Completed: wholecloth handquilted pillow

With the Dutch modern quilt guild we have a theme each quarter and we are challenged to make things that fit inside this theme. Last summer the theme was modern traditional. The challenge was to create something with a modern twist using the churn dash, ohio star, dutchman’s puzzle or basket traditional block.

I played around with the idea of doing a wholecloth quilt where the quilting defines the shapes of the traditional block. I got as far as making a small quilt sandwich and machine quilting the outlines of the Dutchman’s puzzle. Then I got sort of stuck on what to do next and it just sat in one of the piles on the desk next to my sewing machine.

The first theme of 2021 was slow stitching and we did a Zoom hand quilting workshop for which I needed something to practice on. Instead of making another quilt sandwich I simply pulled the unfinished Dutchman’s puzzle from the pile and started stitching in the background triangles without much of a plan. Just starting is sometimes the best way to get out of indecision. I used the Sulky 12wt Cotton Petites thread that I had received from the DutchMQG for this theme and I really liked sewing with it. It sewed smoothly and didn’t tangle.

After filling in the background triangles it was time to do something with the geese and I thought the piece needed a bit more colour so I switched to the thicker Wonderfil Perle 8 thread that I already had in my stash and picked green, blue, pink and yellow. After finishing I didn’t like the yellow so much because the contrast with the green background wasn’t as good as with the other 3 colours so I replaced it with a light brown which worked much better.

At some point I also started to hate the black machine stitched lines and pulled those out as well. Much, much better.

For the back of the pillow I picked a quilting cotton from my stash and underlined it with another piece of cotton before installing an invisible zipper. I am very happy with how this pillow turned out. I am now toying with the idea of doing a larger wholecloth quilt to create a handquilted sampler using traditional block shapes. I do tend to overthink these things and am currently stuck on what to choose for the background fabric since that is going to define the look of the piece so much. Suggestions anyone?

Completed: Kantha running stitch pillow

Some days I simply crave a finish. Luckily I have plenty of unfinished projects lying around to satisfy that itch. One was half a pillow that I started for one of the projects in the Alison Glass stitch club 2020 that focused on hand stitching. This was a project from the June issue to get familiar with the Kantha running stitch. The idea was to create a piece of patchwork from strips and just fill those in with the running stitch and then sew it to a back to create a pillow.

I gave it my own twist by using a single background colour and a couple of floating colourful rectangles. The colour of the Wonderfil perle 8 cotton threads I used for the Kantha stitching were matched to the colour of the strip I was sewing and I think this looks really nice in the strips that have a splash of colour in them.

The front of the pillow was completed in just a couple of days. I enjoyed doing the running stitch and once I got the hang of loading multiple stitches on the needle sewing was pretty quick. Then I got kind of stuck on the back. I had found a fabric in my stash that I thought would look nice but I wasn’t sure what kind of closure I wanted to do. Envelope? But I felt the print on the back might not look so good cut up. An invisible zipper? But I didn’t have a matching colour… And so the piece sat unfinished for more than 6 months even though I picked it up a couple of times but I kept asking myself the same questions.

In the end I decided that an invisible zipper would look best and that this pandemic is taking too long to wait for matching zipper colours. I’d have preferred to use a black one but I did have grey on hand and since the zipper is invisible you only really see the zipper pull anyway.

The front was already constructed as two layers and I only trimmed it square and did an overlock stitch around the edges to prevent fraying. For the back I also cut a lining piece because I feel that pillows do look better when they’re lined instead of a single layer of fabric.

Whenever I make a project like this I think I should do hand sewing more often since I enjoy it so much when I am doing it, but then usually I end up not not doing any hand stitching for months. This quarter my guild’s theme is slow stitching though and that is a very good reason to pick up some hand sewing needles soon.  

I also should buy more pillow forms because each time I make a new cover I have to remove one from another pillow. Or I should stop making more, but that’s not likely to happen anytime soon right?

Tutorial: Lined pillow case with envelope closure

envelope pillow8I really wanted to do some sewing today but was very tired and sewing when tired isn’t always a particular good idea. When I am in this state I shouldn’t attempt anything complicated because I am sort of guaranteed to mess something up.

I decided to try a simple idea I had a while ago for an easy lined pillow with envelope closure. I prefer to line pillow cases, especially when using a thin fabric like a quilting cotton. It gives the pillow case a bit more body and I think a pillow looks better with a lined pillow case. I am very happy with the result of this experiment so I turned it into a tutorial.

The envelope closure is the easiest pillow closure to make. I suppose my lined version is slightly more complicated than what people usually do when they make these pillow cases but I still think this method is suitable for beginner sewers. For this lined pillow case you only need to sew 4 seams and only 2 fabric edges require a seam finish, that doesn’t sound too complicated, right?

For the fashion fabric of my pillow I used a quilting cotton, Safari by Angela Rakucki for Anthology Fabrics, and the lining is white Kona Cotton. I recommend that you prewash both fabrics to make sure that your lining doesn’t shrink less or more than the fashion fabric when you wash the pillow case.

Construction

Step 1: Use the formulas shown below to calculate how much fashion fabric and lining fabric you need to cut.

Metric formula fashion fabric: (pillow width + 2 cm seam allowance) x (2x pillow height + 10 cm overlap + 3 cm seam allowance)

Metric formula lining fabric: (pillow width + 2 cm seam allowance) x (2x pillow height + 10 cm overlap + 1 cm seam allowance)

Imperial formula fashion fabric: (pillow width + 6/8’’ seam allowance) x (2x pillow height + 4’’ overlap + 1 1/8’’  seam allowance)

Imperial formula lining fabric: (pillow width + 6/8’’ seam allowance) x (2x pillow height + 4’’ overlap + 3/8’’ seam allowance)

I used metric measurements today and I made a pillow case for a 40×40 cm (16’’x16’’) pillow.

My fashion fabric was cut (40 + 2 = 42 cm) x (2 x 40 + 10 + 3 = 93 cm)

My lining fabric was cut (40 + 2 = 42 cm) x (2 x 40 + 10 + 1 = 91 cm)

Step 2: Cut fashion fabric and lining fabric according to your measurements from step 1. I always use a cutting mat, rotary cutter and a quilting ruler because I find this much more accurate than scissors.

Step 3: Place the fashion fabric and lining right sides together and pin the short edges. The lining is shorter than the fashion fabric but this will be solved later on.

Step 4: Sew both short edges with a 1 cm (3/8’’) seam allowance and press the seams open.

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Step 3 & 4

Step 5: Turn the fabrics right sides out and on one short edge press the seam as shown in the picture below.

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Step 5

Step 6: Now we are ready to solve the issue of the lining being shorter than the fashion fabric. On the short edge that isn’t yet pressed a small strip of the fashion fabric will be pressed towards the lining side (see picture below). The easiest way to do this is to start at the short edge that is already pressed and to use your hands to smooth the lining and fashion fabric so that any wrinkles disappear. Work your way up towards the unpressed edge and use some pins to secure the long edges as you go. When you reach the end about 1 cm (3/8”) of the fashion fabric will want to be on the lining side. First use your fingers to create a small crease and then press the fold with your iron.

Step 7: Pin both long sides and finish the edges with a zig zag stitch or overlock stitch.

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Step 6 & 7

Step 8: Place the pillow case with the fashion fabric side upwards.

Step 9: Measure 15 cm (6”) down from the short edge that has the fashion fabric pressed towards the lining. Make a mark on both long edges. From these marks, measure 40 cm (16”) down (pillow height, if you’re making a different size pillow) and make another mark on both sides.

Step 10: First fold back the short edge that has the fashion fabric continue into the lining on the first mark and pin in place.

Step 11: Fold back the other short edge on the second mark so that it overlaps the other folded back edge and pin in place.

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Step 8, 9, 10 & 11

Step 12: Sew along the long sides with a 1 cm (3/8”) seam allowance and press the seams.

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Step 12

Step 13: Turn pillow case right side out, stuff with a pillow form and put on your couch. Do you notice how presssing a small amount of the fashion fabric to the lining side ensured that you can’t see the lining from the outside of the pillow?

If the corners of your pillow are very bulky you can trim them down somewhat but I didn’t find this necessary.

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Can you tell I used a white lining?

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and if you make any lined envelope pillows I’d love to see them!

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