Throw Pillows: Squirrels as My Muse

If you’ve been out of the habit of sewing for a while, throw pillows are a great way to get back in the game. They’re quick and easy and they’re a lot of fun.

Earlier this summer, while sewing new covers for the deck furniture, I made a couple of toss pillows for the garden swing. I bought a yard of unbleached muslin for a few dollars, cut it in half, and made aย  pair of fold over slip covers. With squirrels as my muse, I enlarged a couple of photos from the garden, then printed them on inkjet fabric sheets.

The idea of printing on fabric is still a marvel to me. I used printable fabric once before to make a banner (bunting) for Fran who blogs at The Road To Serendipity.

burlap bunting finished

Bunting for Fran: Burlap and photos on printable fabric

I’ve been searching for a photo-fabric project ever since.

The neighborhood squirrels cause all sorts of mischief, but I love them anyway. I thought it would be funny to plop a pair of pillows at the “scene of the crime”, the very place where they like to chew on the swing cover.

I didn’t just make covers though. I bought a small, twine basket at the same fabric store and attached it to the tree nearby with a piece of twine. I filled the basket with left over fabric strips, cat fur, soft wool scraps from a felting project AND part of last year’s swing cover, previously nibbled on by the squirrels.

basket of nesting material

A basket of potential nesting material. Birds and squirrels welcome

nesting material basket august

Guess what? It worked! Not only is the swing cover unharmed, at least so far, but the nesting material is dwindling. It sat untouched for a while, then small amounts disappeared. Last week, they all but emptied the basket. Time to refill it, STAT.

If you’ve never used the printable fabric sheets, they’re quite amazing. You simply feed them through your printer like a piece of paper. After printing your photo, let it stand for 15 minutes. Then you peel of the backing, soak the fabric in room-temperature water for 10 minutes, rinse and lay flat to dry.

Squirrel photo printed on an inkjet fabric sheet

Fresh off the press: Squirrel photo printed on an inkjet fabric sheet

I used printable fabric sheets from The Electric Quilt Company but there are a number of brands on the market.

Here’s one more look at the pillows. I smile every time I see them.

Come nap with the squirrels

Come nap with the squirrels

Clothes Dryer Update:

If you’ve been following my clothes dryer saga, here’s the latest. I wish I could write the denouement, but alas that must wait for a time when all the stars align and I have a working appliance once again. [insert dramatic sigh here]

It was a dark and stormy night…in my head anyway. I called the sales rep at Airport Appliance, the company that sold us the dryer. I explained that the repairs provided by Meyer Appliance continued to fail. He was courteous and sympathetic, contacted a rep at Fisher & Paykel, the dryer manufacturer, and within an hour I received two calls, one from the regional sales manager. He said they had to make one more attempt to repair the appliance before they could replace it. They want to send out Meyer Appliance again even though they’ve failed to repair it in their shop or in my home, twice. Though they’ve been out four times, they only count the actual attempts at the repair. Meanwhile, the laundry piles up for our family of four as I try to find other ways to deal with my stress that don’t involve reaching for chocolate. Stay tuned.




35 thoughts on “Throw Pillows: Squirrels as My Muse

    • Thank you, Barbara! They’re not nearly as amazing as the squirrel you painted, but they do make me smile.

      The dryer thing is taking up so much of my time. It’s a micro-version of your remodeling fiasco with lots of run-around and no simple solutions.


  1. The pillow project is sweet as can be! It’ll be funny to see if Mr Mouse snuggles up for a nap there. “oh Mousey, don’t look now but there’s a giant squirrel behind you”…LOL! Hey?! Have you ever spotted their nests in the neighbourhood with your fabrics? Yesterday morning, I went to fill up the bird feeder on the front porch and heard this frantic commotion coming from the eve’s troughs down pipe…chirping and scratching too ! I ran back in the house, “Jim, Jim, help !” “There’s a squirrel in the down pipe, come quick please !!” (he was just watching golf, no biggy, ha!) Unlike me, out there in my pjs, he insisted on getting dressed. Meanwhile I’d climbed on the porch railing in a nighty with a screwdriver in hand and took things apart…”good morning neighbours…free show this way !” ha. I guess by the time I’d ran in and out, that squirrel had extracted itself because I didn’t see him in there. Jim finally found his way out and then went back in for a flashlight….good grief, hope I’m never stuck in a drain! LOL.
    Anywho, Loved your project, it’s a good distraction from the dryer that doesn’t work. If it was me, and I had money to throw away….I’d do a drive by ‘throw off the back of a truck’ at Airport Appliance. I’d film it all, write a disparaging song about the brand akin to some country song, put it on YouTube, it’d go viral, I’d make a bunch of cash and buy a new machine…Not there! I guess it’s not a possibility, but it’s fun to think about it…LOL, can you imagine? You could wear that wig and play air guitar on the video xo โค

    Liked by 4 people

    • What a brilliant idea Kelly – and Mike and the young men could roll up their t-shirt sleeves and flex their muscles and look mean and meaningfully down the camera – that’d frighten the life out of ’em – there’d be a new dryer on the front step in no time!! Boo to Airport Appliance for unacceptable ‘service’. Alys, you should tag them in this post – honest reviews and all that ๐Ÿ™‚

      I love your squirrel cushion covers. I don’t have a printer any more or I’d rush off and make me some Orlando and Siddy covers for the summer [probably just as well I don’t have a printer any more!] I love your aqua outdoor setting and the basket of scraps is an inspired idea! You will have to keep it filled now you know, as word will get out and they will come from miles around for easy pickings. If it should be empty there is always a nice swing cover and some lovely cushions nearby ……. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Those prints are such a great idea Alys, and are absolutely perfect for the seats. What a brainwave that was to put out nesting material too! Good luck with the dryer. ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. And here I thought the pillows were to keep the squirrels off the swing! You know, like an ‘Occupado’ sign. ;- ) Love the basket full of nesting materials; might have to steal that idea. I’m hoping for a cooler, cleaner, more energetic September too.


    • Oh, Sue, I love that thought. Sorry squirrels, this seat is taken.

      I can’t tell you how excited I was when I saw how much of the nesting material was used. There are two squirrel’s nests in the orange tree near the swing, but I’ve never seen any activity in or out. Over the years, I’ve seen a bird pick up a mouthful of white cat fur from one of the emptied brushes and I’ve found an abandoned nest with a bit of swing stuffing. How I long for a hidden camera trained on that orange tree 24/7. I know I’m missing all sorts of activity.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great idea! They wouldn’t want to destroy those pillows–too much like cannibalism–and they don’t need to destroy the seat covers because of your decoy offerings! Too clever! Now if you could just figure out how to work around the dryer people half as effectively . . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kerry, my thoughts exactly! It’s cooling down this week (temporarily) and I’m seeing a lot of squirrel activity, so I’m going to double my efforts to keep that basket well stocked.

      People, unfortunately, are way more complicated. sigh


  5. You know you can save a heap of money by ironing freezer paper onto the back of regular plain white fabric, cut it out to copy paper size and feed it through your printer…? Then, when it’s printed, peel off the freezer paper, and heat set the image with an iron. Fun pillows, and once you’ve got the dryer going or a replacement, you can put the dryer lint out for the nesting creatures too.


    • Kate, I didn’t know you could make your own printable fabric. That’s good to know. Have you used this technique for quilting squares?

      As for dryer lint, I used to save it and offer it for years until our local bird store said it wasn’t good for nesting because once wet, it wouldn’t stay warm. That said, nothing stays that warm when it’s wet, so I may rethink this. I used to have the boys gather and stuff apple bags every winter and hang it with lint it trees. Great memories.


      • Not for quilting squares, but I do make my quilt labels this way sometimes if I have no transfer paper. I actually prefer transfer paper because it puts a protective coating on the image, so it lasts better in the wash. And I use dryer lint to stuff pincushions, packed in tightly!


        • Oh what a great idea. I’ve used lint for stuffing too. I’ve also used some as a wee blanket in the fairy garden. It’s good stuff. We no longer have a fire place, but I knew someone that made fire starters by melting left over candles over lint in a paper egg carton. Quite resourceful. I love trading ideas!

          Liked by 2 people

  6. I have photo transfer paper that I have never used…yet. It’s on the “one of these days” list. I’m with Magpie Sue. Maybe the squirrels will think that spot is already taken. As for the dryer, it may be time for a call to the BBB if you don’t get satisfaction this time around.


  7. Brainstorm with the nesting material! I hope it works for everyone. What cute pillow covers. I had no idea you could print your own fabric like that. As far a your dryer goes, I’m with Boomdee’s fantasy. I’ve been thinking of writing a sad country song about my garden…


  8. So many interesting ideas here in your post and in the comments. The cushions look so sweet and the basket of nesting materials is wonderful. The garden will be a pleasure to all creatures great and small. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Well, according to Pauline they sold out to a larger corporation and laid people off. I’m equally sad about that and of course had no idea. It’s challenging being a good consumer, trying to do the right thing with each purchase.

      I wish I had receipts from the laundry place. I’m paying $25 to $35 a week US.

      Thanks for the Facebook link and for all your support and good cheer.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love the pillow idea and have always wanted to try printing like this so you’ve given me some encouragement to give it a go.

    Re the washer/dryer saga, I’ve had my washing machines for close to 25 years. My grandmother bought them for my first house and they are still going strong (although sadly my grandmother is no longer with us). We’ve often thought it would be nice to have a new set because of better energy efficiency, but I’ve heard so many horror stories like yours. My sister’s set for instance seems to be always on the fritz and she pays a ton of money for a maintenance plan just to pay for parts because the only thing consistent about the new ones is that they consistently break down!

    Since our dryer is old, we try to air dry most of our laundry but we never seem to have enough space to do that. Hubs and I just became Ikea ambassadors (they’re promoting sustainable living and allowed over 20 Canadian families to choose sustainable products to participate in their sustainable living project). I’ll likely do a series of blogs on my site to write about our experiences in trying to live more sustainably. We’ve been using Ikea’s MULIG drying rack; until your dryer is fixed, you should think about checking it out (although they have other air-drying solutions too). We think it’s great, (not because we got it free) and it stores flat so it’s not a problem to store it when it’s not in use.

    I hope they replace your dryer with one that works – and it’s not a lemon too!


  10. Clever you! I’d be afraid that Mr. Smith would shoot at these pillows. Haha. Oh those pesky squirrels. Fabulous bunting idea,too! Here’s hoping the dryer issue is over before too much chocolate is consumed. Perhaps an innocent box of Cocoa Puffs? ๐Ÿ™‚


  11. Such a creative idea to use your garden photos as garden decor, Alys! Your new pillows are so sweet. As I read, I wondered if they would attract curious squirrels (in search of a friend) to your garden swing… or perhaps frighten them away. Your basket of fabric scraps is such a clever distraction and a thoughtful way to provide nesting material. I can tell you are enjoying your garden this summer! Hope they will deliver a sparkling, new dryer very soon, Alys. Fingers crossed! โ™ก


    • Dawn, I really had fun with those pillows. I’ve not seen any squirrels approaching them, but I think it would be the grand photo capture of the year if they did. Wouldn’t that be something? I’m just tickled to know that they’re gathering the wool and fabric scraps for nesting. It makes me happy in so many ways. Thanks for all your visits. It’s so nice to hear from you.


    • Greetings from Lee’s Laundromat, Laurie. It’s early, so no humidity yet and they have free WiFi. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Thank you for your warm, wonderful words. I’m happy when all the parts of nature work together in my garden. The nest-makers are loving that wool roving, but they’re taking cotton strips and fur as well. How I wish I could attach a tiny camera to one of the nest-builders. Wouldn’t that be a scream?


  12. Your garden must look a treat now Alys. You have a revamped patio and now your wonderful squirrel pillows — and hopefully some cooler weather too. I have to add my admiration for your ingenuity with the pillows and the basket of “treats”. I think the camera in the tree has to be the next garden project, because the antics would be a hoot! And lastly, I think your dryer woes are definitely worth a few bars of chocolate!


    • Anne, that last line made me laugh. Thank you.

      I just posted a garden update a few minutes ago. Things are still looking fresh and green, but there are signs of autumn everywhere. I’m ready!

      Thank you for your kind words. Those pillows turn out to be great fun, and the basket of goodies is working! The squirrels are really active today, and the temps are down a good ten degrees with a breeze. It’s lovely.


  13. Pingback: The Sisterhood of the Travelling Sketchbook #6 | Anne Lawson

Please join the conversation by leaving a comment, below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.