making : a birthday pillow


It was my dad’s birthday few weeks ago, and I had been thinking for a while, what to make him.  They live in Chile, and I try to make them something for them every time.  Something my mom can’t make (which is hard to find), or something new to them, something they can’t find there hopefully.  Something special.  And something to show them what I’ve been making or doing lately or learning.

Last year I made him placemats with a pretty bird fabric I had, because it felt like spring here, and wanted to send them some of it as they started their autumn.  The year before that I made him a quilt with the same fabric I made a quilt for ourselves, because the fabric reminded me of India, and we had just gotten back.

This year, the plan was to first of all, send the package early, so it would arrive on time.  I wanted to make him a pillow with photos from when he was a kid.  I had it all planned out for my deadline, but then I got sick with a bad flu that put me down in bed for 4 days (in bed! I’ve never been in bed for a cold) and then after the flu I caught a cold… I was not functioning very well for three weeks.  That took some (all!) of my energy.  But hey!  Better late than never, right?

I sent it before his birthday but I figured it was going to arrive there a little late.  He received it two weeks ago (almost a month late) but he liked it.  And that’s the fun part.  We are just extending the celebration of his birthday!


I looked through old photos I had, and printed some to see how they looked on paper.  Then I picked the best ones to print on a fabric that you can put through the printer.  This is the one I used.


After you print the photos on this fabric you need to heat set it with the iron.  Then you wash it in cold water and let it dry flat.  I then ironed it and cut around the photos, if you are doing that.  I guess you could do a collage of the photos in your computer and use the whole fabric piece without cutting it, too.  But I didn’t do it like that.


I knew I wanted to do the pillow mostly white.  He likes white.  I also needed to figure out the shape of the pillow.  I went for a long, rectangular pillow, instead of a square.


Picked the other fabric.

DSC_0027-small DSC_0032-small

And started sewing.  Like a small quilt.


I think it turned out pretty.  I’m glad I put the photo of his house growing up too.


I sent him just the pillow case and the inside form and asked my mom to fill it when he got it.  It was a team effort!  And she didn’t even know it.


And so, his package got sent to arrive in Chile, on the other side of the world, almost on time.

Photo taken by my mom.

And so the gift, this handmade pillow is in my dad’s side of the bed now, many miles away from where I made it, with photos taken with cameras we don’t use anymore, taken by someone I never met, turned into a digital image in my computer here in the comfort of my living room, in the year 2014.  It amazes me that 70 years could go by and we can still make magic, make something tangible, from something that happened so long ago?

I think it looks really cute.  Something to remember on his 75th birthday birth-month.


3 thoughts on “making : a birthday pillow

  1. Tracey April 9, 2014 / 12:31 pm

    It’s beautiful! My best friend did the exact same thing for her father a few years ago and I keep saying I will make one for my mama, but then I forget. Thanks for the reminder and happy birthday month to your daddy.

    • NaturallyFunDays : Marcela April 9, 2014 / 3:23 pm

      Hi Tracey.
      Thank you. I’ll pass along the birthday wishes. 🙂 I had seen it before too, and finally got around to making something with photographs and fabric. Two things I really love. You should try it! It’s been fun playing with it.

  2. Katie April 9, 2014 / 5:52 pm

    That is a really unique idea. It is always interesting to look at old family photos. Sometimes I wonder what will happen with this digital age. I know that my husband and I never get pictures printed anymore, everything is on the computers or “on the cloud”. A little scary to think about all of those memories somewhere, but not actually here with us.

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