Monday, September 1, 2014

DIY Throw Pillows

Have you been in search of the perfect throw pillows? Pillows that match your decor, yet have patterns and colors that compliment each other? It can be tricky, especially when looking for pillows at an affordable price. 

Sewing is near and dear to my heart. It is something I really, really enjoy doing with my grandma. She is one smart lady and has taught me everything I know about how to use a needle and thread. The quality time that we are able to spend together while sewing will always be memories that will stay with me forever. 

Here is a little tutorial that we cooked up for all of you! 

I have sewn pillows before using stuffing and I hate it. It may just be me, but I can never get the lumps and bumps out in order to make a soft decorative pillow. Don't get me wrong, stuffing is so perfect for so many projects & it makes great snow when it comes to Christmas decorations (yeah.. it's September 1st and I am already talking about Christmas), but it just is not for me when sewing pillows.

Needless to say, I fell absolutely in love with pillow inserts. They come in all different sizes and shapes and it really has taken my anxiety level down about a thousand notches while sewing because I no longer dread the bulges and bumps I have to overcome in the end stages of the project.

The first step however is to measure the width and length of your pillow insert in order to make the cover fit tightly. I always at 1 inch to each measurement in order to leave enough room to sew a 1/2 inch edge.

Here I am measuring the width of the pillow insert.

And here I am measuring the length of the pillow insert. 

One you write down your measurements, it is time to lay your fabric down on a large, smooth surface so you can cut the proper dimensions. Fold your fabric in half in order to decrease cutting. By folding your fabric in half, it also allows you to be able to save a bigger piece of fabric in the end to use for future projects you may have in store.

I always you a wooden yard stick. I think it helps keep the measurements accurate and is easier to handle. 

I always use chalk when marking my dimensions because it is easily removable and will not stain your fabric.

In order to keep your fabric squared, measure the proper inches down first. From that point, measure the proper dimension length wise, and vice versa. Repeat on the opposite side.
Remeasure each line to make sure that the dimensions are correct. Then using the chalk connect all four measurements to make a cutting guideline. 

Here is a close up of how the chalk marks look on the fabric. This is so helpful because it allows you to cut the fabric very accurately and makes the final product look more professional. Sometimes these extra steps seem tedious, but I promise you friends, it is going to save you from ripping your hair out when your insert doesn't fit into your pillow case. 

Firmly hold down the fabric and cut the fabric along the chalked line.

Once completed you will have a two beautiful shapes that are the exact same size, one for the front of the pillow and one for the back! 

Flip the right sides of the fabric together. The right sides are the sides that you want to be showing when your pillow is completed. Line the corners up very precisely. 

Once all four corners are lined up together it is time to pin your two pieces together. Place the pins in the fabric perpendicular to the edges. Place the head of the pin closet to the edges of the fabric.                                                               

Now it is time for the fun part! Sewing the pieces together! After I thread my machine and bobbin with the thread that I believe to match my fabric the best, I always do a test run on the machine with a piece of scrap fabric. I just find this helpful in eliminating problems, especially if the machine is malfunctioning. 

Side note: this scrap fabric was way back from when I was in third grade and my grandma sewed me this adorable little house on the prairie costume for Halloween. She ALWAYS came through in the clutch and perfected the best costumes for me and my brother and sister.  

Once you are certain that your machine is sewing correctly, it is time to crack down to business and start sewing. Measure your pillow length and divide by thirds and mark. This is important because you need to leave a big enough space to fit your pillow insert in once you have completed your first step to the sewing process. 

I always sew 1/2 in on the edges to allow enough room for great support. Who knows what crazy children will be having a pillow fight with these pillows in the future. You definitely do not want them ripping out! 

Start sewing a third of the way from the edge of the pillow. Sew in the direction closest to the nearest corner. Sew for approximately 2 inches, then back stitch 2 inches, and then continue sewing in the forward direction towards the nearest edge. This also helps to prevent the pillow from ripping out, giving the thread more support. 

The nice thing about sewing a 1/2 inseam is the long guideline that the sewing machine provides you. This is so so so so helpful and allows you to sew in a straight line. 

Sew completely down the first side of the fabric. However, when you reach the corner, measure 1/2 from both sides of the fabric. Below you can see a tiny pink mark where I measured from the bottom up 1/2 inch and then measure from the right edge of the fabric over 1/2 an inch. This is essential because it allows you to easily transition from sewing one side to the next and keep the same 1/2 inch inseam. Once you reach your measured dot on the corner, keep your needle down, but lift your pressure foot on your machine up.

By doing this it allows you to easily turn your fabric around so you can sew the next side and magically at the same time keeps your needle in the perfect place. 

Put your pressure foot down and you are ready to sew again. Here is how the finished corner should look. 

Continue this sewing techniques on three sides of the fabric. However, when you reach the last side of the fabric, similar to the beginning, you only want to sew this side one third of the length. By doing this you are leaving the middle 1/3 of the long side OPEN. The opening is where you will shove in your pillow insert, so it is very important to leave an adequate amount of space. 

You will, just like before, sew forward and backwards on this side as well to reemphasize the stitch. 

Once you have sewn the whole diameter of the pillow covering, if you chose to, you can repeat the steps in order to sew a second seam along the first seam to create reenforcement. I always chose to do this. (Make sure you are still keeping your 1/3 area open for your pillow insert)

You then want to tie your threads together to prevent unraveling.

Once you have completed these steps, you want to snip the corners just a tad. By doing this you are allowing your finished product to look more professionals because your will have more defined corners. It should look like this when finished. 

Once you do this, turn your cover inside out, so it is now facing the proper way. Just look at how darling this pillow is going to look. I love the rectangular shape of the pillow insert! 

Notice how the corners still do not look finished. 

I may not be able to cook, but I do know how to use kitchen tools for multiple uses haha. I love using this wooden spoon handle to carefully and gingerly push all four corners out. 

The last steps are here and the pillow is ALMOST complete! Hang in there and don't get defeated. You are going to be drooling over the finished product in no time!

Fold your 1/3 un-sewen center in approximately 1/2 of an inch. Then use an iron to press down the edges. This will make sewing the last bit a lot easier. 

Once you have iron in 1/2 inch, it is not time to shove that pillow insert into your pillow cover.

Look how perfectly it fits in there! I am swooning at how great it is looking!

Now it is time to close up that gapping gap people!

Use a very bright, contrasting color and sew the gap together using a basting stitch. A basting stitch is a stitch that can be easily torn out and is sewn very far apart. I chose a bright red fabric. 

Sew about 1/8 inch in from the outside edge of the fabric.

Here is a close up of the basting stitch. 

Here is another close up photo. You can see the pins I have running parallel to the edge. I do this to help keep the pillow insert away from the edge. You do not want to sew the pillow insert into this stitch. It will prevent the pillow to be able to properly fit into the pillow case.

Once your basting stitch is completely, make sure that the pillow insert is pushed far away from the sewing machine. Very similar to how we started our first stitch, you are going to sew about 2 inches forward, two inches backwards, and then two inches forward again. Make sure you are sewing 1/8 inch in from the edge. You should be sewing over your basting stitch.

Sew the entire gap closed. It is important to double stitch this gap, regardless of what you did for the rest of your pillow.

The final product should look like this. Sewn very closely to the edge with a double stitch. 

I usually shack the pillow up and down a few times in order to get the pillow insert to completely form to the pillow cover. 

Once this is complete people JUMP UP AND DOWN! Because your pillow is done. 

Look how adorable it turned out! Here they are paired with two other sets of throw pillows I made. I followed the same tutorial, but used different sizes of inserts for both! 

Here they are again on the $15 dollar accent chair I posted a tutorial on a while back. 

Happy sewing everybody!!! 

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