One of the reasons Sew4Home came into existence was our desire to get new people interested in sewing. We wanted to prove sewing was within anyone's reach, even if you'd never even turned on a sewing machine before. It's why we're so focused on providing detailed instructions with helpful photos and make-no-assumptions steps. It's also why we make it a point to showcase the wonderful world of fabric, so you can see how easy it is to dip in and pull out one trendy look after another. You (and I do mean YOU) can create projects that are just as cool... if not more so, than what you find in those high end catalogs and über-expensive stores. Just remember one word: confidence. That's what You Can Do It! week is all about. We kick things off with today's super easy rag edge pillows. "Ragging" is seen most often in quilts and throws; a project is sewn together so the seams show on the outside rather than being hidden on the inside. After washing and drying, the seams gently fray or 'rag,' producing a softly distressed look and feel.
The trick to a good rag is to choose cotton and other natural, loose weave fabrics, which are more likely to ravel when washed and dried. A wider seam allowance is also common with this technique so you have more exposed edges, resulting is a deeper rag. Our thanks to Fabric.com for providing all the wonderful flannels for our leaning tower o' pillows, as well as the bold buttons. Fabric.com has a wonderful selection of flannel in solids, prints, plaids and more. We chose a great blend of prints that mimic the look of classic woolen patterns.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Sewist 500)
Fabric and Other Supplies
Amounts shown are for ONE 12" x 12" finished pillow
- ½ yard of 43-45" wide cotton flannel fabric; we used five different stripe and plaid flannels, all from Fabric.com
Three Yarn Died Fun Flannels by Henry Glass & Co.:
Forest Green Plaid
Gold and Black Check
One Cabin Fever Flannel by Timeless Treasures:
One Fox Trails Flannel by Riley Blake Designs:
- TWO 1" buttons; we used a selection of colors to coordinate with our flannels from Riley Blake's Sew Together button collection: 1" Matte Orange, 1" Matte Redand 1" Matte Brown
- ONE 12" x 12" pillow insert; we used a Soft Touch® Pillow Insert by Fairfield Processing
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Rotary cutter and mat
- Small, sharp scissors
- Tape measure
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Large hand sewing needle
- Nap riser brush(optional to help with ragging the edges)
- Normally, we would recommend preshrinking your fabric, however, for this project, we will do our washing within the project, because the frayed edges are part of the finished look of the project.
- From the unwashed flannel, cut TWO 13½" x 13½" squares.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Sew a line of stitching ¾" from ONE edge of each flannel square.
- Place the two squares WRONG sides together, aligning the raw edges all around and matching up the sides with the stitching.
NOTE: The lines of stitching along the un-sewn side of the pillow cover are there as a "rag stop." This side will be left open during washing and drying. Without a line of stitching, you could end up with too much ragging and not enough good fabric for a final seam.
- Pin in place along the three sides without the stitching.
- Using a ¾" seam allowance, stitch the three sides without the stitching. Remember to lock your seam at the beginning and end and to pivot at the corners.
- With the small, sharp scissors, snip all along the outside edges of the pillow approximately every ¼". These little cuts "distress" the edge of the fabric and are what will allow it to fray or "rag."
- Along the sewn sides, you are cutting through both layers.
- Along the open end, cut each layers, snipping up to but not through the stitching line.
- When clipped all around, wash and dry the pillow to soften and rag the edges. You may need to launder it more than once to achieve a good amount of ragging.
- You can also use a nap wire brush to help start the raggedy edge. And, you can use your scissors to trim away any especially long, loose threads.
- When you are happy with your ragged edge, insert the pillow form
- Match the two lines of stitching at the open end and pin in place.
- Stitch the two layers together, following along the previous line of stitching.
- Measure and mark the center of the pillow on both the front and back.
- With the large hand sewing needle and doubled thread, take a few stitches at the pillow center on one side to secure the thread.
- Slip one button onto the doubled thread, then insert the needle through the center of the pillow so that it comes out at the exact center of the other side.
- Slip the second button onto the doubled thread.
- Hand stitch back and forth between the buttons four or five times, pulling the thread up snuggly with each stitch so the buttons sink into the pillow.
- To finish, take a few stitches in place under one of the buttons to knot off. Trim ends.
Hints and Tips
For beginners, check out these tutorials:
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler