Archive for the ‘Sewing’ Category
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A simple square or rectangular pillow is a great first
project–simple to make and the fabric choice
determines the mood. You can make it any size you
want, just adjust the yardage and stuffing accordingly.
Step One: Supplies
45″- or 54″-wide fabric for the pillow front and back (see
Determining Yardage below)
Pre-made form to match the pillow finished size and/or
Thread to match the pillow fabric
Scissors, ruler, hand-sewing needle, removable marker
Step Two: Determining Yardage
Determine the finished size you want the pillow to be and add 1″ (for seams) to the finished size. For example, a 15″x20″ finished pillow requires 1/2 yard of 45″-wide fabric to cut the pillow front and back each 16″ x 21″. If the pillow size is the exact increment of a yard (i.e.18″ =1/2 yard), round up to the next 1/8 to allow for straightening and squaring the pillow pieces. Remember that you need one front and one back, so double check the fabric width to be sure you can get two pieces across; if not, you’ll need more fabric.
Step Three: Cutting
Cut the pillow front and back the same size. Each piece should be the finished size of the pillow, plus 1″ for seam allowances.
Step Four: Sewing
Place the pillow front and back right sides together, matching the cut edges and pin every 3″. If the fabric is slippery, pin more closely. Always place the pins perpendicular to the cut edges (1). Along the center of one side (away from the corners), mark the ends of a 6″ opening with small dots or self-adhesive stickers (2)–this area will be left open to allow for turning and stuffing. Pre-made pillow forms may require more room for insertion.
Beginning at one of the small dots, stitch the pillow edges together along one side using a 1/2″ seam allowance, backstitching as you begin. When you get near the corner, stop stitching 1/2″ from the seamline end, leave the needle down in the fabric and lift the presser foot; take two stitches diagonally across the corner. Begin stitching the second pillow side. Remove pins as you come to them. Repeat to stitch each side and pillow corner. When you get back to the second dot, backstitch to anchor the seam. If the pillow fabric is bulky, trim the seam allowance width to 1/4″; if it’s not bulky there’s no need to trim. At each corner, trim off the excess fabric at an angle to reduce bulk (3).
Reach into the pillow and turn it right side out. Gently poke out the corners to make them square. Insert the pillow form or stuffing through the opening, pushing it firmly into the corners. If the corners don’t appear firm and you used a pillow form, stuff bits of polyester fiberfill into the corners around it. Hand stitch the opening closed, turning the raw edges to the inside.
I received a request from a reader who asked for a list about sewing. I am happy to oblige! Since I know I am not the only one out there who needs some lessons in basic sewing, I have looked around for 8 good tips on sewing basics. If readers enjoy it, I will be happy to continue posting lists on sewing, increasing in creativity and difficulty. Read on and leave me a comment to let me know you enjoyed this list!
1. Sewing a Straight Seam
It is easier to keep the seam straight when you watch the edge of the fabric instead of the needle when sewing. Use your hands to keep the fabric flat and to guide it through the machine at a steady rate. Be careful just to guide and not pull the fabric, let the feed dogs move the fabric.
2. Sew a Test Seam
Getting a smooth seam is dependent on getting the right machine tension, thread, and needle for a specific fabric. Use some of the fabric scraps to make practice seams with different types and sizes of needles and a variety of tension settings until you find the one that looks best.
3. Straighten the Fabric
Tear fabric from one selvage edge to the other or pull a crosswise thread to create a cut line to straighten fabric. Straight fabric will lay smooth with edges together. If the fabric does not lay smooth, gently stretch the opposite corners diagonally in the direction that needs adjustment.
4. Secure the Pattern
Lay out all pattern pieces before you cut. Secure placement using pins or weights. Pins will anchor the pattern in place more securely for precise cutting. Weights are quicker but the pattern has a tendency to move. Only use magnets where precision is not as important.
5. Hemming JeansTo make it easier to stitch over heavy seams, place a towel over the seam and pound it with a hammer. This breaks down the fibers, making sewing easier. Use a size 16 or 18 needle. There are commercial gadgets that make it easier to sew over thick seams, such as a “jean-a-ma-jig” or a “hump jumper”.
6. Pressing a Seam Open
Set the temperature on your iron for the fabric you are using. Press the seam as it was sewn. Turn the fabric over and press it from the bobbin thread side of the fabric. Open the body of the fabric and coax the seam open with the tip of the iron on the right side of the seam. Next, open the fabric and lay it as flat as possible with the seam allowance up. Use the tip of the iron to press the seam allowance open. Turn the fabric over and press the seam from the right side of the fabric. Repeat if necessary until you have a flat seam that has become part of the fabric. Remember pressing is not the same as ironing out wrinkles! Pressing involves gently lifting the iron as you move to a new pressing area, so that you are not distorting the fabric grain.
7. Best Choice Fabric for First Time Sewing
The very best choice for the first time you are sewing is tightly woven 100% cotton woven fabric. It’s characteristics make the fabric “stick” together as you are working with it and it does not stretch. Thanks to the popularity of quilting 100% cotton is easy to find in almost any fabric store in a wide variety of colors and prints. Always avoid one way designs, plaids and diagonal prints when you are choosing fabric for your first sewing project. They require special considerations when you are laying out the pattern.
8. Before You Buy a Sewing Machine…
…learn about sewing machines and explore your options. Making an informed decision will allow you to buy a machine to meet your needs and save you hours of frustration. Know your spending limits and keep in mind that a bargain is not always a bargain. A machine that is not designed for how and what you want to sew, can lead to a lot of frustration. Online or locally, learn about a machine dealer before you spend your money. Have an address and phone number to verify it is a real company. Before you go, write a list of the kind of sewing you do so the dealer can help you find a machine that is suitable to your needs. Take scrap samples of fabric with you and test basic sewing techniques that you will use on the machine you are considering. If you are new to sewing, look for basic seam guides that are built into the machine and watch those guides, not the machine needle, when you test drive the machines. And don’t forget to ask about repairing the machine and return policies.
I gathered these sewing tips from these websites: