A few weeks ago I took my first sewing class, all thanks to an awesome gift from my brother for Christmas. During the class I definitely learned a lot about the basics and it helped correct things I had incorrectly taught myself. After 4 hours at The Needle Shop in Wicker Park, I walked out with my first pillow. Since then I've made a few more pillows and each one I do gets easier. I did my last pillow in less than 45 minutes! So, here's a tutorial of how to make a pillow with a little help from my first sewing class.
- Square pillow insert 18x18
- 1/2 yard fabric
- Matching thread
- 12 inch zipper
- Pins and pincushion
- Marking pencil/chalk
- Seam ripper
Total cost: $12
Start by figuring out how tight you want your fabric to sit on your pillow. Pull the measuring tape across the pillow from seam to seam to mimic how the fabric will lay. For a tighter pillow, let the measuring tape crinkle the pillow a little. For a looser pillow cover, lay the measuring tape normally from seam to seam. For my 18x18 inch pillow, I wanted a tighter fit so I took 1/2 inch off the seam to seam measurement. Once you know your measurements, add 1 1/4 inches to that to allow for stitching. Measure your fabric and cut out 2 pieces that are 18 3/4 x 18 3/4.
Since apparently pillows aren't made with complete squares because that makes the corners too bulky (who knew!) you need to cut off some of the fabric from the corners of each square. With your chalk, mark a dot 1/2 inch in from each corner. Take your ruler and draw a 4 inch line through your marked dot. (I know this doesn't make sense, take a look at the photo below to get the gist.)
After marking all the corners pick up those scissors and snip snip along those chalk lines. It might look awkward when you are done but I swear it'll all be okay.
Next up, you'll be placing the zipper. You might want to grab a drink, say a prayer and hope for the best if you've never done this before. Choose a side for your zipper. Make sure to pay close attention to the direction your pattern fabric goes. Pin the sides together about 2 inches away from the edge of the fabric. Lay the zipper centered across the fabric and use the chalk to mark where the zipper ends.
Start up your sewing machine and sew your first seam. Backstitch and do a small stitch until the first chalk mark then switch to a basting stitch. Continue basting until you reach your second chalk mark, then switch back to a small stitch. Remove the pins and iron the seams open.
Center the zipper (face down) on the seam and align the zipper with your chalk marks. Pin each side of the zipper to the fabric.
Switch out your regular stitching foot for a zipper foot and begin stitching down each side of the zipper. (I broke 3 needles the first time I sewed a zipper.)
Once you attach the zipper to the fabric, take the seam ripper and begin ripping out the basting stitches (don't rip past the end of the zipper or you'll have to sew it in all over again). Open the zipper and pin down all the rest of the sides like you did earlier. Sew down each side, turning the stitch when you reach each corner. When all the sides are sewn, trim off an excess bulk from the corners. Turn your pillow right side out and viola, you've just made a pillow!