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I kind of feel like I am giving up some trade secrets here, but then again, I may be fooling myself. You all possibly know these tips already, and I’m just the last to find them out. Either way, I wish I had known these tips a year ago when I launched my quilted pillow cover business on Etsy.
Do I wish I could go back and re-sew all my covers? Not really. I’ve leaned many times over the last two years that this really is a documentary of ‘Kelli learning how to sew and quilt.’ I didn’t know everything two years ago, and I had to start somewhere. I knew I loved patchwork, and I pursued the trade. And, the more I learn right now, the more I realize I don’t know a lot of things.
I think sometimes of my husband’s aunt Elaine. She makes quilts for every single one of our children…and the rest of the children in the family. There is absolutely no way for me to make a quilt like her’s. I may be able to follow the same pattern and use the same fabrics, but in no way shape or form can I sew a quilt with the experience of someone who’s been quilting maybe forty plus years. The more I learn, the more I realize I have more to learn.
It’s kind of overwhelming but also taunting. I want to learn and make more quilts and go farther in the handicraft, but life only allows some much time and resources for that.
My mother-in-law comes at the drop of a hat anytime we ask her to come watch our children. Actually, we don’t even have to ask her. She just offers, honestly. She drives almost five hours and doesn’t bat an eye at it. A couple weekends ago she came so my husband and I could attend a special wedding without our children.
As a thank you, I decided to sew her a pillow cover. Her pillow cover is my first experiment in improving my covers for my shop. I did a few things differently with her cover, and I think I’ll be making the changes for good.
What three tips have improved my pillow covers?
1. I sewed French seams on the inside. No longer do I have frayed edges on the inside of the pillow.
The fraying on the inside doesn’t show at all on the pillow. So why did I eliminate it? Even though no one looking at the pillow may ever see the raw edges on the inside, my customer will see them when she puts in the insert. It just looks a bit sloppy. When the pillow cover goes through the wash, it’s going to look even sloppier as the threads and fibers unravel a bit. The French seam was a good idea for me.
The below picture is the inside of my pillow cover. (It’s wrong side out in the picture.)
2. I tapered the top of the pillow to make for much less pointy corners.
See in the below pillow (currently listed in my Etsy Shop)…see how the upper corners are super pointy. By tapering the seam allowances, the corners on the Dresen pillow are much more blunt. I think that’s a good change. The pillow cover fits tighter and the corners are more crisp.
Can you see the difference below with the new method? Do you know the step when you flip the pillow in side out to sew around the perimeter? Instead of sewing a quarter of an inch around the entire pillow, I gradually tapered in to a half of an inch seam allowance at the corners.
Here is the simple tapering in seam allowance as I sewed the pillow cover. I slowly moved from a quarter of an inch seam allowance to a half of an inch allowance at the corners.
3. I sewed a tight zig zag stitch around the zipper to prevent fraying.
In response to a tip on Instagram last week from SweetFeetStitches, I sewed a tight zig zag stitch over the raw edge of the zipper to prevent fraying. (You should follow Megan and her pretty feed!) While you can still see the raw edge, this is much better and will hopefully prevent messy threads and fibers from straying everywhere in the wash.
4. I hemmed the back panel before installing the zipper. In an attempt to remove as many raw edges as possible, I hemmed the back panel of the pillow at the bottom where it attaches to the zipper. This worked out great. I starched and ironed a nice finished crease before stitching in the zipper. Yet another raw edged changed for the better.
5. I’ve decided to learn how to sew an invisible zipper. This is an extra bonus tip that I have not accomplished yet…the intimidating hidden zipper. Once I use up this pack of zippers, my goal is to buy a zipper foot and some hidden zippers. Then I’ll need to stock up on multiple YouTube vidoes and tutorials to attempt to conquer the hidden zipper. I think it’d be a great improvement to my pillows. Let me know if you have some great resources for me!
You’ve seen a few different pillows in the course of this post. 🙂 For clarification, the Dresden pillow is for my mother-in-law. The pillow just above here is a new addition to my Etsy Shop. This one has also been made with tapered corners and French seams. The low volume gingham, dot, & floral pillow is also in my Etsy Shop waiting for a cheerful home.
What are your tips for sewing quilted pillow covers? Apparently I’m on a mission to discover all the secrets so please do share!