Semi-Handmade :: Embellish A Throw

I love a beautiful throw.  At my house, we keep two queen sized blankets in a huge basket next to the sectional so we can all snuggle at a moments notice.  These blankets get covered with pizza and dog and muddy shoes and can be easily washed and quick dried on super high heat.  These blankets are like your favorite tee-shirt. These are not the beautiful throws I’m referring to.  I’m talking about the kind of shirt, I mean throw that you pull out on special occasions.  It sits all pretty on your bed or in your office far away from pizza and dogs and high heat.

Anthropologie provides that exact kind of throw I’m talking about with their Quirky Heirloom Throw in bright and…neutral  {FYI almost every review says it’s well worth the $198 price –WOW!}

See how the throw is the pride and joy of the chair?  This is not the kind of throw you use to stay warm and sop up diet coke, this is the kind of throw you pamper and show off.

Pier 1 has a great selection of applique throws.  Much more friendlier priced at $39-79.

I purchased this embellished throw last year after I made some goals for my home, one of which was I wanted it to feel more handmade.  So, I didn’t make this throw, and I don’t even know if someone in the country actually made it because I bought it from Home Goods but, it did have a “handmade” tag on it and I thought it was beautiful.  So I splurged and spent $60 of Christmas gift money on it back last January.

Since the moment I bought it I had every intention of hacking it and making my own semi homemade throw. But as much as I love flowers, I didn’t want another flower throw.  So it took me forever AKA: 11 months to figure out what I could use.

Meanwhile I had been saving these clothes parts forever.  You know how over the past few years lots of shirts have all those cute embellishments on them like ruffles and weird folded ribbon and clumps of frayed fabric and knotted fabric?  Once I stained/holed/pitted out/wore out the shirts, I didn’t have the heart to throw them away because of their cute embellishments.  So, I grabbed the pile of clothes and kept my eye open for an inexpensive, forgivable throw I could hack.

You could use West Elm’s Favorite throw which is on sale right now for $19.  Home Goods, TJ Maxx and Marshalls are also great places to find perfectly imperfect throws.  You don’t want the fleece throws–just something that will allow you to sew or iron on some fun embellishments.

So there’s the throw I found for $15 at Marshalls.  It’s neutral and is forgiving as far as if I sew, you don’t really see the threads on the back because it’s not a flat cashmere throw.  Do not use an expensive cashmere throw for this project.  Unless you really want to.  But don’t tell anyone I told you to use cashmere.

Up there you can see how I cut the embellishments from my old shirts and just grouped them together to see what worked together.

You could make an initial–that’s an “M” if you can’t tell.  Or you could make a shape.  Or a big flower.

I just wanted randomness so I laid it out on a table like so.

And then I squished it all together because really, this his how a throw looks when it’s draped over a chair.  Hmm, I like it.


This project can be completely sewing machine free if you want.  However, if you choose to use ribbon it’s going to be much easier to secure it with a sewing machine.  So if you don’t want to lug that bad boy out, opt out of ribbon.

First thing I did was grab my iron on stitch witchery hem tape fusible web whatever it is that you call this stuff–it’s like iron on sewing.  I really wanted to use a ribbon because it was going to be the unifying color I was going for.  So even though I ironed it on, I knew I’d have to hand stitch the entire thing or use the sewing machine to secure it.

Here it is in its flat, ironed on glory.  I purposely wanted it wonky and folded over itself so this is the look I was going for.

And I did the same thing with all the other bits and pieces.  Just ironed them on with the stitch tape stuff.

So here it is all ironed on.  The throw itself isn’t very photogenic.  For some reason, in these photos it looks like it’s all smashed and from my childhood, in person it’s fluffy and knobby and knubby and soft.  Anyway, the iron on stuff will hold it on pretty good but since it’s a throw that will get moved and such you really want to secure all of your embellishments…

Now’s the fun part.  Grab some thick colored thread–I just used embroidery floss because it’s like 39 cents and they have every color imaginable at the craft store.  Go for a bold color that coordinates with your throw and embellishments.  You want the stitches to show up in all their imperfect hand stitched beauty.

I hand stitched over every piece that I added on but for the ribbon.  It took about 25 minutes and was relaxing.  I made little fun stitches and since the throw is knubby you can’t see the stitches from the back side unless you really look for them. I even made little knots in the center of the flowers just for fun.

Lastly, if you used ribbon or if you just want to extra secure some parts, run over it with a sewing machine preferably with bright-colored thread.  And this is NOT the time to be a perfectionist. You want it wonky and quirky and imperfectly lovely.

Like so.

See how the sewing on the pink ribbon is really crude?  That’s what you want.  Thankfully.  It adds to the charm.  At least for me it does.

Here it is all laid out.  But it will never actually be laid out flat like this so it doesn’t really matter how it looks when you lay it flat.

It will always just look like this.

And this.

And for the record, I think my throw is quirkier than Anthropologie’s.  If you hate mine, that’s ok, the whole idea is to use what you have and make something prettier.  And quirkier.  Now go forth and embellish!

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  1. Gotta say, love your blog, but that looks like a hot mess.

    • You know, I totally agree. I love you, Nester, but, this project isn’t for me.

      • Yep, the older I get the more things I have in my home that lots of people aren’t crazy about: sailfish, antlers, bust planter, white antelope head, fur covered chair and those are the very things that bring soul and life and personality to our home~hopefully everyone has at least one thing in their home that they love, even if everyone else thinks {knows?} it’s a little insane.

        so glad you all still come in spite of the quirks!

        …book page wreaths, white ceramic boots, tree stump table, tree stump hall tables, poster board sunburst mirror, fur wreath, fur ottoman, book page garland, chalkboard fireplace surround, window mistreatments, random plate wall….OH MY GOSH, MY ENTIRE HOUSE IS CONTROVERSIAL!!

        I am a freak.
        How do you all even stand me?

    • Eeek! Gotta agree with Lola. Sorry, Nester. :(

  2. This is sooooooo cute, I love it! These would make excellent gifts too.

    Well done!!!

  3. Love this! I wish I has a sewing machine.

  4. you are brilliant in every way. i’m gonna be RIGHT on that project sister.
    please tell me why i continue to be tortured to live 3 hours away from your awesome self.

  5. This is such a cute project! Definently Anthropologie inspired…I have a throw I have been meaning t replace because it is jut plain. Not anymore!

  6. I think you could put even more embellishment on later as you collect it, using the unifying color ribbon throughout.

    • Oh my word–that is a brilliant idea! kind of like a quilt that you build over time. Only more odd.

      • Yes, I really like this idea about adding on. Especially for an as you grow baby blanket. And I’m digging the colors and varying textures you used. The pink stiching worked for me and I hate pink.

  7. Love it! How smart of you to save all those little pieces.

  8. First reaction was ….uhhh…hmmmm….welllll….but ya know what…it has potential. I think jen is right about adding to it! You are on your way here and you know what ….I am inspired. Like this idea.

  9. I’m going to agree with earlier commenters – not really a look I’m going for. However….it seems like you’re happy with it *and* the idea of recycling clothing bits as embellishment is a terrific idea. thanks for the inspiration!

  10. Tina Lavender says

    Hmmm, I’m thinking I might do this with bits of leftover fabric from my throw pillows and curtains, and drape it over my neutral chair to tie it all in. By the way, PLEASE tell me where the chair is from! I have been on the hunt for one like it!!

  11. Love this idea! But what I really love? The pink! I love pink with blues and browns and think it will compliment your decor in a lovely way!

  12. Hmm…fun idea. Not sure about the white scarfy part (looks a wee bit like a tissue?), but I can see this idea working out, esp with everyone’s idea to add more to it.

  13. I am totally inspired. Your philosophy has totally rubbed off on me (IDHTBPTBB) and I must say it is liberating! It changed the way I decorated for CHRISTmas and I have hung more stuff on the wall by myself in the past month than I have in my whole life! No more fear because it doesn’t have to be perfect! I love it.


  14. Debbie from Illinois says

    Just got to say it……not an attractive look.

  15. It looks like the joy of your chair. Love this idea and I may hack the hacker, if that’s ok.

  16. You know what, I wasn’t sure at first, but I think I like it! I like the previous commenter’s idea of adding onto it– I think it wants MORE and BIG. I think maybe it wants a few BIG embellishments, like a big fat ruffle fluff pinwheel, or a big doilie embellished with beads and baubles, or…?

    I think it could definitely be one of those things that gets pulled together over time. Like the modern, free-form version of a quilt.

  17. this is beautiful, I’m doing this over Christmas vacation…we have bunches of blankets in a huge basket, they are all getting face lifts!

  18. Barbara Brown says

    I AB.SO.LUTE.LY luurve it! Im sure the negative nellies will soon be sporty one on their chairs or couches!

  19. Blogworld is so great- it’s like people watching, really, and it’s fun to see personalities come through in so many unique and different ways- this is so YOU! :)

  20. Hi Nester, It’s funky, I love it. However, the second I saw the word sew, I knew it wasn’t for me. Thinking of my wardrobe, there’s nothing lacy or ruffly that I could cut up, even if I would consider it. I also don’t have a chair that deserves it…lol. I’m sticking to my original thought….YIKES…lol. Have a great day. Oh, I was chuckling when I saw the scarves around the antlers and various pieces in your home. You have a way….

  21. I’m as quirky as you, I love it and want to call it my own.

  22. Love the concept as I am a collector of fiber knacks. Definitely a quck project for Christmas gifts! Thans for sharing such a unique idea!! <3

  23. I know how to sew. Like really sew. I even have been known to sew my own clothes (and nobody could even tell they were handmade). And that is exactly the reason why I end up not doing it. You know, that creepy need for perfection creeping in. Can’t have wobly stitches if you are supposed to know what you are doing.
    So long story, jsut to tell you that I love this project. So easy to do and change into something that fits YOUR style. And heck if you can make it out of leftover anyway it is safe to use for real too.
    Enjoy many snuggly moments with your throw!

  24. enjoyed reading the comments. I think everyone should be true to what they love. ESPECIALLY in our homes.
    personally, I love the throw… and I think it is because I am a texture junkie who is a sucker for a touch of girlie. You and I need girlie with all these men running around!

  25. This has just inspired me to make a throw I’ve been imagining in my mind for QUITE some time. I think I will go to Michael’s and get it started TODAY! THANK YOU for the push I needed

  26. I thought your throw was beautiful. I am a huge shabby chic fan and it looked like a high end shabby chic find. :)

  27. We love this idea – especially because you can make some of your most loved pieces (shirts, blankets, scarves etc.) new again. We like the idea of bunching the appliques together into one or two corners, and the initial idea is genius. Thanks for sharing!

    • ohh, and of course the Goodwill is a great place to find some fill in the blank embellishments–just saw a cute crochet bird ornament there yesterday that would look sweet sewed onto a throw!

  28. I would totally rock this in my house…if I had that room where the dogs, pizza, and other random dirtiness didn’t occur on a daily basis :) A girl can dream right? It looks amazing on your chair!

  29. wait. another hayley. right above me? what is the world coming to? i kid…Hayley…other Hayley…nice to meet you.

    dude. these could be made with SUCH love and really would look best the more junk you piled on there. can i say? i love that eagle patch thing you have collected in that one pic?

  30. I think it’s super cute and this gives me a great idea for a bedroom throw that won’t take me hours and hours to make. Thanks for sharing such a cute idea!

  31. This is why people love you. You do what you love, and you take criticism with a lot of class :)

    Anthro would totally buy these from you, btw. . .

  32. My mind is swirling with ideas from your idea. Thanks for sharing.

  33. Don’t understand haters….even of creative hominess…..LOVE YOU and all your attempts to make your house a home!!!

    • awww, Donna, you are so encouraging! Thank you!

      And for the record, I don’t consider people who don’t like it, get it, wouldn’t have it, wouldn’t make it, “haters” whatsoever. If someone wanted to murder me because of that throw, now THAT would totally be a hater. And who knows, maybe this throw will be the final straw for someone?

      • Oh my…………! haha…THIS cracked me up.

      • Donna Johnson says

        You’re so right Nester! Sorry! A full moon and twenty five fourth graders sent me a little over the edge! I look so forward to your post and don’t want you to be discouraged. “Haters” was a little too strong…..and since when did I start talking like my kids anyway? Thanks for the intervention! Love your blogginess! A Monroe native!

  34. I want to love it…. but I think for me, I need a bit more cohesiveness. I would probably take what you did and start unifying with flowers. Just layer those felt pretties right on top. Or maybe some sweater flowers. Make the ribbons the fields, stems, grass and put the flowers with it. And really, this is what it is all about… taking and adding ideas! Thank you!

  35. That square patch trimmed with the crocheted lace ( doily?) is begging to be embroidered, it would be sweet with a name, monogram, date, or something!

  36. Nester,
    I think it looks right at home in your big comfy chair. This is a project that everyone can do their own interpretation. My gramma made a YOYO throw and had stacks of calico yoyos of all colors. they would make an afgan look great. My wife’s friend prints photos on fabric and they could be stitched on afgan and accented with ribbon and doilies. I think this just started my imagination going. ” It doesn’t have to be perfect” or perfect for everyone.

    • A MAN!! Sorry Rick, it always catches me off guard when a MAN leaves a comment! I’ve been wanting to try that photo printed fabric forever, sounds so fun!

      • Nester,
        Don’t be suprised. I sew. Have my own Singer and table set up in craft area. I enjoy your mistreatments but also know it takes alot for me to get past measuring everything. I have made curtains, bedskirts, tablecloths, shams, upholstered valances and my daughters “medeval witch costume with velvet hooded cape. I also do woodworking and made a cedar trellis by printing picture of one for sale online and copying it. Saved $200. I picked up the cedar lumber at the curb. Not enough hours in the day. I use blogs for inspiration. thanks for all you do.

  37. Oh my, I really like this and I can see where you crave all this sweetness in a house of boys. Not that they aren’t sweet, but you know……….. Yea, I don’t get all the antlers everywhere and no one will explain it to me. (I mean if one lives in a lodge or a log cabin but EveryWhere?)
    I am now looking for a throw to embellish my own way. I have some doilies and lace and stuff saved up. And, I really like this particular throw you started with, a LOT!

    • They aren’t everywhere…just in two places! Wait, three. Oh and the one in my son’s room–that makes four. In my defense we do live in NC–close to both the beach and the mountains? Oh never mind, you are right, no one CAN explain it.

  38. The main message I take from this is “Do what YOU love.” I am a somewhat anal person, so I am inspired to make a more structured version of this same project. I am thinking a Christmasy version with bits of plaids and velvet ribbons. Thanks for the inspiration!

  39. My first thought was that you had a bad case of static cling. But towards the end of the post I really liked the throw. I have been wanting a nicer throw to show off our new couches, the fleece snuggies aren’t cutting it any more. Hmm, I think I need something in red. Now how do I teach my kids to keep sticky, goopy stuff away from it.

  40. Great inspriation! That is why I love your blog. I see something you have created and even if it isn’t exactly my style, I take your inspiration and put my twist on it. In this case, take a plain throw and add some junk that you like to it, brilliant!

  41. OK, so it’s not for everybody but it IS for you, which is all that matters. I love to have a little (ok, a lot of) quirk in each and every room … it is what makes my house a home :)

  42. I love that you used pieces of clothing for the embellishments! I actually have a quilt my grandmother made using pieces of fabric scraps and old clothing. I’m not a quilter, I can’t even sew! But I could do this even with my limited skills LOL! Thanks for sharing :)

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  43. impressed with your creativity….more impressed with how you handle criticism.

    i could learn from you.

  44. This is not for me.
    But, I “get it!”

    Years ago, I gave away – GAVE AWAY??? –
    a rattan elephant head. (Think mounted kill.) And, I hated it. Now, I wish I had it!
    There are SOOO many things I can appreciate – even if it’s not my taste.

  45. i of course love this! one thing ~ after almost 2.5 years of knowing you ~ i didn’t know you owned a needle!?!

  46. I like the fact that you aren’t afraid of trying new things. I know that I can be sooo insecure in not doing things “the right way”, so never end up trying. You inspire me to not worry about how everyone else is doing/decorating things, and to go for new styles that make me happy. Keep up the great work!

  47. I don’t think the ones who give their honest opinion should be considered “negative nellies” or “haters”. I quickly read through but I didn’t see that anyone expressed their opinion in a nasty way. It’d be pretty boring if we all agreed and all liked the same thing. Okay, off my soapbox now . . .

    I STILL want to to one similar to the one you got at Homegoods!!! Maybe one day!


  48. What ever happened to “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”? LOVE IT NESTER!!! God bless and Merry Christmas!

  49. You are so darn creative! I love love how unique it looks! I really dislike typical decor all over the house, I think it’s fun to add pieces that are unexpected and personalized to your home…although I do want to try this project out in my home too, heheh. : )

  50. Love it!

    P.S. I thought of Edie when I saw the first picture! She needs one of these :)

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