pillow covers

oh, i have missed sewing! but i just didn’t know it… gathered tools and fabric

i mentioned before that we have some repair work going on in our home, and my craft studio has not been very accessible.  really, it’s just a small room i share with the washer, dryer, water heater and furnace in the basement, but i still think of it as a “studio” because it is where most of my craft supplies, fabric and sewing machines are kept. so i give it a nice name. it inspires me to create more. (ok fine, it just makes me feel all fancy and official, “i’ll be in my studio!” as i throw a shawl over my shoulder dramatically and descend to the laundry room ;-))

i’d put aside my sewing projects knowing i’d get back to them once the repairs were done and things were more accessible. but then, my friend tara asked me to make her some pillow covers. she said she wanted something for her living room, a couple of pillows that needed covers… something green, to inspire creativity. well, how could i say no?

by the way, i usually have no problem saying no. but this was something i could see myself having a lot of fun with, especially since it was a custom item, made to her specs, but with — the best part — freedom to do “whatever i wanted”. i had it in writing, she could not turn against me!

ahhh. i love it. creative license!

i wasn’t sure what her style was, since i hadn’t seen tara since highschool when we were locker partners, nor had i been to her place in, well, ever. she sent me a photo of her couch. and i searched some websites for fabric samples to get a feel for her taste. it’s funny, the first choice in my mind for her was exactly what she chose. a clean, crisp 100% cotton print from ikea…

ikea fabric 100% cotton

i like ikea fabrics, because they are good quality prints which hold up in the wash and are reasonably priced for medium upholstery grade (so not terribly thick, but good for most projects around the home). i also like that they do not use optical brighteners in their dyes. optical brighteners are chemicals added to dyes in fabric, and are used to absorb UV and violet light rays and re-emit light in the blue region, so that fabrics appear whiter.

the fabric has a cute tree motif, quite large actually…

cotton tree ikea fabric

the pillows she wanted covered were 19″ x 19″ so i added an inch in length (1/2″ seam allowance on each edge), found the midpoint and centered the tree there.

tree motif fabric centered before cutting

when fabric comes off a bolt, it has often shifted and when it is cut by the person at the store, it’s not always done in a straight line. you can “eyeball” a straight edge, or even measure with a ruler, but those techniques may still result in a wonky piece of fabric, especially if the sewn fabric shrinks (and twists, if not cut straight) after washing. to get a true straight edge, i pull a few strands of thread away from the edge…

threads fabric

this lets me see a line in the weaving of the fabric. cutting parallel along this line close to the frayed edge…

fabric edge being trimmed

gives a perfect, clean and true straight edge to use as a reference for measuring my project, whatever it may be.

straight edge along fabric

there are many online tutorials for making pillows. i had initially thought i was going to use the white buttons seen here…

gathered tools and fabric

…to work as the closure along the back. but the more i looked at the pillow, the more i thought it needed something more…

i decided to sew a discreet zipper along one edge instead, and gave the buttons an unconventional role amongst the trees…

pillows, finished

front and back:

front and back

thanks tara, for the chance to make something new, re-acquainting me with my studio, and letting me do whatever i wanted! :)

cute as a button.

(i’m glad it turned out to be what you wanted, too!)


i shared this on the following blogs:

sew much ado

me and my bucket

blue cricket design

house of hepworths – good luck with the big move, allison!

it’s a hodgepodge life

thank you all for the chance to share with others! :) ~ana

© imadeitso, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to ana at imadeitso.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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16 Responses to pillow covers

  1. Nancy S says:

    Way cool! I have been wanting to make covers for my beat up pillows but I am so damn intimidated by the sewing machine. Thanks for the tutorial links – I’m going to check them out. And thanks for explaining how to get a straight edge. Not knowing all these little things just causes me to freeze up when I go to start a sewing project.

    I love your button choice – those are adorable and fun pillows. Sell ‘em on Etsy!

    • iMadeItSo says:

      i know that feeling of intimidation. a few years ago, i saved and saved and dreamed about buying a serger. i finally got one, and it sat on the table for well over a month before i worked up the courage to thread the darn thing! (ok, the fact that it needed 4 cones of thread was part of the intimidation!)… there really is something about nike’s “just do it” saying. i say go for it. what’s the worst that can happen? we all know bad crafts happen :-P

      • bianta says:

        Your pillows are freaking awesome and so relate to the fact that for my 40th birthday my mama and sissie bought me a 1978 Bernina 830 (sigh). It took me two solid years to get the nerve to operate it and leave it out on the table full time! I love that thing and all I can do is use the straight stitch!


  2. Cute pillows. I like the buttons.

  3. i’m glad you found me so that i could find you :)
    i also really like ikea fabric. the patterns are fun and whimsical. i love the use of buttons in the trees! i am a huge fan of buttons- on everything.

  4. Tara Benwell says:

    Wow! My pillows have a birth story! This is so neat! I can’t wait to show Jaks. She is still busy sewing pockets and was ecstatic when I came home with a box of new buttons for her yesterday. Thanks for posting this Ana. You are such an inspiration. WE LOVE OUR PILLOWS!

  5. Corey says:

    Cute fabric!

    I’m going to call my sewing room my studio from now on. I like the sound of that since I do so many other things in there beside sew.

  6. Pingback: Tweets that mention pillow covers | i made it so. -- Topsy.com

  7. kirsty says:

    Thanks so much for all the comment love over at my blog! I have such a great image of you sitting with your coffee pouring over my blog while it’s still quiet in the morning before the hustle and bustle of your day begins! So nice, thanks for that!

    I am really excited about the to-be home and all that it entails. It’s such a beautiful spot. I love love your pillow covers! I’d really love to make things like that and the quilts! But with practically no sewing skills learning from scratch seems so daunting!

  8. Kristina says:

    Great pillows, Ana! Good job! :) I am trying to remember who my locker partners were….

    I have an unrelated question……how do you put your ‘made it so.com’ marking on your pictures?

    Thanks :)
    Hope all is well with you!

  9. I love these! The unconventional role of the buttons totally works!!!

  10. Pingback: buttons | i made it so.

  11. Pingback: you made it so: distressed desk & reupholstered chair | i made it so.

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