Pat Sloan's Fabric Tour is this week and I was lucky enough to be chosen to make a project with her new collection of Bird Song from Benartex. The collection has a woodsy element and colors I decorate with ... plus the motifs have that boho look that I love. I decided to cut up the panel to make a pillow ... for several reasons. I really can never get enough pillows around the house ... and ... I have a little girl in my life who feels the same way! She uses them to put all of the dolls and stuffies down for naps when she visits me. When she saw Pat's fabric for the first time she said "It's so pretty, Gamma!" and I had to agree. I can't wait to show her. Keep reading and I'll show you how I made it.
I was drawn to the square sections because they had a lot of detail. I planned to embroider over the top of some of them to give my pillow texture. I chose to use one of the squares and the strips of floral on either side of the main design.
I also chose the large floral for two borders and the pink and gold stripe for my cheater binding. I liked the pieces that were in the pink range of fabric so that's what I pulled. They were so vibrant!
The margins between the panel pieces were 3/4". I divided that in half to equal 3/8" and that's the measurement I used to cut the pieces from the panel. The reason I did that is because I was going to sew with a 1/4" seam allowance but wanted a little bit of the cream background to show to create a visual space around the pieces. It's hard to sew a seam perfectly so this gave me a smidge of room to make it look good.
I cut the sides of the square and also the top and bottom of the floral in this manner.
I cut the floral design from the main panel piece. I had to use both of them on the panel because they weren't long enough. I squared the ends of both strips and then cut them to 10 7/8" ... they are going on either side of the first panel piece I cut. You should measure your own piece before you cut them though.
Sew them on either side of the panel piece using a 1/4" seam allowance. You'll see that a little of the background shows along this piece and that's what you want. When you're done sewing, press away from the sashing.
Now it's time to cut the large floral and birds for the borders. The borders will go along the bottom and the left side only, giving the pillow an asymmetrical look. The fabric is directional so you need to cut carefully. I wanted to include the birds in my border so I fussy cut them. To do that, I cut the borders 6" wide and then trimmed them down to the size I needed ... yes it's wasteful but you can use the scraps later. I cut the bottom border first because it's sewn on first. The design is cut horizontally. My measurements were 4 3/4 x 10 3/8". Double check your measurements!! For the left side I cut it 4 3/4 x 15" ... but I did that after I sewed on the bottom border to make sure it was the right size. Measure twice cut once, remember? Both borders are sewn with a 1/4" seam allowance and pressed away from the center.
The final step is adding the faux binding ... my favorite way of putting an edge on a pillow! Cut 2 - 2 x 15" and sew to the top and bottom with a 1/4" seam allowance and press away from the center. Then cut 2 - 2 x 17 1/2" and sew to the remaining two sides like you did the first ones. Give the pillow top a good pressing, using a fabric finish if you wish. Cut a piece of cotton batting a few inches larger and layer the pillow top over it, smoothing it out and pinning in a few places.
Now you're ready for the fun part ... stitching! I have a nice collection of Aurifil floss and that's what I chose to use. I used two strands of floss and a #9 embroidery needle. Most of the stitches I used are basic ones ... running stitch, backstitch, French knots, Xs ... just simple ones that wouldn't require then to be perfect. Mostly I did this to give the pillow texture and with the cotton batting, I had a bit of a quilted look, too.
I used a running stitch to stitch down the center of the panel's tan line, and then did the same thing along the seam of the two larger borders. It helped to keep the pillow top from shifting and to stay smooth. One of the nice things about using batting too is that it's easier to stuff and lets you hide your knots and thread easily. My backside is always a mess!
When I was done embroidering, I carefully pressed the top and trimmed the cotton batting even with the front. Next I chose a fabric for the back of the pillow ... I'd suggest using 3/4 of a yard so you enough to work with. I cut the backing the same size as the front and pinned all of the edges. I sewed around all the sides with 1/2" seam allowance. If you can't see that 1/2" mark on your machine very well, use a piece of washi tape or painters tape on your machine to guide you. Next, I carefully cut a 3-4" slit in the center of the back fabric ... don't cut through all the layers! You'll be using this slit to turn and stuff your pillow. Turn the pillow right side out through the opening and press the edges, using a pin or large needle along the seam line to get them smooth.
Using a large needle and two strands of floss, stitch a running stitch along the seam of the binding. Go through all layers. Hide your knots inside so they don't show on the front or back. Stuff your pillow as firmly as you like with cotton batting. I find it's less springy than poly batting and gives the pillow some heft. When you're done stuffing, stitch the opening closed. To make it look neater, fuse a piece of scrap fabric over the cut and whip stitch the edges with one strand of floss.
Ta-da! You're done!! Now you can enjoy your pillow and look for your next project to make from Bird Song by looking at the list of others on the tour. You can find the list on Pat's blog. Have fun making things with this adorable line of fabric!
Oh ... I almost forgot! You can win a layer cake of Bird Song from Pat by answering this question ... how many decorative pillows do you have in your home? I don't even think I can count that high! We'll be selecting a winner later ... if you live outside of the US you'll get a prize of Aurifil thread instead. Good luck!
Thank you everyone for your great comments on my pillow and how many you have in your home. We've selected a winner for the fabric bundle and that person will be getting an email soon from Pat. I've closed the comments now but you can read them all if you choose ... there were so many!
Happy quilting everyone!