Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Removable Decorative Holiday Pillows

We like to decorate for holidays -- one of the things I like to do is have throw-pillows made with holiday fabric.  Pretty simple -- get one 14" square pillow form, cut two 15" square of fabric, sew them together, insert pillow, slipstitch closed.  Result -- one holiday pillow.

Sounds great -- until it's time for the next holiday.  Then, you've got to store the old holiday pillows and haul out some more.  Until the next holiday, when you've got to store the pillows again.  Repeat and rinse.

With maybe 8 pillows per holiday -- and 10 or so holidays a year -- that's 80 or so pillows I've got to find a place to store!

So -- I decided to try a different method -- rather than sew single-purpose pillows, why not make a pillow-case -- insert pillow form when you need it, remove when you don't.  A lot easier storing 80 flat fold-able pillow cases than 80 full-size pillows!

One half-yard of decorative fabric (for the front) ... plus one half-yard of complimentary solid color (for the back) ... will give us two pillow cases AND fit our one yard of fabric requirement!

I'm using 14" pillow forms that I got at Hancock's (I like them better than the ones at JoAnns) for my pillows.  These two pieces of fabric will make us two St. Patty's Day pillows.

To do one pillow, cut a 15 inch square of decorative fabric.  This will be the front of the pillow.  Next, here's a "pillow trick".  If you leave the corners square, they'll stick out like little points when you insert the actual pillow.  To remedy this, "round" the corners a tiny bit!  I don't know why this works, but it does.  Trim all four corners of your top fabric.

Now, let's cut the fabric for our back piece.  We cut a 15 inch square for the top -- but we're going to cut an 18 inch by 15 inch rectangle for the back.  You'll see how we use this extra length in a second.

Once you've cut the rectangle, cut it into two pieces.  I like to cut them a little bit side of center -- giving me one piece about 11 inches by 15 inches and another about 7 inches by 15 inches.

We need two quick hems on these back pieces.  Both hems should be on the "just cut" side of the fabric.  Do a double fold-over hem along the 15 inch sides.  After this, each back piece has one hemmed side and three "raw" sides.  The hemmed sides should be facing each other (so, one hem is on the right side of one piece, another is on the left side of the other piece).

Now, let's assemble three three pillow case pieces.  I'm going to use French Seams, so match the wrong-side corners of the front to the wrong-side corners of one of the back pieces (I like to start with the narrower piece).  Since the front corners are "curved" and the back corners aren't this won't be an exact match.  We'll fix this when we do the French Seams.

Now, set the wide back piece in place.  Have the hemmed edge overlap the hemmed edge of the thin piece.  You'll probably find that if you match the corners of the wide piece, you'll have a pretty large overlap.  To narrow this overlap to two inches of so, just slide the wide piece over.  It's okay if the edges don't match with the edges of the front piece -- again, we'll fix this when we do the French Seams.

I did a lot of pinning to get the pieces just the way I wanted them.  Now, it's time for the French Seams.  Sewing with the front piece uppermost, sew a straight stitch down one side.  We want a fairly narrow seam allowance.  Try for a 1/4 seam allowance.  When you get to a corner, leave the needle down, raise the foot, and pivot the pillow-case 90 degrees.  Then, continue sewing along the next side.  Sew all four sides.  Note that you'll "curve in" your seams when you get to the corners of the front.

Once you've sewed all four sides, grab your scissors and trim those seams to about 1/8.  This is where we trim away any extra from the back fabric ... and also where we make the back fabric match the "curved corners" of the front piece.

Now, invert the entire pillow.  If you want perfect French Seams, use your iron to press the seams flat.  If you want "good enough" French Seams, use your fingers to push the seams as flat as you can get them.  Now, sew along all four side again -- using about a 1/4" seam allowance.  This will enclose the edges and result in a French Seam.

The sewing's now all finished.  Turn the pillowcase right-side out again; use your fingers or a turning tool to make sure the corners are opened out.

Let's insert a pillow!  Turn the pillow-case over.  Open the overlap enough so that you can insert a pillow.  I like to stick it in the wide part first -- just find it a little easier to do it that way.  Once you've got the pillow inserted as far as it will go, grab the other part of the overlap and pull it over the remaining part of the pillow.  Fluff it and push it to get it all straight ...

And here's the finished product!  Note how the corners don't stick out -- that curving thing really works well!  You can now easily store gobs of custom pillow cases -- plus you can easily remove them for washing ... and you don't have to store as many pillow blanks!

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