Of all the vintage items I love and collect, vintage maps are at the top of my favorites list. The colors in a vintage map are usually soft blues, pale pinks and golden yellows. These colors are so easy to decorate with. You can use them in so many ways around your home and they are easy to find at a vintage shop or thrift shop for just a few dollars. You may even have piles of them from back in the day. I mean when was the last time you used a map to actually navigate your town? Frame them, wrap some books or use them in scrapbooks. There are so many options.
So I am very excited to share with you another way you can use vintage maps. Easy to make vintage map pillows.
Here is what you are going to need:
Envelope Pillow or Premade Pillow Cover. If you don’t know how to make an envelope pillow, then check out the tutorial from my Pinterest page. But you can also pick up pillow covers very inexpensively from Ikea if you have one nearby.
Pillow Inserts (I used 20×20 inserts from Ikea)
Drop Cloth or other fabric (if you are making your own pillow)
I started off making a bunch of envelope pillows using a drop cloth. I can’t remember what size I bought, but it was about $16 and I made 5 envelope pillows out of it. Just remember to pre-shrink and then iron your fabric before you make the pillow. The great thing about drop cloth is that it is durable but it also softens up nicely after you wash it. You could also use a tighter weave burlap or linen for this project.
Then I did a search for Vintage California Map images. Of course, you can use any state or country or place that is special to you.
(Click on Image to Download PDF File)
I love this map and I have actually used it before to decoupage on the top of a coffee table.
(Click on Image to download a PDF file)
And this one caught my eye because of the beautiful colors and that font. Love!
Ok, so how are you going to get those images onto your pillow?
Using only the best transfer paper I have ever found! And trust me I have tried them all!
Leslie Riley Transfer Artist Paper is a great transfer paper. You can use it for a lot of different projects but it is especially great just running it through your printer and transferring your image onto fabric using an iron. The result is soft and pliable and not plastic. Maybe not the least expensive transfer paper but well worth the $.
I knew that I wanted the map images to cover the entire front of the pillow, which meant I needed to enlarge the images. There is a great free website called Blockposters.com. You can upload a jpeg image and it will enlarge it onto multiple pieces of standard printer paper. I also had to make sure I flipped the images horizontally so that the text would not be backwards when I ironed the transfer on. So I flipped the image first in Photoshop, then I uploaded it to Blockposters. The good news is that if you are not a Photoshop pro I have done the work for you. Just click on the map images above to download the pdf file all ready to print for a 20×20 pillow.
The pdf will allow you to print the image onto 4 sheets. You will just have to cut them out and piece them together.
Cut the excess paper off the edges.
If you find another image that you want to use. Don’t forget to reverse the image using a photo editing program or your printer may have a reverse printing option. It will usually say something like “Flip Horizontally” There is nothing worse than ironing the letters on the wrong way. Grrr. I know from experience.
Next, smooth out your pillow cover and place your transfers on it to make sure you have everything centered and lined up as you like it.
While you line everything up, turn your iron on to start getting it hot. You will want your iron on the highest setting with no steam.
I lined mine up with the image facing me first just to make sure I had everything in the right place and then I flipped it over.
I moved everything off the pillow cover except one transfer sheet. This is where the magic happens. Using your hot iron start to press down and iron your transfer. Keep your iron moving because it is really hot and you don’t want to singe your fabric. Also, put a little muscle into it. It doesn’t take much, just some good firm pressure.
When your transfer is done the backing will begin to lift off easily. It takes a minute or two. As you begin to lift the backing, if you feel any areas that resist just lay the backing down again and give it another firm ironing.
You will have a little ink left on the backing and that’s ok.
Keep lining up your transfers and finish ironing them all. It is ok to overlap a smidge. Better to have a little bit of an overlap marking than a gap between your images.
And that’s it. Just add your pillow insert and you have a beautiful and easy vintage map pillow. You can wash your pillow cover if it gets dirty. I would recommend washing it inside out and on cold water. It will actually soften up even more.