Saturday, May 14, 2016

Memory Pillow Tutorial

Ok, Friends, its time for Part 2 of my latest project.  A very dear family friend recently lost her husband in a motorcycle accident, so I have been making memory pillows for her and her family (her husband had a very unique sense of style) and wanted to post a tutorial for how to make them. I posted earlier in this post how to make them, but this post is about making the covers.

 But first I want to take a chance to say ALWAYS watch out for motorcycles when you're driving, you have a Ton of metal protecting you, they have leather and a helmet protecting them.  You're Bigger and Stronger, WATCH OUT FOR THEM. Its just like we teach our kids. Watch out for the little kids, help them, keep them safe. Do the same for the riders, they're smaller and lighter. and if you bump them its minor for you, but a big deal for them.

OK, anyways, back on topic.

The first step is to pick your shirt and  inspect all the button holes
Like I said, he was unique :-)


A button hole this warn is one to avoid, it won't hold very well on a pillow, so go around it for your pieces

 Measure your shirt and try to figure out your placement.  Watch out for the arm seams, this tends to be right around the shirt pocket and is often the narrowest part, If you get the shirt seems on to the front of the pillow it looks a little weird,  but not unuseable, its ok to have the seams for the sleeves in your seams, so don't be afraid to have the seams in your first cut, just don't let them be more than an inch or two from the edge.

I like to center my measurements over the buttons, Like this pillow below is going to be 19" on the cut (since its an 18" pillow) so I have the measuring tape centered at 9.5" over the button hole

Cut your pieces to be an Inch bigger than your pillow form (like for an 18" pillow you would cut a 19" square.

The first time you make one of these pillows, especially if it was a friend or family member, it will be very difficult to cut into the shirt, that's OK. Grab a glass of wine, or cut it WAY bigger than you need.  Remember you can always take it in and make it smaller.  Now that I've done quite a few of these, it doesn't bother me to cut into the shirts, but the first couple took some psyching up (or liquid courage ;-) ).

 Put your pieces right sides together and sew all 4 sides, don't worry about leaving a turning space because you can unbutton the buttons and use them to turn it right side out.

I like to use my serger, but I know not everyone has one.  I would recommend  doubling up on your stitching, like doing two rows of straight, stitch, or zigzag if your fabric has some stretch too it.  there won't be a ton of force on the stitching, because if its too tight the buttons will gape, but there will be some force on it if anyone leans on the pillow or sits on it, and you don't want the stitching to pop.
 Try it on the pillow to see how it fits, you don't need to turn it right side out for the first fitting, this is just to make sure its close.  The more you do, the less you'll have to fix each time.  Feel free to sew it looser the first few you make, its easier to take in the pillow case than the pillow.

I didn't take a good picture of the next step, but I'm going to tell you anyways. Its totally optional, but  I like to dock the corners of my pillow cases.  It keeps you from getting floppy corners.  That always bugged me about the throw pillows at the stores.  When you sew a straight square you can't get the pointed corners stuffed in a way I like.  So I notch off about an Inch off each corner.  I also use this opportunity to sew the care tag from the shirt onto the corner, especially if its not a standard wash and dry fabric. For example, my friend had ALOT of Silk shirts with very unique embroidery, and I'd sew the care tag and the description of he embroidery into the corners.

Turn it right side out and stuff your pillow form in.  Button up the pillow and you're good to go!
Isn't that Sew Cool! 

Make your own pillow form - for $3

 Hello friends!  Ive been working on a project lately that I wanted to share with you (because there simply aren't any tutorials out there that I thought did it well enough) but its got alot of steps (judging by the 66 pictures I just uploaded) so I'm going to divide it up into 3 seperate parts.  This is Part 1, on how to make a pillow form, for details on why I'm doing this project, see part 2, it will have the whole story.

OK, moving on, I hate having to pay 10-20 bucks for a pillow form that I then have to create a cover for, thats just rediculous to me, especially since when I'm making pillows for friends/clients, I try to keep the costs as low as possible. So instead of 10-20 bucks a pop, how about 4 for $9... Now we're talking!  I go to Big Lots and get 3 of the pillows shown below, but you can check around at walmart or any other big box retailer near you. The Big Lots near me had the best price for pilows.  Don't spend a fortune... You're going to cut it up.

I usually buy these about 9 at a time, but then it gets a little hard to move in my sewing room :-)

 This pattern makes about an 18x18 pillow, (well actually i think most of these wound up at 17x18, so if you're looking for a perfect square add an inch to my dimensions below)

I measures and cut across the fabric on one side of the pillow 18 inches from one of the short sides

just the fabric
 Cut the fluff down he same line, it takes me about three passes to get all the way through, just stab the bottom scissor through the fluff to go partway down.  Oh and don't use your best scissors, the fluff will dull them pretty quick.  I grabbed my paper scissors and they work just fine through the fluff.
take your time and make many passes, its easier than trying to muscle through it in one blow
 when you get through all the fluff push your two fluff-lets apart  and cut the fabric apart, save the little piece, we'll use that in part 3, but for now we're just going to use the big piece.

Push the fluff-lets apart

And cut your fabric

Smush the fluff down, you're looking to get as much slack in the fabric to be able to stitch it shut, so really smush it down.  I know it bounces back, its fluff and all, but squish it as much as possible

Pinch your fabric closed to make sure its got enough room to run through your sewing machine.
 I like to serge mine closed, it makes a great finished edge, but if you don't have a serger don't worry, just stitch it across a couple times, you could do a zigzag if you want, but the fabric doesn't stretch, that just would give you a wider seam.  I would recomend doing 2 rows of straight stitching (about 1/4 inch apart) with an optional zigzag between them, then cutting off the excess fabric.  But Like i said, if you have a serger its super duper easy.
 The trickiest part is getting around all the fluff and keeping the fabric taught.  I often have to hold the fabric coming out the back taught to keep the tension good, otherwise the bulk of the fluff has enough force to pull one of the pieces of fabric out of the needles
 Sometimes it takes a bit of finagling to get it all to go through, but this is way cheaper, so you gotta put alittle thought into saving money :-)
 Woo Hoo, thats all it takes. Check over your seam of course, I often have to go back over a space or two because I've only caught one side into the stitching.

Whoops, lets fix that gap

Tada! Pillow form for $3 and about 15 minutes once you get used to doing them.  Way cheaper than the $10-20 that Joanns wants to charge you!

Isn't that Sew Cool!