Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tiny pillow tutorial: Waste not, want not

I like to think I make some pretty great garters. So great, that I cannot stand the idea of just cramming them in an envelope and sending them out into the world. Instead, I make each garter its own little pillow.

Custom garter "Girly Girl" by Never a Plain Jane
The pillow helps the garter keep its shape during mailing and whenever it is being stored, but I have an ulterior motive as well.

Scrap busting.

See, every sewing project results in hundreds of snippets, snaps, and scraps. I could figure I could fill a landfill all by myself with the amount of thread ends and tiny fabric bits I produce with each project.

photo via Craftaholics Anonymous
But I don't throw my scraps away. Instead, I stuff pillows. Think you might want to make your own little pillows? Well, let's go!

I typically use a piece of muslin because I can pick up a yard from the scrap bin at the fabric store for 50% off.

Step 1
Wash and iron your fabric. There is never ever ever a time when you will not clean your fabric before you start a project.

Step 2
Cut your fabric. I won't lie, I usually just cut a rectangle without measuring.  I should hang my head in shame, I'm sure.
For now, I'll pretend I do measure. I usually want to end up with a pillow that is 11 inches by seven inches so I cut a rectangle that is 23 inches by eight inches.

Step 3
Fold the long side of your muslin in half  so that you are looking at  a 11.5 inch by eight inch rectangle.

Iron it to really establish the bottom fold.

I also turn down the top edge by about half an inch on each side and iron again. This will make it easier for you to close your pillow.

Now, using a straight stitch, run a seam from the bottom fold to the folded top edge on both of your raw edge sides.

 See the folded down top edge in the photo above?  Also, notice I clipped my corners. That'll help you get nice crisp corner when you turn your pillow-right side-out.

Step 4
Iron your seams. Then, turn your pillow right-side-out and iron again.

Step 5
Stuff your pillow.

Depending on how many projects I make, it takes me about a week to fill my pillow. I just hang it from the edge of my desk with a magnet clip and toss snippets in it as I go. If you keep a waste basket or box for your scraps, you probably have a nice collection already and can stuff your pillow here and now.

Confession: I also put used dryer sheets in my pillows. Why not? They still smell good after their one use and they're clean.

Step 6
Is your pillow stuffed as full as you 'd like? Good. Let's sew that baby up.

Smush all your stuffing as far down into the pillow as you can and use a safety pin to keep it smushed down.  This will make it oodles easier to run that last seam because the pin will keep all that bulk from getting in your way.

Your top edges should already be folded down so you shouldn't even have to pin.  Just line the edges up and run a third straight stitch close to the edge.

If you wanted your end product to look a little more professional you could slip-stitch it closed and none of your seams would show. We'll save that for another day.

Step 7
For now, remove the safety pin, fluff your pillow and proudly display your garter!

Unique garter "The Navy Peacock" by Never a Plain Jane
Don't have a garter? You should get one!  But there are a lot of uses for scrap-filled pillows.  Make a larger one for a pet bed. Make a smaller one and add some dried flowers to make a sachet for your sock drawer. Make a huge one for comfy floor sitting during family movie night. Whatever floats your boat! And don't forget to send me photos!

The End

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