Friday, May 3, 2013

Quilt in ONE weekend! Part 4: Travel-sized pillow with matching pillow case

If you haven't been following along, in parts 1-3 we made a simple small quilt-- sized to fit a crib or toddler sized bed or a nice throw/travel size.

Today, we are going to use the leftover scraps (plus any others you have lying around) to make a small matching pillow.

When my oldest was about 2 1/2 and we were putting him into the "big boy bed" I bought him a small travel sized pillow. It was the perfect size for him, about half the size of a regular adult pillow. Unfortunately, I haven't seen those pillows in a while (and of course they never sell matching pillow cases!). So when I wanted to do the same for my nephew's birthday present, I had to take matters into my own hands.

We are starting with a simple batting filled pillow (I do NOT recommend doing this with down-- unless you want to be chasing feathers around your house until the end of time!). I found a basic one for $4.00 at Target. Nice, fluffy and WASHABLE -- kind of important I think! Now if you wanted to save a step or 2, you certainly could buy a pillow form at the craft store BUT all the ones I saw were $8-15-- per PILLOW. This is going to yield 2 pillows-- so about $2 per pillow!

I found the tutorial for making the pillowcase (for a full size, standard pillow) on pinterest (where else?). I had so much fun, I used some other scraps I had laying around to make a pillow case for my oldest -- with Thomas the train fabric-- using the 2nd pillow. Although he has a full size pillow, this has become kind of a travel/lovey/cuddle pillow that he drags from bed to sofa to car.

As this project was soooooo easy, I could see this getting really addictive! With all the trips and camping that are typical for summer, travel pillows for the whole family would be a fun project.

Part 4: Toddler/travel sized pillow + pillow case

1) Gather your courage and then CUT your pillow in half. I suggest you do at least a rough measurement so the pillows are more or less even at the end.

2) Hand sew the cut sides closed-- you could do a running stitch, whip stitch or a ladder stitch. I prefer the ladder as its all but invisible and what I usually use to close up seams in pillows and the like after turning. You could try to stuff it into your machine to sew it closed but really with all  the wrestling and smashing I'd bet you spend as much time as I did just doing it up by hand.

3) Measure the seam to seam width and length. The pillows I created were approximately 12" x 19". I sized the pillow case to give a little extra width and length (but not too much because I know that pillows tend to flatten out as they are used). Our finished pillowcase measures approximately 12.5" x 21". If your pillows are significantly different, be sure to adjust your fabric cutting!

4) Cut fabric

  • Cut 2 pieces of fabric for the main body of the pillow- 14" wide by 18.5" long.
  • Cut 2 pieces of fabric for the contrasting end band- 14" wide by 9" long
  • Cut additional trim (for small coordinating band in between body and end of pillowcase) 14" wide x 1.5" long. Press in half (lengthwise) wrong sides together.

5) Layer your fabric as follows:
  • End band fabric on the bottom, right side UP, cut edges north
  • Trim fabric next, folded/pressed from step 6, cut edges north (aligned with cut edges of edging fabric)
  • Body fabric on top, right side DOWN, cut edge north & aligned with trim and end fabric
  • Pin layers together
  • Repeat for other set of fabrics
6) Carefully roll up BODY FABRIC ONLY to the line of pins. Fold end band fabric OVER roll. Align edges with pre-pinned fabrics. Move pins to include new layer. You should have a kind of burrito-like bundle of fabric. See below: (if this does seem confusing, I highly recommend reviewing the linked tutorial)

7) Stitch across with a 1/2" seam allowance.

8)Turn burrito right ways out. Press. Trim any uneven edges off.

9) You should now have 2 halves to a pillowcase. We are going to sew them so there are NO visible seams.

10) Align both halves, WRONG sides together. Pin.

11) Sew along both sides and one end only (hint: its not the end with the decorative band....) This time use a 1/4" seam allowance!
12) Trim corners and turn pillow case inside out. Sew again along edges and end, this time with a 1/2" seam allowance-- this will completely enclose your prior seam and leave you with a perfectly finished product!

13) Turn and press! Insert pillow-- you are DONE!!

Repeat as desired!!

Feel free to comment below. I'd love to see some links to your finished products! Like us on Facebook!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Quilt in ONE weekend! Part 3

Congrats! You finished the hardest part of this project! Now its time to put the finishing touches on your quilt.

For this project, I opted to do a very wide binding (approx 3") but this is less common. I liked the look of it since it is a bit more dramatic than a traditional binding. Since this is a fairly simple project, this is a good way to fancy it up!

Part 3: Adding a Wide Binding to your Quilt

1) Once you have finished quilting, thoroughly check over both front and back for loose threads! I checked and checked and checked and still kept finding more threads to snip.
2) Carefully trim any excess batting/backing to extend only 2.5" beyond the edge of your quilt top. Depending on how accurately the batting was cut in the factory, you may have a lot or no trimming at all. I personally found that I didn't need to cut the ends at all but the width needed a fair amount of trimming.
3) Create your binding.
  • Using your 1 yard of coordinating pattern fabric left from part 1, carefully cut 5, 6.5" wide strips (cutting from edge to edge, not lengthwise).
  • Align 2 pieces right sides together and sew across one short end. Press seams open.
  • Repeat above until all 5 pieces have been joined into one long strip.
  • Although not required, I also then pressed the entire binding strip in half, to help with the final foldover.

4) Starting in the middle of one long side, begin pinning binding to quilt- right sides together. Begin sewing 3-4 inches from edge of binding (this will allow us to match edges at the end). Sew until you are 1/4" from the corner.

5)Making the corner: You will need to fold the binding a special way to ensure that you have enough to make a nice mitered corner. I highly recommend this video tutorial (from you tube) if you have any questions about the instructions below!
  • Fold binding strip 90 deg. towards the outside edge of the quilt.
  • At edge of BATTING (not quilt top) fold binding back over
  • Align edge of binding with edge of quilt top (not batting)
  • Resume sewing 1/4" from edge of quilt top.

6) Repeat at all corners. Stop sewing approximately 3-4" from beginning.

7) Carefully pinch together beginning edge and ending edge until it is evenly touching but not overly tight. Stitch together ends. Trim excess binding. Finger press open the seam.

8) Resume sewing until all binding has been attached to the quilt.

9) Fold binding over quilt edge and batting. Fold under raw edge of binding approx. 1/2". Pin to backing fabric-- use stitching line from attaching the border as a guide to keep edges even. Take care to fold each corner into a nice crisp miter.

10) Top stitch binding around entire perimeter of quilt using 1/4" guide.

11) You can go back and machine stitch the miters on the corner OR I chose to hand stitch them with a coordinating thread that almost disappears. I used a blind hem type of stitch commonly used when quilters hand sew their bindings. See this tutorial for a good example.


Tomorrow,  in part 4, we're going to use some of our fabric scraps to make a super cute travel/toddler sized pillow with a coordinating pillow case!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Quilt in ONE Weekend! Part 2

Congrats! You took the plunge and now you are ready to quilt! (If you are just joining us here, you'll want to review yesterday's details to get your project set up- part 1)

There are two major ways of quilting your project-- by hand or by machine. There are people who are fanatical about each method and some who enjoy both. Advantages of hand quilting include a the ability to sit and do your project in front of the tv (or anywhere really) and the freedom to really sew anything you can imagine. The major downside is of course the time factor. Most of us just don't have the time these days to sit and finish a whole quilt by hand. Machine quilting is much faster but it can be a bit tricky to get your stitches to go exactly where you want them to. And, if you don't have a fancy long arm machine, it is a bit of a bear to get your quilt loaded up. That being said, if you actually want to get this done in any kind of reasonable time schedule, you'll want to commit to machine quilting.

 Here are some examples of quilting patterns (see link for many more!) from
As you can see above, for a seasoned quilter, there are hundreds of fabulous shapes and patterns that one can make-- fans, hearts, swirls, and loops to name a few. As this was my first quilting project (and I REALLY needed it to come out decent) I opted for a very, very basic pattern. I suggest that if you, too, are a beginner quilter, that you keep things simple. Here are a few basic quilting choices: straight lines, wavy lines or following a shape in your fabric.

One of the wonderful quilts my MIL made for my youngest.
Note contrasting thread color and fun wavy/swirly random pattern
Reverse of above quilt-- note abstract/random pattern!
I decided to go for following a shape in my fabric. If you'll look below, you'll see that the biggest monkey was in a rectangle. That monkey pattern repeats all over the quilt and so I decided to simply follow the pattern and use my machine to trace over the border of each large monkey square. This did not yield me a super quilty quilt but was enough sewing to ensure that all the layers are well secured and gave a nice pattern to the backing.

If you have a "walking foot" attachment for your machine, this would be the time to put it on! This attachment has grippers that help feed the top fabric while your machine is feeding the bottom, so your layered quilt will pass smoothly through your sewing machine. I did do some quilting with a walking foot and some without. You can certainly do it either way, but there was a LOT less tugging on the fabric while I had the special foot on the machine. I did find that it was a little bit more difficult to load the quilt in though, as it sits lower and closer to the needle plate.

Part 2: Machine quilting

1) To begin, you need to load your quilt into your machine. Once the fabric layers are under the needle, you will want to roll or smush the extra fabric out of the way. Be sure that the fabric on the working area under your needle is very smooth. You do not want to add wrinkles into your quilting! Off to the side you can see I'm using some ordinary office supply binder clips to hold my folds in place.

2) My first bit of quilting was a simple "stitch in the ditch" set of stitches all along the seam between the border and the main front fabric. To stitch in the ditch, you are basically trying to stitch in the center of your seam (or just to one side if your machine is finicky).  I sewed all around the complete perimeter of the quilt. Remember to back stitch one or two stitches at the beginning and end to lock your threads!

3) Pick a place to start quilting. I opted for one corner but you can start in the middle or anywhere you like. If you are making lines, try to begin and end at the border so as to not interfere with the wide binding we'll be doing in part 3.

Note the line of stitches just inside of the brown border that  I did first.

This is the step that will take the most time. Being careful and neat will make your quilt both durable and artistic. TAKE YOUR TIME. If you are getting frustrated, take a break! I did about half my quilting one day and then the other half the next. My shoulders and back really needed a break from wrestling the fabric through the machine.
Front after quilting just each large yellow monkey square.

Back after quilting each monkey square

Tomorrow,  in part 3, we'll tackle adding a large 3" wide binding to finish and add interest to your quilt!

As always, feel free to comment below and let me know any thoughts or questions!
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