Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tutorial Tuesday #2

Way back in January I announced that I was going to try to post a free tutorial quarterly as a way to give back to the online sewing community that I have gained so much knowledge from.  Being well in to June now, I'm a bit behind schedule, but better late than never, right?

Today I would like to share my method of constructing throw pillows with binding and covered zippers with you.  These pillows are really nice and professional looking, and they make great gifts.  As with my HST tutorial, I don't claim to be the first or only person to use this method or post a tutorial on it, I'm just trying to share my knowledge and pay it forward.

So let's jump in. You may recognize this pillow as the one I completed for the RMQG scrap challenge.  I will walk you through the basics of constucting a throw pillow in this way and get into specifics on the zipper install as I know zippers can be scary if you aren't used to them!  I love this method of installing zippers as it takes all the wiggle and struggle out, and gives you a beautiful finished product.

Bound Throw Pillow Construction with Covered Zipper Install:

Step 1:  Make the 'front' of your pillow. I usually piece something and then quilt it with cotton batting and something light like muslin on the back (the part that will be inside the pillow - like a lining).  This is a great alternative to wall hangings for mini quilts!  After quilting, trim this piece down so that it is 1" bigger than your pillow form.  My form is 12' x 16" so my pillow front is trimmed to 13" x 17".

Step 2:  Make your 'back' pieces for both the outside and the inside/lining.  Be sure they are BIGGER than your front as you will need seam allowances to install the zipper.  You will also need to decide which direction you want your zipper to run.  I prefer mine to go the 'short' way (top to bottom in this case), but it may depend on what you have handy. One quick note about zipper lengths: the measurement on the package, for example a 12" zipper, refers to the distance from stop to stop (where the teeth are) - not from the ends of the tape!  Since you want to be able to use the zipper with human fingers, you don't necessarily want the zipper pull to be all up in the binding's face.  I am using a 12" zipper for this project although I am working with 13" pieces of fabric.
Here are my outside back pieces.  I had to piece mine to make them big enough as I was working on a scrap challenge.  If you cut them from yardage it will be much easier.  Mine measure roughly 13" square. As you can see, they are about the same size and the zipper will be in the middle.  If you want your zipper to one side, you will need to plan for that here when you are cutting these pieces. For example, one side of your back could be 13" x 5" and the other 13" x 15".
In this picture you can also see my inside/lining back pieces, my zipper and some Pellon Lite EZ Steam II.  I really prefer using a 'steam a seam' product over a glue stick or pins when installing zippers.  It works really well to hold everything in place while you are stitching.  This tape is 1/4" wide and you get 40 yards for just a few dollars.  If you work with zippers a lot I HIGHLY recommend this product.

Also, although not shown in the picture above, you will also need to prep a piece of fabric for your flap to cover your zipper if you want it covered.  This piece should be as long as your back pieces in whichever direction you are installing your zipper.  For this pillow it's 13".  I usually use a strip 3.5-4" wide.  Fold it in half the long way, wrong sides together, and press.

Step 3:  We are now going to install the zipper and all the prepping we just did will make this a breeze.
     A: Take one outside back piece and lay it right side up with the edge where the zipper goes on top (running from left to right).  Apply a piece of seam tape, sticky side down and finger press it in place before removing paper.
     B: Place zipper with the zipper pull facing DOWN. Line up the zipper tape with the edge of your fabric. I usually press this edge to set the tape a little before putting the next piece of tape on. Be careful not to iron over the teeth of the zipper, just the zipper tape and fabric. Then stick on another length of tape, finger press down, and remove paper.
     C: Place the inside/lining fabric, right side DOWN (although I often use muslin/solids for this part). Be sure to line the edges up on the sides and along the top where the zipper is. Press along that edge carefully again to activate the tape. You may need to steam it a little, just read the instructions on the box.
     D: Sew along this edge using a zipper foot.  Be sure to move your needle over so you don't hit the foot.   Depending on your zipper foot, you may have to move the zipper pull to sew past it.  Be sure to put the needle down before lifting the presser foot.  The steam a seam should hold all your layers in place nicely, but still be gentle when you move the zipper pull.  Here is what it should look like after you sew (I've folded it over on itself so you can see both sides):
     E: Now you need to open up and press.  Be gentle, but make sure to pull those seems open and away from the zipper teeth.  Press carefully, being sure to not iron over the zipper teeth. Here is what it should look like now (again, I've folded it over on itself so you can see both the outside and inside):
     F: Now we just need to top stitch the pieces down so they don't wiggle.  I recommend using a matching color rather than a contrasting color here since any unevenness in your stitching here will stand out like a sore thumb.  This is what you should have now:

So one side of our zipper is installed.  We are going to follow the same basic process on the other side, but this time we will need to add in the flap! SO...

     A: Place your other outside back piece, right side up, with the side where the zipper goes on top.  Then place the flap for your zipper cover by lining up the raw edges on the top - the fold of the flap on the bottom. Line up the sides also. At this point, I basted through these 3 layers to keep things from wiggling.  I basted about 1/8" from the edge so the basting stitches will be hidden.  You could also use seam tape here if you want.  Then place a piece of steam tape as shown in the picture.  As always, finger press it down and then remove the paper. 
     B: Place your zipper (the side not attached to anything) with the zipper pull facing DOWN and line up the zipper tape with your raw edges along the top.  You also need to line up the sides!  Take a second the iron that edge and set your seam tape before placing your next piece.  Then place your last piece of tape, finger press down, remove the paper.
     C: Place your second piece of inside/ lining fabric with the right side down.  Line up the raw edges on the top and check that your sides line up. Stitch as we did before using the zipper foot.  Here you can see my basting stitches as well.
     D: Again, open these seams up, pulling the fabric away from the zipper.  This is what your inside/lining should look like.  Notice the back of the zipper pull is facing the inside of the pillow - this means the zipper pull will be on the outside (where we want it!)
     E: Flip the whole thing over so the outside of the pillow is facing you.  You need to make sure the flap is pulled away from the zipper before you top stitch.
You don't have to worry as much about using a matching thread here as these stitches will be pretty well hidden by the flap when it's folded back over.
After stitching, fold the flap back over where it goes.  Baste or pin it down so it lays the right way when we finish assembling our pillow.
  Take a second to pat yourself on the shoulder...you showed that zipper who is BOSS!  Here is what you should have now, looking from the "inside".

Step 4: Lay your pillow back out as shown above, with the inside/lining facing up.  Then lay your pillow front, with the inside/lining facing down.  Be sure that there is pillow back extending around the pillow front, or lined up correctly if they are the same size.

Step 5: Place a few pins in her to hold everything together.  Carefully trim all the way around.  

At this point I typically switch to my walking foot.  I sew all the way around the outside edge using a scant 1/4".  Make sure the zipper is open a little bit so it doesn't get in your way.  I then machine attach my binding strips (usually 2.5" wide) with a generous 1/4" or even a 3/8" seam to the pillow front and hand stitch the binding down in the back.  
Voila! Adorable bound throw pillow with a professional looking covered zipper.
The beautiful thing about assembling pillows this way with a binding and this method of zipper install is that there are absolutely NO raw edges inside this pillow.  None along the sides, none around the zipper.  None.  I love it.  So professional looking.

So that's it for the tutorial.  I hope it wasn't too confusing or convoluted!  I sincerely hope some one, some where, at least reads this and maybe gains one tip or idea from it.  I've made dozens of pillows this way and they really do come out nice.  Please comment if you have any questions, constructive criticisms, or just to say hello!


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