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Tree Hugger Body Pillow

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Is there an avid environmentalist on your gift list? Then this Tree Hugger pillow is a must have. It's ever so much better than hugging an actual tree, which tends to be not only scratchy, but annoying to the woodland creatures living in the branches. Body pillow inserts are easy to find and quite inexpensive. We got ours at a local variety store for just $9.99. If your environmentalist comes indoors now and then, it also makes a great crash pillow for a TV room or dorm room.

Of course you could use any kind of fabric you'd like to create this cool pillow cover. You'd just have to come up with a new name for it, maybe one with hearts all over it: Main Squeeze or one out of faux fur: Bear Hug. Ha! I got a million of 'em.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • Fabric for tree leaves: 1½ yards of 45" wide fashion weight fabric: we used Erin McMorris' Park Slope in Leaf Dots - Green
  • Fabric for tree trunk: 1 yard of 54" wide decorator weight fabric: we used Joel Dewberry's Ginseng in Pine - Chocolate
  • 20" x 54" body pillow insert (all the body pillow inserts we found were this same 20" x 54" size)
  • 5½ yards of 1" wide satin or grosgrain ribbon: we used a satin in chocolate brown
  • Fray Check or similar seam sealant
  • All purpose thread
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. From the tree trunk fabric (Joel Dewberry's Ginseng in Pine - Chocolate in our sample) cut two rectangles 21" wide x 35½" long.
    NOTE: Yes ... this cut is nearly the full yard length (36") you purchased. We alloted a ½" in case you have to trim and straighten out the bottom edge.
  2. From the tree leaves fabric (Erin McMorris' Park Slope in Leaf Dots - Green in our sample) cut one rectangle 42" wide x 47" long.
    NOTE: We LOVED this fabric from Erin McMorris, but were a bit bummed it wasn't available in a home decor weight. We didn't want the leaf fabric to be mismatched with the heavier weight of the tree trunk fabric. So, we decided to double our leaf fabric, which is why you need this large cut.
  3. Cut the ribbon into sixteen 12" lengths.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Fold your 42" x 47" leaf piece in half, WRONG sides together, creating a new piece 21" x 47". Keep in mind you now have a piece where both sides look like the right side. So, you're going to have to keep track of which side you're actually working on. Lay this piece flat down on your work surface.
  2. Take one 21" x 35½" tree trunk piece and pin it, right sides together to the leaf piece along one 21" side.
  3. Sew together, using a ½" seam. Iron seam flat.
  4. Repeat with the second 21" x 35½" tree trunk piece, pinning it, right sides together to the opposite 21" side.
  5. Sew together, using a ½" seam. Iron seam flat.
  6. Flip over this new, very long piece so the right side is facing up .
  7. To create the look of the ‘flap' between the leaves and trunk, make a Z-fold. Starting on one side, pinch the fabric at the seam to make a 1½" upright fold, then fold that fold down. That's right ... I said, "fold that fold down." This sounds like a hip hop move, but it is exactly what you do.
  8. If you look at it from the side, it forms a ‘Z' shape.
  9. Topstitch approximately 1" in from the bottom fold, making sure you catch the top of the inside fold.
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  10. Repeat on the opposite side.
  11. Fold the entire piece in half, right sides together, matching up the raw edges. Pin along both long edges.
    NOTE: Be careful to make sure your topstitching seams match up. This will make a nice continuous seam line when you turn the pillow case right side out.
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  12. Sew both long sides together, using a ½" seam. Iron seam flat. The bottom of the pillow case should remain un-sewn.

Hem and ribbon roots

  1. Working with the pillow case inside out, turn up the raw edge all around the bottom ½" and press. Turn up another ½" to encase the raw edge into a simple double-turn hem. Press. If you're new to hemming, read our tutorial: How to Make a Simple Hem.
  2. Find your 16 ribbon strips. Insert one end of each ribbon strip into your hem's fold, spacing eight of them evenly along one side. Pin in place.
    NOTE: If you are using a satin ribbon or another type of ribbon that has a definite right side and wrong side, you want the right side of the ribbons facing against the wrong side of the pillowcase.
  3. Flip the pillowcase over, and pin the remaining eight ribbon strips along the hem of this opposite side. Make sure the eight ribbons on the one side line up perfectly with the eight ribbons on the other side. Pin in place.
  4. Working one ribbon at a time, carefully remove its pin and fold the ribbon down across the hem so the ribbon hangs down into its finished position. Replace the pin.
  5. Repeat until all 16 ribbons are pinned in place. Check once more that your eight pairs of ribbons line up so you can tie them together neatly when you're done.
  6. Stitch all around the bottom edge approximately ¼" from the bottom folded edge. This secures both your hem and all the ribbons in place.
    Note: You are stitching from the back, which means your bobbin thread is what will show from the front. So, make sure you have threaded your machine with the same color thread in both the top and the bobbin.
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  7. Clip the top corners of the pillowcase and turn right side out.
  8. Apply a thin line of Fray Check (or similar product) to the bottom edge of each ribbon.
  9. Tie ribbons together. The knots will disappear under the hem, but we found that a simple square knot allow the ‘roots' to hang nicely and is easy to untie when you need to launder the cover.
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Hints and Tips

Hemming option if you don't like sewing in a circle

Hemming the bottom of the pillow means you have to work in a circle. If this makes you dizzy, you can pre-press your hem prior to sewing up the side seams.

Before you sew up your side seams (before step #12 above), press your ½" double fold hem. Don't sew it , just press the folds in place so they are nice and sharp. Unfold the pressed hem and sew up the side seams. Then, fold the hem back up and pin in place. The fabric will 'remember' its pre-pressed folds and it will be easier to make a nice, even hem all around the opening.

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Aimee McGaffey

Other machines suitable for this project include the Pfaff expression 2038 and the Bernina aurora 430.



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