How To Make Pillow
A step-by-step guide to sewing simple pillows for the home. Includes information on stuffing, fabric choices, design, and sewing.
Pillows are the perfect project for anyone with a little sewing ability and creativity. You don’t need any fancy equipment to make a beautiful and comfortable pillow. They are also the perfect design touch in most rooms of the house. This article will guide you through the steps of making a pillow.
There are many choices to make when creating a pillow. You need to ask yourself three questions. The answers will determine most of your choices.
1. Where will it be in the house?
2. What are the colors you would like to use?
3. How much wear and tear will this pillow be getting?
You must next decide the size, shape, and design of the pillow.
•Choose size based on function. A throw pillow for the couch should be small; a bedroom throw pillow should be larger so you can lean on it to read in bed. You may want to make a long body pillow or a very large square pillow for your child’s floor.
•Shape can affect how easy it is to make the pillow. Square, rectangular, or round pillows are certainly the easiest. Other shapes, like stars and squiggles, are easy too. Remember that the shape will be rounded due to the fact that you will turn the sewn casing inside out.
•When thinking about design, decide if you want to add ornaments like buttons, charms, needlepoint, lace, or ribbon. Be sure to take in to account the pillow’s use. You wouldn’t want to put a button or charm on a bed pillow, or lace on a pillow that could take lots of spills.
If the pillow will be in a high traffic area, like a den or a child’s room, consider making a removable slipcase for the pillow. This would mean that first you make a pillow according to the directions below in a heavy white cloth. Then make a second casing, about 1/4 inch larger around the edge, and seal one side of it with a zipper. This second casing is zipped around the actual pillow and can be removed for washing. Slipcases really only work on square, rectangular, or round pillows.
After you know these things, it’s time to pick out the fabric. Fabric is the most obvious element of a pillow. Make sure the color will go well in your room. Texture is an important component as well. A pillow for your bed should be comfortable. A thick, warm, felt or flannel is lovely. For the living room, try satiny fabrics or brocades, but, if your living room is a high traffic area or you have children or pets, you’ll want something more durable. A busy, dark pattern will help distract from possible stains. In the playroom or child’s room, go with flannel or cotton in fun, colorful prints; all sorts are available at your local store.
This is also the time to buy the stuffing materials. Decide how firm you want the pillow. If you want it very firm, buy a piece of foam rubber, about an inch smaller than the pillow on all sides and significantly thinner than you want the pillow to be. You’ll also need some batting to fill around the foam. For a less firm pillow, simply buy enough batting to fill it. If the stuffing is a strong color (like green foam rubber) and you have a light colored pillow, you might want to consider making a slipcover pillow, which will not show the color through. There are also pillow forms, which are pre-stuffed pillows. Simply make your casing and slide the pillow form into it.
Now it’s time to start work on the casing. Cut the cloth about one inch larger than you will want the pillow to be. This extra inch is called the “seam allowance.” Now is the time to add the decoration.
•Lace overlay is easy, but produces beautiful results. Cut a piece of openwork the same size as one of the pieces of cloth. Sew the lace and the cloth together around all four sides, and then treat them as one piece of fabric. If you want a lace frill around the edge, sew it to one piece of cloth around the edge.
•Appliqués are also easy. Cut a shape out of another cloth. If you want, you can hem the edges, but unhemmed shapes have a certain charm. Choose a thread that will either blend in or complement the fabric. Place the shape where you want on the pillow, and stick a pin in it to hold it. Sew around the edges as close as you can without going off the appliqué.
•If you do needlepoint, you can make a needlepoint design on another piece of cloth and then treat it as a appliqué. If you want to hide the edges of an appliqué or needlepoint that is a regular shape, such as a rectangle, you can cover the edges with ribbon or piping.
•Buttons, charms, and ribbon can be sewed on anywhere you desire. Iron-on patches work well too, as long as the pillow will be mostly decorative.
Now it’s time to sew the two pieces of cloth together to make the casing. This is easy to do on a sewing machine, but can just as easily be done by hand. Pin the two pieces of cloth together, with the sides you want facing outside facing in. Mark a line, using chalk, a washable marker, or a sewing marking pencil, a little less than an inch in, so that the shape you draw is slightly larger than the planned pillow.
•If you are making a slipcase, sew halfway around for a round pillow or three sides around on a square/rectangular pillow. Then sew a zipper onto the open spot. All that’s left is to slide the case around the pillow, and you’re done!
•If you are making a pillow stuffed with foam rubber, leave enough room open to slide the foam in.
•For a simple batting pillow, make the smallest opening possible. Leave just enough room for your hand to slide in.
If the pillow will get lots of wear and tear, go over all the corners a second time; you may even want to sew the entire way around a second time.
When you have finished sewing, turn the casing inside out. Now you must stuff it.
•If you are using a pillow form, slide the casing around the form, and you’re ready to sew it up.
•If you are using foam rubber, first put down a layer of batting on the bottom side of the pillow. Lay the foam rubber on top of it. Then stuff around the foam rubber with more batting. Once it is firm enough, you’re ready to sew it up.
•To make a simple batting pillow, simply put batting into the pillow, making sure to get the very back corners. Test it frequently to make sure that it is balanced on all sides and exactly as firm as you want it. Once it is, you’re ready to close it up.
Closing the pillow is a little more complicated than you would expect. Fold the seam allowance of both sides in, and pin the sides together. Then, sew the two edges together using whip stitching or invisible stitching.
Now your pillow is done! You can make pillows to help decorate new rooms very inexpensively, or as beautiful gifts. Making pillows is very simple if you put in some planning beforehand, and you can get the most comfortable results!