$300 to $500 and up! That's the price range we found for similar pillows to this one at the fancy home décor companies in-store and online. And, we don't mind sayin'... we think ours is actually nicer and more interesting than the ones we saw for sale. This project is a great lesson in the right combination of fabric and trim. The drama of the pillow depends on a strong motif isolated with precise cutting to be the feature on one side of the pillow. The opposite side is created from, believe it or not, strips of soft jute webbing. The final touch: rich tasseled fringe. Eat your heart out Horchow!
Our thanks to the co-sponsors of this week's projects and technique tutorials: Fabric.com and Simplicity. Each project is a carefully designed synergy of unique trims and dramatic fabric for a stunning end result! But more than that, each is also a wonderful exercise in how to blend trims and fabrics to achieve a designer look. Our goal is to show you how to look at combinations from a new angle, how to mix textures, how to look for unexpected pairings, how to think out of the box.
For today's pillow, we started our design with the Simplicity jute webbing, which we felt was a very unusual material that deserved a more inspired life than simply as a supportive weave for upholstery. By butting the strips, then seaming them together with a wide decorative stitch, we ended up with a wonderfully textured, surprisingly soft panel.
The amazing fabric is Jay Yang Tabriz Linen Blend in Floral Red from Fabric.com. You definitely want a decorator weight fabric like this with a large, striking motif. Spend the time to browse a little online and make sure you pay attention to the "repeat" dimensions given. The "repeat" is how far it is until the design repeats itself. Fabric.com does a very good job of letting you know both the vertical and horizontal repeat.
Finally, the Simplicity Russian Tassel Trim is just the right luxe finish to put this design into the "looks-like-a-$300-to-$500-designer-pillow" category. It's big, bold and gorgeous from either side.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Memory Craft 11000 Special Edition)
- Satin Stitch foot (optional)
- Rotary Even Feed Set (optional)
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 5 yards of Wrights 3½" Jute Webbing from Simplicity
- 3 yards of Wrights 3¼" Russian Tassel Trim from Simplicity
- 1 yard of 45-54" wide decorator weight fabric: we used 54" Jay Yang Tabriz Linen Blend in Floral Red from Fabric.com
NOTE: The cut is 24½" x 24½", but by getting a full yard, you can be sure your motif can be beautifully centered.
- One 24"x 24" pillow insert; we used a feather/down insert from Fabric.com
- All-purpose sewing threads to blend with jute and fabric
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- See-through ruler
- Tape measure
- Fabric pencil or pen
- Straight pins
- Seam gauge
- Hand sewing needle
- Iron and ironing board
- Cut the jute webbing into SEVEN 24½" strips
- From the decorator fabric (Jay Yang Tabriz Linen Blend in Floral Red in our sample), carefully fussy cut ONE 24½" x 24½" square.
NOTE: As we mentioned above, the fussy cutting of the fabric square for dramatic effect really makes this pillow pop. With such a large cut, you might want to actually cut a see-through paper pattern at full size in order to insure your design is center top to bottom and side to side. We not only wanted our center point design to be a focus, we also wanted each corner to have a carefully placed motif. Again, a paper pattern would be a great assist, as is the practice of placing pins at the exact center points of the design on all sides.
- Leave the tassel trim as one continuous length for now.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Create the continuous jute panel
- Lay out the seven strips of jute webbing on a flat surface. The webbing strips should be aligned with one another - one edge butting against the next not overlapping.
- Pin the first two pieces together.
- Thread your sewing machine with thread to match the jute in both the top and bobbin. Choose a zig zag or decorative stitch with a wide left-right swing. Set the stitch to its maximum width. Our on Janome Memory Craft 11000 Special Edition, we chose decorative stitch #47.
- Stitch the two pieces together from top to bottom.
NOTE: We used our Janome Satin Stitch foot (foot "F") because it has a wonderful bright red arrow in the exact center that can be used a guide line to keep the two edges of the jute perfectly straight. Another VERY cool Janome presser foot option is their Rotary Even Foot Set. It includes a special Blind Hem attachment with an adjustable center flange, which you can drop right in between the two pieces as a guide, then stitch quickly, easily and accurately. We did a review of this foot set if you'd like to learn more.
- Pin the next jute strip to the stitched pair and stitch in place. Repeat in this same manner until all seven strips are sewn together.
- Zig zag across the raw ends ends on both sides to keep the jute from fraying.
Attach tassel trim to fabric square
- Finish all four raw edges of the fabric square with a sewing machine or serger.
- With the right side of the fabric facing up, pin the tassel trim around all four sides. The solid edge of the tassels trim should be against the raw edges of the fabric and the tassels should be hanging towards the middle of the fabric square.
- Use your seam gauge to determine where your final ½" seam will fall. You want to pin the tassel trim in place so the tassels themselves as well as the looped fringe from which they fall, are visible after the seam is sewn. This might mean, as it did on our sample, that the trim extends beyond the raw edge of the fabric a bit.
- Curve the trim around the corner. Try to center one tassel at the point of each corner
- Machine baste the tassel trim in place around the entire edge of pillow top.
Starting and finishing the trim
- To start the trim, angle one end down and off the edge of the fabric's raw edge. Pin in place.
NOTE: Okay. We admit we forgot to photograph these steps during the actual sample constructions. So, yes, eagle eye S4H fans, the trim and fabric you see below are different than our sample. You'll have to squint and ignore that... the steps are the same.
- Continue around the pillow. When you get to the end, lap the end over the head of the trim, running it down and off the edge as you did at the beginning.
- Pin in place and cut away any excess trim so the tails are flush with the edge of the fabric.
Finish the pillow
- Place the fabric square, with the tassel trim basted in place, right side up on your work surface. Brush all the tassels in place so they are hanging in towards the center of the square.
- Place the jute panel on top of the fabric square, sandwiching the tassels in between. Pin the two panels together through all the layers.
- Leave an approximate 8 - 10" opening along one side for the pillow insert.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around the entire pillow, starting and stopping at either side of the 8 - 10" opening. Remember to lock your stitch at either side of the opening, and remember to curve around the corners; do not try to make a sharp point.
- Trim each corners diagonally. After trimming, run a zig zag stitch across both the jute and the trim at each corner to prevent fraying.
- Along the opening, stitch the trim in place against the fabric, staying right along the ½" stitch line. This is so when you close the opening with your hand stitching, it will be perfectly lined up with the rest of the pillow.
- Turn the completed pillow right side out. You can pull out each corner by lightly tugging on the tassel at each corner.
- Gently insert the pillow form through the 8 - 10" opening.
- At the opening, fold down the jute panel ½" so it is flush with the sewn seam. Pin the opening layers together.
- Stitch closed by hand.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas and Liz Johnson
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild
Other machines suitable for this project include the Baby Lock Symphony and the Elna eXcellence.