Thursday, February 25, 2010

How to Sew a Basic Pillow Cover

Sometimes I am surprised when people who I consider to be pretty crafty point to something like a simple pillow cover and say "I could never sew that!" I am quite positive they can. And since I am in the middle of sewing several pillow covers for use in my new place, I decided to document one of them to show just how easy it is.

Supplies you will need:
  1. One (1) pillow form of your choosing.
  2. Fabric to cover pillow
  3. Trim to edge the perimeter of your pillow (add up the length of all four sides plus a little extra)
  4. Scissors
  5. Measuring tape
  6. Sewing machine and thread
  7. Iron
Let's begin.

Step 1: Measure your pillow form.

Here is my pillow form. I would show you how to measure it were it not for the fact that I got to skip step one because... is from IKEA, and they already told me what the finished measurement is:
I am sure you can figure out how to measure your pillow, though. By the way, I LOVE these IKEA feathery pillow forms because they feel like a fancy down insert but cost a fraction of the price. They also have free measuring tapes at IKEA, but if you're going there for a paper measuring tape, you might as well pick up a cheap pillow form while you're at it.
Step 2: Take the measurement you got in Step 1 and add one inch to length and width
My pillow is 20 inches by 20 inches, so my cutting measurement is 21 inches by 21 inches to allow for a half-inch seam allowance all the way around.
Step 3: Cut out the fabric.
For the front, simply cut out a piece according to the measurement you arrived at in Step 2.
For the back, cut out two pieces. The width should be the same as your Step 2 width, but stacked together, they should be several inches taller than the front piece, as show below:
Put together, the two back pieces will overlap and provide a nice opening for the pillow insert. You have a lot of leeway in cutting these out--as you can see, due to the fabric pieces I had leftover after cutting out the front, my back pieces are not equally sized and the pattern is going the wrong way. This will be just fine, I promise you.
Step 4: Turn under the "opening" edge of each of the back pieces and sew down.

Step 5: Pin the trim to the front piece and sew/baste it in place
Bear in mind that you have a half-inch seam allowance. Lucky for me, the seam allowance part of the pom-pom trim (i.e., the part I don't want to show on the finished pillow) I am using is just shy of a half inch. Therefore, I pinned it just shy of flush with the edge of the fabric.

Be sure to pin the trim with the decorative part (here, the pom-poms) pointed toward the inside or center of the pillow.
When you come to a corner, clip the trim close to--but not through--the edge.

This will allow you to turn the corner with the trim, like so:

Once your pinning is complete, sew down the trim. You can use a basting stitch. Here, I also used a zipper foot because the dang pom-poms were so unwieldy.

Step 6: Make a fabric sandwich
Start by laying the front piece on the ground, right side up:
Next, pin the top piece of the back to the front, right sides together.

Finally, pin the bottom piece of the back to the front. It will overlap the top piece by several inches. This is exactly what you want it to do. Be sure to pin the overlapping parts extra well so that nothing gets loose on the sewing machine.

Step 7: Sew around the whole pillow, using a half-inch seam allowance.
A good trick is to sew with the side that is already stitched (from basting on the trim) facing you. Be sure to sew either right along that line or, even better, just inside it (i.e., towards the center of the pillow). If you are outside that line, the basting thread will show once you turn the pillow right side out.

Step 8: Clip the corners to reduce bulk
Just make sure not to clip through the seam.

Step 9: Turn the pillow cover right side out and press.
A note about pressing trims: most purchased trims contain some synthetic material--that is, they are basically plastic and will melt under a high iron heat. Not only will this ruin your new pillow cover, but it will take you forever to get the residue off your iron and your house will smell like you're cooking meth and that, in turn, could create all sorts of legal problems for you. My advice is to press close to the trim, but avoid touching it at all with the iron.

Step 10: Stuff that pillow form into the cover and enjoy your new pillow!

Even better, give it some friends:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Does living on the tracks count as the wrong side of the tracks?

Go ahead. Drink it in. And be jealous. This is the view out of my new living and dining room. Apparently, in this part of California, it is considered unfavorable to look at train tracks outside your window and your apartment costs a little less if you do. However, I am from Los Angeles where people pay big money for a downtown loft with this sort of industrial vibe, and I rather like it. I have the pricier "courtyard view" out of my other windows and it is nothing to write home about (except that I did already write home about it, but that is beside the point). I do not have any sort of smidgen of the priciest "bay view," but I happen to know that the bay view is also a "freeway view" and "bright blue and yellow Ikea building view" and so I think I'd rather look at these train tracks.

I was worried, however, based on all sorts of trash talk I read on the internet prior to moving here, that the noise and shake accompanying my train track view would make me regret moving here. I also read that shady criminals live in the building at half-price due to Emeryville's aggressive anti-gentrification laws. I read that rowdy youth frequent the mall and that I would likely lose my life at the nearest BART station. And all of these things worried me and caused endless second-guessing of my life's plan and now that I am here, all I can say is...


So, you know how it was a staple television plot of yore that some rich guy would die and bequeath his entire estate to the show's stars so long as they would spend a single night in a haunted house? First, he's a sadist. Second, apparently I am, too. Because now that I am here in this entirely pleasant community, I would like to challenge all of those internet axe-grinders to spend a single night in my old Westwood apartment. I could go on and on about how the elevator in that building shook it more than the train tracks do here, how they don't know the definition of "shady criminals" until they've lived in a building owned by the Russian mob, and how happy and energetic youth are tolerable so long as they are not running a sophisticated purse-snatching operation.

I could go on like that, but I won't. Because my old roommate, who has also left the Westwood apartment for a better commute and in-unit laundry, summed it up far better than I ever could. She wrote me an email listing the ways her new housing was better than our old shared housing. Number one on the list:

"People don't poop on the sidewalk here."

True story. I will spare you more details than that. But, for the millioneth time, I will declare my belief in the fact that you can't believe anything you read on the Internet. And maybe I'll stick to it this time.

Moving on... do you like horses? Of course you do. Then check out my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I am NorCal.

This is my life this week:

My old roommate has a famous saying that she stole from her grandmother, which goes something like this: "Four moves equals a fire." As in, you get rid of so much stuff when you move, that after four of them, it is the same as if your house burned down. I could really relate to this last December when I was packing up all my stuff in Los Angeles--I got rid of tons of it. And now I am in Emeryville and spending hundreds of dollars each day acquiring the exact same stuff--stuff like brooms and flour and component video cables (I thought the old one belonged to the cable company, but the new cable company did not bring a new one, and so I bought one and was mad at myself for not keeping the old one only to open a box and find a third one of unknown origins in there). Ugh, I am ready to chuck it all and live in my tent (as in the never-used tent I forgot I had that the movers brought by with all the other stuff I forgot I had and could probably do without). Except that my new apartment is on top of a shopping mall and, I have to admit, it's pretty convenient.

So, I apologize for not blogging due to the chaos and whatnot. However, I did manage to post something new in my Etsy shop. And my little self-published novel did manage to get named as a Whitney Awards finalist. So that makes up for the mountain of trash I have built in my living room, right?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I like shiny red vehicles, too

Here is my nephew, Lil' Gee. I stole this picture from his mom and I hope she won't mind my posting it here. Lil' Gee is one of those lucky kids who goes to Disneyland A LOT because he practically lives next door (season pass, anyone?), but on this particular day the happiest place on earth was truly that for Lil' Gee. You see, Lil' Gee luuuuuuuuvs the Pixar movie Cars, and on this day they had these life-sized replicas of McQueen and Mater (his two favorite characters) and, as you can see from the picture, Lil' Gee was pretty excited.

The other day I got a phone call from Lil' Gee, who is almost three. Here is what he said:

"YOUR NAME IS PUZZLE!" (fits of laughter on the other end).

Lil' Gee's new favorite thing is giving nicknames to everyone. I won't tell you who is who, but let's just say other people's Lil' Gee generated nicknames are "Yellow," "Coupon," and "Soda." He's a practical kid. I think I made out pretty well with "Puzzle." What can I say? I'm an enigma to everyone...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Giveaway this week on A Room Somewhere

Want free stuff? Then head on over to my dear friend Leslie's fabulous design-themed blog A Room Somewhere, which is hosting a giveaway of either an item from my Etsy shop or a copy of Gravity vs. the Girl through Thursday this week.

However, before you click the link, be sure you don't have anything on your schedule for the next three hours or so--blinking through Leslie's home decor and fashion finds is pretty addictive. Did I mention she also recaps Project Runway every week?

Oh, also, I have a facebook fan page. I don't know what to do with this, only that I needed one. Any tips and/or fans are much appreciated.

Etsy Monday -- Big Ben Canvas Bags