Friday, August 29, 2014

college apartment pillows

It's been a fun summer with little bits of sewing here and there, but last week was VERY productive! Thing 1 is preparing to move into her first apartment at college, and she needs some fun pillows to decorate her new space. She did most of the sewing, I did most of the cutting, and with a few days of  intense work she has three new seriously stylish floor pillows...

And two lumbar pillows for the couch/futon!

I'm going to dive right into the "how-to" for the most difficult pillow - the 24" round Honey Bun Pouf pillow made from Amy Butler's pattern in this fun geometric print we found in the Home Dec section at JoAnn's. The pattern calls for 2 1/8th yards of 54" decorator weight fabric for the 24" size, but even after careful fussy cutting to match the print I still have 3/4 yard leftover. That seems an excessive amount of extra fabric, but I guess that just means a few more toss pillows :)

The pattern also gives directions for constructing the pillow with quilting weight cottons, but you need to back each pillow segment with heavier weight cotton canvas to provide the required sturdiness and weight for a floor pillow. In my opinion the home dec weight was perfect - not too bulky to work with , one less construction step, and the finished product feels durable.

First step - trace the wedge template provided with the pattern. I made 5 pattern tracings on freezer paper so I could iron the patterns to the fabric for easy cutting without pinning. 30 total wedges are needed to make the pillow - yikes!

Mark your pattern pieces with information from the pattern. This is an OCD type habit that I have, but it has saved me from making cutting mistakes several times. The information also helps if your patterns get separated from the instructions, and you find them two years later and wonder "what the heck are these?!" Ask me how I know this ;) The center of the pattern outer edge is marked to help me with the fussy cutting.

Since this geometric print is a mirror image from left to right and top to bottom I was able to stagger the pattern pieces across the fabric this way. I could fit my 5 wedge patterns across 26" - half the width of this decorator fabric - so 10 would fit across one complete width selvage to selvage. If your fabric has no specific pattern you want to match in cutting, then you could cut two layers at a time. But since I wanted (needed!) to match the fabric pattern, I cut each wedge individually. And notice no pins! Freezer paper is fabulous for patterns like this!

Each wedge is backed with a layer of lightweight cotton batting, which means you need to cut 30 pieces of batting using the wedge pattern.  The pattern supply list includes a twin sized batting, but that seems an excessive amount.  I can't say for sure the actual quantity needed since I used my scraps, but it seems to me a throw size (60" square) for the 24" pillow will be sufficient. The lightest weight cotton batting is what you want. Anything with more weight and bulk is going to give you problems sewing. Quilter's Dream Request batting (the blue label) is a good choice.

The batting is basted to each wedge section and then trimmed away to very near the basting stitches - by far the most tedious step of the process. The pillow top and bottom are sewn into three segments of five wedges with all seams pressed in the same direction. Here is one completed segment - 1/3 of the pillow top.

And here is the completed top. That fussy cutting was totally worth the extra time, right?!

The underside of the pillow top shows how the seams all spiral in the same direction. Loops of twill tape are sewn to the center of the top and bottom to achieve the tufting effect. I initially questioned the necessity of this step thinking I could just use a long upholstery needle to attach the buttons at the end after stuffing, but this method is genius.  Do it this way!

A 12" zipper provides the side seam opening for stuffing. Inserting this zipper was easy peasy. I was anticipating much more difficulty because of all the fabric bulk, but it went very smoothly.

Two self-covered 2.5" diameter buttons and 4 pounds of fiberfill stuffing completes the pillow.  None of the local sewing supply shops had this size button kit in stock so I ordered them from amazon.

The medallion motifs were fussy cut from fabric that we used on another pillow - they were the perfect size!

Since this is such a lengthy and photo-heavy post, I'm going to save the details about the other four pillows for the next post.

I hope you all have enjoyed your summer as much as I have - with the exception of the rotary cutter incident of course!  Here's to a great fall season.  Back to school and back to sewing!!

Are there any other Honey Bun Pouf pillow makers out there?


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