The Victorian Pillow

Without a Victorian pillow or two, or three, or more …. what would a Victorian style room be? It certainly would not be complete.

The fashion of having couches and sofas provided with pillows and pillows and pillows, cushions and cushions and cushions, led to the development of beautiful articles into which the worker introduced whatever style of needle-work or variety of painting she was most proficient in doing.

Often, pillow kits were purchased through the mail. The front was stamped with a design and matching back material was furnished. Many of the designs were printed in color as to make the embroidery go quickly. Ruffles and cording were not generally included but could be purchased separately from the maker of the pillow kit. As a rule the covers measured 24 by 48 inches.

General rules for covering pillows

After the pillow top was embroidered, it was to be prepared for mounting by dampening and pressing the wrong side until it is thoroughly dry and smooth. In the case of most of the kit pillows, the same material was used for the back as for the front of the cushion. The front and back were stitched together on the wrong side, and a space left to admit the pillow. The pillow was expected to be 24 inches square and well filled with down. The edges of the cushion could then be finished with a heavy cord or with a ruffle as the particular instructions may have indicated.

Below are directions for making a pillow without a kit. It was published in 1889.



Victorian Pillow
Click on picture to see more detail.

A square of velvet forms the foundation for the top cover of this beautiful pillow, and is enriched with embroidered ribbons in different colors, arranged to produce a plaid effect. The embroidery on the ribbons consists of crazy-stitches done with many-colored flosses, and produces a brilliant effect. Silk cord borders the visible edges of the ribbon, and two rows of the cord border the edges of the square, being fancifully looped at the corners. The ribbons may be different shades of one color or of several contrasting shades. Two triangular pieces of very wide sash-ribbon, separated by a section of plush, velvet or satin, to which they are united so that all form a square, may be utilized for one side of a cushion or pillow, with good effect. Handsome brocaded ribbons are effective for this purpose.

Note: The above Victorian Pillow can be made as described or, if time or talent does not permit the embroidering of the ribbon, by using some of the very decorative ribbons available today. Or, if one prefers, painting fine designs on the ribbon could also be done. As you can see, the pillow lends itself to many forms of artistic expressions.

Victorian pillows were not only used on sofas and chairs, of course. They were pillows for the vanity or dressing table as well.

To learn more about them, please seeVictorian Cushion Covers.

Here you will also find a pattern from 1889 for a cushion cover for a toilette or dressing table that is not only easy to do, but quite beautiful as well.

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