Are you wondering if I'm going to sew something for Sew Something Month? I am. I did. How about some cute Christmas pillows- tutorial included. I'm so excited, this post can also be found at Life In Grace as part of Edie's 12 Days of Handmade Christmas.
Perhaps the easiest way to get your feet wet in the sewing waters is by making simple pillow or cushion covers. Once you know the basic construction, you can get as fancy as you wish with embellishments and trim. You can update the look of a room quickly and inexpensively by simply adding some pretty throw pillows or recovering existing ones.
I had everything I needed so I didn't spend a dime. If you don't have an embarrassing stash a few things lying around, like I do, I think you can buy what you need for less than $15.00.
First gather your supplies,
You will need pillow forms to cover. You can buy inserts fairly inexpensively at the fabric store, especially when you catch them on sale, or like I said above, you can just recover pillows you already have. One of the pillows I'm covering today came from Walmart. I was there to buy a pillow form, but noticed that I could buy an 18 inch pillow cheaper than a 16 inch pillow insert, so I went with that.
I am using a rotary cutter, but you can make your cuts with scissors. If you plan to do much sewing, I recommend getting one and a self healing cutting mat. You will also need something to measure your fabric for cutting. I have a clear ruler and my cutting mat has markings, but a tape measure or yard stick would be sufficient.
You will also need a few pins, something to mark with is helpful ( I use a water soluble fabric marking pen), an iron and of course a sewing machine.
For the first pillow, I used a fabric called osnaburg, it looks very much like linen but is much cheaper. You can find it at JoAnn or Walmart for around $3/yd. I pre-wash my fabric before sewing to get any shrinking out of the way.
Measure the pillow or form you want to cover. Cut one piece for the front of the cover the exact dimensions. My pillow is 16" square so I cut one piece of fabric that size. Normally when you sew, you cut the item larger, taking your seam size into consideration. For pillows I cut the fabric the same size so that the insert will fit snugly into the cover. Otherwise you end up with a saggy baggy pillow.
For the covers I'm making today, I will be adding a little something to the fronts. I could have chosen a pretty fabric and skipped the embellishing part and gone on to the next step. Since I am embellishing, I will do that first.
I want to recreate this Pottery Barn pillow, cause I think it's really cute, but I don't have $29 (plus shipping) to spend on a pillow- especially since I really like the set ($29 plus shipping times three- YIKES!)
To make the LOVE pillow, I took my 16" front piece and found the center by folding it in half then in half again. I made the little pocket by cutting a pieces of the same fabric 6" x 8". I machine embroidered the word LOVE in the center, but you could just as easily paint the words on using regular craft paint- if you have a nice steady hand- which I do not. You could stencil it on using regular stencils or the freezeer paper stencil method or use iron on transfer paper and iron it onto your pocket. Once you have your word on your pocket, turn under all four sides 1/2" and press.
I bet I just lost half of you didn't I? When I said press? Pressing gets such a bad wrap, no one wants to fool with ironing. It takes too much time. I don't like to iron any more than the next guy. In fact, I think that may be what turned me off to sewing when I was young. My granny tried to teach me to sew and once she got all preachy about pressing after every step and showing me the propper way to press an item, I started hearing Charlie Brown's teacher "wa wa waaa waaaa...." If I have to do all that, I'm not messing with it! Well, fast forward to today, and I'm probably a bigger preacher on the merits of pressing as you sew than my granny every thought of being. It really doesn't take much time, and it not only makes the sewing easier, it makes what you sew look so, so, much better. Have you ever seen a handmade item and just it just screamed "homemade!" I bet it was because it wasn't pressed. So please, please, if you are going to take the time to make something, take just a tiny bit more time to press. OK, off my soapbox and back to the tut.
Find the center of the pocket and place it on the center of the pillow front. To keep this extra secure for stitching I used a little bit of stitch witchery (fusible web) under the sides and bottom. Once it's nice and secure, I used a quilting stitch on my machine and red thread to give it a hand stitched look ( not necessary, you could use a regular straight stitch, just increase the stitch length). You could also hand stitch it if you like.
On one short side of each back piece, turn under about a 3/4" hem, press, and turn it under again. Yes, again with the pressing. Sorry.
Sew a straight stitch close to the edge of the fold on each back piece.
Now lay your front piece right side facing up on your work surface. Lay each back piece on top with right sides facing down, lining up the outer edges of the back pieces with the outer egdes of the front pieces. You will be overlapping the back pieces. This creates your envelop back.
Pin in several places to hold everything in place for sewing. Be sure to pin the edges of the back pieces so they stay put while you sew everything together.
Now sew around all four sides, I used a 3/8" inch allowance because it looked like enough for the fabric I was using.
Clip your threads, turn your cover right side out, stuff your pillow in and admire your work. Take a picture of your lovely new pillow so you can share it with all your friends!
I also made the JOY pillow (didn't get to PEACE yet, maybe today) and this gift box pillow like one Ballard has for- are you ready for this? $75.00!!!. I used the same construction method, you just embelish the front piece any way you like first.
Want to know how I made the Ballard's pillow? OK I'll tell you. It was really easy and didn't take very long at all.
You will need a printed fabric, burlap, ribbon or double fold bias tape, freezer paper and steam-a-seam lite.
Cut your first piece to fit your pillow. Mine was 18" this time. I happened to have a piece of green fabric almost exactly like the print on the Ballard's pillow.
Next, cut a piece of steam-a-seam 9" x 9" and fuse it to the back of a piece of burlap. Do (this before cutting the burlap to size, that way you have less fraying) Cut the burlap 9" x 9", remove the paper backing and fuse to the center of the printed fabric.
Go around all four sides of the burlap with a zig-zag stitch in dark brown or black thread.
With the stitch witchery, (or any fusible tape- or you could use a glue stick) secure a piece of red ribbon or bias tape down the center of the burlap box, turning under the raw edges.
To make the gift tag, cut a piece of freezer paper 8.5" x 11" (the size of printer paper) and iron the shiny side to a piece of light weight cotton fabric. Cut the fabric 8.5 x 11 after adhering the freezer paper. Now you should have a piece of fabric that will run through your printer. I had to fiddle with mine a bit, but it worked nicely. I am not guaranteeing this will work in your printer. I simply googled free printable sheet music, found and image I liked and printed it on the freezer paper backed fabric. After printing the image onto the fabric, remove the freezer paper. Next fuse a piece of steam-a-seam to the back and cut it out in the shape of a gift tag. Remove the paper backing and iron it in place on the burlap box. Stitch around the edges with a zig-zag stitch. (sorry for the blurry photos)
Construct the pillow following the instructions above, then tie a bow from your ribbon and attach it to the front. I used fabric glue, but you could hand stitch it in place.
Stand back and admire your pillow and brag to your husband that you saved $75.00!
A little bonus tip~If you are limited on space where ever your sewing area is, you can make a little portable pressing board instead of putting up a big ironing board. I made one yesterday with a scrap of wood, it wasn't plywood, just some sort of paneling stuff Mitch had that measured 16" x 24". I covered it with 2 layers of cotton quilt batting and a layer of fleece interfacing then a layer of cotton fabric. I stapled it all to the back and now I have a surface for pressing I can keep right next to my cutting area, saving me steps to the ironing board and clearing up some floor space in my sewing room.
I'm linking this post to the I Can Make That party at Just a Girl.