Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hi Sweeties! It's The Pillow Tutorial For You!.....FINALLY.

Ok sweet little chickie-doos....I'm going to give this another try.....Hopefully I can actually launch this little tutorial. Getting this whole shin-dig together was 10 times harder than making the pillow! :-)

Thank you so much for all of your tips with the whole Blogger thing.....Sometimes it can just up and give one fits, can't it?

Let me start by saying.....I NOT an expert seamstress. I'll share with you what I've learned through years and years of sewing. I've figured out what works best for me.......and causes me the FEWEST headaches!

Many of you are Little Suzy Seamstresses......and can probably teach me a thing or two....and won't gain anything from this little lesson, but lots of you gals expressed a desire to learn to sew and don' t know where to begin....a pillow's a great place to start. A small, simple and inexpensive project. Gotta love that.

I hope you'll go out and buy yourself a little snip of fabric and give it a's not difficult and after a pillow or two you'll be a pro.

Start with whatever you'd like for the front of your pillow........a piece of quilt, one of your little one's shirts or something sentimental. I've printed a copy of a postcard that my dad actually sent to my Mum in their very early courting days. It's just so sweet, isn't it?

I'm a super thrifter and this delicious linen was actually a stitched down pleated skirt that I bought at the Goodwill for just a couple of dollars. I sat and picked out all of the pleats and hem to get a nice bit of fabric. Don't overlook anything when you're out and could be a diamond in the rough.

Most of the pillows I make are vintage floral barkcloth with ruffles, so this style is a departure for me. These little numbers are for my den re-do.....simple and actually easier than ruffles.

I have a standard sewing machine. No serger or anything fancy. You'll love having a rotary cutter, ruler and mat.....well worth the investment if you don't have them, but you can do it without. They used to in the old days, right?

I'm going to call the inside of the edging cording and the finished bit trim....just to make the whole explanation easier.

As for the size of the's about 1/4" if you're looking at it from the top. I never noticed the size on the box, I just buy the size I like. Use whatever size makes you happy.

Ok....making the bias strips to cover the cording. You'll need a square of if you're using 54" fabric, you'll need a piece of fabric that is 54" long. That will make a TON of cording. You can use a smaller square for a small pillow. As I've said before, I often buy all cotton sheets at the thrift store for my'll get a HUGE square out of full size sheet and won't have as many seams. Fold that square of fabric in half, corner to corner, and cut along the fold. Now, you're going to cut parallel to that cut, so lay it on your cutting mat folded up with that edge ready to zip off. I cut my strips 1 1/2"...that seems to work perfectly for me.

*If you're only going to be doing straight seams you can just cut your strips on the straight of grain. I still think cutting it on the bias is easier, but it's a shame to have to buy a big piece of fabric to cut a bit from the center.

All lined up and ready to snip.

Connecting the pieces. The little ears sticking out are about 1/4".

And, when you flip it over it will look like this. Just snip those little ears right off.

Piece as many lengths of fabric together as you'll need to go around your project........then press, press, press! I think that makes such a difference in the quality of your fire up that iron and don't be afraid to use it. A. LOT.

Now it's sandwich time. Just slip that little bit of cording inside your strip of fabric like a little hot dog and sew fairly closely to the cording inside. I have a cording foot for my machine. It's AWESOME, but you can use a zipper foot if you don't have one. I think this makes it lots easier though.

If you look very closely at this picture you can see the edges of my fabric are zig-zagged. I put a piece of quilt batting under my pillow top/front piece, pinned all around it so it was perfectly flat and zig zagged all around the edge. I ALWAYS put the quilt batting underneath. I think it gives the finished project a more finished look and makes the stuffing bit look neater too.

Ok.....the bottom layer is the quilt batting.......then the pillow front piece. I match up the edge of my trim to the edge of the pillow top edge. Always start on the bottom of the pillow top....(meaning that when the pillow is all finished that start/end will be at the bottom and will be less noticeable if it's not on the side or top). My quilt batting is sticking out a bit....that doesn't matter at all. I'm not using that as a guide....and it will be trimmed later.

Leave the first 2 inches or so free when you begin stitching. You'll see why that's helpful in just a minute here....

Now, stitch right over the line on your trim....You know....where you stitched the little hot dog together. Got that? :-)

Corners.....yep, they can be a bit testy........but you're going to give them a little snip so they'll cooperate. You'll be glad you did!

Keep going...............and stop when you're about two inches away from your beginning bit.'ve rounded all of those bends and you're to the ending business. I don't know where I learned this little trick, but believe makes for a really nice join.

See that little bit of trim on the bottom? That's the bit that you left loose when you started.

Now, the piece where you've just left off? Snip the little stitches to free that cording that's inside....don't clip the fabric, just the seam to open it up.

Now snip the inside cording so that it exactly matches up with the beginning piece....not the fabric JUST the cording.

Just a little bit of finesse here.........and you're nearly finished with this part!

See that little bit on the left folded to the inside?

You're going to tuck it around your beginning piece and stitch on your stitch line on the trim to finish it up.

Yippppppeeeeeeeeee.........Look.....that wasn't so hard, was it?

We're on the home stretch.
Yep........that little bit of fiberfill's still poking out there.....

No worries.........

Ok.........from bottom to top: The bottom layer is a piece of quilt batting. Then comes the back of the pillow.. (right side facing up), your piece that you've stitched to cording onto..(right side facing down). Carefully pin all of those layers together so they're nice and neat. You're going to leave about a 6-8" opening on the bottom for the stuffing so note where the bottom of your front piece is........and stitch all around the little pile.......on THAT SAME LINE again......Can you see the pin sticking right into that line?

When you stitch exactly on that line everything's going to line up perfectly....'ve stitched clear 'round and left your little opening...........

Now trim it all up nice and neat.

Turn it right side out and stuff.

Don't just take bits from the bag of fiberfill and stuff it into the pillow. You'll take a chunk and sort of "shread" it in between your hands to loosen it up. It makes your finished pillow look MUCH better.....You'll be glad you did that extra step.

Ahhhhhhhhhh...........look at that.......aren't you excited now?

Carefully hand stitch the opening closed and you've got a pillow.

Pat yourself on the back and show everyone you know.'s really not hard. You can do it.........

Go forth and stitch.

I hope this has helped you and allayed some of your sewing fears.

Please let me know when you post your project. I want to see it!

Huggies and Lovies,


  1. Super tutorial. It was really very well done and should be easy for anyone to follow. I love to make pillows, they are so quick and easy. Hugs, Marty

  2. Spencer:
    That was a fabulous tutorial and I have a feeling that pillows will be started all over blogland. Thanks for taking the time to show us all of the details.

  3. Spencer, this is a great tutorial. I have always had trouble with cording but now I think I have it, can't wait to make a few pillows. Thanks for sharing your expertise!!

  4. Thank you! I make pillows the same way, except for the quilt batting and the way you finish your cording. And I love those directions. Going to start doing it the Bellamere Cottage way.

  5. Great tutorial, sugar. I'm sure it will help many do that lovely pillow!

  6. Spencer,

    I wish I had seen your tutorial before I made my cushion for on my banquette. You make it look so easy but I can see that if you know what you are doing (like you do) it can be.

    Thanks. Gretchen

  7. Spencer, great job girlfriend, I have been sewing for years and don't have a cording foot, I am off to get one, what a gem, thanks, Char

  8. Hello Dearheart...

    Girl, you did a fabulous job with this pillow tutorial...each and every step was "crystal clear" and your photos so helpful!!! Ohhh my...I bet that taking all the "step-by-step" photos and instructions did take you longer than actually making the pillow! Hehe! But I, for one, am just elated that you took the time to share your pillow making techniques and talents with us!!! Thank you so much, Darlin'!

    Now...I just love this pretty linen pillow and printing the old postcard of your parents is soooo sweet! What a treasure!!! I just love this idea!!! Again...thank you so much!!! I know that this took alot of planning to put together for're the best, Girlfriend!!!

    Love ya,

  9. Thanks ... Great instructions.

    LOVE the postcard on the front.

  10. IF ONLY I were able to sew, but I got lost at the first curve ... you did an exquisite job. It is beautiful. How did you get that postcard on that pillow, is what I wonder?

    Hope all is well with you, sweet friend.
    TTFN ~ Marydon
    Enter our GIVEAWAY on our Nov. 1st post, if you haven't already

  11. hi spencer,

    yourexcellent photos make this seem almost (gulp) do-able for a sewing machine scaredy cat like me!

    your pillow is beautiful.


  12. Thank you for the great tutorial!
    You did a great job both with the pillow and the explanation of the bias cording!

  13. Beautiful pillow and a great demonstration!

  14. Spencer...You are a treasure... Loved your tutorial and Love you...great job! xoxo ~Kathy @ Sweet Up-North Mornings...

  15. LOVE your pillow! Glad you go the post to work!!
    Hugs, Lisa

  16. This is great...I have been making pillow for years and have never been able to figure out the piping part...I usually add a ruffle or I use alot of brush fringe because it's so forgiving....This was really helpful...and I love the postcard....

  17. Great tutorial and lovely pillow, someday I will get my sewing machine out of hibernation. It has been snoozing for years in the closet.

  18. I love your site...and loved seeing you at the show in Puyallup! You share so much of yourself here and in person as well. It's all beautiful, and Dodi's house is adorable! Way to go Dodi!
    Autumn Blessings to you and your fam;)

  19. Spencer, Great tutorial, even I understood, understanding and doing are two different things.

    I think I will stick to bought ones.


  20. Lovely finished piece and so delighted for the step by step. I know how much work it was...much more than the actual pillow production. I applaud you effort. And a great memory.
    Friday Blessings ;-)

  21. Spencer I finally now have a cording tutorial that I can actually follow. First I would like to say that I HATE following instructions. I am a "just let me do it and then I will work out the kinks later" type of person. I love this tutorial. I am going to bookmark it and use it after the first of the year. Right now I am feverishly making up my handbags for all of my upcoming craft shows. I thought I had enough inventory for the shows but I have unexpectedly sold more bags than I thought I would. NO COMPLAINTS THOUGH!
    Hugs, ~Sue

  22. I came over from The Quintessential Magpie to congratulate you on your win. What a WONDERFUL pillow. I don't know how to sew at all so I wouldn't be able to make that but I LOVE it. Do you have an Etsy shop? If not you definitely should. Glad to have met you.

  23. What a great job at instructions, Spencer. Your pillow turned out fantastic, and I love how you used the reproduction of the postcard to make it a sentimental item. :-)
    hugs, Sue

  24. Yay! you did it....and it's great with the photos --- pillows for dummies style for people like me. thanks!

  25. Good evening Spencer,
    I just had to stop over to THANK YOU soooo very much for your tip on posting photos! You cannot imagine how grateful I am and your tip worked like a charm! I have to say I should have asked many many days ago and saved MANY hours of frustration! Your are a GEM! Wishing you an AWESOME holiday season!

  26. you are a dear for teaching us this great project! I love that pillow!

  27. Congratulations on winning Sheila's give away! I clicked on her link to visit with you & found the most fabulous tutorial! Thank you so much for explaining the cording. I've been dragging my feet about making new cushions out of Sunbrella for some outdoor furniture because the cording scared me. This is great! ☺♥☺ Diane

  28. Hello! I met you at funky junk. I sat on your right eating my chili. I have finally had a moment to enjoy your blog. Adding you to my Google Reader:)

  29. What a great tutorial. I am saving this for the future.

    Enjoyed visiting and learning!


  30. shhhh...don't tell anyone. I'm visiting from Sheila's blog. I'm so glad I did. I've never made my own seam binding and now I know how! Thank you for that tutorial. For some reason it's always been mysterious to me. I'll be back to visit again. You certainly are an inspiration.

  31. You have done an excellant job with this tutorial. I will refer to it the next time I'm making a pillow. I have so many scrapes of fabric that could be repurposed. Now I have no excuse not to do it. I love, love, love the use of that sweet post card!


Sweet and dear little Chickies....thank you so much for your comments. I read each and every one. I always try to make a return visit........sometimes I fail miserably... but you're alllll soooo special to me!

Many, many hugs!