Before my son was born, my husband’s uncle passed down a rocking chair to me. While it was a lovely rocking chair, it was quite uncomfortable, and I couldn’t exactly imagine rocking a baby to sleep in it. So I set out to make a cushion for it.
Just before he was born, I then realized that there is no point in having a nice chair in a nursery if I can’t prop my feet up, too. So I upcycled a thrift store end table into a nice, cushiony ottoman, which my cats love to sleep on. As you can see, it’s a lovely set, but something was still missing.
The fabric remaining from my two previous projects was calling out to me. Make a pillow, you know you want to.
So, here we are. While this will be going in my son’s nursery, it is by no means for baby... It’s totally, unashamedly, for me. You can use these basic techniques to make a decorative pillow for any room of the house.
First things first, you’ll need sufficient materials for your project, and a plan. I want my finished pillow to be 12”x18”.
I doodle something like this every time I work on something, even when it’s simple. It helps keep me organized, and helps me visualize the finished product.
You can see that I’ve figured in 1/2” seams. On a typical project, I like to work with 1/4” seams, but with something that is going to be experiencing a tad more wear and tear, a larger seam allowance is a good thing.
First off, cut out all of your fabric. If you’re using a patterned fabric like mine, it’s important to take the design into account when cutting, like so:
Yes, I’m a rebel. I use sharpie to mark the lines on my fabric.
l Enough material for both the front and back of your pillow
l Natural Cotton Piping, the length of the total perimeter of your pillow, plus a few extra inches. (I’m using 3/8” width, but you can use whatever size you like)
l Strips of fabric, about 2” wide, equal to the length of your piping.
l Matching thread
Now that we’ve gathered everything we need, take a break to pay attention to your attention-starved cat.
We’ll start out by making our piping. Now, you could buy finished piping at the fabric store. But why would you? Making your own is great, for two reasons. One, it’s cheaper! I’m all about my projects being more affordable. Two, it will match your project perfectly.
Unless you bought several yards of fabric, you probably ended up needing to cut multiple strips to get the correct length. That’s totally okay! It only takes a couple of minutes to join them.
Match the ends of two of your strips together, like so:
And sew diagonally from the corners of the short ends of your strips:
Trim off the excess fabric, leaving about a quarter inch. It’s okay if you don’t have pinking shears, a straight cut will work just as well.
Take a moment to iron open the seam.
See how the seam is at an angle, instead of straight up and down? This minimizes the bulk that is created when you are joining multiple layers of fabric. Small details like this will make your finished project look much more professional.
If you’re using dark fabric like I am, take a moment to lint roll away any stray pet hairs or lint.
Now, take your piping, and lay it in the center of your fabric strip. You can pin the length, if you like, but I don’t find it to be entirely necessary.
Fold your fabric over the piping, matching up the edges, and get your sewing machine ready to sew. As you can see, I’ve switched over my standard presser foot for a zipper foot:
Sew along the piping, as close as possible. You don’t need to worry about a lock stitch at either end. Use one hand to feed the piping to the machine. I tend to lead it in from the opposite side of the foot from the needle, to keep my stitches as snug to the edge as possible. It should only take you a couple of minutes to zip along.
Attach the pieces of the front (and back) of your pillow.
Iron your seams open and your fabric flat.
Time to attach our piping! This part is pretty straight-forward. With the right side of the front of your pillow case facing you, pin your piping to the perimeter. Try to keep about a half-inch from the edge. You can measure if you want (I prefer to eye-ball it).
When you reach the corner, bend your piping to fit:
Pin. Make a small cut at the corner almost-but-not-quite up to the stitching of your piping, so that you can spread your fabric flat again. If you were going around a more rounded corner, you could make several of these cuts to accommodate it.
Continue pinning around.