Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Storytime Pillows



I forget if I told you that my mom gave me a quilt for Ben's big boy bed that used to belong to my youngest brother. It is a Pottery Barn quilt from about 10 years ago. The colors match a lot of the stuff we have in Ben's room, and it is definitely more big-boy-ish than all his old nursery stuff.


To go along with his new-to-him quilt, I thought I would make Ben some pillows. He loves books and especially looks forward to story time before his nap and bedtime. However, we are always super uncomfortable while reading him his stories. Some comfy accessories were in order! Fortunately, I had a couple more pillows stashed away, just waiting for new covers to freshen them up. I also had two navy blue plaid cottons saved up for this purpose.

I know I just posted about some simple pillow covers. Here, I challenged myself a bit more. I've been wanting to make a piping-edged pillow for a while. I looked up some tutorials and found a few helpful ones. I decided the second pillow would be patchwork with a border. Not sure where that idea came from! Hmmm. Maybe from the quilt itself that has little patches of plaid and fabrics here and there? Anyway. I drew some "blueprints" for both pillows in my little crafty notebook. Haven't done that much math since high school, whew!


I started with making the bias tape for the piping pillow. I stuck the cording inside and basted it with a loose long stitch on the sewing machine. Depending on the tutorial you look at, some people say baste close to the cording, others say baste away from it so the thread doesn't show on the finished pillow. With hindsight, I'd say basting closer is better, especially if you use a zipper foot (which I didn't, even though it turns out I have one, I had no idea! Anyway, I'm lazy, didn't change the foot.) to allow you to sew closer to the bulge the cording makes. My piping ended up being a bit loosy-goosy as a result of basting away.


I pinned the piping around the pillow top. Clipped notches in the bias tape around the corners. Sewed around all that. The corners were not fun, I almost sewed over the cording a couple of times (maybe I did once or twice...) and came dangerously close to breaking the needle. But other than that, it was fine. I put the back fabric right side down onto that, pinned, sewed around again as close as I could to the piping. Done. I'm pretty happy with it!


For the second pillow, I selected two complementary fabric to add to the dark blue plaid I was working with. I went for light blue and retro prints, one with white dots on blue, the other with little kids playing sports. I cut and assembled them and made the whole square 1.5 inches (+ seam allowance) wider on all sides than my pillow form, in order to make my border. There are tutorials online for making "real" borders with mitered corners and all that fancy stuff. Not for me! We do it the half-ass way around here!


I added a square of cotton, repurposed from old bed sheets, to the back of my patchwork piece, and quilted that double-layer top with 3 straight lines per print. Using a fabric-washable marker helped quite a bit, though I did wing it on the plaid and used the lines in the print. Woo! Looking back, I should have used a thread more contrasty than white. You can barely see that the pillow is quilted unless you look at it reeeeally closely.


After attaching the back of the pillow, I flipped it inside out and ironed the whole thing nicely flat. I then top-stitched 1.5 inches from the edge all around the pillow cover, creating that border I was mentioning earlier. I think it turned out really nice! If you were going to take the pillow form in and out of the pocket a lot, like for an actual pillowcase, I would make sure and backstitch a couple of times over the openings when creating the border. I forgot to do that -- but aside from the occasional juice, pee or puke spilled on the pillow, it probably won't need to go in the wash that often. I can always fix it if it comes apart. Or make a new pillow cover!


Here are the two pillows on Ben's bed, along with two friends my mom made for him last year (aren't they so cute?!). The very very very best part of this project is that my little munchkin loves his pillows dearly. He was so excited to discover his very own "pi-yow" and ran to his bedroom to set them up on his bed. He plays with them all the time. I'm sure you must get the same reaction from Ian when you make him stuff! This was my first time experiencing that handmade joy, and I loved it!!


Did you tell me you were going to make some pillows soon? What projects do you have in mind?

Angel-mini-button Jen those pillows look great! Can you do a post on making the bias tape sometime soon? I bought some bias tape makers and have yet to use them, mostly because I don't understand the "bias" part of "bias tape". I've been buying mine pre-made from PurlBee, they have some Japanese bias tape made out of the loveliest fabrics. But it is expensive!

That quilt is a find, I don't love all Pottery Barn's stuff but that motif and the muted colors fit Ben's personality so well. Your mom is a super shopper! We need to get her on here for some thrifting tips.

I am going to make some pillows soon too, I want to make a long pillowcase for an old body pillow I have leftover from being pregnant. My idea is to use it on Ian's top bunk so I can turn it into a little reading area/hideout for him. More on that later!


  1. Thanks for the link to my Pillow Piping Tutorial - your pillows look fantastic!



  2. Thank you for the kind words, Edwina, and for the inspiration!

  3. "The bias (US) or cross-grain (UK) direction of a piece of woven fabric, usually referred to simply as "the bias" or "the cross-grain", is at 45 degrees to its warp and weft threads. Every piece of woven fabric has two biases, perpendicular to each other. Non-woven fabrics such as felt or interfacing do not have a bias.

    Woven fabric is more elastic as well as more fluid in the bias direction, compared to the on-grain direction. This property facilitates garments and garment details that require extra elasticity, drapability or flexibility, such as bias-cut skirts and dresses, neckties, piping trims and decorations, bound seams, etc."
    This explanation from Wikipedia for Angel... Or in other words: lay your fabric flat and set your ruler from the top left corner to the bottom right corner, trace a line. Measure 1"1/4 from the line and trace another line. Cut on those 2 lines, you got a strip of fabric ready to use as bias...
    Your blog is cool!


  4. Thanks Mom, for doing the homework for me, lol.


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