Saturday, 8 December 2018

Mini Pillow Tutorial

Hi all!

When I posted this finish, a few of you expressed an interest in a tutorial to show how I made the pillow, so here it is. It's long, but I also hope it's helpful and perhaps even a little inspiring.

A few pointers first though:

- I always iron light-weight interfacing onto the back of the project. This helps to protect the stitching from errant needles, stiffens the fabric and prevents the stuffing poking through the holes of the aida.

- it was all sewn by hand, really fiddly to start with and took more than one attempt. Time and patience are a necessity, especially when following someone else's instructions!

- the amount of fabric border showing will depend on the amount of spare aida around the design and how much aida you want to leave showing. In my example I had 2 inches of spare aida - I left 3/4 inch showing around the design, used 1/4 inch for the outside seam (a little more would be advisable) so was left with a fabric border of 1 inch.

- if you are attempting this, may I suggest doing so with scrap pieces of aida and/or fabric, or a less important piece of stitching first...  just in case!

I understand that it's not easy to write instructions nor follow someone else's so please feel free to ask questions or point out places where I've not been that clear and I'll try to answer and/or amend as necessary.

Here goes then:

1) Cut four pieces of fabric you wish to use as borders, allowing more than enough to cover the width of the edge of the aida. I used two different fabrics but the choice is obviously up to you.

2) Iron a small hem along one long edge each strip of fabric, ensuring it follows the warp or weft (I hate wonky fabric!) This crease will be used as a guideline to attach the fabric to the aida in a straight line. Alternatively you could draw on a feint pencil line. These pieces are just laid on at the moment.

3) Using the ironed crease/pencil mark as the guideline, pin the first strip of fabric to the aida, leaving some adia showing around the stitching. I left 3/4 inch between the design and the pinning; you might want more, you might want less (it took me three attempts before deciding 3/4 inch was the right amount for this design). Then using the holes in the aida attach the fabric with a running stitch. Leave a good tail of thread, do not fasten off the thread at the beginning or end and do not stitch right to the ends; you may need to adjust the end stitches later to account for the other pieces of fabric under- or over-lapping.

4) This is how the front should look when the now attached piece of fabric is folded back.

5) Attach the second piece of fabric using the same method. You will notice here that I have chosen to lay the right strip of fabric on top of the top strip of fabric, but in the photo underneath this one this has changed to the right strip being underneath the top strip. This is one of the reasons why the thread should be left loose instead of being fastened off; it was easy to unpick, adjust and restitch.

6) Repeat this process for the third and fourth pieces of fabric.

7) After all four pieces of fabric have been attached the back should look like this. You may notice that there are a few pencil marks on the back; this was my various attempts trying to work out the placements of the edges of the fabric strips. I did find it helpful marking the corners where the fabrics would meet though.

8) And this is what the front should look like. I deliberately wanted the corners to overlap like this, but attaching the two side pieces then the top and bottom pieces would look just as effective and definitely be less fiddly (as would using a sewing machine but I get real satisfaction out of hand-sewing all my finishes, and hand-sewn running stitch is a lot easier to unpick than sewing machine stitching!)

9) Then pin on the backing piece of fabric, again using the holes in the aida as a guideline. Remember to ensure the four strips of fabric are pulled back fully to ensure no puckering (I pinned them to the outside edge of the aida to ensure they stayed taught). Attach the back using the holes in the aida as a guideline for the running stitch and remembering to leave a gap to turn the piece in the right way! I left my gap in the bottom centre, but where you leave yours is up to you of course. Don't worry about the excess fabric, that gets cut off in a minute.

10) Having tied off and secured all the loose ends of threads, this is how the back should now look. The green piece of thread at the bottom represents the gap I left. In this space I continued the running stitch along the aida; those stitches will be picked up later to close up the opening.

11) Trim off all the excess fabric and cut the corners diagonally. I used pinking shears although usually leave more of a edge - it's just in this instance I din't have that much spare aida to play with!

12) Now turn the pillow in the right way, stuff and close up the opening using invisible stitching by catching the backing fabric and picking up the running stitch on the aida (forgot to take a photo of that bit but it's very clever). I personally don't like 'pokey' corners so try not to overstuff my ornies. This is probably a bit too much stuffing but, hey-ho, I can always sit on it for a while to flatten it out!!

13) Now attach the ribbon. I had three different attempts at attaching the ribbon but in the end found the following to be the easiest (but quite time-consuming way). Note - I gathered the ribbon a lot, but obviously it would be down to personal preference and/or the type of ribbon being used. For reference, this method used about 7x the amount of ribbon as the perimeter of the pillow.

Start at a corner, leaving a good few inches of spare ribbon and the tail of the thread loose so that the corner can be adjusted later if necessary. Gather the ribbon by sewing four running stitches through the bottom of the ribbon (just under the length of the needle) then pulling it tight... 

... and then attaching it to the pillow by catching one of the stitches used to sew the front and backs together. I picked up one of these stitches at about 1/3 inch intervals. 

NB When going around the corners I used five running stitches instead of four to account for the ribbon having to travel further and to therefore keep the gathering consistent-looking.

14) Where the ribbons finally meet at the corner, use the ends to make a small bow and secure the knot with a couple of tiny stitches.

Et voila... one finished completely OTT cutesy pillow!

I don't know how long it all took to put together, either with or without adjustments, as it was done in bits and pieces over the course of a couple of weeks. Assuming no errors, I would probably estimate a good 6-8 hours. When I make another one (which will hopefully be quicker than this first attempt) I will time myself and let you know!

Well, I hope I haven't confused you too much and have maybe inspired at least a couple of you to change some of your UFOs into FFOs, not necessarily by following these instructions, just by wanting to finish them anyhow!

Like I said, please ask any questions or suggest clarifications and I'll see what I can do.

Now... go dive into your pile of UFOs and FFO some of them before the end of 2018!!

Take care,
Rachel x


Katie said...

I understood which means a ton haha. Awesome instructions. I just LOVE how it turned out. I have talked with Santa and we are getting me a new sewing machine. So next year I will have finishes....really I will.

Faith... said...

Great instructions Rachel!

Jo who can't think of a clever nickname said...

Your instructions and photos were really clear. Thanks for sharing.

sweetmiaomiao said...

Tutorial utilissimo ,ti ringrazio per averlo postato , cercavo un tutorial simile per fare un cuscino nei giorni scorsi peccato non averlo visto prima,lo terrò presente per la prossima volta 😊 ,una domanda , dietro al ricamo hai messo una tela o altro ora di cucire il cuscino o non hai messo nulla?
Spero che tu faccia altri tutorial con questo sei stata molto brava

sweetmiaomiao said...

ho messo il link al tuo blog nel mio blog cosi altre persone potranno vedere il tuo utile tutorial

Rachel said...

Reply to sweetmiaomiao:
You are a no-reply blogger so I hope you see this reply.
There is iron-on interfacing on the back of the actual stitching, but I used fabric for the back of the pillow, as shown in part 12.
Thank you for adding a link to this post in your blog. I wish you luck if you try to make a pillow of your own! :)

Follemente creativa said...

grazie per le preziose informazioni.
Complimenti al tuo blog.
Il mio è il seguente: