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Silk Color Block Pillows - Yin Yang: Swooping Curve of Light Against Dark

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Light is to dark. Hot is to cold. Force is to passivity. Yin Yang describes how both sides of any coin must exist in order for the coin itself to remain whole. The third project in our week of Silk Color Block Pillows is our Yin Yang pillow with a swoosh of light against a line of dark. We show you have to make and insert a facing to produce a sharp, flat curve without topstitching. If you don't spend much time in the world of garment sewing, a facing with understitching may be a new technique for you. Something else new is today's Chinese proverb: Forget the favors you have given; remember those received.

Thanks to the great folks at Fabric.com for providing all of the beautiful silk dupioni for our silk pillows as well as the unique buttons. Take a look at our Sewing With Silk article for some fun history tidbits as well as helpful tips and techniques for pinning, cutting, sewing and caring for silk.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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Getting Started

  1. From the darker of your two fabrics (Iridescent Platinum in our sample) cut ONE 15" high x 9½" wide rectangle. This will be the pillow's Left Front Panel.
    NOTE: If using silk dupioni, before cutting, make sure the 'slubs' (those kind of bumpy lines) in the silk are running parallel to the height of the shapes, ie. vertically.
  2. From the lighter of your two fabrics (Iridescent Berry Jade in our sample), cut ONE 15" high x 15" square. This will be the pillow's Back Panel.
    NOTE: If using silk dupioni, as above, make sure the slubs in the silk are running vertically.
  3. For the pillow's Right Front Curved Panel, you'll need to draw a template, using tracing or pattern paper.
  4. Draw a 15" x 15" square.
  5. Draw a vertical line straight down the center of the square (at the 7½" point).
  6. Find the center point of this center line (7½" from the top and bottom) and draw a horizontal line from that center point to the left edge of the square.
  7. From the center of the square, measure 3½" to the left along the horizontal line and make a small mark.
  8. Lay your button on top of the paper between the mark and the center of the square, simulating where you would like the position of the button to be on the finished pillow.
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  9. Draw a curved shape onto the paper pattern. Start at the top center point and swoop down to the bottom center point. You can freehand this curve (what we did), use a hip-curve ruler or use a roundish item from your home, like a large bowl, plate or pot. You want a smooth, gentle curve.
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  10. Draw a matching curved line ½" to the left of the original curved line. This will become the seam allowance for this curved edge. To match the curve, measure ½" from your original line at multiple points along the curve (five to six points would be good), then connect these dots.
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  11. Cut out template along the top edge, right side edge, bottom edge, and outer curved edge.
  12. Lay paper template on the lighter fabric you are using for the Right Front Curved Panel (Iridescent Berry Jade in our sample). As with your other cuts, if you are using dupioni, the slubs should be running vertically.
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  13. After cutting the Right Front Curved Panel, remove the paper template and set fabric panel aside.
  14. On the paper template, similarly to how you drew the seam allowance curve above, draw a matching curved line 2½" to the right of the outside curved line. This will become the Curved Facing Template. To match the curve, measure 2½" from the outer edge at multiple points along the curve (five to six points would be good), then connect these dots.
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  15. Lay the Curved Facing Template on the same fabric you used for the Right Front Panel (Iridescent Berry Jade in our sample). Cut ONE Curved Facing. Set aside.
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At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Find the Left Front Panel.
  2. Fold and press the right 15" edge ½", then fold and press again ½". This creates a ½" double-turned hem.
  3. Edgestitch the hem in thread to match the fabric. Set aside.
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Attaching the facing

  1. With right sides together, pin the outer curved edge of the Curved Facing to the curved edge of the Right Front Panel.
  2. Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance.
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  3. Clip small triangle shapes out of the curved edge seam allowances every ¾- 1" along the length of the curved edge, being very careful to not cut through the seam. These notches provide easing for the curve to help the seam allowance lay flat when you turn the facing under.
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  4. From the right side of the fabric, press the facing and both seam allowances to the left. The facing should lay on top of both seam allowances.
  5. Edgestitch along the facing seam, so the stitching goes through the facing layer and both seam allowances. This is called 'understitching' and will help prevent the facing/pillow seam from rolling. It keeps the facing flat and in place... like freshly cut bangs.
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  6. Run a zig zag stitch along the entire raw edge of the facing. This will help prevent the fraying that is so common with silks. You could also use a serger for this step.
  7. Fold and press the facing under the Left Front Panel so the understitched seam is a scant 1/16" (that's sewing lingo for 'just a little bit under 1/16') from the edge. It will want to naturally fold in this manner without you trying too hard.
  8. You now have a crisp, curved edge without any topstitching. And... quite possibly, you've made your first faced, understitched edge! Can elaborate blouses be far behind?!?
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The buttonhole

  1. Mark the placement for the buttonhole on the Right Front Curved Panel based on your original paper template. In our sample, we first marked the two holes in the button with pins. Then, we measured up ¾" and down ¾" from these pins, and drew a straight line connecting them to indicate the length and angle of the buttonhole.
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  2. If you use an unusually-shaped button like we did, you will most likely need to create a manual buttonhole. This type of button does not fit in a traditional automatic buttonhole foot.
  3. Make the buttonhole.
  4. If you are new to buttonholes, read your machine's manual for instructions and check out our tutorial, How to Make a Buttonhole.

Finish the pillow

  1. Find that poor Left Front Panel you set aside so long ago.
  2. Place it flat on your work surface right side up, which means the hemmed edge is to your right.
  3. Measure 7½" from the left raw edge of this panel along both the top and bottom edges, and mark each point with a pin.
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  4. Lay the Right Front Curved Panel on top of the Left Front Panel, so the top and bottom curved edge corners on the Right Front Curved Panel line up with the pins on the Left Front Panel. The wrong side of the curved panel should be against the right side of the left panel so when you look at the overlapped panels they are both right side up with the hems overlapped.
  5. Pin these panels together at the top and bottom, including the width of the facing, and sew a short horizontal seam approximately ¼" from the raw edge. This is called a line of 'staystitching'. With the two panels 'locked' together like this, you can now work with them as one piece... much easier for the final steps.
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    NOTE: Before sewing the ¼" staystitch, when the panels are pinned together, it's a good idea to measure both the top and bottom edges before actually sewing the panels together. Make sure the width is the same at the top and the bottom. Then double-check that the height is the same along both the left and right sides. All sides should measure 15" for a perfect 15" x 15" square. Adjust your overlap as necessary before sewing to get to a perfect 15" x 15".
  6. With right sides together, pin the assembled Front Panel to the Back Panel around all four sides.
  7. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around all four sides.
  8. Clip all four corners.
  9. Turn the pillow inside out through the front panel opening. Use a blunt end tool, like a large knitting needle or a chopstick, to help push out the corners so they are as square as possible.
  10. Flatten out the panels so the front neatly overlaps.
  11. Mark the placement of the button on the Left Front Panel by sticking a pin through the middle of the buttonhole on the Right Front Curved Panel.
  12. Sew the button in place securely, using matching thread.
    NOTE: Because the thickness of pillow forms can vary quite a bit, it is often a good idea to mark the position of your buttonhole with the pillow form in place to make sure your overlap is correct for the fluffiness of your particular pillow. First mark it with the cover empty, as described above, then double check the marks with the pillow form in place. Simply remove the form prior to sewing make it easier to stitch the button in place.
  13. Stuff the insert into the pillow cover through the button opening, making sure to fluff out the corners.
  14. Button the button to close the opening.

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Project Concept: Alicia Thommas

Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Gregory Dickson



Comments (1)

PNW said:
PNW's picture
I love this pillow. I like all the silk pillows this week. I'm going to wait to see them all and make some for my sofa.