Wednesday, 27 February 2013

how to make a pillow {part 1}

how to make a pillow {part 1}



Before I start talking about the finishing of a pillow I think it's a good idea to start with the front of the pillow. This is the most important piece, it's the side you'll look at after all. If you were going to plant a tree in your yard, you'd make sure the ground was properly prepared first, right? Well, that's what you need to do here. A pillow might be a nice quick project, but there's nothing wrong in making sure you have the best foundations before you start.

You've made a patchwork piece - whether it's using up an old quilt block like this that Jane quilted beautifully for me (thank you Jane!)

pillow front


Or you have specifically made yourself a perfect pillow front, and you need to turn it into something quilted and ready to add a back to.


My ingredients list for a great pillow front are as follows;

  • fusible fleece - whether it's pellon, vilene, or heat n bond (or any other make that I haven't used) this stuff is amazing for pillows. It's a polyester fleece, so it doesn't shrink - which is great for pillows because although a quilt looks beautiful all wrinkled up and vintagey with a shrink on the first wash, a pillow can just look like it needs a good press when it's wrinkled. On one side of the fleece there's a fusible resin (it feels rough) that when pressed adheres to the fabric and means you don't need to baste. It's a permanent fix (the resin doesn't wash out) - so it also means you don't have to quilt as heavily (if at all) if you prefer. It adds body without being stiff. I also don't use a lining inside my pillows when I'm using fusible fleece - that might be a little lazy, but the fleece side of the fusible fleece works a treat - it doesn't pill or go tatty in the wash. 

fusible fleece


  • If you don't have any fusible fleece or you would prefer to use some batting, a low or mid loft  batting is best. Something reasonably thin and lightweight. I use cotton battings in my quilts, so that's what I have on hand at home and that'll be what I use in my pillows if I don't have time to wait for the post to bring me more fusible fleece. It will shrink, so I do find I'm pressing my pillows quite well after I wash them. If I was shopping for batting specifically I would buy a cotton/poly mix or a poly like this pellon legacy batting below or quilter's dream (select weight is classed as mid loft, but it's still nice and thin, like a 1/8" loft).
pellon batting


  • 505 spray baste. If you don't have any of this or have never used it before, then go out right now and buy some. I struggle with spray basting quilts bigger than baby size, that is probably more to do with the cats and the dog trying to get in on the action, but for pillows it's amazing. You simple lay the backing (lining) on the floor (you need a tiled floor, or do it outside - not on carpet or polished wood), lay the batting and the pillow front on top (like a regular quilt sandwich) and fold half of the pillow front and batting up out of the way. Spray, then gently smooth the folded bits backdown, spin around and do the other side. Then repeat for the patchwork top/pillow front - fold back halfway, spray, fold back down and smooth, spin round and do the other side. See the pictures below for reference.
spray baste 505


spray basting

  • Frixion pens for marking quilting lines (available at staples and other stationary stores for less than you'll find them at quilt stores, often on sale and in multi packs with multiple colours). Whether I use spray baste and regular batting, or fusible fleece, I mark my pillows for quilting after I've basted. If I was to use pins, I'd do it before. I am pretty crappy at quilting, I don't enjoy it much and I cannot for the life of me free motion quilt to a standard that I am happy with, so I quilt straight lines. Sometimes I like the lines to be a little more 'organic' and wonky, but I always start with a few marked guidelines, to help me out. The frixion pen ink disappears when you iron it. Completely. Some people mention a faint ghost line remaining, I have tried pretty much every colour and on every colour of fabric and I've never once had a problem with that. I'm not saying it doesn't happen - I'm just saying I've never experienced it so I can't show you an example. I do, however, test on my fabrics before using them - just to be safe.
frixion pen

  • A good quality thread for quilting. For pillows I like quite dense quilting. It help give the pillow a more structured look and they sit up better with a lot of quilting. I use aurifil 50 wt cotton thread (the orange spool), because that's what I use for everything - hand piecing, machine piecing and machine quilting. I'm not bothered about having a whole selection of different weight threads for different projects, I just want a thread I know my machine likes and I can rely on to work. 50 wt is a really fine thread and you don't see the stitches as heavily as you would if you used a heavier thread. You see the quilting texture instead. For me and my not so great quilting skills, this works best. If I was better at quilting maybe I'd like to see my stitches more? (US stockists include pink castle fabrics  and fat quarter shop and UK stockists include the village haberdashery and m is for make
Quilting thread

So those are my go to pillow prep basics. I'd love to hear what yours are, or if you have any tips you'd like to share with preparing the pillow front.

Next week in {part 2} of how to make a pillow we'll look at the most basic of pillow opening - the envelope back. 

Monday, 25 February 2013

back to school

Last week was half term and I was pretty unproductive, this week the kids are back at school and I'm raring to go. It's also my lovely husbeast's 40th birthday today. 40. Crikey. How'd that happen? So we're off for dinner with the family tonight (we don't go in for parties much, either of us)

I've posted on the Sizzix blog, so go and check that out and let me know if I can answer any Sizzix related questions or help you out with anything.

This stack of beauties from the sale section at Pink Castle Fabrics is going to be binding by the end of the day. Oh yes it is.

bindings in progress

Now, please excuse me - I have sewing to do in the delightful peace and quiet now that those kids have gone back to school.

(ps - I've had it with spam comments, so I've set comments to registered users only. You don't need a blog, just some kind of account whether it's open ID, blogger, wordpress etc etc. We'll see how that works.)

Sunday, 24 February 2013

what's new, British pussycat?

Before I start on the good stuff, I want to let you know that I've turned moderated comments on. The amount of spam comments I'm getting is ridiculous, and the spam filter isn't even managing to detect half of them. I don't want to use the word verification function, because I can never read those words/numbers. This way seems like the most sensible option, and I can moderate the comments as they come in.

Ok, so that's your public service announcement for the day, what about the fabric?
Annie at the village haberdashery has had a delivery of Tsuru, by Rashida Coleman Hale for Cloud 9.


Not fabric, but a lot of cute in a tiny package is this mini tapestry kit. It's just a few inches, it's utterly adorable.


Quilter's Dream batting (or wadding, whichever you prefer to call it) is fully re-stocked. There's all kinds to choose from, to suit your preferred loft and fibre. I like this request weight cotton. It's the thinnest, lightest loft.


Justine at Simply Solids has added a clearance section to the website, with up to 60% off random lines and pre-cuts.

There's also a 10% discount on anything (except gift vouchers) using the code cheeky10 that's valid until March 1st.

Honey Honey pre-cuts are in stock



and this great tape for sticking together odd bits of leftover wadding. It really is fab, I love this stuff.


Valentine's Day may be over, but romance is always in the air at Sew and Quilt

This bundle of red fabrics is just love tied up with a ribbon. It even makes me go all mushy and sentimental.



The pink bundle is just as sweet.



Over at M is For Make, Tsuru is also in stock now.

Again, it's gorgeous.

Look at this lovely print. So delicate, and pretty. I said it before, I'll say it again - it's a lovely collection.


Other newbies include the bundles Kate made up last week.

This bundle (including Luxe in Bloom) is just fab.


Alice at Backstitch has charcoal sketch back in stock


and my other favourite, white black. Partly because it has such a state the obvious name.


I'm thinking of trying out this natural seeded klona instead of a normal solid in a quilt. I think the slightly rustic feel will be nice, and I'm interested to see how it washes compared to other klona (which washes beautifully)



Over at Eclectic Maker this bundle of Mind Your Ps and Qs from Keiki for Moda caught my eye.



Isn't this print cute?


Noteworthy by Sweetwater is in stock too, in pre-cuts and yardage.


For the next few weeks (through March) I'm going to be condensing the What's New posts into one post on a Saturday, because I'm teaching every weekend in March and I have a lot of prep to do for classes and what have you. So, there'll be one post for international pussycats on a Saturday. Hopefully that way I can get all the stuff I need to get done organised without staying up til 3am the night before class!

The first post for the how to make a pillow series is coming this week too. This first post is all about the groundwork - some products and tools I find really useful when making my pillows. You've got to make sure your ground is well dug and fertilised before you plant, don't you? Look out for that coming Wednesday.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

what's new, American pussycat?

This weekend is QuiltCon, and everybody seems to be there. It's ok - we're not jealous. We can go shopping and make ourselves feel better.

Brenda at Pink Castle has some new flannels in stock.

Dotty...



birdies from Erin McMorris....



and Anna Maria....




There's a lot of Japanese prints in the sale -mostly at $14/yard.


I have some of this. I'm hoarding it.


These insects from Echino are lovely...


The $5/yard section is full of good stuff

It's a great way to stock up on some basics to stash build - especially at just $2.50/half yard.




Brenda also has the Ziggy chevrons and color me retro in stock - which co-ordinate so well (like in my pillow below)

color me retro pillow

At Fat Quarter Shop, Ellen Luckett Baker's Quilt Blocks is on sale with 40% off. This line didn't sell anywhere near as well as it should have done, it was (and still is) one of my favourite lines in recent years.




Woodland Pals by Ann Kelle for Kaufman is in. Loving that Racoon with his bandit mask.


and Print and Pattern's latest collection - The Circus. Both of these collections are great to have on stand by for baby gifts - gender neutral and fun prints.


Coming soon - not yet, but soon....


Isn't that a great looking new extra wide? Does that make me very excited? Yes it does. You can sign up to be notified when it's in stock. At $15.99 a yard it's really well priced too.

I'm currently really low/pretty much all out of text prints on light backgrounds. Shopping needs to happen this weekend, without fail.

Luckily, Sew Me A Song is always prepared for such emergencies.

I could get this bundle....


or this one...





or this one....


or this one maybe?


Sew Fresh Fabrics was pretty much cleaned out of that spools print I posted last week. I think there were a lot of you that got as excited by it as me!

This week I'm loving on this Alexander Henry print


the other 2 prints in the collection are great too.



I'm going to show this again, because I love it so much.



and the pattern print too.


Lola Pink Fabrics has had a delivery of Tsuru.

So many great prints in this collection. SO many.





As always with Lola Pink, you buy more and save - there's a discount when you buy 3 yards or more. And their prices are always great to start with.


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