Let’s say you had no interest in sewing until you were 26 years old and living 3,000 miles away from your expert seamstress mother. Let’s say the first time you actually attempted to thread a sewing machine is after your partner buys you a top-of-the-line sewing machine for Christmas. And let’s say that you tend to be overambitious in projects because “the Internet has tutorials for everyone!”
Oh, that’s just me?
That is the exact scenario I faced when I decided what our apartment needed most in the world were giant chevron floor pillows.
And scour the Internet for sewing tutorials, I did, but most sewing tutorials are made for people who already know how to sew. They refer to mystical things such as seam allowances, fat quarters and mock boxing.
Maybe someone smarter than me would know what all those terms meant, but I did not. And being forced to stop reading the tutorial and Google some sewing term every five minutes made me scrap the whole Internet and just make these without any guidance. I don’t really recommend that either.
As I worked on these pillows, I vowed to make my sewing tutorials more user-friendly. If you’ve never sewed before, NO BIG DEAL, we welcome you with open arms here at Oven Lovin’. If you have sewed before and know, for example, what the heck a welt is, more power to you. You can probably also read non-sewing English, so you’re allowed to stay too.
Anyway, I’ve been wanting to make these brightly colored box-shaped floor pillows ever since A.J. gave me my sewing machine. My mom has often told me about floor pillows she made when she was young and poor (oh, hello, that matches you, too?) and how everyone loved them and how she would take them with her every time she moved, until one tragic moving day when one of the pillows flew out of the back of her pickup truck and was gone forever.
I like to think someone found it, admired her workwomanship and gave the pillow a nice new home.
While I was visiting home for Christmas I bought this beautiful thick cotton fabric on Amazon. It was $8.50/yard with free shipping after spending $30 or more.
To make these 30-by-30-inch wide and 6-inch deep pillows, I needed two yards of the 54-inch-wide fabric that I planned to use for the top and bottom of the pillows. (Also, 45-inch-wide fabric, another industry standard, is fine, too.) I also needed one yard of the fabric intended to be the sides of the pillows.
When fabric is cut from the bolt, it’s not always straight across. When my fabric arrived, I measured everything out before I realized that my edges were off by, like, two inches.
To “square up the fabric,” you fold the fabric in half and line the two edges together (called selvedges). Then you shift the two layers of fabric (at the selvedges) in opposite directions horizontally until the fold at the bottom of your fabric is lying flat. Then you just fold the fabric in the opposite direction and use a straight edge to either draw a straight line and cut, or a rotary cutter and cutting mat.
For a better explanation of squaring fabric with pictures, see Living with Punks’ tutorial.
Once I squared all four pieces of fabric, I cut out the pieces. For each pillow, I needed:
- two 31-by-31-inch squares
- four 7-by-31-inch rectangles
I used 1/2-inch seam allowances, which means that I added an extra inch to what I wanted the final dimension to be (30 by 30 by 6 inches) to allow me to sew the seams 1/2-inch from each edge.
To make the big squares, I measured and cut out the first one by using a pencil, ruler and scissors.
Then I pinned that square to the other fabric to cut out the next three squares. (Remember I was making two pillows.)
I used the same method to cut the rectangles (measuring out the first one, and then pinning it to the additional fabric to cut.
Now that I had all my fabric pieces measured and cut (seriously the longest part), I was ready to start sewing.
So you sew inside out, so the edges of the seams are on the inside of the piece. That means you put the two outside sides together and sew on the inside.
I sewed one rectangle to one side of the square. Because I’m still a new sewer, I drew a line where the seam should go, 1/2-inch away from the edge.
I pinned pretty far away, so I didn’t have to remove the pins while I ran the fabric through the machine.
My squares didn’t perfectly match up (my measuring was clearly flawed), but this didn’t do much to ruin the final product, so don’t be scared if yours don’t match up either.
I did the same all the way around, so each side of the square had a rectangle attached.
Once I had all four rectangles sewed onto one big square, I lined up the second square with the outside edge of one of the rectangles. In the picture below, my untouched square in on the bottom, while the square with the rectangles already attached is on top.
Then I refolded the fabric to match up the opposite side of my second square to the opposite rectangle, creating a big loop.
Then I lined up the other two sides and sewed those shut, so now only the four corners were open on the diagonal. (Grayson helped!)
I lined up and pinned the corner pieces (so I was sewing two sides of the rectangles together) for three out of four of the sides. (You want to leave one side open so you can stuff the pillow.
I chose to fill my pillows with poly-fill stuffing. I needed a little more than five pounds of stuffing for each pillow. (For me, that was 3 1/2 24-ounce bags.)
Stuffing is a little expensive, but I got my bags 50 percent off at Joann Fabrics during a sale.
So I stuffed the pillows, through my one open edge, flattening and evening them out as I went. When it was as stuffed as I wanted, I hand-sewed the last corner. I folded the edges in, and pinned them together before sewing.
Each pillow took me about 3 1/2 hours from start to finish and cost about $35 to make.
(Note: I bought the materials for these products on my own. I did not receive any compensation from anyone for this post. But if you chose to buy some or all of the products linked above, I’ll receive a tiny kickback though the Amazon Associates program for bringing them to your attention.)