Throw pillows are a great way to add personality to a space. You can easily change them out for the season or your mood. However, mixing fabrics is a skill. It takes practice and sometimes some trial and error.
Join me in a little demonstration.
These are the pillows I chose when we first bought our beloved basement couch. It came with six pillows, and I selected three different fabrics. I wanted colour, pattern and something not too serious. However, it turned out they didn’t all play together as nicely as I wanted.
On their own, the patterned pillows each work with the turquoise velvet, but they do not work with each other, despite sharing several colours.
However, let’s look at another equation.
Remember back when I made our big round ottoman? How I searched for the perfect fabric, and the one that ended up working best with the striped pillows was the bird fabric that I already had in my stash? I still love this fabric, and since I ended up buying more to supplement my stash, I still had a good amount of yardage. More than enough to make two pillows.
These ended up being the most professional pillows I’ve ever made. They have zipper closures, piping and even extra liners to help contain the feathers, which always seem to work their way out through the covers. I love them so much.
But what about the poor rejected blue-green geometric? Here’s another equation for you.
The feather is another fabric that I’ve had in my stash for years. I had always planned to use it to make cushions for the couch upstairs, and I finally got around to it. The blue and green bring a bit of summer into the living room.
I love the serendipity of two stash fabrics being perfect mix for pillows that we already had. Along the way, I’ve learned a few lessons about mixing fabrics.
- Let’s start with defining our fabrics. For the purpose of this demonstration, I’m going to use the labels “solid” (pretty self-explanatory), “geometric” (could be a stripe or another more linear pattern–the colourful stripe and the blue-green links both fall into this category for me) and “floral” (self-explanatory, but I’ll extend this to include fabrics like my birds or the feather).
- Don’t mix like patterns. By this I mean geometric with geometric or floral with floral. Unless the scale is dramatically different similar patterns will compete with each other like my pillows did. This exercise has taught me that the best bet is to mix different types of fabrics, like a geometric with a floral.
- Pick fabrics that share similar colours. This is probably the easiest way to mix. Colours don’t have to match exactly (the turquoise piping on the bird pillow isn’t the same as the turquoise velvet, but they still play well together).
- When mixing patterns, start with your most dominant pattern first. This is probably my biggest takeaway. My mistake in the family room was using the turquoise velvet as the base. It’s easy to match cushions to a solid. It’s harder to match the bossy stripe. But once I put that at the centre of the equation, I was able to make the mix work.
Pillows are some of the easiest items to sew–and there are also plenty of options to buy. They can add a finishing touch to a room or completely change the feel of a space. I like being able to freshen up the living room for the summer season, and I’m also very glad to have found the right mix for the family room.
Do you enjoy mixing and matching pillows? Do you sew your own or purchase? Do you change your decor with the season? What are your tips for finding a mix that works?
I love this! I love interior design and decor. I buy mine…I never learned to sew and have a left handed handicap that makes it look like a two year old used the scissors…but I do buy from WAHMs on Etsy. I like to change my covers every other year and seasonally.
I really should learn to sew 😜
Making envelope pillows is pretty much the easiest sewing you can do. However I understand it can be a little bit daunting if you’ve never learned and given that sewing machines seem to be designed for right-handed people.
Etsy is a great source for one-of-a-kind or unusual covers. It’s nice to have that as a source for your refreshes.
I am a terrible cutter – but then I discovered rotary cutters and they changed my life. You could try them for your left-handed problem. 🙂
That’s a really good idea about putting your busiest pattern first. You mentioned a bit about scale, and I think it’s another important element to consider when mixing patterns.
What kind of inserts do you use for your pillows? I have a quilt I want to cut up and make some big, cushy pillows for the living room, but the inserts I bought seem like they might not be quite up to what I envision.
They’re foam inserts bought at an upholstery store. They seem to be decent quality. I’m not a huge fan of down pillows, although that’s what the pillows on the sectional downstairs are. The feather pillows are actually filled with two inserts. I had four smaller (flatter) pillows on the couch previously, and I decided to double them up for the feather cases. One tip I heard that seems to work well is to buy an insert one size up from the pillow case. That ensures the pillow looks nice and full, even if it loses a bit of pouf over time.