Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The "Burrito" Style Pillow Case Construction - Easy-Peasy!

Pillowcases are a fun, inexpensive and easy way to spruce up a bedroom.  They also make great gifts -- the fabrics available can reflect the interests of just about anyone, and the recipient will know it was made just for them.  With two of the fabrics I purchased for a master bedroom comforter, I made coordinating pillowcases. How easy will it be to make our bed?  Just pull up the comforter, and fluff the pillows on top!

My friend Sherrie once asked me how to make a 'burrito-style' pillow case -- one with a 'cuff' made from a different fabric than the 'body', with no seam allowances showing where the two are sewn together. It really isn't hard to do, but I find it's easier for me to learn by seeing it done (in person or with good photos) than by reading instructions alone. So, let's see if I can teach you how to do it!

For a standard size pillow, you will need 3/4 yard (27") of the body fabric, and 1/3 yard (12") of the cuff fabric by the width of the fabric (usually 42" - 44").  I use my rotary cutter and mat to cut the fabric, to be sure the raw edges are even. (Note:  cotton fabrics work best...they get softer after each washing.  Pre-wash your fabric before you begin cutting to remove sizing and prevent the finished pillowcase from shrinking.)

Lay the 'cuff' fabric right side up on your work surface.  Pin the 'body' fabric along the 42" width, right sides together, to the 'cuff'.  

The yellow fabric is the'cuff.'  The print is the 'body.'

Now roll the 'body' fabric from the bottom into a tube, all the way up to the pins.  You will expose the right side of the cuff fabric as you get close to the pins.
Roll the 'body' fabric into a tube, starting at the un-pinned end.  
Now, fold the free end of the  'cuff' fabric over the tube of 'body' fabric, and align all three raw edges.  Pin along the 42" width, keeping the raw edges even.

Both raw edges of the 'cuff' are even with the raw edge of the 'body', encased inside.  Pin securely.

You have just pinned the 'cuff' fabric right sides together, with the 'body' fabric sandwiched in between.
The 'cuff' is pinned and ready to sew!
Stitch, using a 1/4" seam allowance.  Press the seam flat.

Using a serger makes the job go faster!
Carefully pull the 'body' fabric out of the inside of the 'cuff'.
In this photo, the 'cuff' is print and the 'body' is yellow.
Flatten the 'cuff' and press carefully.  The seam allowances are encased!

There are two ways you can finish the pillowcase at this point.

If you have an overlock (serger) sewing machine, pin the right sides together, and serge across the bottom and then up the side of the pillowcase.  With a large-eye needle, bury your serger 'tail' in the stitching, or, take one stitch beyond the end of the pillowcase, loosen the needle thread with your finger slightly, and flip the pillowcase over and stitch over the previous stitching, going in the opposite direction, stitching off the fabric after about three inches.

If you do not have a serger, you can finish the pillowcase with a 'French' seam.  With wrong sides together, pin the pillowcase across the bottom and up the sides of the 'body.'  Stitch, using a 1/4" seam allowance, pivoting at the corner. Press the seam flat.
For the first step of a French seam, pin wrong sides together!
Turn the pillowcase inside out, now with the right sides together.  Press the pillowcase flat, being careful to press the seam flat.  Pin, then stitch again across the bottom and up the side of the 'body,' using a 3/8" seam allowance (this will enclose the raw edge of the fabric).
The second stitching, right sides together, encases the seam allowances.
Turn the pillowcase right side out and press well.    

Look Sherrie!  No exposed seam allowances!
Either way, the raw edges of the 'cuff' will be covered, and the pillowcase will wash and wear well!

Now that you know how to make a pillow case, here is a way to practice your skills and help out sick kids at the same time.  Make one for "A Case for Smiles"  -- check out the webpage for ConKerr Cancer (www.conkerrcancer.org) for more information.  The organization's goal is to provide a bright, cheery pillowcase to every child with cancer or a life changing illness or injury across North America.  ConKerr Cancer started when Cindy Kerr’s son was diagnosed with cancer in 2002.  She began making pillowcases to brighten up his hospital room and to put a smile on his face. He loved it and so she began making pillowcases for other children on the Oncology Unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

This Philly-based organization has donated over 800,000 pillowcases to sick children since then. School groups, sewing circles, church groups and fabric stores have all pitched in and are making pillowcases for the kids.  Even if you don't know how to sew, you can help by donating fabric or cash or helping at a sewing event by cutting out pillowcases or pressing finished projects.

Since my 'kids' are older, when I make ConKerr pillowcases, I look for fabrics that will appeal to teens -- skulls, guitars, realistic animal prints, college-licensed prints and sports-themed fabrics. There are lots of fun cotton prints out there...I even found fabric for my alma mater, Southern Illinois University!  Go, Salukis!!

Monday, December 30, 2013

We'll Be "Snug as a Bug" Tonight- the Comforter is (finally) Finished!

It's been over a month since I've posted last...and it's not that I haven't been busy!  I had several projects in progress, mostly Christmas gifts, and was occupied with getting them finished and given away.  So, I'm going to try to get several new posts finished over the next week, so I can share some of what I created this fall.

I'll start with the thing that I finished just today -- a comforter for our master bedroom!
We'll be sleeping under the new comforter tonight!
What possesses us to redecorate right in the midst of planning a big family event?  Last May, my husband and I decided to re-paint our bedroom and re-finish the hardwood floors.  We've been in the house 18 years now and had painted the room once, but it was due to be freshened up a bit. Of course, my son was getting married in June, and we would have company for several days, but that didn't deter us. So, for two weeks, every piece of furniture and clothing was in the hallway and we slept in the spare bedroom.  Talk about motivation to get the job finished as quickly as possible!

I had purchased some coordinating fabrics almost a year ago when I found them on sale at the local fabric store.  I knew I wanted to make a quilt from them, and bought several yards of each. The color palette was just right for a master bedroom -- not too feminine, but clean, bright and airy. The light grey wall color was selected by matching a swatch of fabric.  
I bought all six fabrics at the same time.
My friend Sherrie has been telling me about the modern quilt guild meetings she attends, and it piqued my interest.  She lent me a couple of books for inspiration, and I found a block that I thought I could use. It's called "Just Passing Through" and was designed by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr.  It appeared in Modern Blocks.  The instructions called for four fabrics.  I had plans for the remaining two fabrics.

I don't know if it would be considered 'modern' quilting, but one of my favorite techniques is to find a quilt block pattern and 'blow it up.'  For instance, if a finished block is supposed to be 4" square, I may enlarge all of the pattern pieces and make my finished block 12" square.  I frequently do this for baby quilts -- the quilts go together faster and I can successfully use large print fabrics.

Since I wanted to get this comforter finished fast, I decided to 'blow up' the block design.  For example, the instructions for the 12"  finished block called for 2" and 1 1/2" wide strips...mine are 11 1/2" and 8 1/2" wide.   Instead of making several small blocks and sewing them together, I made one, huge queen-sized block that would cover the entire bed.

'Blowing up' a block does require some thought, especially to determine what size to cut the pieces and the finished size of the quilt.  My d.h. had one request...he wanted to be sure that the comforter was wide enough that when I rolled over, he didn't freeze because the blanket rolled with me.  A standard queen mattress is 60" wide by 80" long.  The finished comforter is 90" x 95".  I sketched everything out on graph paper before I began cutting.
Sketching and coloring the design on graph paper gives me a pattern to follow, both when cutting and sewing the top together.  
Because of the larger width, I discovered I didn't buy enough fabric for the back of the quilt.  Rather than run out and buy more grey fabric, I pieced together a strip wide enough to close the gap.  It adds interest to the back of the quilt.

Another consideration was the weight of the batting that went in between the quilt top and the backing.  I wanted something with a little more thickness and loft, so I decided to use a polyester blend batting.  I ordered it through www.batt-mart.com.  This is an American company that sells made-in-the-USA batting by the roll or piece.  Their website is a fantastic resource, and David, who took my order by phone, was so very helpful that I'm sure I'll use his company again.

My long-arm quilter, Susie, and I discussed the quilting pattern to use and settled on the interlocking squares design.  I liked it because it was masculine and modern.  She used light grey thread, which blends nicely with the fabrics.

With the remaining two fabrics, I made two simple pair of curtains for the windows and four coordinating pillow cases.  Another scrap was big enough to recover a flea-market bench that I re-painted.  Believe me, there weren't many scraps in the end.
The flea market bench (about $10) got a fresh coat of paint and a new cover.  And I have a place to sit down to put on my shoes and socks!
My friend Sherrie once asked me about making a 'burrito-style' pillow case.  I used that method to make these; my next post will include the 'how to'!  
So glad that the redecorating is (finally) finished!