Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pillow Shams - Wedding Gifts

Grad school has slowed down my blogging but I am still sewing away! This project was completed in early September. These are pillow shams with embroidery. The center pillow is just a small pillow and the ones with names are cases.


The first step was deciding how large I wanted to make the throw pillows. ALWAYS USE STANDARD MEASUREMENTS FOR CASES IF YOU PLAN TO USE INSERTS!!! Otherwise you will be making your own inserts. Look in craft stores to find out what size inserts are available and make your finished cases 2 inches SMALLER than the inserts you will use. I recommend buying the inserts when you buy your fabric.

I used a linen fabric as the main material because a large weave makes embroidery a bit easier. I initially wanted to cross stitch the names but after playing around with it, I decided simple embroidery would look nicer and be more visible.

I cut one large square for each front of the two larger pillows and then cut two pieces for the back of each sham. The idea is that the two pieces in the back will overlap by 3 inches, which is enough to stuff a pillow insert into the sham. The fabric for the borders overlaps with the large linen square making the whole pillow case more sturdy overall.

Linen frays easily because it has a large weave so I used an overlock stitch on all edges of the linen pieces before sewing any pieces together. I measured the decorative fabric and then pressed the raw edges over about a quarter inch along all of the edges framing the area where I would be embroidering and then sewed them in place.

At this stage, I began the embroidery. I wanted to mimic the striped pattern in the lettering so once i figured out a plan on paper, I penciled in my letters and began stitching.

I used a cheap plastic embroidery hoop to keep my fabric taut while stitching. I used a thickness of 3 strands of embroidery thread for this project. I recommend not tightening the hoop too tight, it should allow some movement in the fabric.

The hoop is tight enough to make it easy to work with but not tight enough to distort the fabric or be able to play it like a drum.

At the end, I added some stripes in the enclosed spaces of the letters with tiny cross stitches.

After the embroidery, the shams needed to be pressed. I used a steam setting - which was a little dangerous to do on the embroidery thread since the color can run. Pressing from the back or using a towel inbetween the iron and the work is a safer way to press with steam if you are worried about color bleeding.

For the center pillow, the front sides of the fabric were sandwiched together and stitched all the way around, leaving a few inches open at the bottom center of the pillow. I used a quarter inch seam in all stitching. Then I turned the work inside out and stuffed the pillow with polyester stuffing - as full as i could stuff it - and hand stitched the opening closed with a hoop stitch.

For the shams, I made a one-inch hem on each of the two back pieces for each pillow. Then, with right sides together I placed the two back pieces overlapping at the middle of the pillow and lined up with the outside edges. I sewed this in place with a quarter inch seam ALL THE WAY AROUND. There was no break in the stitch since the work could be flipped inside out at the opening of the sham. I used a shorter stitch length for this stitch. After the straight stitch, I used an overlock stitch on the raw edges to minimize fraying since these pillow cases will eventually be stuffed and unstuffed with inserts and washed or drycleaned.

After turning out the pillow cases, I stuffed them with inserts. The general rule for inserts is to use an insert that is about 2 inches larger than the measurement of the pillow case. I think my measurement for each sham was 14 inches along each side so I used 16 inch inserts. ALWAYS USE STANDARD MEASUREMENTS IF YOU ARE GOING TO USE INSERTS!!! Otherwise you will be making your own inserts.

I recommeded that these pillow cases be spot cleaned with cold water when necessary or dry cleaned. Since the embroidery thread is dark there is a good chance that the color will run in a regular washer so I would not recommend letting these soak.

These make great wedding gifts!

Congrats to Phil and Sheena!!!


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