My eldest chick is turning 10 soon, and therefore, so are all her friends. They seem so grown up, these double digit young people, and yet it seems like only yesterday that they were born.
The 10 year old girls are on the edges of sophistication, starting to decide what they like and don’t like, developing their own style, and identifying where the boundaries that need pushing are to be found. Bodies are starting to change, relationships are starting to change, and yet they still retain an innocence that balances the ‘growing-up-ness’. Whispered conversations about boys start to happen at the same time that little houses are being built for dolls, using boxes and tissue paper. One of the minor questions that arises for parents (long after all the big ones about how to provide the right role modelling, and how to enable them to have the right balance of empowerment, respect, self worth and manners) is what to give them for birthday or Christmas presents. This year I have hit upon the ‘designer’ pillowcase, with a pocket for an ipod, in an acknowledgement that many of them now set their own sleep time, no matter what bed time is set for them. My daughter listens to audio books by Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and JK Rowling (and I wonder why she has an English accent!).
So I decided to prepare a tutorial on how to make your own pillow case from fat quarters, with an optional ipod pocket, and an option to prepare it for a crocheted edge. If you would like to make a pillow from yardage, rather than fat quarters, I have put in some notes to adapt it, but also recommend that you look at the excellent tutorial from You Go Girl, as she does a much better job of explaining it than I do!
(Please bear with me as this is my first on-line tutorial and I am working on my photography!)
5 fat quarters of coordinating cotton fabric (or 1 yard of fabric).
Sewing thread in a coordinating colour (I prefer cotton but polyester will do the job just as well)
1 ½ inch of hook and loop fastener (if you are making the ipod pocket)
Pins, scissors, a sewing machine, a ruler.
Optional but nice to have – rotary cutter and mat, serger/overlocker, iron.
- Throughout the tutorial I am going to assume that you are taking all the right steps like ironing seams open, and snipping threads. (Even thought I sometimes take shortcuts on this, when I do these properly, the results are noticeably better, so I am trying to be good!)
2. Prewash and dry all your fabric, according to the care instructions. (NB If you accidently slip some other fabric into this wash that runs and dies the whole load another colour, say a very muddy navy colour for example, the product Dylon Run Remover really does work to save this situation……just saying.) Pre-washing helps to address any shrinkage before you begin to sew, and removes any sizing from the surface of the fabric. (Sizing is a product like starch that can be applied to the thread during the weaving process in making fabric. It gives fabric an added stiffness required to prevent breakage in the manufacturing process, and can (very occasionally) cause some skin irritation, so washing it out before the fabric is used is advised…….and there endeth the sermon from the former law student who remembers cases about people getting rashes from wearing clothes before washing them!)
3. Now, moving on to the important part – choosing the fabric combination. This pattern gives you one large panel each on the front and back, one stripe of another colour on both front and back, a small panel with the optional pocket on the front, and a larger panel that folds to form the internal pillow pocket on the back. I normally do a bit of layering of fabrics to decide which will be the feature fabric in the large panel on the front and back, then the stripe – which I usually make the same on the front and back, and a highlight for the smaller panels.
In this tutorial I am using the same fabric (Riley Blake’s The Good Life) for the feature panel on each side of the pillow. (Normally I use different panels on each side, but there are no rules for any of this – do what you think works with the fabric you have.) I am using a solid purple for the stripe, aqua gingham for the back and internal pillow pocket, and aqua and green pin dots for the front and ipod pocket. I am hoping that by using different fabrics, the instructions will be easy to follow.
4. Cut three fat quarters to measure 20” by 17.5”. These will be the front feature panel (A) (Good Life), the back feature panel (B) (Good Life)and the piece that becomes the internal pillow pocket (C) (the gingham). (If you are using yardage you need a piece 20″ by 30″ and another 20″ by 38.5″ and you can skip ahead to step 9).
5. Cut two strips of fabric from another fat quarter so that they measure 20” by 4”. These are D and E (purple solid)
6. Cut the final fat quarter to measure 20” by 10”. This is F (the dots). If you want to make an ipod pocket, then from the same fat quarter cut a piece 8.5” by 5”, and another 5.5” by 2.5”.
7. With right sides facing each other pin the long edge of D to the long edge of A, and the long edge of E to the long edge of B.
8. With right sides facing together pin the unfinished long edge of D to the long edge of F, and sew a ¼ inch seam. This is now your front piece. Pin the unfinished long edge of E to C. Sew a ¼ inch seam (this now your back piece), and finish the edges on both seams with zigzag or serging.
Your piece will now look like this (and this is a good time to iron those seams open, or flat).
9. If you are going to add a pocket for an ipod, then this is the time to do it. Take your piece that measures 8.5″ by 5″ and fold it in half so that it now measures 4.25″ by 5″. Fold it again and mark where the fold falls, as a the middle of the pocket. 1 inch from the edge, and centred across the fold, place the ‘soft’ or loop side of your fastener. Stitch it in place.
10. Then take your piece that measures 5 1/2″ by 2 1/2″ and sew the hook piece of the fastener 1/2″ from the edge (rather than the 1 inch shown in this photo, and you can avoid the unpicking that I had to do!).
11. With right sides together, fold the tab piece in half and stitch around the edges, leaving a space for turning it inside out. My experience is that leaving a gap half way along the side, rather than from the folded end, gives a much better finish. Then clip the four corners, turn it inside out and press it flat. Then top stitch around the whole tab, closing the gap used to turn the piece inside out.
12. The take the pocket piece. Fold it in half with the right sides together, and stitch around the edges, using a 1/4 inch seam, and leaving a gap for turning the pocket to the right side. Clip the corners, turn the pocket inside out, and press flat. Then topstich across the top of the pocket.
13. The next step is to pin the pocket and tab to the pillowcase. It is up to you whether you want to put it on the right or left side of the case. In this tutorial it is on the left hand side (so appears on the right when looking at the screen.) First place the tab so that the bottom edge (away from the fastener) is 4 inches from the top of piece F (the dots) and 3.5 inches from the side. The fastener should be facing up. Stitch across the bottom of the tab twice to secure it firmly. (The pictures at 14 should assist in understanding this placement).
14. The pocket piece then is laid so that the middle of the pocket aligns with the middle of the tab, but so that the top of the pocket is sitting just above the bottom of the tab. Pin it into place, and check that the hook and loop fastener meets when the tab is folded over to the pocket. Then stitch about 1/8 inch from the edge of the pocket on the three sides.
15. Now you are ready to put the pillowcase together. Pin a hem on the edge of F (the dots). I usually serge the edge, then fold it under ¼ inch, then fold it again about 3/8 inch. Place the pins in sideways, along the fabric, as you will not want them sticking out during a later step. You do have a little bit of room for error on the width of the hem here, so focus on making it neat rather than the exact measurement.
16. Finish the edge of C (the gingham) and fold it under about 3/8 inch and hem it.
17. Now lie, with right sides together, the shorter front piece on top of the longer back piece, matching up the seams for the stripes as much as possible. Pin the long sides together on each side.
You will have a piece of gingham (piece C) extended out past the front piece. Take this piece and fold it back over the top of the front piece, so that the right side of the gingham is facing the wrong side of the dots. Try to get the fold as close to the pinned down hem on the dot fabric as possible (hence having your pins lying lengthways in the pinned hem.)
Then pin the sides of the gingham on top of the side seams you have already pinned. Sew each of the side seams with a ½ inch seam, and reinforce over the point where the gingham internal pocket hem sits, as well as the beginning and end of each seam. If you intend to add a crocheted edge, you need to ensure that the gap between the two seams is 19”. If not, you have some room for error here.
18. Now you can sew a ½ inch seam across the bottom of the case. Finish the seams across the bottom and sides, and snip the corners at the bottom, to help with having sharp corners when you turn it in the right way.
19. Turn your pillowcase out so that the right side of the fabric is facing outwards. Nearly done! You now have an option to hem just the front piece, where you have the hem pinned, or to sew around the whole case at ¼ inch. If you are going to crochet the edges, then you need to sew around the whole case. If you are not, then it is a matter of personal taste. My preference is to not sew a seam across the pocket flap, as I like the way a nicely ironed case sits on a pillow, but it really does come down to what you like.
20. Then – iron all your seams, and voila – you are finished making the case!
If you want to put a crocheted edge on the case then the tutorial provided by You Go Girl on creating the foundation and then crocheting is the place to go for clear easy to follow instructions.
21. This is the most important step – sit back and admire your handiwork!