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Holiday Pillow Tutorial

Monday, December 17, 2018

It's that time of year!  Parties, get togethers, meeting friends for dinner.  I know we can all do the "bottle of something" present, but honestly, unless it's an exceptional vintage (and yes, we are lucky to have a few of those hidden in the cellar from dear friends who definitely know their wine),  do you really remember who gave a bottle to you?

I stopped by my former neighbors' home when I was in Seattle last week and she said, "I was just thinking the other day about how there are reminders of you—in your quilting gifts—all over our house".  Left me with that warm and fuzzy feeling ;-)

There are a couple of options for quick holiday pull togethers for hostess gifts at this time of year, including coasters, pot holders and pillows.

This post provides a tutorial for a holiday pillow.  I shared some of my original ones here when I made them the first time a number of years ago.


I had initially made them with pillows stitched inside and stored the pillows with the holiday decorations.  Over time, I have learned that making pillow covers that fit my existing pillow forms is a far better idea.  So this tutorial reflects a pillow that is made with a zipper so that you can store just the pillow cover.

This tutorial is for a cover for a 14" pillow form—which is really a great size for this to look like a "gift".

Note:  I would recommend reading the instructions all the way through first, then it will make more sense as you use them to craft your pillow.

Materials:
  • Selected holiday fabric 15" x WOF,
  • Accent fabric 15" x 4" (not needed if no zipper),
  • ~50" of 1.5" Grosgrain Ribbon to coordinate with holiday fabric,
  • 16" zipper (not needed if no zipper),
  • Batting, 2 pieces:  (1) 15"x15" and (1) 15"x16",
  • Thread for sewing and thread to match your ribbon.



These are instructions for a pillow cover with a zipper (I will point out the differences throughout if you're not interested in adding a zipper).

Step #1:

Cut the holiday fabric (no zipper, simply cut two 15" squares)
Cut 1 piece 15"x15" (front)
Cut 1 piece 15" tall x16" wide (back) -- this tall and wide dimension matters as your proceed.

Step #2:

Lay the holiday fabric right side up on top of the appropriate piece of batting (I use a little spray adhesive to hold the fabric firmly in place on the batting, but probably isn't necessary).  Mark a line 6" in from the side of the fabric to have a straight line to quilt on.  You can choose which direction you want to quilt, top to bottom or side to side.  Once you have decide and marked for your first line, quilt a straight line on top of you marking and at whatever intervals you would like.  I use even, 1" intervals on this pillow.

piece of holiday fabric with measurement for quilting lines
Marking straight line to guide quilting

piece of holiday fabric with straight line quilting on machine
Quilting to add texture

Step #3:

Attach the ribbon where you want it on the pillow front.  I have pinned and sewn it 4.5" down from the top.  Use a matching thread to attach the grosgrain ribbon and stitch as close as you can to each side of the ribbon to secure it to the fabric.  Repeat this same dimension on the piece for the back of the pillow—matching it in this way, will give the illusion of a ribbon going around the pillow.  If you are installing a zipper, you will want to make sure that you are paying attention to tall and wide here.  You will want this ribbon to be down 4.5" on the dimension that is 15" tall.

Add the grosgrain ribbon to the front
Step #4:

Trim!

I cut the pieces a little larger to allow for shifting, etc.  Normally, when I make a cover for a 14" pillow, I use a 14" piece of fabric.  Since this fabric is ALSO lined with batting, we will want to trim the front of it to 14.5" x 14.5", which allows just a little extra room for the batting.

When trimming, you want to lie the front and back side by side on your mat so that as you trim the tall dimension, you are trimming them in a manner that will allow the ribbon to line up once the pillow cover is put together.

The ribbons should match at the side like this
On the back piece, if you are not installing a zipper, go ahead and trim to 14.5" x 14.5" as well.  If you ARE installing a zipper, then you will only want to trim one dimension on this piece.  Your fabric as originally cut for the back was 15" tall x 16" wide.  At this point you only want to trim the 15" tall dimension.  You should trim it down to 14.5".  Your new back piece will now be 14.5" tall x 16" wide.

So again ... no zipper, you should have two 14.5" square pieces.
If you're installing a zipper, you should have a 14.5" square piece for the front and a 14.5" tall x16" wide piece for the back.

Step #5:

The next part is putting the zipper on the back (no zipper, skip this step).

I cover this in a cursory fashion here.  I like to give credit where credit is due—so if you are unfamiliar with putting in a zipper in this fashion, I would suggest that you visit this tutorial on Sew Mama Sew by Creative Little Daisy.

As you noted in the instructions, the back is 1" wider than the front.  This is to provide for adding the zipper.  On this pillow, I am installing the zipper from top to bottom.  At about 4" from the right side.  I cut the piece to allow for the insertion of the zipper.
 Cutting the back to insert the zipper.  
Using the tutorial referenced above, I use the smaller piece to install the zipper on first.

Fold the accent piece in half lengthwise and iron it, wrong sides together, so that you now have a 2"x15" piece.   Lay the zipper right-side up, right to left in front of you.  Then place the raw edge of the 2"x15" piece of accent fabric across the top edge of the zipper, and then lay the small piece of the pillow back, right-side down, on top of the accent piece.  Line everything up and pin.  At this stage, if done correctly, you can't see the zipper, as the other fabric is laying across it.  Using your zipper foot, sew the zipper onto this sandwiched material.

You have now installed the zipper on one side of the back ... simple huh!?!?!

Now, with right sides together, lay the small piece of the back with the zipper installed on top of the larger piece of the back—right sides together.  The unsewn side of the zipper should line up with the raw edge of the larger piece of the back.  I used red thread in the bobbin when I sewed the ribbon on so that I can easily see where the ribbon lines up across the back pieces.

Lining up the back pieces for the zipper -- that is the zipper under my finger

Pin and stitch the other side of the zipper to the remaining piece of the back.


The green accent fabric covers that zipper.  Top stitch on either side of the zipper as shown in the linked tutorial, to allow the zipper to sit flat.

Note:  you will notice that I use a zipper that is way longer than it needed to be.  This in part because it's all I had in my drawer, but it is also partly intentional.  I have broken too many needles trying to put in a zipper that is the "correct" size and then my sewing machine needle (or serger as the case may be) hits the little piece of metal on either end of the zipper and busts the needle.  So I will always use a zipper that is 2" bigger than needed for the job when I am making a pillow.  This does mean that extra care has to be taken when tacking down the ends of the zipper on either side as the traditional means to hold the zipper are no longer there.  I go back and for 6-8 times in stitching at either end of the zipper because of this and because when the pillow goes in and out, this will be the stress point on the pillow and I have learned, you want it to be extra strong here.

Step #6:

No zipper:  At this point you will simply put your pillow front and back right-sides together and pin (lining up the ribbon carefully from front to back).  Stitch with a 1/4" seam allowance all the way around, leaving an 8" gap at the bottom.

Turn the pillow cover right-side out taking care to push the corners out as best you can without pushing through the fabric with anything sharp.  You will insert the pillow through the gap at the bottom and smooth it into place, making sure that the corners of the pillow really fit down nicely into the corners of the pillow cover.  Slip stitch the bottom of the pillow and then skip to Step #7,

Zipper:  There will be two ends of the back piece that you not yet trimmed.  Take the minimum off of one of those ends, just to clean it up and have a straight edge for both the fabric and batting.  Then place the back of the pillow right side up on your mat with the pillow top on top of it—right-sides together—and you will see the bit that still needs to be trimmed off of the bottom piece to make it 14.5" square as well to match the front panel.  Again, making sure that ribbon piece on the top and bottom are matching up, you should then be set to trim.

Sandwich pillow sides and trim back to match front
Again, lining up the ribbon from front to bak, pin.  Make sure that the zipper is mostly open (or else you won't be able to turn the pillow right side out after it is sewn), also make sure the zipper ends are pinned tightly for when you sew.  DO NOT trim the extra bits off the zipper ends until after you sew the pillow together.


Once you have sewn at a 1/4" seam allowance all the way around, go back and stop stitch several times at the point where the zipper crosses the seam.  Do this a lot ... this is the stress point on the cover when you put the pillow in and pull it out.


Back stitching at end of zipper multiple times
You'll see, I have used my serger on this to make nice edges.  I use the serger first to sew the pieces together and then I go around and stitch all the way around with my machine.  This is mainly because I have not mastered my serger and I don't feel the stitch is tight enough to hold the pillow together without the thread showing, but I do like the finished edge it gives the inside of the pillow.  Clearly I need to make some time to learn a bit more about my serger ;-).

Do a small trim on the corders and turn the pillow right side out.  Use a something to push the corners out, without puncturing the fabric.

Ease the pillow into the finished case.

Ease the pillow into the finished case.  Taking time to make sure the corners of the pillow are pushed down in to the corners of the pillow cover.

Back of pillow

Step #7:

Now you need to make the bow from the ribbon for the front.  Using the remaining ~20" of ribbon, you can tie a bow in the ribbon.  Need help?  I recommend trying this version to make a lovely bow.

Once you're happy with the bow you've made, you need to use a safety pin to attach it to your pillow front.  I find putting the pin on the pillow first, holds the bow closer to the pillow and allows it to be hidden more.





DONE!

Total time for this pillow for me was under 60 minutes.  If you're unfamiliar with the zipper technique, I would allow some extra time for that.  If you're gifting, you may find you don't need to put a zipper in anyway.

Want an even faster effort?  A set of 4 of these coasters can be made in less than 30 minutes (I think I actually have it down to less than 20 minutes after a few efforts).  You can find the tutorial to make them here.  This is truly a holiday scrap buster as well as all you need are 5" pieces of fabric and none of the fronts or backs need to match.  Though I do try to avoid white or light colors as coffee stains pretty quickly on white coasters.


Hope you find this tutorial useful ... and as always ... please let me know if you need any clarification or have any questions!


Happy Holidays!

All the best
Lisa

Scrap buster!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Two things I always find with scrap buster quilts:  1) they are always a bit more work as I scrounge through scrap bins looking for just the right size and color and 2) they never seem to make as a big a dent in my scrap bin as envisioned.


I suspect there's a direct correlation between those two findings—which is why my scrap bins are always overflowing.


I store my scraps from patterned fabric in a rolling plastic set of office drawers.  They never seem to be big enough, but I use that as an intentional limiting factor.  Bins overflow—time to make a scrap quilt!


Not exactly a "Friday Finish" or a substantial dent in the scrap bins ... but it's a start.  Maybe I just need a pattern that has square sizes that are bigger than 2.5"???


Oh!  I did get 6 more sets of Adirondack Neck Pillows made!  Replenishing inventory!

Happy Friday!  Have a great weekend!

All the best,
Lisa

No quilting ... but a new blog!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

This house has been hit by the cold bug ... hard.  It arrived on Thanksgiving and has continued to hang around ... for days ...

So while there was no quilting in this house this week—in the spirit of acknowledging accomplishments—there were two decent ones this week.

First ... we finally got the Christmas decorations out of the shed, cut a tree on the property (although it could be considered a little Charlie-Brownish) and got it set up on the deck (small-house living means accomodating).

image of a decorated Christmas Tree, including lights and ornaments, on a deck in the winter

Second ... I redid my blog!

For those of you who've been here before, you will notice a BIG difference!

A bit of backstory.  I had taken a year hiatus from work in 2009, and decided to fill some of my spare time teaching myself how to quilt.  There was a great community of quilters on Flickr (you remember Flickr, right?) and I was hooked.  A lot of quilters I admired on Flickr had links to their blogs, which I followed and scoured weekly.  Eventually, deciding to start one myself.  With absolutely no web technical skills, I took the same route as many of us did back then and went with Blogger.

I used the basic template when I set it up, spent hours trying to figure out how to set up a header picture and then—I kinda left it like that for the next 9 years.  I watched many bloggers, who started their blogs around the same time, either fall to the wayside or update their blogs.  I really did neither.  Yes, I did periodic posts, always optimistic I would get back in the groove again, but it never really happened.  2018's meager 10 posts is a good example of what the past couple of years have looked like.

But something happened late in the summer.  I started quilting again.  No, not the "someone's having a baby I should pull something together for them" kind of quilting.  The "I want to get lost in the studio and really create" kind of quilting.  And when I did, I found that I wanted to start communicating with quilters again.  I want to ask questions, share success, and walk through failures.  Instagram is well ... Instagram.  It's a great place to post pictures and get quick feedback—if you consider a like feedback—but it's not about sharing the process and engaging with other quilters that I had previously enjoyed.

Knowing that there would not be an instant community waiting for me to return when I began to repost on my blog, I decided to forge ahead anyway.  It was worth a try.  So I returned to my blog—which seemed so 2009.  With my web technical skills pretty much on par with where they were 9 years ago, I was off in search of a low-cost solution to fix it.  I thought I was looking for a Blogger genius who would refresh it for a low fee.  The search led to the discovery that there are people who will do that, but the $500 price tag was out of reach for an investment in a blog that is primarily used as a hobby.

But I did stumble across another solution on Etsy.  Blogger templates.  Let me add—Blogger templates for $5 to $15!

It seemed too easy.  Could someone with zero web skills actually implement a blogger template in a way that would work and not end up in a disaster?

When I found myself under the weather and not feeling up to quilting last week, I succumbed and decided to invest in a blogger template that I liked, with a creator who had great reviews, including her willingness to assist if necessary.  That—AND I learned how to back up my blog before I started—just in case.

I am pleased to say that with a $15 investment, 3-4 hours of my time, and a 30-page PDF supplied with the template download, I did it!  And am thrilled with the new look and feel of my blog!  It was far easier than anticipated.  There are still a few things that need to be adjusted, however, I learned a few things which has increased my confidence in my ability to resolve them and keep the blog more current, and hopefully somewhere that people will want to visit.

That's my goal—a blog that people will want to visit, to learn, share, laugh, sometimes ooh and ahh and other times commiserate.  I want to fill my right navigation with other blogs, managed by people, that want to do the same thing.  And maybe, create a space where people are willing to spend a little time together, one that goes beyond the perfect picture how many likes it can garner.

For those of you who made it to the end of this very long post Thank You!  For those of you who have been visiting for a while, I look forward to getting reacquainted and for those of you who are new ... Welcome!  I look forward to 'meeting' you over the coming weeks and months.

Happy holidays to all.

All the best
Lisa

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