Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How To Make A Pillow

It is our favorite time is How To time!  And I am finally ready to give a how to in front of my sewing machine.  I have had two official sewing lessons (thank you Colleen & Carol!) and completed three homemade pillows so I am ready to pass on all my brilliant knowledge.  Brilliant = a little nervous and truly still a rookie.

Today I am going to teach you how to make a 16"x16" envelop closure pillow.  This is the basics gang, but the perfect place to start!  

To make a 16"x16" pillow you will need:
- If you are using Home Decorators Fabric 1/2 yard will be plenty as it is  54" wide
- If you are not using Home Decorators Fabric a 1/2 yard is enough but leaves no room for mistakes so I        recommend buying 3/4 yard (regular fabric is generally 43" wide)
16"x16" Pillow Form
Measuring Tape
Sewing Machine 

The first step is the measuring and cutting of your fabric.  And don't forget...measure twice cut once!  You will need three pieces.  The front piece and 2 back pieces that will overlay to create the closure.

The front piece is 16"x16" + 1/2" seam allowance on each side.  Which means you need to cut a 17" x 17" square.  Simple enough!

(sorry, forgot to snap a pic of the front piece before sewing so I had to make due with this one above.  just remember 17"x17" is the measurement of the front piece of fabric before any sewing is done.)

For the back pieces you will need 17" across (wide), as we established above.  Then lets figure out how long each piece needs to be.  If we take 17 and divided it by 2 we get 8.5.  But that would mean our two pieces would meet up directly in the middle and we want them to overlap so they create a closure.  (The meaning behind "envelop closure".)  Lets take our 8.5 and say we want the pieces to overlap by 2 inches.  So we add 2 to the 8.5 and we are at 10.5.  Then lets add 1/2" seam allowance and we come to a grand total of 11".

We will need two of these pieces so cut out two 17"x11" pieces.  And now your cutting is done!

Lets keep working on the back side of this pillow.  We want to create a clean edge along the seams where the overlap occurs so how do we do that?  Well plug in your iron.  Fold one edge about 1/4", just eyeball it.

Then fold it again, another 1/4"

And iron this down flat. And when I say iron I mean "press".  You want to place the iron down and hold it there for a few seconds then pic it up and move it.  Do not slide the iron back and forth.  We are creating a crease not ironing out wrinkles.

Do this to both edges of the back pieces and then head to your sewing machine.  Now I can't tell you exactly how to use your sewing machine as each machine is different but I can tell you that your Users Manual is GOLD.  I tend to shy away from reading manuals but trust me you need to have that baby handy at all times!  One thing that I have found very helpful is understanding how a sewing machine works at the most basic level and I found this graphic to be SO helpful...

Ani Lockstitch2      

This picture (which I found here) shows how a stitch is created.  The center circle is your bobbin.  The blue is the bobbin thread and the green is your top thread.  Pretty cool, huh?!?!

OK so you are at your sewing machine.  Hi friend...

The first seams to sew are the ones you just ironed down.  So sew along the edge you now have folded over twice being sure to grab both pieces of the folded fabric.

Next lay the two pieces of fabric down on the one large piece of fabric, that will act as the front of the pillow.  Very important that you lay the fabrics face to face, meaning put the front (pretty side) of the fabrics facing toward each other.  You are sewing this pillow inside out.

Line up the outside edges and your two back pieces should overlap one another by about 2".  Pin around the outside of the fabric in order to keep everything in place as you sew.

Start in the center of one side.  Use the guide on your sewing machine to sew a 1/2" in from the edge.  One quick tip - I find it hard to see the measurements on the machine once the fabric is in the way so I put a piece of painters tape along the 1/2" line and make sure my fabric runs along the edge of the tape.  

Now start sewing!  Of course you need to sew all four edges creating a 1/2" seam all the way around.  What do you do when you get to the corners?  This is a fun one!  Stop 1/2" before you reach the edge.  Make sure your needle is down, holding the fabric in place.  Lift the foot and rotate the fabric 90 degrees.  Put the foot back down and keep sewing.  

Once you have sewed all four sides snip off the access fabric at the corners but don't get to close to the seams.

Now flip the fabric inside out.  Well actually it will be right side out since you were already working inside out.  Using the edge of your sewing scissors or the eraser of a pencil from the inside gently press out the corners so they look more square than round.

OK only two steps to go.  Go back to your iron.  Set the fabric down on the ironing board and roll out the edges in order to open the seams (just picture rolling out a worm from play-doh!)  and then press it flat with the iron.  You can also iron out any wrinkles that have popped up.

And the final step?  Stuff your pillow form through the envelop seam and step back and admire the amazing pillow you just created!!!  (Also calculate how much money you saved!!!)  

I hope reading through this isn't overwhelming!  It took me about 30 minutes to sew this pillow.  Although it seems like a lot of steps it is all very intuitive and once you have done it once you will be able to pop pillows out in no time.  But please send me your questions!  Do it in the comments below as others may have the same questions as you.  And if you want to make your very own "&" fabric stay tuned as I will show you how later this week!  

Happy Sewing!