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We are finally putting together the living room. This has taken a while because it required moving furniture up from the basement. Having a place on the ground floor for the whole family to lounge is worth the work. Already my sixteen-year-old has made herself at home on the loveseat camping out there watching documentaries and drawing when not in school.

The loveseat is the only major piece of furniture. We picked it up for $50 off of Facebook Marketplace. The previous owner had kids but apparently kept them off of it because the loveseat was in pristine condition. After two years in the basement and at the mercy of my child of chaos this was no longer the case. Once the loveseat was brought up into the well-lighted living room and I saw the extent to which it had been used, I bought a cover for it.

We also picked up two chairs–this time for free–to give us some more seat options. All this “new” lounge space means 1) I have a place to take more photos and 2) I need some pillows and cushions to provide support.

This, of course, meant it was time to make the elemental throw pillows I had thought of a while ago. I decided to make them as pillow covers because I knew I would have to launder them. And envelope covers are easy, requiring no zipper or snaps to close them.

While minimalism isn’t really my thing when it comes to decorating, I’ve always liked the elemental symbols. I think what I like is their simplicity. The idea of being able to invoke the elements and the idea of change (via their use in alchemy) also appeals to me.

I stuck with just pairing the symbols and colors for the pillows, but you could take it even further with your choice of prints for the fabric. For example you could choose fabric featuring flames for the fire pillow, leaves for the earth, waves for water and swirls for the air.

This tutorial will walk you through making envelope cases for whatever size pillow you have. At the end of the tutorial I have three ways you can include magick in the making of the pillowcases. Make one or all four. Let me know what you think of the tutorial and if you make any of your own.

My son showing how best to use the elemental throw pillows.
My son insisted on a photo showing how to best use the pillows.

The Math

To figure out how much fabric you’ll need for the pillowcases you need to do a little bit of math. Measure your pillow’s width and height and do the following calculations:

Width of your pillow x 2 + 6”

Height of your pillow + 1”

The added 6” is for the overlap at the back that allows you to put on and remove the cover. The 1” added to the height is for the seam allowance.

Since you are making four pillowcases you’ll need to multiply the result of your second calculation by 4.

So, for example, my pillows are 20” x 20” which means I need fabric that is 46” wide and 21” long. Four four pillows I need 84” of fabric or just over 2 ¼ yards of material. I picked up some black quilting cotton that was 46” wide.

Materials

  • Fabric for the pillowcases (see the math above)
  • 4 fat quarters in the colors you want for the various elements
  • Thread

Tools

  • Sewing machine and needles
  • Paper
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Hem gauge
  • Iron

Making the Triangle Template

You can freehand this directly on the fabric that you are using if you wish. I just found it easier to make a template and cut out all the triangles at once with it.

From a piece of newspaper, wrapping paper, etc. cut out a square the same size of your throw pillow.

Mark three spots (A, B & C) inside the square. A is 1 ½” in from the center of the top of the square. B is 1 ½” in and 1 ½” up from the lower left hand corner. C is 1 ½” in and 1 ½” up from the lower right hand corner.

Connect the points to make your triangle. Cut it out.

Instructions for making the elemental throw pillows

1. Hem each short side of the pillowcase by folding the edge in to the wrong side of the fabric ½”. Press. Fold the edge in again another ½” and press again. Sew close to the first fold.

2. Press the raw edges of one triangle piece ½” to the wrong side of the fabric. Trim the excess fabric at the corners.

3. Center a triangle on the pillowcase. Pin in place. (Tip: I press a line down the center of the pillowcase and the triangle to make it easier to line them up.)

4. Sew a scant ⅛” along the edges of the triangle.

5. For the air and earth triangles, position a length of single fold black bias binding across the top point of the triangle about 7” down from the point and so it overlaps about 1” on either side of the triangle. Fold the bias binding under ¼” at each end. Sew around the bias tape, close to the edges.

6. Lay the pillowcase right side up. Bring the edges in, one overlapping the other, so that it is the width of your pillow. Pin along the upper and lower edges.

7. Sew a ½” seam along the top and bottom of the pillowcase.

8. Turn the pillowcase right side out and insert your pillow.

Make it Magickal

Fabric Spray

If you’ve been reading here for any amount of time you will probably already know that one of my favorite ways to infuse magickal intentions into my sewing is to use a fabric spray. My usual is a mixture of witch hazel, water and rosemary essential oil. But there are hundreds of different oils with different magickal properties that you can use. Apple blossom brings in energies of happiness and friendship, and would be wonderful to use if you are making these as a gift. If you are looking to bring more money into your home you could use a spray made up of cinnamon and clove. For protection you can use geranium, pine or juniper essential oils. Use the spray when you are pressing the hems and fabric. Spray a fine mist over the fabric and then follow with your iron.

Once you’ve made the pillowcases you can keep the fabric spray on hand to “freshen” them up whenever you feel they’ve gotten musty either odor-wise or magickally.

Knot it Up

When I am making something that has a magickal use, even if that use is secondary, I like to tie off my loose ends, even if I am sewing with my machine. I will pull my thread ends through to the wrong side of the fabric. Then I will tie them together, usually three times, each time anchoring my magickal intentions into the knot.

Make your Mark

Before you stitch the triangles to the pillowcases you can write sigils, runes, or other magick marks. Use a pencil or fabric pen so that the mark can’t be seen on the right side of the fabric. Like with the knot magick above, this is a way to infuse your work with more permanent magick. It is also a bit of subtle magick, suitable for work that needs to be done “under cover”.

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