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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Upcycle Denim Rag Pillow


I'm working on getting some color into my living room and I'm starting to integrate some blue with the red.  This is probably one of the easiest pillows I will make and I love it combines so many techniques I enjoy - upcycling, rag quilting and pillow making!

I made a 16x16" pillow (front only) using a single pair of 30 x 32" blue jeans that belonged to my son.  I was able to recycle enough denim to make 2 pillow fronts.


First, I cut all of the seams off the fabric.  You can use seams, but for this project I just wanted the raw fabric.  I cut 9 6x6" squares and arranged them so I mixed the color hues.


Constructing the denim side of this pillow was a little like constructing a rag quilt top.  Start by matching the squares on the sides, WRONG sides together.  This is different than you normally sew seams, but these are ragged seams.  Sew three rows of three squares each, side by side, using a 1/2" to 5/8" seam allowance.


After you get the three rows created, you can care fully pin them, WRONG sides together, and sew the horizontal seams.  When sewing over the vertical seams you already made, it's fine to push the seams to one side or another and sew over them.  You are going to "rag" them anyway.  The important thing is to get the horizontal rows lined up correctly.

Create the heart with a 5x5" piece of red fabric.  I cut all my hearts free-hand by folding the fabric in half horizontally.  Holding the fold in your left hand and starting at the bottom, cut around the folded square in a half-heart pattern.  Here's a couple of pictures of the technique from another project.  The first picture shows the cut starting from the bottom center point with the fold on the left, and the second picture shows the same fabric flipped so the fold is on the top right as the heart is cut out.


Here is the one I cut for the pillow.  I used a disappearing fabric marker to trace about a 1/2" inside the heart and then pinned it to the center square.  I followed the line in sewing the heart to the denim square so I can also rag the heart itself.


Now you're ready to make the back of the pillow.  I used some plain utility canvas and cut 2 12" x 16" pieces.  (Be sure to wash canvas fabric before cutting it so if it shrinks, it won't mess up your finished product.)  I turned under hems on one of the 16" sides on each of the fabrics - one on the right side of the fabric and the other on the left.  I only turn under about 2" total on each hem, so when you match these with the front cover, there will be about a 4" overlap where the pillow can be inserted.  See my tutorial on making envelope pillows for a better description of sewing the back of an envelope pillow.  I used a decorative stitch in a red contrasting thread.


Once you are done with the back pieces, pin them to the front cover with the WRONG sides facing.  You are going to make ragged edges around the pillow.  Sew all the way around the pillow, attaching the front to the back.  This is what the front will look like after all the seams are in place.


Time to "rag" the seam allowances.  I recommend using a spring-loaded snipper scissors in order to save your hands, but you can use any pair of scissors.  Make little perpendicular cuts into the seam allowance on every seam on the front of the pillow, including the side seams and around the heart.  Be careful not to cut the seam itself.  Where the seams intersect, be sure to cut parallel to the seam so any seam allowances that have been sewed down are free.  This is what the front of the pillow will look like "ragged":


Run the pillowcase through the wash to get the rag effect really going.  Then insert your pillow form in the back.


Enjoy!

cindy