I mentioned before that they were a recent gift for boyfriend and a way of testing something I've never tried before -- beginner applique. I knew boyfriend wouldn't mind -- or probably even notice -- if they weren't perfect, so it was a great little test run. Here are the supplies I used...
*Neutral/Tile colored fabric for the pillows -- how much depends on the size you want to make. My pillow forms were 16"x16" so each of my pillow fronts and backs needed to be 17"x17", using a 1/2" seam allowance
*Black Fabric -- for two pillows, a 1/4 of a yard was plenty
*Zipper -- I used 12" because it's what I had on hand
*Heat 'n Bond
*Computer/Printer for letter design
*Coordinating Thread for pillows and letters
*All your other sewing goodies -- rotary cutter/scissors, cutting mat, clear ruler, etc.
I started by printing out my letters. I work best in PowerPoint so I just typed the letter I wanted and it's corresponding point value and re-sized until it was the height I desired. You can see from the picture below, mine were about 9"-10" tall by how much of the page they take up. You don't have to worry about placement of letters and numbers because you can arrange those on the fabric later.
A note about printing: If it's possible, print the mirror image of the letter because it will make things easier in the next step. I could not find that setting on the three printers I tried -- home, and 2 work -- so I just had to get a little inventive.
Once you have the letters and numbers printed out, it's time to trace them onto the heat 'n bond. When tracing them, you want them to appear backwards, so if you've printed out the mirror image, it will be as simple as tracing your printout onto the rough side of the heat 'n bond. If not, you'll need to use lamp and glass or a window so you can flip your letter over and trace it onto the rough side of the heat 'n bond backwards. I used a lamp with a piece of glass over the top. Just be sure to trace quickly or pick up the glass every couple minutes so you don't initiate the 'heat' process too early :)
After you've traced them, roughly cut out each letter and number. Then you want to place them -- still facing backwards -- onto the wrong side of your fabric. Peel off the back side and press them into place.
Once they're fused to the fabric, and cooled for a minute or two, cut them out following your tracing lines. Now you can flip them over and the black fabric should be facing you and reads correctly, but still have paper on one side, which is now the backside.
Set your letters aside for a minute and cut 2 pieces of your tile colored fabric to the desired pillow size -- remembering to add 1" for your seam allowance. Now grab one piece for the front and arrange your letter and number how you want. I used my clear ruler to help me center the letters and make sure they didn't appear wonky.
Once they're in place, peel off the paper on the backside and press to permanently adhere them.
You could stop here and go on to make your pillows, or choose to stitch/applique the letters. I chose to do a zig-zag stitch around the edges of the letters and a straight stitch on the numbers since they were pretty small. Here are the settings I used for the zig-zag stitch.
This was the new part for me and I wanted practice following different shapes. I had an easier time with the 'Q' than the 'A' but it could have been because it was second. I discovered that when starting, it's best to place your needle down just on the outside of the black letter and in the tile fabric. This is also true when pivoting around a corner or curve. If you keep it close to the letter but just on the outside, the stitch looked more professional. You can see below that I started at the top with my needle in the letter and the thread carried too far into the tile, making it look uneven and kind of 'hairy'. By the time I got to the inside of the 'A' I had learned from that mistake and the majority of my stitching is on the black fabric.
Once you've made it around each letter and number, the fronts are done and you can move on to assembling your pillow however you choose. I decided to use zippers, but you could make a simple envelop back as well. Also, since mine was a test run for another project and not adequately planned for, I didn't have enough fabric for my pillow backs. Luckily, I had something similar in color that ended up dressing the pillows up a bit.
Add your pillow form or stuffing, and you're all done!
If they're gifts, better wrap them quickly before someone else falls in love :) Maybe I'll have to make an 'S' pillow for little Shi one day...
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