Friday, November 6, 2020

Tutorial: Pillow with Lapped Zipper Closure and Machine Binding

This is my favorite pillow closure - super easy and looks great too!

I've been using this method ever since I discovered Sew Inspired's tutorial.

I'm just not a fan of envelope closures; they look kind of sloppy and don't keep a good form, but many people assume that it's the easiest option.  However, this method is almost as easy and gives much better results!

 I love adding a machine stitched binding for the final touch.  :)

If you want to make a simple pillow out of decorator fabric, this method works well also; just sew your pillow right sides together and skip the binding part.

OK, here goes!

Supplies needed:

Prepared pillow top
Backing fabric: 1/2" wider and 3-1/2" higher than your prepared pillow top
Interfacing (if using quilting cotton): slightly smaller than backing fabric (I like Pellon Shape Flex 101.)
Zipper:  standard dressmaking zipper at least 1" longer than width of pillow
Binding strips:  2" wide x circumference of pillow plus 5"

If you are starting with a pillow form and want to make a pillow to cover it, cut your pillow top the same size as your pillow form.  If you stitch the front and back together with a 1/4" to 1/2" seam,  you'll have a nicely filled pillow.

First, prep your pillow top and square it up.  If I have machine quilted the top, I like to seal the edges of the machine quilting by stitching 1/8" from the edges.

Cut the backing fabric about 1/2" wider and 3-1/2" higher than your prepped pillow top.  This will allow for shrinkage when fusing the interfacing.

If I'm using quilting cotton for the backing fabric, I like to interface it with Pellon fusible Shape Flex 101. It gives quilting cotton the heft and feel of decorator weight fabric.  It's a little pricey, but I usually buy it by the bolt from JoAnn's when I have a 60% off coupon.

Cut the interfacing slightly smaller than your backing fabric and fuse according to manufacturer's instructions.  A damp press cloth is helpful.  Be sure to fuse for the full amount of time recommended by the manufacturer!

Now, slice 6-1/2" off the narrower edge.  (This will be the top of your pillow back.)

Choose a zipper that is long enough so that the zipper pull and metal stop extend past the sides.  This way you won't have to worry about your needle hitting any metal parts, resulting in breaking a needle or messing up the timing on your machine.  And, the zipper pull will be off to the side and won't require you to slide it out of the way.

Center the zipper right side down on the narrower top piece of the pillow back with the zipper tab to your left; line up the edge of the zipper tape with the edge of the fabric and clip in place with Clover Wonder Clips.

You will be stitching the zipper in place with a zipper foot.  
(OK, don't start sweating just because I mentioned zipper foot - it's easy, I promise!!)

This is what the Bernina zipper foot #4 looks like.

You will need to move the needle the whole way over to the left; otherwise your needle will hit the foot and break the needle.  (Ask me how I know - I am always breaking needles because I forget to do this, or because I forget to move it back to the center when I've switched back to my patchwork foot!)
***Be sure to use the brand of needles your dealer recommends for your machine.  I always use Schmetz needles with my Bernina because they break easily vs. bending and are less likely to damage my machine.

Use the left needle position button and keep pushing it until the needle is the whole way over to the left.

This is what the screen will show when the needle is in the correct position.

To stitch, line up the right edge of the foot with the zipper tape/edge of the fabric.

If you carefully line up the foot when you stitch, you'll have a perfect 1/4" seam!

Now fold the fabric back, wrong sides together, leaving a "flap" over the right side of the zipper, about 1" wide.  I usually simply eyeball this part.

Position your pins as shown in the picture to make it easy to remove them as you are stitching.

Again, stitch the zipper just like before, lining the edge of zipper foot along the edge of zipper tape.  You are basically stitching on top of the previous line of stitching.

This is what the right side should look like.  You've created a lovely zipper flap!

Fold the flap back out of the way and pin.

With right sides together, lay the unstitched edge of the zipper along the top edge of the bottom piece of backing fabric, making sure the sides of the backing are even.  Clip in place.

Again, stitch the zipper in place with your zipper foot.

Remove your zipper foot and replace it with a 1/4" patchwork foot.  
***Make sure you move your needle back to the center position.  You can simply press the clear button, or  move it back by pressing the right needle position button.

Topstitch by lining the right edge of the patchwork foot along the zipper teeth, as shown in the photo above,

Look at the lovely topstitch that results!

Slide zipper tab in,

and stitch across each end of zipper closure...

... to prevent accidentally sliding the zipper tab off the teeth.
You want to avoid doing that at all costs!!

If you want to add a label, be sure to stitch it on now.

I love adding my labels to anything and everything I stitch!  I get mine from Dutch Label Shop.  They are really reasonable and have tons of options.

Now you can lay your back next to your top and slide it up and down to decide where you would like to place the closure.   The excess fabric length gives you that option no matter what size pillow you are stitching.

I forgot to take a picture of the next step, but place wrong sides together, centering the pillow top side to side and positioning the zipper closure where you would like; pin.

Stitch 1/8" from the pillow top edge along all four sides.
You may want to use a walking foot or dual feed instead of your 1/4" patchwork foot at this point to prevent shifting.

Trim the excess backing fabric and zipper ends even with the pillow top.
I have a separate rotary cutter I use for trimming zippers so that I don't dull the blade.

Now it's time to stitch the binding!

(If you are skipping the binding, then open up the zipper, place right sides together, stitch a 1/4" - 1/2" seam, and turn right side out.
Viola, you're done!)


Stitch binding to the front using a walking foot or dual feed and a 1/4" seam.

Wrap binding around to the back and glue baste in place with Roxanne's Glue-Baste-It, just covering the machine stitching line.  Use a dry iron to heat set and speed up the drying time.
This is the secret to perfectly topstitched binding!

Top stitch from the front.  I usually move my needle over to the left 2-3 notches when using my walking foot to make it easier to stitch close to the edge.  If you were precise with your glue basting, your stitching will look just as good on the back as it does on the front!

Congratulations, you did it!!  Insert a pillow form and admire your creation!  :)
Be sure to use a pillow form that is the same size or slightly larger so that you don't end up with a wimpy, unstuffed pillow.

If your pillow top isn't a standard size, this handout will walk you through how to make a custom pillow form.

I often refer students to this two-part tutorial by Canoe Ridge Creations for more detailed instructions on binding.  

I usually cut my binding strips 2-1/4" for quilts, but I prefer 2" for pillows and mini wall hangings.  
Also, I always hand stitch the binding on my quilts, but I like the look of topstitched binding for pillows.

Care to climb down the pillow-making hole with me?!  I can't stop making pillows....


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show Comes to Andrea's Backyard!

I would have been in Oregon this past weekend for the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show if circumstances all over the world were different....

I so was heartbroken to learn that the annual show was to be canceled.  I have attended every year for the past five years and can't even put into words what that event does for my soul....  It's the most amazing thing I've ever been part of!  And, unless you've experienced it, it's hard to describe it in a way that gives it even an ounce of justice.

Just like you, I've experienced one thing after another being canceled this year, to the point where there was next to nothing left to look forward to anymore.  It was so disheartening!!

I knew for my own sake I needed to do something special the day of the show, but what??  What could possibly fill the void left by the Sisters show?  And what could console me knowing that no pilgrimage to Oregon would happen this summer??

And so the idea of a Sisters-inspired quilt show in my very own backyard came to mind. 

During quarantine I photographed a number of quilts in my backyard and gained a new appreciation for it.  I could envision my quilts hanging around the yard and from the house, just like out at Sisters.

But, I think "Covid brain" had shut me down a bit, and I just couldn't make up my mind as to whether or not I wanted to take the plunge and proceed.  July weather in PA is so iffy, so I knew I would have to have a rain date.  For whatever reason, I kept dragging my feet and couldn't seem to come to a conclusion.  But finally Thursday came, and I knew I couldn't wait any longer to make a decision.  Bottom line, deep down I knew I would regret it if I didn't move forward.  And so I did.  I really wanted to do the event on Saturday, the day of the actual Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, but the weather forecast was calling for thunderstorms.  So, it would have to be Sunday, and that would have to do.  On Thursday morning I posted a notice on Facebook and trusted that whoever was to be there would see the invitation and come.  And they did!

I soooo enjoyed getting ready for the event; it was exactly what my soul needed.  It gave me the motivation to get my garden beds weeded, and spread the pile of mulch that had been sitting in my driveway for a month.  I love entertaining, but really haven't done any kind of hosting, especially outside, in the longest time, so I was way overdue.

Sunday dawned just beautiful!  The weather forecast looked perfect.  The blue sky, low humidity, Shasta daisies, and my neighbor's stepladder and assistance in hanging a few quilts reminded me of Sisters.  My heart was full, yet ached at the same time.

I gathered and arranged flowers, made freshly-squeezed lemonade, and had fun attending to the final preparations.  

I had baked and packaged Fresh Mint Shortbread Cookies the night before.

As I was hanging the remaining quilts, the skies looked a bit threatening, but I wasn't concerned since  there was no rain in the forecast.  I continued on.  As the skies grew more omnious, I checked the weather forecast, but everything still looked just fine for my area.  I figured the rain would go around us, like it often does.

At 5:00 (the event was to start at 6:00), a friend called and said, "It's pouring here!!!"  I checked the weather forecast one more time, and it had totally changed!!!  Not only was it to thunderstorm, it was to rain the rest of the evening!  What in the world??!!

I stood in the doorway looking at the downpour that was now happening, totally dumbfounded!
What do I do?!

I figured that since all the quilts were hung, we may as well proceed, that is if the guests would even show up.  Everything was soaked, except for the two quilts hanging on the back of the house. 

My lovely Flower Girl quilt was so water logged that it fell down.  We ended up throwing it over a stepladder to display it.

My Pixelated Sunflower quilt top was totally drenched, and mulch has splashed up on the bottom of it.

And, my Kaffe quilt was sopping wet and hanging limply....

But, the most amazing thing was that just about everyone showed up!!
Not only did they show up, but they were such good sports too!

I had a pile of quilts sitting on my living room sofa that were begging to be seen, but I opted to show just a few during the break in the rain.

This Buds in a Basket quilt has a special place in my heart since I had seen it at the show on my first trip to Sisters, and knew I had to make one for myself.

The event was also a fundraiser, benefitting The Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show and the Elizabethtown Fair, two organizations dear to my heart.  $250.00 was raised, thanks to the good-hearted attendees.

I'm still bummed that I wasn't able to do arrange the refreshments on the patio like I had envisioned,  pile a large stack of quilts on the table and share them, or place flower bouquets here and there.  
And, I was so disappointed that my guests didn't get to experience the beautiful evening light in my backyard; it is truly magical at that time of the day.

BUT, I am so, so grateful that it actually happened!
I would have been heartbroken otherwise.

Had I known it was to rain, the show never would have happened.   Sometimes there are very good reasons why certain details aren't revealed in a timely fashion!

The damage to my beloved quilts?  They survived just fine.  I'll do a separate post on how we rescued the wet quilts!

Thanks to everyone who pitched in and helped out, especially Michele for taking pictures in the rain.
Enjoy the rest of the pictures!