18 February 2016

Cushioned, or how to turn a needlepoint into a pillow in a few easy steps

Anyone who crafts knows the heartache of running out of storage and display space. Unfortunately, the joy of creating doesn't come with a TARDIS. Life is unfair. If you're heavy into needlepoint or embroidery, limited wall space is your main nemesis (damn windows taking up prime real estate). One way around this is to turn your needlepoint into a pillow. If you have basic sewing skills, it's actually really easy. This is the first pillow I've made and it took me about three hours total, including breaks and picture taking (but not including making the needlepoint).

You can make a pillow out of any needlepoint, but you can also get kits specifically meant to be turned into pillows. The kits come with a heavier, yarn-like, thread that will hold up better to wear and tear than the finer silk or cotton threads usually used in needlework. My aunt gave me the kit I used for this pillow (as well as supplying the basic instructions for the pillow-making technique). Thanks, Thia Toula :)

Step 1: Have a completed needlepoint on hand.

Step 2: You'll need two pieces of fabric the size of the needlepoint. One should complement the needlepoint design; the other one won't show so the colour doesn't matter. I was lucky and found the perfect red fabric in my stash:

Step 3: Iron the fabric.

Handy tip: if you hate ironing, then sewing isn't for you.
I decided to trim the excess canvas from the edges of the needlepoint.

Step 4: Once the fabric is ironed, pin needlepoint to it with the design facing outward (if you're using two fabrics, use the one that won't be showing):

Step 5: Once fabric is pinned, cut it to the size of the needlepoint. I decided to trim the canvas a bit more and ended up regretting it. Longer edges will be tucked inside the pillow anyway, but super short ones have little bits that tend to poke through the seams once the pillow is finished. Next time I'll leave them about a centimeter (half an inch) long on all sides. 

Step 6: Use the first piece of fabric as a template for the second piece: pin both together and cut the second piece to match the first.

Step 7: Pin the first piece of fabric to the back of the needlepoint again and sew all around the edge, keeping the needle as close to the needlepoint edge as possible. Make sure all the fabric is attached securely.

Step 8: Next pin the second piece of fabric--right side down--to the front of the needlepoint. Leave one end unpinned (preferably a short end).

Step 9: Sew around three sides, leaving the unpinned end open. When sewing, keep the needle close to the edge of the needlepoint, but it's okay to sew onto the needlepoint if you need to. Double check to make sure the three sewn edges are secured and there are no gaps in the stitching.

I left the short end on the right open after sewing the other three sides

Step 10: Now you need to turn the pillow right side out. Do this gently so that you don't accidentally rip a seam open. If you pull too hard, or didn't check your stitching well enough, you will discover something like this:

If you find stitching gaps, you'll have to turn the pillow inside out again, rip out the bad stitches and loose threads, and re-sew it. This is something you'll want to avoid, if you can help it. Once you're all done, you'll have an empty case.

Step 11: Before continuing, iron the whole thing again, paying particular attention to the edges.

Step 12: Have something to put inside your new case. If your needlepoint is a standard size, you can buy a ready-made pillow form. Mine was an unusual shape, so I bought a bag of fiber fill. I don't think the type matters--I got this on sale at Michaels. But if you have an option, it's probably a good idea to go with a brand that's washable and hypo-allergenic.

It's so fluffy!

Step 13: With fiber fill, just grab handfuls of it and place them inside the case. You can fill your pillow as much or as little as you like. I stuffed mine like a sausage, using most of that large bag of filler. I can use my pillow as a blunt weapon now...

The sad remains
 Now it's pillow shaped:

Step 15: But you still have an open end. This will require hand stitching to finish off (and this is why it was best to leave a short end open). If you don't know how to hand stitch, you can check out this tutorial or this video tutorial or Google how to hand stitch a pillow closed. Any of those options will explain it better than I can.

Once you've sewn the final edge shut, you're done! My pillow is actually supposed to be placed in front of a door to block drafts, but that's not happening. An obstacle in front of a door seems like asking for trouble in case of an emergency. Also, who wants to move a pillow every time they open the door? Besides, in this house we have actual cats, so a floor pillow is another name for a fur-magnet/hairball-target. This "draft stopper" is staying on the sofa, where it looks cuter than on the floor and is much handier for snuggling.

Questions? Comments? If I wasn't clear about something, please let me know and I'll do my best to clarify. Hopefully now you can stop fretting about diminishing wall space and start turning your needlework creations into pillows. Just try not to think about where all those pillows are going to go...

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