What a Handmade Pillow Taught Me About Cost

photo by Suzy Hazelwood and pexels.com

A few years ago an online acquaintance announced on our message board that she had a new motto going forward.  I loved the idea and was glad to hear how she was going about it.

A day or so later I was walking through a store which had a lot of home decorations and there on one of the tables were some homespun type, decorative pillows with a few different words on them and one of them was my friend’s motto. I quickly grabbed it, put it in my cart and then circled the store looking around some more.

A lot of things went in the cart that day and as was usually the case, most of those things came out of the cart before I checked out.  I’ve found that if I don’t put it in the cart I will forget about them and then wish I had them once I got to the cashier, but if they go in the cart then I can decide for sure if I want that blue vase or that cookie jar instead and can take back the items not given priority.

There was no exception for the process on that day.  I had a debate of whether it was worth the cost.  It wasn’t expensive, but I only knew the acquaintance online and never really interacted with her a whole lot even though sometimes I felt I knew her as we posted a lot on the same threads. In the end, before I got to the cashier I had decided that the pillow would be going back.

Counting Money - Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

That would have been fine if that was the end of the story.  The next morning I decided to go back to the store and get it even though I was in a little bit of a time crunch with other things to do that day.

When I arrived at the table I found pillows with “love” and “believe”, but not the word I wanted.  How could they have sold them all so quickly?  I even asked if they were stored somewhere else, but no, they were all gone and no more were expected.

So I headed home with the determination to make that pillow.  It was a just a little, white, hand sewn pillow with one embroidered word after all. No big deal.

Over the next couple of days I pulled out some fabric, and some stuffing, thread, a needle, scissors, embroidery floss, pencil, an embroidery hoop and sat down and made it.  It was simple, but it did take some time to gather the supplies, cut out the fabric, draw the word on the fabric just right, embroider the word, sew the pillow and stuff it.


Really not a great undertaking, but as I was putting it all together I just kept thinking of the word that was on it.  You’ve probably guessed what it was.  “Simplify.

I sent the pillow to this friend, but before I sent it to her I told her it was coming and shared the story about getting it for her – so that when she saw the pillow it would be a reminder to actually simplify instead of doing what I did!  I was laughing at myself over it and she laughed along with me.

Now there is nothing wrong with sewing a pillow like this if you really don’t have the money to buy the pillow in the first place.  Or if that kind of handiwork gives you joy.  Or if you love someone well and know they will love it.  Or if you promised it ahead of time.  It really didn’t cost that much in the first place, I had the money, I like crafting, but this pillow really wasn’t my thing, I barely knew the fellow message board member and she never would have known a single thing about it if I hadn’t told her when everything was already done.

I’d done the exact opposite from what the pillow should have reminded me to do!

I’m not sad that I made her the pillow now.  Not sad that I went through that experience.  It has taught me a great lesson on simplifying.

It also taught me about cost.  The day I first held the pillow in my hand I decided that it wasn’t worth the financial cost.  I often debate on whether something is worth the financial cost.  Do I have that same debate with the time or emotional cost?

Is spending hours and hours decorating one of 100 cakes in a bake sale worth the cost when a simple one will sell for just as much? Is spending 5 minutes reading a book to your child that he has heard 58 times worth the cost?  Is going for a walk with your spouse every night worth the cost?  Maybe. Maybe not.  When was the last time you asked yourself that question?

Couple walking hand in hand - Photo by Crew on Unsplash

I’m not saying that we should question every little thing we are doing.  Asking if it is worth it hundreds of ties every day is not worth the cost!    I just think that, occasionally, we should ask before jumping into a project or look at the big picture and then discard the things not worth the cost.

What have you found wasn’t worth the time or emotional cost?  When have you been surprised that something you were doing was worth the cost?