Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Message of Hope.

Today I have another pillow tutorial. I LOVE making pillows. They are fast and fun and can generally be made with stuff I already have on hand. This particular pillow was made for my dear sister-in-law who recently found out she had cancer. I wanted to make something for her to let her know I was thinking of her and this battle she has to face. So I stalked her facebook for inspiration and saw that she had posted this photo.

She wrote that she would change the word to 'strong' instead. Wahla! My inspiration. Throw some bold, bright, and fun fabrics together and this is what I came up with.

This is something I hope will be able to constantly remind her of how strong and special she is and that she can beat the crap out of this!

So here is how I made this lil' bit of a pillow. Supplies needed: Printer, Scissors, Fabric Pen, Fabric, Thread, Sewing Machine, Heat n' Bond, Sewing Needle, Button, Poly-fiber fill.
  • First of all, determine the size you want it to be. I wanted a pillow small enough it could go on a sidetable as well as a bed or couch. My dimensions were 12"x17" and I used 1/2" seam allowances. Cut 2 of whatever size you decided to go with.

  • Because this has applique on top we need to do that first before sewing the front and back of our pillow together. To get your lettering you have a couple options, I free handed the "i am" portion of my phrase and found a similar font on my computer, to the one shown in the first picture, for the word "strong". Print your words and cut them out. Lay them on top of one of your pillow pieces. This will help you determine if you have printed them the right size for your project. If you are satisfied with your lettering trace it to the right side of your contrasting fabric using a washable fabric pen. 

  • Next iron your heat n' bond to the wrong side of your contrasting fabric. You want to do this BEFORE you cut out your lettering. To conserve fabric you can cut widely around your lettering and repeat on the heat n' bond.
  • Make sure your fabric and heat n' bond are ironed very well before removing the backing. Remove the backing and you can now cut out your lettering. 

  • Place your lettering on the pillow front. When the pillow is stuffed you will have about 2 inches that will pull towards the back so place your lettering about 2 1/2 inches from the edges of the pillow front.   (the 1/2" is for the seam allowance). I had to learn this from experience, note the "i" was dotted in my first pictures but after realizing how much the pillow pulled back when stuffed I took it off!
  • Iron your lettering in the desired place.
  • Now we can applique using a very tight zig-zag stitch. Centering your needle at the very edge of the first letter, stitch around the letter. Be sure to keep the edge of the letter centered in between your zig-zag stitch so it catches all the raw edges. Stitch completely around the letter. Clip threads and repeat for the next letter.
    • If you used a loopy/cursive font you will not need to lift your needle until you have stitched completely around the whole word. Don't stitch the letters individually.
    • For O's or other round letters turn your fabric slowly, leaving the needle in the down position lift your sewing foot up and make small pivots with the fabric as needed.
    • For points on M's, or other similar letters, leave the needle down lift your sewing foot up and turn your fabric at a 90 degree angle and continue stitching.
    • Complete the inner parts of your letters last. (B's, P's, D's, etc...)
    • And most importantly GO SLOW. I promise the temptation of putting the pedal to the metal is not worth it and will leave you frustrated and unsatisfied with your work. Going slower will help you get a tighter, straighter stitch.
    • If this all just seems too daunting, a top stitch an 1/8" in from your letters edge will suffice as well.

  • My #1 goal lately is to have my insides looking as good as my outsides, do you think I passed on this test? (if you have knots showing or coming through check your tensions and completely re-thread your machine)
  • For the flower cut 1 long strip of your contrasting fabric. My dimensions were 3.5"x44". Fold in half lengthwise, with right sides together, and stitch across one of the short ends. Turn right sides out and press.
  • Using a 1/2" seam allowance, sew a gathering stitch along the long side of the flower. Gather pulling the bottom (or bobbin thread) until your strip is a little more than half the starting length.
  • To pin your flower to the pillow start by taking the short edge that has been sewn together and pin where you would like it to end. Continue pinning the flower in a circle, getting smaller each time you go around making sure your inner circles cover the raw edge and gathering stitch of the circle beneath it. Once you reach the end of your flower strip you can check to see that you have made it the right size. If you need to loosen or gather the flower strip do so now. Once you are satisfied with the fit of the flower UN-pin (yes, un-pin) until you reach the outer circle of the fabric or only one layer is showing. 
    • I found that if you completely pin it in shape before sewing you can make sure it is the right length and don't have to unpick to loosen or tighten your gathers. I figured pin and un-pinning is better than seam ripping!! 
  • Now you can top stitch your outer circle right over your gathering stitch. I actually hand sewed mine after I stuffed the pillow but if I did it again I would use my machine and attach the flower before I put the pillow together, which is why this step is here.
  • Pin the next portion of the circle until you come back around to the un-sewn part. Top-stitch this section down, again right over the gathering stitch. Repeat this process until you have sewn down your entire flower.
  • Next attach your button in the center of your flower. Call me crazy but I LOVE sewing buttons. I love to make the stitching in the back look like 2 little dashes and my X across the top nice and full. It gives me such a sense of accomplishment when my buttons look good. (Now button holes...... that is another story.)
  • Now you can stitch your pillow pieces together. Place the two pieces right sides together, make sure you aren't getting any of your flower edges in the seam. Pin the sides and stitch together using a 1/2" seam allowance. Leave an opening on the bottom edge wide enough for you to put your hand and stuffing in. Use an over-locking stitch  on your seams.

  • Trim off 1/2 of your seam allowance except at your opening. Turn right sides out and press, be sure to press the openings under as well.
  • I top-stitched a narrow stitch around all my edges to give it a more finished look. Feel free to do this or skip it.
  • Stuff your pillow, the fuller the better.
  • If you top-stitched your edges you can simply handstitch across your opening. If you did not top-stitch use a ladder-stitch to close your opening.
  • Voila, badda-bing, or whatever you want to say you got yourself a custom saying pillow!!


  1. I love, love ,love this, you did a terrific job

  2. So cute Elise!!! I really am wanting to make a gray and light yellow chevron something or other. Love the applique & message!!!

  3. LOVE this!! Great job!! What a beautiful gift to give!