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Designer Pillow Knock-Offs with Fairfield: Nautical Ahoy! Appliqué Pillow

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For our final day of pillow week with Fairfield Processing, we've delved into the category of Word Pillows. Again, this is a style we saw multiple times in our high-end searching. The first order of business is to find a typeface that lends itself to the appliqué process, then to come up with a single word or a very short phrase that can be large and in charge on your pillow front. We provide a free downloadable template for our nautical-themed "Ahoy!" script, but there are a few billion other words out there to use. For fonts, you can check what's available within your own computer's word processing program or search online for free and paid font options. And, just as you'd need a smooth, clean surface for handwritten calligraphy, your Word Pillow also needs a good foundation. We're using a 20" x 20" Home Elegance™ insert: it has a dense softness that provides the perfect finish for what we want our pillow to say. Your fun fact for the day: Alexander Graham Bell preferred those answering his invention do so with the word, "Ahoy." The first telephone operators actually used this term. As with all out knock-offs this week, we used top quality, brand new components for today's pillow... didn't dip into the ol' stash box even once!  Yet we still came in well under $50, saving $100+ over retail. See our pillow inspiration after the jump.

When browsing for fonts, look for a bold, simple letter shape that will be easy to cut out and stitch down. Avoid letters with a lot curves, flourishes or small lines (serifs). We used wool felt for our letters (no raveling, no need to finish the edges after we cut) and a straight stitch appliqué technique. If you are new to appliqué, check out our Yay! It's Appliqué tutorial

This pillow features a back envelope closure with buttons, a technique that works on virtually any pillow size and shape, and allows you to easily remove the pillow form to launder the cover or to re-use the pillow form. We also used the closure's elements to add a few extra dashes of color to our overall neutral palette. The topstitching, buttonholes and button stitching are all done in a contrasting red thread, and the buttons themselves are a deep navy blue. We added a purchased rope cording for the trim to complete the nautical, red, white and blue theme. 

We've had a lot of fun this week, showing you how easy it is to create the top pillow looks for less. We hope we've inspired you to search out some of your own trend-setting luxury pillows to knockoff, saving a few hundred dollars in the process! Just remember to start with a good foundation. Our thanks to our friends at Fairfield Processing for providing the amazingly soft and plush Home Elegance™ pillow forms for all our projects. These inserts are widely available at in-store and online retailers everywhere; we provide several link-to-buy options below. 

And, don't forget to take advantage of the special 25% discount off Home Elegance™ pillow forms just for Sew4Home visitors at the Fairfield World Factory Store. Use the coupon code S4H25HE at checkout through August 16, 2013 to get your 25% discount on Home Elegance™.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

 

  • ¾ yard of 45"+ décor weight fabric for the pillow front and back; we used a 60" bottom-weight denim in natural purchased locally
  • ¼ yard of 45" + wool felt or similar; we used a 35% wool felt in red purchased locally
  • THREE 1" buttons; we used navy blue four-hole plastic buttons - the four-hole designs allows for a pretty "X" accent when stitched in place
  • 2⅓ yards of twisted rope trim or similar cording, we used a twisted rope style in natural purchased locally
  • One 20" x 20" Fairfield Home Elegance™ pillow form, available at the Fairfield World Factory Store, as well as Amazon.
  • Fusible web, such as Thermoweb's Heat 'n' Bondto help adhere appliqué
    NOTE: This is optional - if you use a wool felt as we did, it is quite stable and kind of grips itself to the base fabric; but if you are new to appliqué, it's best to use a fusible web to keep your letters from shifting. 
  • All-purpose thread to match fabrics (both for pillow and appliqué)
  • All-purpose thread to contrast with fabric for back topstitching and button sewing
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. Download and print Word Template Part 1 and Word Template Part 2
    IMPORTANT: Each template is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print these PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
  2. Cut out each template along the solid lines.
  3. Place the fabric for the letters (red wool felt in our sample) right side up and flat on your work surface. Place the letters on your fabric. Pin to secure.
  4. The cutting takes a bit of patience. Small, sharp scissors and/or a razor blade are helpful.
  5. Carefully cut out the three sections: "A", "hoy" and "!".

    NOTE: As mentioned above, you can use a fusible web. Follow the manufacturer's instructions, but in essence, you're just adding a couple steps: first trace the letters on the web backing, then adhere the web to the fabric, then cut out the letters. When done, you peel away the backing so the letter sections can be stuck to the pillow front fabric. 
  6. Cut ONE 20" x 20" square for the front.
  7. Cut TWO 20" high x 15" wide rectangles for the back panels.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Pillow front

  1. Find the 20" x 20" front panel.
  2. Place the letters on the panel, assembling the three parts using the spacing diagram on the template itself. 
  3. The whole word should be centered side-to-side on the panel. There is 8½" from the top of the "O" to the top raw edge of the pillow. 
  4. And, 8½" from the bottom of the "O" to the bottom raw edge of the pillow. 
  5. Pin in place or press to adhere the fusible web. 
  6. Re-thread the machine with the thread to match the appliqué fabric in the top and bobbin. We used a bright red.
  7. Because we used a wool felt, there is no problem with raveling along the cut edges. We used a straight edge appliqué to stitch our letters in place. 


    NOTE: If you are new to appliqué, check out our tutorial. This article shows you other techniques should you choose an appliqué fabric that does fray and so would need a finished edge. The main thing to remember: slow, steady and even wins the race.
  8. Find the length of trim.
  9. Starting in the middle of the bottom edge, pin the cording to the right side of the front piece, aligning the raw edges of the cording's insertion tape with the raw edges of the fabric.
  10. Clip the cording tape at the corners to allow it to curve around the corners nicely.  
  11. Pin in place.
  12. Overlap the ends at the bottom, trimming away any excess. 
  13. Attach your zipper foot. 
  14. Re-thread the machine with thread to match the trim in the top and bobbin.
  15. Machine baste the trim in place around all four sides. 
  16. Set aside the completed front. 

Pillow back

  1. Find the two back panels.
  2. Along one inside edge on one panel, make a 2" double turn hem. To do this, fold back the raw edge 2" and press. Fold back an additional 2" and press again. Pin in place.
  3. Along one inside edge of the other panel, repeat to make a 1½" double turn hem.
  4. Re-thread the machine with the contrasting thread in the top and bobbin. 
  5. Topstitch along the inside fold of each panel. Use the guidelines on your needle plate, draw a line to follow with a fabric pen or pencil, or use the edge of a strip of painter's tape to keep your seam super straight. We also usually lengthen our stitch for topstitching.
  6. Run a second line of topstitching approximately 3/16" from the outer fold of each panel.
  7. On the back panel with the 2" hem, mark for three centered 1" buttonholes. We spaced our buttonholes 5" apart on center.
  8. Following the instructions for your machine, and still using the contrasting thread, make three buttonholes.
  9. When you cut the buttonholes open, cut in a little from each edge towards the center. This is better than trying to cut them open with one action, which often leads to cutting into the buttonhole stitching.
  10. Place the plain panel right side up on your work surface. Overlap it with the buttonhole panel. Make sure the finished overlap width is 20". 
  11. Place a pin at the exact center point of each buttonhole. Make a mark on the opposite panel at this pin point. These points are where you should sew on the buttons.
  12. Stitch the buttons in place using the same constrasting thread you used for the topstitching and buttonholes. If you used the recommended four-hole buttons, stitch each in place with a "X pattern."
  13. Button the two panels together.
  14. Re-thread your machine with thread to match the fabric in the top and bobbin.
  15. Working as close to the raw edges as possible, tack the overlap together at the top and bottom to secure and create one piece. It will be easier to work with one piece instead of two when you stitch front to back.  

Assembling the layers to finish

  1. Find your front panel with the cording stitched in place and your back panel with the two pieces tacked together to act as one. 
  2. Make sure the back panel is unbuttoned.
  3. Place the finished back panel on your work surface right side facing up. 
  4. Place your finished front panel on top, right side facing down. Your piping is sandwiched in between the layers.
  5. Carefully align all the raw edges and pin in place.
  6. Using your Zipper foot, stitch together through all layers around all four sides, using a ½" seam allowance, which should be as close to the piping as possible. Go slowly and make sure your layers stay flat. With the heavier décor weight fabric, you are stitching through a lot of thicker layers, especially at the back panel overlaps. 
  7. When your seam is complete, trim all the corners at a diagonal and grade the seam allowances at the back panel overlaps. This means to trim back the seam allowance layers at slightly varying widths, creating a smoother angle that removes some of the thickness and allows the seam to lay flatter.
  8. Turn the pillow cover right side out through the back button opening. Push out the cording all around. Use a long, blunt-end tool, such as a knitting needle or chopstick, to smooth out the corners.
  9. Insert the Home Elegance™ 20" x 20" pillow form through the opening and fluff it out into the corners.
  10. Button the pillow closed.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Aimee McGaffey

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Comments (4)

renaj0330 said:
renaj0330's picture

what is the name of the font used for this applique?

alicia.thommas said:
alicia.thommas's picture

@renaj0030: The font is called Lobster 1.4. You will have no trouble finding it with a Google search. 

mcelromi1 said:
mcelromi1's picture

Love the tutorials. I honestly never knew people actually paid that kind of money for something so simple to make yourself. I think i'm in the wrong business. LOL!

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