quilted Zia pillow shams I made for customer Barry L. –


They were a free gift with his purchase of a custom Whimzie quilt… yes, free! (You can find out more about his original quilt in my blog post Big-Hearted Zia Quilt for a Big-Hearted Customer.)


When you request a custom Whimzie quilt, I typically provide 3-4 designs to choose from. Barry had such a hard time picking between his favorite and second favorite designs that the runner up became these pillow shams.


So that they’d coordinate well, all the fabrics for these pillow shams were fabrics also used in the making of his quilt – except one. In addition to two Adobe reds and two turquoise fabrics, the pillow design called for two ocher yellow fabrics instead of the single ocher I used in the quilt so I had to purchase another.


anasaziBarry’s was the first request I’ve had for a Zia sun symbol, though not my first Southwest-influenced quilt design. The very, very, VERY first full-sized custom quilt I ever made featured a Southwest pottery fabric and ombre greens. I called it Anasazi Fair because the quilt block is known as a World’s Fair.

This is a photo of a photo of that quilt because it’s been so long that I don’t even have the computer hard drive the image was stored on anymore!


Will the Real Judson Please Stand Up?

Our niece was set to graduate high school this year and we were anxiously awaiting the announcement of which college she’d be attending in the fall. It wasn’t a snap decision, as she had a lot of great schools to choose from, but ultimately the she went with Judson College.

As I usually do, I went straight online and bought a couple of t-shirts to turn into dorm pillows for her graduation gift. Judson isn’t a huge school, so I didn’t know a lot about it, but I knew it was a religious institution and that their team mascot was the Eagles.  I fell in love with the graphics on these two and quickly set about finishing up the pillows.


Notice anything?

Yep, those pillows are for Judson University. My niece is going to Judson College.

In my defense, both are small, religious institutions and both have an Eagle mascot. I’ve since found out that there are FOUR institutes of higher learning with the name Judson, none of which are affiliated in any way. What are the freakin’ chances?**

I apologized profusely that her graduation gift would be late and got to work on turning shirts from the right Judson into dorm pillows. While I didn’t get them to her in time for her graduation party, I did get them finished before she leaves for college this fall.


Now that she has her quilted dorm pillows in hand, I’m super happy to say…

Congratulations, Kari, on your graduation!

And thanks for being so understanding 😀



**I was able to reach the Judson University Communications Department and offer them the original set of pillow shams. They are going to use them in a give-away so at least I know all that hard work isn’t going to waste!



More Graduates, More Graduation Pillows ~ California-style

Congratulations to our cousins’ daughter, Nicole, on her recent graduation! And you know what more graduates mean around here – more graduation pillows!

I love giving these over-sized pillows to recent graduates because they are SO perfect for dorm life – you can use them for extra seating when people visit, or to prop up text books while studying or just to scream into during finals 😀


Usually, I make these with college t-shirts, but Nicole is going to community college for a couple of years first (wish I’d been as fiscally responsible at such young age!) She’s a Cali girl through and through, though,  so these will work no matter which university she picks in the end.


Got a recent grad in your life? If you know a young adult heading off to college this fall and are looking for the perfect gift, contact me for your custom set today!

Everything Aligned Perfectly

I wanted to practice dense embroidery AND

my friend is into Day of the Dead imagery AND

her birthday was coming up – –

so everything just aligned perfectly in the making of this pillow (figuratively AND literally – the stitching came out great, too!)


 ‘Til Death embroidery design from Urban Threads

I Spy… A Quilt for Our New Great Niece

Our first great niece will be making her way into the world any day now and, of course, I had to make a baby quilt to celebrate this momentous occasion.

Because her proud parents-to-be are known for their love of games, I thought that an “I Spy”/matching game quilt would be the perfect choice. That way baby can join in the fun right from the beginning…


I really liked the idea of a modern quilt design and this asymmetric pattern was something I hadn’t done before. The gray and white color scheme worked really well as a frame for the novelty fabrics (and once we knew it was a girl, I added in a pink accent to the binding.)

Going through my stash to find the perfect novelty fabric choices was so much fun! There’s a few in there that have personal meaning for my niece and her growing family – they are big Patriots fans, for instance, and great-grandma has a tea cup collection. Others I just thought would be fun for a kid to search for – Dinosaurs! Rubber duckies! Rocket ships!

I love how an I Spy quilt like this encourages family interaction and baby’s development. There’s so many learning opportunities here – searching for matching images, looking for specific designs, identifying colors, etc. Plus, it’s just plain fun 😀

Here’s hoping Briella and her parents enjoy a future filled with lots of warm and wonderful family game nights. Welcome little one!


ToothFairyBriellaI find it practically impossible to make a baby quilt and not include a tooth fairy pillow, too.

There was a long search for a tooth fairy embroidery that I could use for this baby and for future babies (after all, our siblings have 17 kids between them. I suspect there will be future great nieces and nephews. 😀 ) This super cute one from artapli on Etsy was perfect.

Additional scrappy gray fabrics that coordinate with the gray and white fabrics from the quilt – and that same pink accent – mean everything matches beautifully.

The added benefit here is that just as baby starts to age out of their baby quilt, having a tooth fairy pillow around means a little warmth and “whimzie” will still be part of their life!

Tuck A Book in Here…

If you follow me at all you know I love to make quilted pillows (and this photo from 2015 shows just the pillows I’d made for myself, the one’s I’ve made for customers number in the hundreds!)

Too Many PillowsBut of all the pillows I’ve made, I never had the opportunity to make some of those super popular reading pocket pillows I see all over Pinterest. Until customer Gus H. asked for a quilt with the names of all five of his family’s grandchildren on it.

5 kids? That meant a gift with purchase of 5 reading pocket pillows!


Searching for reading-themed cotton was harder than I imagined, but I eventually ended up with a cute book worm fabric; additional fabrics for each pillow were in each kid’s favorite color. I embroidered the phrase “Just one more chapter” under each kid’s name on the pocket.

Honestly, just laid out here for the photo, these pillows don’t look as cool as they turned out IRL. With a pillow inside, they are not just adorable, but useful, too! I included the following poem –

Tuck a book in here

and place on your bed.

You’ll never go to sleep

with a chapter unread.

I imagine with 5 different personalities of 5 different kids, not all are going to voracious readers. But at least these pocket pillows will give each one of them a reminder to try to enjoy a good book every night!

Li’l Tom and the Pussyfoot Detective Bureau Pillow


A friend of mine writes books about a cat detective named Li’l Tom who lives in San Francisco. You’re probably sold just hearing the words “cat detective” but what I really loved about her first book were the descriptions of SF, one of my favorite cities in the world. And now she has a second book coming out in March 2018 – just in time for my birthday!

Last year, I purchased an embroidery machine. While learning to use it, a promotional bookmark for Angela’s first Li’l Tom book caught my eye and I decided to give recreating it in fabric a shot —  LilTomPillow

Believe it or not, the eyeglasses and eyes came from an embroidery file for an anthropomorphic school bus – go figure! But that taught me how to select and use different elements from a pre-purchased design. And by playing around with the letters, I learned how NOT to resize fonts and also to make sure any alphabets I purchase in the future include numbers!

I got the pillow finished and sent to her late last month. Who knows? After I read Li’l Tom’s next case, there might be a coordinating pillow, too!

Thank you so much – I absolutely love it. And such quality craftsmanship, as always. It makes me happy that you took inspiration from Li’l Tom. 😻

— Angela Crider Neary