Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A How To: Easy Sew Couch Pillows

Let's start this off with the caveat that I am NOT a professional seamstress, so if you're looking for a fancy "how to" on making couch pillows with things like zippers or piping you're in the wrong place. :) If you are a sewing novice (like me) and are looking for an easy pillow that takes about 30 minutes - look no further, you're here!!

Cost breakdown:
1 yard fabric for the front $8.99
1 yard fabric for the back $7.00
2 pillow inserts (free, reused old ones!)
Thread $1.79 (on sale)

Total cost: $17.78 for two pillows, could have been much cheaper too if hadn't paid quite as much for my fabric. :)

Step 1: Get some fabric. Go crazy!! These are couch pillows, one of the best places to add that extra pop of color or pattern if you're a bit too nervous to throw down a zebra print rug or paint your walls orange. I literally got lost in Hancock Fabric this weekend looking at all their new summer prints (my mom can vouch for this since I had her on the phone for the hour I was wandering the store.) Some prints that caught my eye:

I ended up using a pattern on the front and a more subtle accent fabric for the back. For two 20" pillows I would suggest getting 1 yard of each type of fabric. You'll have some extra but it allows for mistakes! Also get some thread that will blend in and if you don't have any extra pillow forms laying around (I used two from old pillows we don't use anymore) grab two pillow forms. Make sure to bring at least one coupon, all of the fabric stores accept each other's coupons!

Step 2 - Cutting out your fabric. Most instructions will tell you to cut 21 inches for a 20 inch pillow, however I like my pillows "fuller" looking and don't use as much of the edge so I cut mine at 20 inches square. So if you're making two pillows, fold your fabric in half and measure a 20 by 20 inch square to get two squares (if only making one then just cut and measure one 20x20 square.) Repeat with the back fabric.

I a tip from Cottage Magpie to use a glass to draw and cut rounded edges which makes sewing the corners much easier!

Step 3 - Pin the wrong sides of the fabric together leaving a gap on one of the sides to later stuff the pillow into.

Step 4 - Sew the edges together.

(This also gives a good shot of the rounded edge.)

I used a zigzag stitch with my length knob (the numbered one) set at about 1.5. I set the fabric so it would be sewing right at the edge, it was essentially riiiiight outside the edge of the viewing hole on the presser foot. Remember to sew all the corners but leave one side open!

Step 5 - Flip it inside out and fill out the corners.

Use your fingers to even everything out and then iron the edges flat.

Step 6 - Iron a crease on the fabric in the opening.

Essentially you're folding it over enough so it matches the rest of the pillow, it's only about 1/4 inch if that. Do the same to the other side making sure they match up.

The ultimate goal when ironing is to keep the other side from showing. So when you look at the back you should see no pattern from the front and vice versa.

Step 7 - Sewing your edge. Head back over to your sewing machine and use the straight stitch function, again I had it set at 1.5 on the number knob (so technical I know). And stitch all the way around from opening to opening right at the edge of the fabric.

See what I mean about right outside the viewing window of the presser foot? And you'll only be on one of the feeders as well so make sure to help feed the fabric through. I didn't do any backstitching when I reached the openings because that would be visible and we're going to sew over them anyway.

Step 8 - STUFF STUFF STUFF! :) So you've got the pillow sewn all around the edges with your opening left, jam that pillow in!

I use the roll and stuff method. Roll the pillow up, have someone hold the hole open and push it in.

Step 9: Finishing the edges. Now you're going to sew the opening shut to match the rest of the edge of the pillow. To make it easier to get your full pillow into your sewing machine squish your pillow down and put either safety pins or stick pins through the fabric to keep the pillow down like this:

Then match the edges of your opening up and pin them closed. Take your pillow to the sewing machine, drop the needle about 1/2 inch back on the already sewn line (to help lock in the other stitching) and then slowly sew the opening closed. I had Micheal help hold the pillow while I guided it through the machine.

Step 10: The haircut. Now your pillow looks like Cousin It - don't just give it a regular haircut! The beauty of this pillow is you can tie off the ends so they're strong and invisible. Grab a regular ol'needle and pick up and thread through one piece of "hair" if you will :) - then insert your needle into the gap left by sewing the opening shut, like so...

Do this for each "set" of threads if you will (the top and bottom stitch) and then tie them in a double knot inside the crease and trim! You're DONE!! The first one took me a bit longer, but once you get the hang of it, it's a quick 20-30 min project.

Please ask any questions or suggestions for making the project easier to follow are welcome. Have fun!


Nutbird said...

Nice job! Prudent has an easy way to sew pillows with a zipper. I can put in zippers, but I hate it. Check it out. Ann

KLS said...

Thanks Ann! I'll be sure to check it out. I have successfully put in one zipper, but like you I hate it. Mostly the extra planning that goes with it! I figure I'll need pillow covers with zippers though once we have kids, sigh.