Sew4Home Designer, Alicia Thommas was pondering a pillow one day, as she is often known to do, when a thought struck her. ‘This poor little pillow’s so plain,’ she mused. ‘It needs a new look, a fresh take, a … new wardrobe!’ Thus was born a Sew4Home exclusive: the Pillow Jacket. It’s like an outfit for your pillow. The jacket slips over a complimentary fabric-covered pillow to create a new and unique, layered look. This adorable pinafore version is our debut version.
We love how the Pillow Jacket can give one simple throw pillow the flexibility to mix and match fabrics and create a virtually endless variety of combinations. Change out the base pillow’s jacket to match a room’s new color scheme, to freshen up your decor for the change of seasons, or just because it’s fun to play dress up; especially when you don’t have to keep track of those pointy little Barbie® shoes.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Sewist 500)
Fabric and Other Supplies
- ½ yard of 45″ wide fabric for inside pillow front panel: we used Patty Young’s Andalucia in Paprika Tiny Dots
- ½ yard of 45″ wide fabric for inside pillow back panels: we used Patty Young’s Andalucia in Paprika Tiny Dots
- ½ yard of 45″ wide fabric for pillow “jacket” and straps: we used Patty young’s Andalucia in Petal Mod Blooms
- ½ yard eyelet trim: we used a 4″ white eyelet
- ½ yard wide ric rac in coordinating color to jacket print: we used a deep pink
- All purpose thread
- 16″ x 16″ pillow insert
- 2 apx. 1″ buttons for jacket straps
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Hand sewing needle
- Straight pins
- Scissor or rotary cutter and mat
NOTE: All our instructions are based on using a 16″ x 16″ pillow form.
You can either draw the following rectangles directly onto your fabric with a fabric pencil or make a paper pattern for each, pin them to your fabric and cut around the patterns. We suggest folding your fabric in half lengthwise to make a folded piece 22½” x 18″. Then you can line up all your pieces and make fewer cuts. If you have a strong directional pattern as we did, make sure all your pieces are running the same way.
- From the Paprika Tiny Dots, cut one piece 17″ x 17″ for the pillow front.
- From the Paprika Tiny Dots, cut two pieces 12½” x 17″ for the pillow envelope back.
- From the Petal Mod Blooms, cut two pieces 4″ x 17″ for top band of pinafore jacket.
- From the Petal Mod Blooms, cut two pieces 10″ x 17″ for bottom panel of pinafore jacket.
- From the Petal Mod Blooms, cut four pieces 3″ x 15″ for jacket suspenders.
- Trim ric rac to 17″.
Create a Test Buttonhole
- Before you make a buttonhole on your actual project, it’s a good idea to make a test buttonhole to make sure all of your settings are accurate.
- Meausure the size of your button from one side to the other (the diameter).
- Calculate the size of your buttonhole, using this formula: diameter of button + ¼”. In our sample, our chosen button measures 1″ across, so the buttonhole will need to be 1″ + ¼”or 1¼”. NOTE : If you have a thick or oddly shaped button, you will need to make your buttonhole slightly longer.
- Using your chosen button, and following the buttonholing instructions included in your sewing machine’s manual, stitch a buttonhole on a scrap of test fabric. For additional tips on creating the perfect buttonhole, read our tutorial, How to Make a Buttonhole.
- Test that your chosen button fits well through your sample buttonhole. If the buttonhole seems too snug, you’ll need to make the buttonhole slightly longer. Make any adjustments to the buttonhole, stitching a new sample if necessary.
- Write down the settings that worked best for your buttonhole, for use in the project below.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Create the inside pillow cover
- Take one piece of your pillow back fabric and turn under the right side of the fabric ½” along the entire width of the piece (the 17″ side in our sample). Press.
- Fold under an additional 1½” and press.
- Edgestitch along the folded edge to make a clean double-turn hem.
- Repeat steps 1-3 with the other piece of pillow back fabric.
- Take both back pieces and overlap the hems to yield the correct finished height (17″ in our sample). Pin hems together.
- Working as close to the edge as possible, stitch the sides of the hems together to secure and create one piece. It’s easier to work with one piece when stitching the front of the pillow to the back.
- Place the pillow front right sides together with the pillow back piece created above.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, sew around all four sides of the pillowcase.
- Trim all four corners of the pillow.
- Using the envelope opening on the back, turn the pillow covering right side out. Push out the trimmed corners from the inside to make nice, square corners on the outside. Use your finger or a blunt-edge tool, like a large knitting needle.
- Insert the pillow form through the envelope closure and fluff out the corners of the pillow covering evenly.
Create the trim for the pinafore
- First you need to create gentle gathers in the eyelet trim.
- Iron the eyelet trim. At your sewing machine, choose a Straight stitch and set the length of the stitch to long. On my machine this is anywhere from 6 to 8.
- Stitch along the top of the eyelet trim, keeping your stitches within ½” of the edge of the trim. Leave at least 4″ long needle and bobbin thread tails at the beginning and end of your stitching. DO NOT BACK TACK when you create this seam; the stitches need to be pulled to create the gathers.
- Stitch a second row of stitching about ¼” in from the edge of the eyelet trim. Again, leave long tails when you snip your thread, and do not back tack. You now have paralle lines of stitching
- At one end of your fabric tie the upper and lower threads together into a knot. This will keep your upper thread (the one that goes through the needle) from pulling through.
- At the other end of stitches in the trim GENTLY tug on the two TOP threads. Your trim will slide along these threads like a curtain on a curtain rod, forming ruffles. Continue pulling, adjusting and evening the ruffles as you go, until the length of the trim measures 17″. Tie a knot in your other loose threads.
- Even out the gathers until you are happy with the effect.
- Next, you’ll attach the ric rac to the eyelet.
- Pin the ric rac to the top of the eyelet trim so that the CENTER of the ric rac falls exactly ½” in from the edge of the eyelet trim. Be very exact with this step; otherwise the ric rac won’t be positioned correctly when you attach it to the pinafore piece.
- Stitch ric rac in place, positioning the stitches just above the center of the ric rac. Why above ? Because by stitching just above the center, when you eventually stitch the ruffle/ric rac to the pinafore piece, you can use your standard ½” seam allowance and it will go down the exact center of the ric rac, but won’t expose the stitches that attached the ric rac to the eyelet because they are above the ½” seam line.
Create suspenders for the pinafore
- Find a household object with a curve that measures about 2″. This will provide a template for creating the curve of the suspender pieces. We used a spool of thread. If you’re a more confident drawer than I am, you could sketch a curve ½” from the sides and bottom edge of the 3″ x 14″ suspender pieces.
- Using a template or hand sketching, draw a curve on one end of two of the 3″ x 15″ suspender pieces.
- Place a suspender piece with a curve sketch right sides together with a plain suspender piece, aligning all edges. You should have two pairs.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch these pieces together. Sew down one side, then along the drawn curve at the end of the piece, and up the other side. Leave the opposite end of the piece open for turning.
- Trim the corners off of the sewn end.
- Make a few cuts on the curved end of the piece; this eases the seam and reduces bulk when you turn the suspender right side out.
- Turn each suspender right side out and press flat.
- Set your sewing machine to the buttonhole settings you identified above. Using your test buttonhole, mark the placement of the buttonhole with a fabric marking pen.
- Create the buttonhole in each suspender piece. It should start about ½” from the bottom of the curve.
Assemble the pinafore
- Create a simple hem along one long edge of both the 4″ x 17″ Petal Mod Blooms top band pieces. To do this, fold under ½” along one 17″ edge and press. Then fold under an additional 1″ and press. Stitch the hem down, sewing close to the fold in the fabric. For more information on hemming, read our tutorial, How to Make a Simple Hem.
- With right sides together, pin the eyelet trim piece to the unfinished 17″ edge of one top band piece.
- Being VERY careful to use a precise ½” seam allowance, stitch the two pieces together.
- With right sides together, pin the 10″ x 17″ Petal Mod Blooms bottom panel piece to the top band/eyelet trim piece you just made above.
- Placing your stitches directly in the stitches made in step 3 above, sew the all the layers together.
- Press open, ironing the trim so it lays down on the bottom panel piece. This completes the pinafore front. Set aside.
- Measure 3″ in from each side of the remaining 10″ x 17″ bottom panel piece, along one 17″ side. With your fabric pencil, make a mark at each 3″ point. The outer edge of each suspender will line up here.
- With right sides together, layer the other Petal Mod Blooms top band piece, the two suspender pieces (lined up with the marks made above), and the remaining 10″ x 17″ bottom panel piece. The unfinished edge of each suspender piece will line up with the edge of the top band and the edge bottom panel. Pin all three pieces together.
- Carefully move to the sewing machine. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the three layers together, being very careful your stitching catches the suspenders correctly in the seam.
- With right sides together, pin the pinafore front to the pinafore back. The eyelet/ric rac trim will be sandwiched in the middle. Flip the suspenders up and out of the way.
- Stitch around three edges of the pinafore pieces, leaving the top hem unsewn.
- Turn pinafore right side out and press.
- Finally, we need to test the pinafore to place the buttons in the correct locations. Put the pinafore on the pillow.
- Extend the suspender straps to the front of the pinafore, laying them across the front top band.
- On the front of the pinafore, mark the locations for the buttons based on the location of the buttonholes.
- Stitch the buttons in place. Pay special attention that the buttons are sewed on very, very tighly, so that baby can’t pull off a button and put it in her mouth!
- Place the inner pillow cover on the pillow form, slide the inner pillow into the pinafore pocket, hook up the suspenders. You just ‘dressed up’ your pillow in its new pinafore pillow jacket.
Project Desgin: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Heather Tucker
Instructions: Alison Newman