Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chevron and Bear Pillows

A baby update is coming soon (he's crawling as of this week!), but for now, I wanted to tell you about a crafty project I just finished--new covers for our couch pillows! After having good luck with my starburst floor pillows a few months ago, I decided that I wanted to try making a chevron pillow top, and with a little help from our old friend geometry, that's just what I did! (I also put some bears on the backs of the pillows for good measure)

Chevron Pillow Covers

Pillow Covers: Chevron and Greenland Bear

I've outlined all of the steps for making the chevron pillow tops below. The approach is hard to explain in words, but hopefully the pictures will help.

Chevron Pillow Cover

Like I've said before, I'm a novice quilter, so there may be an easier way of accomplishing this (using striped fabric, for instance). My pillow tops didn't end up particularly flat--probably a combination of cutting the fabric on the bias and stretching it to make all the seams line up. You might get tidier results if you use quilting-weight cotton; I used Kaffe Fassett shot cottons, which are beautiful but not very structured.

  1. Select the two fabrics you'll use for your pillow top. Cut eighteen 1.5" x 18" strips of each fabric (straight across; not on the bias). I bought a half yard of each of my fabrics, which made it easy to cut my strips, since my fabric was already 18" long.

    Chevron Pillow Top: Step 1

    Note: These instructions will yield a chevron block that's about 15" wide by 19" long. If you'd like your finished block to be wider, make your strips longer (for example, if you use 1.5" x 20" strips, you'll end up with a ~17" x 19" block). If you'd like a longer block, cut more than eighteen strips.

  2. Sew together your strips (I used a 1/4-inch allowance for all seams), alternating colors, and staggering the ends of each strip by about 1/2". Stop when you have sewn together 18 strips. Press your seams to one side.

    Chevron Pillow Top: Step 2

    Chevron Pillow Top: Step 3

    Chevron Pillow Top: Step 4

  3. Repeat with the remaining strips, staggering them by 1/2" in the other direction. You'll end up with one right-leaning 18-strip parallelogram and one left-leaning 18-strip parallelogram. Babies find these very interesting, FYI.

    Chevron Pillow Top: Step 5

  4. Using the markings on a cutting mat (or a protractor, I suppose), cut the ends off one of your parallelograms at a 60-degree angle from the bottom.

    Chevron Pillow Top: Step 6

  5. Line up the cut edge of the parallelogram with the 0-line of the cutting mat, and cut 1.5-inch-wide strips until you run out of fabric (I was able to get 8 strips from each of my parallelograms; if you're lucky, you might get 9 strips).

    Chevron Pillow Top: Step 7

  6. Repeat with the other parallelogram. You should end up with 8 strips with left-leaning stripes and 8 strips with right-leaning stripes.

    Chevron Pillow Top: Step 8

  7. Take one left-leaning strip and one right-leaning strip, place them right sides together, and sew along the left side, lining up the stripe seams as you go. Do this for four pairs of strips. For the four remaining pairs of strips, do the same thing, but sew along the right side instead of the left side.

    Chevron Pillow Top: Step 9

  8. Press open. When you line up the strips with all of the V's pointing in the same direction, you should have four strips that have color A at the top and four strips that have color B at the top (shown here alternating, as they will be in the finished block).

    Chevron Pillow Top: Step 10

  9. Sew your strips together, alternating your A-top strips and your B-top strips and lining up your stripe seams as you go. Press open. You're done!

    I ended up with a 15" x 19" block. I cut this down to a 15" square and then added a border to make the top big enough for my pillow.

    Chevron Pillow Top: Step 11

    Finished Chevron Pillow Top

I made my finished chevron blocks into zippered pillow covers using this handy tutorial.

Chevron Pillow Cover

Chevron Pillow Cover

The pillow backs have bears on them, in case we get tired of looking at the chevron sides.

Bears in Love Pillow

The first pillow has two appliqued bear silhouettes. To do this, I enlarged this image, printed it out, and traced it onto freezer paper to make a pattern. I ironed the freezer paper pattern onto some leftover blue fabric and then placed that on top of a piece of white fabric (though in retrospect, using more blue fabric as the applique backing would have looked neater). I sewed around the bear outline on the freezer paper (using a short stitch length so the freezer paper would be easy to tear off), leaving an opening for turning the applique inside out. Then I tore off the freezer paper.

Bear Applique In Progress

I trimmed around the bear outline, leaving about 1/4 inch of fabric and clipping the curves. Then I turned it inside out, ironed it flat, and sewed it onto the putty-colored backing fabric. I repeated this for the mirror-image bear and for the heart. The fabric silhouettes don't look quite as crisp as the original image, but I think they still look pretty bear-like. By the way, this lined applique technique is based on Anna Maria Horner's Love Emblem pattern. I like it!

The second pillow is freezer-paper-stenciled with the Greenland coat of arms. We have no affiliation with Greenland; we just thought their coat of arms was pretty cool-looking (sorry, Greenland, for appropriating your cultural symbols for our couch cushions!). Man, do I love freezer paper stenciling! I should do it more often.

Greenland Coat of Arms Pillow

I used the stenciled fabric as the center of a rectangular sawtooth star block. Not as easy as making a a square-centered sawtooth star block, it turns out, but it all worked out in the end.

Yay for new couch pillows!