Friday, May 11, 2012

Sewing for the Home: Flower Pillow

Feeding Time in the Garden
by Henry John Yeend King, 1855-1924

These flower pillows that are found in stores and catalogs, often made of satin or chiffon, can be quite expensive, and that is one reason I wanted to try my hand at making one.  I used a very soft fleece, and this project took a little more than half a yard. Here is how I did it:

First, I used the largest mixing bowl I owned, (mine is about 15 inches across, but you could easily use a large round pizza pan or cardboard circle from a large store-bought pizza)  and traced a set of circles to cut out.
 One circle is to sew the ruffles on, and the other circle will be the backing. You do not need to be concerned about the right side or wrong side, when using plain fleece, nor does it need to be hemmed or finished on the edges, since it does not unravel.Some fleece fabrics do have a pile, which would have to be on the up- side of the project.

 As you can see in the above picture, I then folded the fabric in half and cut two inch wide strips the length of the folded fabric. Since this was entirely freehand and experimental, I cannot give the exact length or measurements.

 I used the first strip as a pattern, laying it on top the fabric to cut around, until I had cut 5 pieces. Depending on the size of your circle, you may need more, or less of these pieces for the ruffles.

For this pillow, it is not necessary to make the strips of fabric perfectly even or exactly the same size, since it    is supposed to look natural.

Using the sewing machine, hand-gather as you stitch one of the fleece strips on to the round piece, placing the top edges of the ruffle even with the top edge of the circle. 

To hand-gather, just make little folds and tucks that go both left and right, and gently feed the tucks through the presser foot as you move the circle around.  There is no need to use pins for this if you keep an eye on the edge of the fabric to make sure that it is fairly even.

Add another strip inside of that one, covering the previous stitching with the top of the new ruffle. It does not have to be in a perfect circle, as this pillow is supposed to look natural and artistic.

Hand gather the next strip (as you go) and feed it through the machine as you gather. The circle will be smaller this time, so if there is any of the length left, you can continue to sew all around once more, until the space in the circle is completely filled.

Continue to add more pieces of fleece strips until it looks like this, and don't be too fussy about the gathers being uniform.

 Now press all those ruffles toward the middle (with your hand) and place the other circle of fleece on top of them.

Stitch by machine all the way around, being careful to keep the ruffle tucked in toward the middle so it won't catch  in the stitching.

Leave an opening, so you can put your hand in to turn it inside out and put the fiberfill stuffing in it. Just pack it until it is full enough to make a sturdy pillow.
 First sew the circle pieces together, leaving an openning for pulling it inside out, and for stuffing.

After stuffing, Machine stitch the opening closed.

This is what it looks like from the other side, after it is stuffed:

Not all fleece is the same. Be sure to feel it and compare with other types of fleece, before you buy it, if you want a really soft pillow. This one is very soft, and it is not expensive, and generally the thin fleece is the softest.  I bought a yard, with a coupon, and it cost about $5.50, but I only used about half a yard for one pillow.  It took just an hour to cut it out and sew.  

This decorator pillow is durable and can be used every day on your couch or chair to add beauty and comfort,  and if the ruffles and the opening are all stitched well,  it should survive the washer and dyer.

 There are possibly other methods for sewing something like this. For an easier pillow, try cutting circles in graduated sizes and sewing one on top the other, largest to smallest, to see if you can get a similar petal effect. Imagine how pretty this would look in yellow, blue, purple, or white. Fleece also comes in variegated colors, which might be very interesting to work with.

Here is another half yard of fabric I got to make two more pillows. It comes in an off-white color also. Both are fleece and have roses already woven into the pile. I'm just going to make two square pillows out of this, which I'll post pretty soon. 

It too, is fleece, but it does shred, unlike the fabric on the rose pillow, so I will be using a straight stitch and then a zig-zag to secure the edges. I'll just be making two rectangular pillows from this half-yard, and the cost will be just a fraction of the store-bought pillows, since I only got half a yard and used a half-price coupon. 

Anyone is welcome to use these ideas in this post for making things to sell.

I'm  linking to Beverly's Pink Saturday so you can see all the creative things other people are doing.


Finding Joy said...

Very clever, it is always worth having a close look at things in the stores and see if you can make it yourself, on most occasions you can. I can imagine it being very soft.

Anonymous said...

This is lovely. I had also wanted to make one of these pillows since seeing them in the store. I am going to give it a try this summer. Thank you for your directions and helping homemakers make their homes beautiful. Alissa

Katrinka said...

I've been sewing for over 40 years and it never occurred to me to gather a ruffle in this way... I've always done the basting stitch and pull up the threads and line it up with the cut edge and then pin and stitch. But this pillow turned out lovely and done so quickly! Really pretty!

And I'm understanding you didn't have to stuff it with any filling? Just the ruffles add the fullness?

Tobi Britton* said...

Wow! Maybe someday I will attempt this- I am more likely to do it with a gluegun! LOL only kidding- YES i AM that lazy!
Hope you have a Happy Mother's Day and Pink Saturday as well! It was nice visiting you!
Sparkly Hugs,
Tobi and the Pixies!

Rightthinker said...

What a wonderful project! My darling daughters would love those as pretty reading pillows!

LV said...

Your talent and creative ability really came out in these pillows. Well done.

Lydia said...

Oops--I left out the stuffing photo! You do have to stuff it like a normal pillow, and sew up the openning.

Lydia said...

Yes, the usual procedure is to put a long, running stitch through the ruffles and then pull up the stitches to gather, and pin it all down and stitch it to the cloth. But this time I wanted to make it quickly and see how it would turn out. Still, I think it is more for advanced sewers who are familiar with the sewing machine enough to maneuver the piece til it is all sewn.

Anonymous said...

The 'headline' painting is breathtaking!
Your pillow is just as amazing as can be....
Lynn M

Anonymous said...

also love the lady and daughter (?) feeding their sweet cats...and the old house, flowers, etc. Very peaceful scene.
Lynn M

Lydia said...

I had trouble making the new header because of the size of the painting. If you scroll right-to-left at the bottom bar of your screen, you can see the title and the writing, on the right.

Lydia said...

Tobi Britton: You probably COULD do this with a glue gun quite successfully.

RobinfromCA said...

Really lovely and much more economical than the store bought versions!
Your header is gorgeous! I've been having trouble getting things to fit with this new blogger layout. It's all trial and error!
Have a lovely weekend!

Katrinka said...

I REALLY love the fabric with the roses already in the fabric! Yum!

The Tablescaper said...

Happy Mother's Day. It would be wonderful to be a part of Seasonal Sundays. You might be interested in my $100.00 Give Away.

- The Tablescaper

Gayle said...

Thank you so much for posting this great tutorial.I love all of your crafts,and you always inspire me.And I can't wait to see the other pillows.

Ginger said...

fun project

Barbara Neubeck said...

Hi LadyLydia,
Lovely pillow and clear instructions...Thank you for showing us your design.
Have a good week
God Bless
Barb from Australia

Trish said...

Lydia, your pillow is very lovely!
So soft and pretty.
Thanks for the easy to understand tutorial.