This is part four of a series designed to walk you through the process of hand sewing a pillow. You can visit this link to find a list of all the steps in order.
Today, you’re going to learn that I’m obsessive. Not severely, in any sense of the word, but I do have a thing about precision. It helped me through my university science courses, and I’ve discovered it’s a key element to my sewing. I try to go out of my way to not pass that on to my readers whenever possible, but today, I think that my obsessive nature is actually important.
Today, you’re going to pin together and sew your pillow. You’re going to use the running stitch to accomplish this. However, before you start pinning or sewing, we’re going to make some preparations that might seem odd. I’ll try to explain why so that you don’t think I’m wasting your time.
- Your pillow fabric
- A straight edge
- Masking tape ½-inch wide
- A piece of paper or a second straight edge
- A pencil
- Paper scissors
I’ve found that 1/4-inch running stitches seem to be the most stable. There are more stable hand stitches all in all, but for this project, we’re going to stick with the running stitch. There is a product to make sure your stitches are even, but at $9 (US) for a roll, it’s a bit pricey. I also can’t find it in stores very easily. Instead, I’m going to show you how I make my own with masking tape.
Have you realised that masking tape is one of my favourite tools? I have! I guess I should have put it on the materials list, but I didn’t realise how much I use it. I guess I always assume people will have it in their house. Anyway, you should have ½-inch wide masking tape for this as it will serve as both your stitching guide as well as your seam allowance. See? I think ahead!
Okay, so if you made the pillow pattern according to my instructions, it should measure 9 ½ inches. Take your masking tape and tape down the middle of your metal straight edge to 9 ½ inches. If the edge of your tape is rough, wrap it around the end to square it off.
Now, take your piece of paper or second ruler and lay it across the ¼ inch mark on your metal ruler. You may notice that it lines up with one of the quarter-inch marks on the other side. Draw a line between the points.
Continue doing this every quarter of an inch all the way down the tape. If my calculations are correct, you’ll make 38 marks.
This seems tedious (and it is), but it’s really helpful in a second. Now, take your piece of paper or second ruler and put a mark in the centre of your tape all the way down it.
Cut your way down the tape until you have two ¼” strips with little tiny lines.
Now take your fabric and lay it on the table, right sides together. Put the flat edge each of the tape strips up against the edge of the fabric and continue down its length. The two tape strips should be perpendicular to each other. Take note of which piece of tape you put down last.
Have I mentioned that sewing will bring back a lot of high school geometry? It will.
It’s time to start pinning your pillow together! Start at the end of the last piece of tape. Put the pins in parallel to the tape/edge of the fabric. Keep them near the tape edges you just put down, and make sure they go through both pieces of fabric. When you pin your two edges that aren’t taped, be approximate. Your pins only need to be 2-3” apart. They don’t have to be right up against each other.
Two to three inches from the where your first pin went in, put one final parallel pin in then put another pin in perpendicular to that one.
Thread your needle and knot the end of the thread. Push the needle into the fabric at your first mark on the tape and sew using the tape marks as guides for where the needle goes up and down. Up at the first mark. Down at the second. Up at the third, and so on.
Keep an eye on how much thread you have. If your thread gets to be shorter than your hand tie off and start a new piece. As you get more used to sewing, you’ll know how much thread you need to tie off and can adjust it, but for my daughter and me, it’s usually a hand’s length.
When you have sewn all the way across the first side and reach the second piece of tape, pull up the first one and place it on the third side. Repeat this action for the second piece of tape when you reach the third.
When you get to the perpendicular pin, stop. Tie off. Take all the pins out and the tape off. You’re done for today!
Keep up to date with the lessons. Follow @forbesfabfinger