I’m going to start off this post with a celebration: IT’S TIME TO START THINKING ABOUT HOMECOMING!!!!!!! WAHOOOOO!!!!!!! Now that I’ve done that…
It is a long-standing tradition in the VP community that we make gigantic pillowcase quilts for our sailors’ homecomings. I know it sounds a little weird, but when you’re decorating a huge hangar it’s a fun way to make it more festive! Historically, volunteers would use about 10,000 safety pins (that may be an exaggeration, but I’m sure that’s what it felt like!) to put it all together, but it would sag and not look so pretty. Last homecoming, though, one of our more brilliant wives thought of sewing them together instead, and the result was amazing! The down side is that we don’t get them back, but for me, as long as I have a photo of it, I’m happy.
It can be a little difficult to get started. You want to make something unique, but words and pictures need to be visible from a good distance, so you’re sort of limited in what you can do. In this post, I’m going to share what I did this year, and some other inspiration from last year and others’ pillowcases. I’ve also hosted a couple of pillowcase parties in the past, which are a ton of fun and a great source of new ideas!
This year I kept the message simple – Welcome Home! I added my own twist by making his name out of different fabrics that are special to us, or that represent something in our lives. I drew each letter on a 3″x5″ note card and cut them out. Then turn them upside down and trace onto the paper side of some Heat N Bond Lite.
Trim around the edges, but don’t cut the letter out completely. Iron onto the wrong side of your chosen fabric (pay attention to where the patterns are compared to the letter you traced). Then cut out your letters! Iron them onto your pillowcase, then add details (drawn, painted, etc).
Usually, these quilts tend to be a sea of white, with a few colored cases among them, so I choose to be one of those colored cases! Monster insisted on the dark red when we were at Walmart, so I had a little more trouble – only light colors would show up. That’s why I went for the fabric iron-ons, and I used light blue and white puffy paint to make the Welcome Home letters (you know, like red, white, and blue). Puffy paints are definitely one of the best ways to put your message on a pillowcase!
If you’re not particularly crafty, you can get printable iron-on transfers to create your design (note: they’ll only work with an inkjet printer because lasers are too hot). Or use hot glue to add embellishments – googly eyes, pipe cleaner letters or shapes, the sky is the limit! Since it doesn’t have to go survive washing, you’re only limited by your imagination.
If you have kids, it’s so special to let them make a pillowcase for Daddy or Mommy. Regular old craft paint (97c at Walmart) works great – it doesn’t have to make it through the laundry, so it works just fine. Monster totally went to town on his pillowcase for Daddy, and had a BLAST doing it! I learned from painting pumpkins at Halloween, though, that I need to offer only one color at a time, or it all ends up being a grayish mess. If your kid is younger, or not so much into painting, hand and footprints are always popular, too!
Here are some more pillowcases from last homecoming. The first is a flag motif, just glued onto the pillowcase with spray glue. On the second, I thought my sign idea was pretty clever! The third one was made by a friend of mine for her husband, playing on his call sign. And the fourth was made by my in-laws for Radar – we are a little Georgia Tech crazy in our family!
If you’re looking for more inspiration, I don’t recommend searching for pillowcase ideas; instead, look up homecoming signs. A couple of my favorite lists of inspiration are here and here – you may just find some ideas for yourself there. Just remember, you’ll want to keep it G-rated!
I’ll take a moment here to acknowledge the ugly white boxes all over my photos. I am protecting my own privacy, as well as the privacy of others I made pillowcases for, both for OPSEC (operational security) and just because we don’t all want our names splashed all over the internet! Sorry it’s not pretty, but I think you can still get the point 🙂
At home, we had a banner waiting for Radar, made by Build A Sign. It was free, I just had to pay shipping (it was somewhere in the $10-15 range). If you’re getting ready for a homecoming, definitely take advantage of this offer! Just keep in mind it can take 4-6 weeks to receive it.
I was also pretty proud of Monster’s homecoming outfit; it was semi-DIY. Last homecoming for us was in November, so mustaches were all over the stores with no-shave-November. I bought an adorable mustache onesie and added words with a fabric marker to make it personal for homecoming! For anyone who doesn’t know, it’s tradition for the guys to grow mustaches on deployment (and in our household, he is required to shave it off in order to get a ride home!).
And since I’m getting geared up for homecoming, here’s my favorite photo from our last one. Can’t wait for another “first” family photo, this time with 4 of us!!
If your homecoming is approaching like ours, congratulations! If you are just at the start or middle of a deployment, I know you can do it, and that first hug and kiss are so worth the wait!!