More Home Sewing: Throw Pillows

We’ve been in the process of freshening up our living room. Aidan ordered some new slipcovers for our sad couches and we went out and bought some new “art” (not sure you can call it that if you buy it from Marshall’s) to hang on the walls. Our old throw pillows were basically beaten to a pulp. But even if they were in better shape, they didn’t match the new slipcovers at all. We looked at throw pillows at Target and at TJ Maxx, but the options were truly terrible. They either weren’t in the color we wanted or had terrible embellishments or were made in that satin-y kind of fabric that is seriously the worst possible fabric to have anywhere near cat paws. 

So we put my new sewing skills to work once again and bought some fabric and some new pillow forms from JoAnn’s to make our own throw pillows. We picked out the brown and green stripe pattern for the fronts of the pillows and found a coordinating green for the backs. Both fabrics are decor-weight cottons that were really easy to work with and that will stand up nicely to our many cats.

To make these, I followed the same procedure I used to make the fleece cat bed I posted about awhile ago. I just followed the steps outlined in this video for making an envelope-style pillow case. The pillow forms we bought were 16″ square. I cut the fronts of the pillow to be 16″x16″ and then cut the back pieces 16″x10″. As Dana says in the video, cutting the fabric the same dimensions as the pillow form makes the resulting pillow case fit nice and snug. I sewed all four pillows assembly-line style, which was a little tedious but relatively quick. I did all the work for these in a single afternoon.

Most of the throw pillows we looked at in stores were somewhere around $20-$30 a piece. And that’s for fabric our cats would shred apart. We lucked out and got the pillow forms for 50% off at JoAnn’s, and we managed to get the striped fabric at the discounted remnant price. That, combined with JoAnn’s bizarro coupon system, meant that we walked out of the store with everything we needed to make four throw pillows for $50. 

Of course, right after I finished these, a blog post popped up in my Feedly about adding piping to the edges of pillows. Why didn’t I think of that? Next time.

Some Home Sewing (and a New Machine!)

I decided it was time to be done with my old, crappy sewing machine and so I went ahead and bought a new one: a Janome DC 2013. There are lots of things that I like about my new machine. It has a speed control function that makes it easy to moderate how fast the machine sews. It has a nice wide workspace and an up/down needle function. The machine has some different stitch options that will be especially helpful for working with knits, and it came with a walking foot. And it’s so much quieter than my previous clunker. Janome has been releasing a new DC model every year for the past couple of year and the DC 2013 is basically the same as the DC 2012 and the newer DC 2014—they have the same features and most vendors even sell them for the same price. So I did the only rational thing and made my decision based on which color I preferred.

Janome DC 2013

Before this, I’d only ever sewn on a $100 cheapo mechanical machine so this new machine is a revelation. It turns out that having a good machine that makes a straight stitch and doesn’t continually experience impossible tension problems makes all the difference. Suddenly, everything seems possible, and I’m excited to sew. I’ve resumed work on my January sewing project and am hoping to get it done pretty soon. In the meantime, I knocked out a couple of quick home sewing projects on Saturday to let me get acquainted with my new machine.

First up was a table runner (which, of course, is just a glorified rectangle). Aidan and I picked out this vintage-ish looking quilting cotton print from JoAnn’s, and I basically cut two very long rectangles, sewed them right-sides together, turned it inside out and then top-stitched the edges. The up/down needle function on the machine was really helpful as I turned the corners on this. The final dimensions on this are about 15”x 68”. It turned out a little long and depending on how much it bothers me, I might go back and shorten it a bit. We’ll see.

After that, I made a cat bed. And by cat bed, I mean that I made a pillow case out of fleece fabric (also from JoAnn’s), put it on an old pillow we had lying around, and threw it on the floor for our cats. To make the cover, I basically followed the procedure outlined in this MADE Everyday video for making an envelope-style pillow case. I used a heavy-weight ballpoint needle for this, but otherwise treated the fabric like a woven.

Even though it’s super simple, this project would have been a major pain on my old machine. On previous projects, my old machine would fight me if it had to sew through more than 3 layers of quilting cotton, and I’d have to wrestle just to get thick fabrics under the presser foot. This machine has an extra high foot lift feature that made it easy to get started sewing. At times, I had to sew over 4 layers of fleece and my new machine wasn’t the least bit bothered by the thickness.

We had to sprinkle some cat nip on top of the cat bed before any of our cats were willing to give it the time of day, but I think it’s officially been given the cat seal of approval.

I have to say that Aidan was the impetus behind both of these projects—he’s the one in our house with an eye for decorating and he’s the one who suggested that I make both of these projects. And now that I have a machine that doesn’t suck and that makes me excited to sew, I can make all of Aidan’s design dreams come true. Onward with the sewing!