When I wander through thrift shops, I'm always drawn to the home and kitchen textile sections. I have a special weakness for hand-embroidery, patterned tablecloths, and cloth napkins, but try to limit myself to things that will actually go with my decor. Anyway, I couldn't resist a couple of red souvenir half aprons, the type they used to print up in the 1950's and '60's. One had snazzy gold gilt and black printing, featuring Reno, Nevada. It shows 50's era cars, the 1935 version Virginia Street's Reno Arch (replaced in 1963, it now straddles Lake Street near the Truckee River), the Washoe County Courthouse (early 20th century divorce mecca) plus two hotel/casinos, the Mapes (imploded in 2000) and the Riverside (saved at the last minute, same year). Since I live in northern Nevada, not far from Reno, I just had to have that one.
The second red apron was maybe a little bit newer, featuring the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado. It wasn't quite as flashy as the Reno one - no golden gilt, but black print with white - the lettering looks snow-topped, befitting for my memories of Colorado. I was born and raised in Colorado, and I've walked across that bridge. Built in the late 1920's, it's a wooden plank, narrow one-lane suspension bridge hanging more than 1,000 feet above the Arkansas River near Cañon City (I had my Afghan hound, Omar, at the time, and he was walking with me. For the first half of the trip across, he was a happy dog, bouncing along on his leash, back and forth, here and there. And then a car passed us, rumbling and bouncing the bridge quite a bit. Omar looked down into the cracks between the planks and realized just where he was. His tail sank between his legs. For the rest of the trip across and back, you could have used that morose dog to align a center line on that bridge. As for me, I love heights. I was leaning over the railing, spitting).
I never wear half-aprons, so I'd always envisioned these transformed into pillows. Since aprons, by their nature, are wider than they are tall, I had to do a bit of piecing to turn them into square pillow covers - especially the Royal Gorge one, since it originally had the print and the picture side-by-side. Fusible interfacing reinforced the piecing seams and gave the fronts a nice smooth look.
I bought a red and black cotton print for the back sides, pre-shrunk everything, added zipper closings, and stuffed my two Christmas pillows inside (I'm planning to make a couple of summertime covers the same size, and then I'll tuck these covers inside the back when I change decor. In a small house, storage in plain sight works really well. That plaid pillow, above is really a bed pillow, in a flannel bed pillowcase. By shaking the pillow down into the bottom of the case, then compacting it by tucking the pillowcase ends inside-out smoothly into the back side of the pillow I make my guest bed pillows into square decorative pillows. And using different pillowcases, they're just as easy to change to fit my seasonal decor).
The pillow covers needed a bit of edging trim to really finish them off. I thought, at first, about gold braid or fringe, but decided that would make them look too bordello. So I went, instead, with a narrow black rope trim - showcasing the print, setting the pillows off nicely, and giving them a finished professional look. They turned out just like I'd envisioned!