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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Quilt As You Go Patriotic Pillow

I've always wanted to do more quilting, but I'm pretty intimidated by the big projects.  I recently discovered an easier way to learn a little quilting by making pillow covers.  This technique is called "quilt as you go."  In the context of a pillow, all you need is a piece of batting the size of the pillow form and some scraps.  I made two pillows, but like most things, the second is better technique than the first.

Take the batting (here I started with a 14.5" x 14.5").  To keep it easy, all the scrap pieces should be 2" in width.  On this pillow I started out with a bigger center which will quickly get your scraps off center.  In the end, I trimmed this down to 12" x 12" to fit a 12" pillow form.  Sew the center piece on the center of the batting.  (You can find the center by folding the batting twice and then noting the center point.)  Instead of sewing around the perimeter, I used a wavy stitch and "quilted" lines across the center piece.  It's a great chance to try free motion, but I wasn't brave enough for that just yet.

Take your next scrap piece and line it up along the side of the first piece, right sides facing.  Sew a seam onto the first piece, directly onto the batting. Continue to add pieces around (see the diagram below for an order), trimming the length of each piece to match the next side of the quilted portions.  Quilt as you go allows you to do the entire quilt in a single step because you are piecing the quilt directly onto the backing instead of making a quilt top and then quilting the entire piece at once. 

For each piece you attach, immediately add the "quilting."  In these pillows I kept it easy, quilting straight lines parallel to the seam you just sewed.  The spacing doesn't matter as long as it's consistent.  Because the pillow is small, I just used the presser foot on the machine as a guide to line up the stitches.

The quilting lines should not be all in the same direction for each scrap.  Keep the lines parallel to the seam for a more interesting look.  Begin and end each line of stitching on the batting so there is no need to backstitch.  The hardest part is keeping the design square with the batting piece.  The batting provides one side of your pillow cover and if you quilt the pieces off center or not square with the underlying batting, your pillow won't look right.  You can see a little of that in my first pillow.

To keep things interesting, I changed the thread color as I started a new "layer" or "row" of scraps.  Notice the white on the initial inner square and blue thread on the outer layer.  On my first pillow, I used a plain canvas fabric to border the design, but quilted it using wavy lines.  Use whatever you need to as a guide to keep your spacing consistent.  Here I used a piece of blue tape that I readjusted for each row to create a visual guide.

Once you have covered the batting in scraps, you are ready to trim it around the edges. 

The finished cover should be 12" or 12.5" square to make a cover for a 12" pillow form.  The difference in size is a preference based on the fullness of the pillow form and how snug you like it to fit.  This one was 12" square (or 16" square for the pillow with the canvas border).  While I gave instructions on making an envelope pillow here, those instructions were for using one fabric piece.  When making a quilted pillow, you will need two other fabric pieces to form the back of the pillow.  Here is the chart which shows the dimensions for various size envelope pillow covers:

12" square = 12" front and two 9"x 12" back pieces
14" square = 14" front and two 10.5" x 14" back pieces
16" square = 16" front and two 12" x 16" back pieces
18" square = 18" front and two 13.5" x 18" back pieces
20" square = 20" front and two 15" x 20" back pieces

On the back pieces, make a 1" hem on one the longer sides on each of the back pieces.  Then with your quilted front piece face up, layer the two back pieces on top of the quilted front piece, right sides of the fabric facing each other.  The back pieces will overlap.  Sew a 5/8" seam around the 3 pieces.  Here is a finished pillow cover on both sides, inside out.  Notice the quilting stitches on the backside of the batting, which forms the front of the pillow cover.

Turn the pillow cover right side out, insert pillow form, and you're ready to go!


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