Monday, October 11, 2010

Shut Up and Sew: Pillowcases & Fabric Discounts

First off, a huge THANK YOU to all of you guys for your incredible feedback from last week's edition of Shut Up and Sew!!

I was so excited to start this series, but for some reason the night before I published it, I started getting all nervous about it, and my husband had to endure one of those conversations where I was all, "I'm not very confident writing about sewing...maybe they'll think it's dumb that I showed off my mistakes...there are lots of tutorials out there on sewing..." And he said all of those husband things, "Erin, you worry too'll be fine." And he was right! Truly, sometimes you guys are good for my self-esteem. :) I was feeling very encouraged Monday as I was reading your comments, suggestions, encouragements, and new project suggestions, so thanks a million!! And now I'm going crazy over all of the sewing projects to do next!! So keep coming back for more, and please keep giving me your suggestions, it looks like Shut Up and Sew will be around for a while. :)


Beginner Sewing Tips

I loved the tips that you all left for me in the comments section, so I thought I'd share a few here.

-Rebecca at This Present Life: I have found that using white thread and a zig zag stitch when making burp cloths is muuuuch more forgiving than a straight stitch in colored thread. (Great idea!)

-Carole Davids: When I make these, on the end where the serged edge of the burp cloth is, I trim the burp cloth to match the edge of my fabric and use a zig zag or over lock stitch to finish that edge. This way, there isnt a gap between the edgeof your colored fabric and the burp cloth. (Such a great idea! Those burp cloths are really uneven, and it would totally take care of that! )

-Tanna: If you are a perfectionist you can use a little metal ruler found at Jo-Ann's that has a slider on it so you can measure the folded fabric all at the same measurement. Also leaving the edges raw will give that shabby chick look that is so popular right now. (Tanna, I am such a perfectionist. I will be happily trading my 40% off coupon for one of those sliders asap.)

-Mom2fur: ALWAYS hold on to the ends of your threads before you start sewing, just until you've done a few stitches. This will keep it from getting all tangled up. (You're so right! I still forget, this should have been on last week's list, but I forgot!! Now I'm on it.)

-Jamie W: A tip I have for sewing straight lines is to use your overcast foot. It gives you a guide for the edge of your folded fabric (that little metal piece that extends from the right side of the foot- mine is black), just use a straight stitch instead of an overcast. It gives you a perfectly straight stitch very close to the edge of the folded fabric. (Overcast foot. Not sure what that is, but I'll be looking it up this week because I do want that perfectly straight stitch close to the edge!!)

-Diane: The ONE thing that I thought of that was missing (which I really did like your simple tips at the beginning) is backstitching at the beginning and end of your sewing. When you start sewing stitch two stitches forward, two stitches back and then you're off! (Thanks Diane! I had never done this before, but did it on these pillowcases. These are the types of tips that someone who is self teaching sewing would never know, so thanks!!)

Today's Project is an Easy and Beautiful Set of Pillowcases


I got the tutorial and fabric for this project from Anna at Crafty Girls Workshop, and let me tell you, she is amazing. She was super helpful when I was trying to figure out which fabric to get and how to purchase the different measurements. (I've never shopped for fabric online before, give me a break!) She even has a pillowcase kit for these pillows, which you can see here, that has the measurements for this particular pattern already set. If you are loving the red and aqua combo as much as I am, the fabrics I've used are already slotted in. Or if you want different fabrics you just tell her at checkout and you're ready to go. Easy easy! Also, I have to say that I was amazed (and delighted) that I ordered my fabric on Thursday afternoon, and it was IN MY MAILBOX on MONDAY MORNING!! That is some serious customer service!!

Now, onto today's tutorial!

Materials needed: 3 coordinating fabrics, sewing machine, scissors, pins, iron, pattern.

This was my first time ever sewing from a pattern, (which you can find here), I was a little nervous but ready to get this under my belt!

Pillowcase #1

I started off by pre-washing my fabrics, ironing them, and trimming off the frayed edges.

Picnik collage.jpg

I then cut my fabrics to the appropriate sizes. The pattern calls for

3/4 yard for pillowcase body = 27 inches wide x 42 inches long

1/4 yard for pillowcase band = 9 inches wide x 42 inches long

1/8 yard for accent band = 4.5 inches wide x 42 inches long

(I didn't know off of the top of my head what yardage fractions were, so I googled it. Just in case you didn't know either.)

Luckily, 2 of the fabrics that I used had a fun repetitive pattern on them, and I used this as a guide to help me to cut straight. (See, I'm cutting off the little left quadrefoil bud on the pattern below.) I needed all the help I could get to cut these straight, now I see why people use cutting mats and rotary blades!


I folded the fabric for the pillowcase bands in half lengthwise, and ironed them. I then pinned them so that their raw edges lined up, and sewed them together with a straight stitch.


I laid out the material for the pillowcase body, facing up. I lined up the raw edges of the pillowcase body and the pillowcase band, with the accent band sandwiched between the other 2 fabrics, and pinned it in place.


I then did a straight stitch to attach the band to the pillowcase body.


I unfolded the fabrics and they looked like this. Gorgeous!! Now that the bands were attached to the body, it was time to turn this fabric into a pillowcase!


I folded the pillowcase in half, inside out, and pinned the edges to be sewn. I grabbed a pillowcase off of a nearby pillow from my bed and lined it up over my soon-to-be-pillowcase to double check the measurements. Anna's tutorial gives you a little extra fabric to allow some room for error, (bless her for that!), so I wanted to make sure that it wasn't measuring too big, and pinned it accordingly.


I did a straight stitch about 1/2 inch from the edge around the 2 raw edges of the pillowcase. I then trimmed off the excess fabric from the edges and sewed the edges with a zig zag stitch to secure them. I switched to red thread here so that I could see what I was doing a little bit better. (I had never zig zag stitched an edge before, it only sounds scary!)

Picnik collage5.jpg

Okay, so pillow #1 was finished, and it was time for pillowcase #2. Everything always seems to go a bit better the second time around, and this was no exception.

First off, I realized that I didn't actually NEED to trim off the frayed edge of the pillowcase body fabric before I started sewing, because I would be trimming this part of the fabric after I did the straight stitch around the pillow anyway. Agh, unnecessary trimming! I saved myself the time and effort the second time around.

Picnik collage2.jpg

I also read Diane's tip about doing backstitch at the beginning and end of sewing to secure the thread just before I started my second pillowcase. I had never done this before, so I sat down at my machine and discovered that there was a little reverse lever. When I pushed it down my machine sewed backwards, and when I released it the machine sewed forward again. An easy step that took almost no extra effort, but definitely made a difference.


I flipped them inside out and I was done!! The first pillowcase took about 1 1/2 hours because I was so constantly double checking the pattern, did some extra cutting and worked in that slower pace that you take when you are unsure about exactly how to do something. But the second pillowcase took less than an hour! I was actually feeling confident with it!!


There are now 2 gorgeous pillowcases adorning my guest bed. I'm so happy with them, almost more so than decorative pillows because they won't get tossed on the floor as soon as our guests are ready for bed, and the fabric is so soft!! Also, I love how this pattern makes the stitching on the bands invisible!! All you see is beautiful double sided fabric, it's perfect!

Picnik collage4.jpg

Also, this wouldn't be Shut Up and Sew if I didn't show you my flubs as well. I wasn't as careful as I should have been when I was lining up the bands. Sigh. The tutorial even calls for you to pay special attention when lining up the seams of the bands, but I guess I was just so close to the finish line that I was overexcited and rushing a bit. That's my excuse anyway. I'll do better next time. Luckily the pattern is beautifully busy, so it's not really going to draw the eye like it might in another project.

Picnik collage3.jpg

Beautiful, right?! Are they just as fun as throw pillows? Would you like to make some?


Anna from Crafty Girls Workshop is offering all of you Lemon Tree Creations readers a 10% discount off of your order so that you can get started on some fun pillowcases, or whatever else you need fabric for. So head on over and pick out your new favorite fabrics! Just enter the codeCGW10 at checkout for your discount. She also is having a huge sale on charm packs that you won't want to miss!


So what is next for Shut Up and Sew? I got a lot of great feedback from you guys, so just a sample of the things we'll be covering...

-Threading the machine and overall dealing with the bobbin. (It seems worse than it is. But at the beginning, it is very scary. We'll go over this.)

-Sewing with knits.

-Pillows!! Lots of you were looking for throw pillows, and luckily we have a pillow expert among us!

-More information about your machine. So many of you have one but have no idea how to use it. I'm with you! We can figure it out together!!

-Gifts, particularly for expectant moms and new babies. I have some fun, cute, and EASY projects up my sleeves. Perfect for us beginners.

-Gorgeous fabrics, fun etsy shops, beginner patterns, and discounts for Lemon Tree Creations readers. What more could you want?!

(Seriously, this is your time to talk. Tell me what else you want me to cover from a learner's perspective and I'll try to get on it. Or I'll at least think about it.) :)

Also, please keep those tips coming!! I've learned so much from you guys in just one week!

Come back the first 2 weeks of November to check it all out!!

I'll be sharing these pillows with the lovely ladies behind these link parties, so join in on the fun here.

See you soon!!

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cindy @ cottage instincts October 11, 2010 at 6:33 AM  

love that fabric! Great tutorial too. I'm going to be adding some trim to pillowcases I bought for my dd's room that are too short. Sewing is so satisfying...wish I had more time to play with my machine. I'm hoping to make a slipcover for my sectional this winter, so I'm sure I'll be getting overly aquainted with it soon enough :)

So glad you could Mi4M!

Sonya@Beyond the Screen Door October 11, 2010 at 9:29 AM  

These are adorable! I love the color combination.

Twin Inspiration October 11, 2010 at 2:00 PM  

Great tutorial! I have been wanting to make some pillowcases for my kids rooms. I also make plenty of mistakes while sewing. I still love it though. Following from Skip To My Lou link party.


Skooks October 11, 2010 at 4:00 PM  

Yummy fabric combo! I learned how to sew almost completely from gathering sewing tips from around the blogosphere. It's nice to see people giving tips for other newbies to discover. Great job on the pillows. I must make some of those up sometime!

Suzie October 11, 2010 at 6:01 PM  

Such a great job! Love the colors on the pillow cases. Keep up the good work!

Kelsee October 11, 2010 at 10:25 PM  

Ok ladies! You all are just too awesome for words! Thanks for the inspiration! I have an award for you over at my blog!

Patrice October 12, 2010 at 8:15 AM  

These turned out so well! I love them. They seriously look professional!

Patrice October 12, 2010 at 8:15 AM  

These turned out so well! I love them. They seriously look professional!

Taylor-Ann October 12, 2010 at 11:27 AM  

Love the pillow cases you made. To get all the ladies invloved and learning as you go...maybe have a link party for readers to show case their examples from your weekly project.

Beth October 12, 2010 at 6:02 PM  

Those are beautiful! I posted a pillowcase project this week, too :-) Halloween themed!!


Olivia Renn October 12, 2010 at 11:16 PM  

Great tips! I plan on making new pillow cases for my son's bed soon. Thanks for sharing!

I would love for you to link up to my link party:

Sally Hamilton October 13, 2010 at 1:46 PM  

I make pillowcases all the time - usually to match a quilt. They are easy and fast to sew together and the cotton fabrics iron up so beautifully. They are great gift ideas for little ones and for adults. Good Job!

Crystal October 13, 2010 at 11:18 PM  

I definitely don't sew, but in school I took a class and learned how to make pillows. Even though that was in 8th grade over 14 years ago I am sure I could make this pillow case. I just love the fabric used for it! Thanks for sharing. I am going to be trying this as soon as I can!

Leanne October 13, 2010 at 11:54 PM  

I need to make some of these. Thanks for linking to We're Organized Wednesday.

Cozy Home Scenes October 14, 2010 at 9:44 AM  

Love the fabric. Looks like you did a great job on your pillowcases.

Chantal October 14, 2010 at 9:34 PM  

Thanks so much for sharing this! I love the fabrics you've chosen.

janimal October 15, 2010 at 8:14 AM  

Fabulous fabric choice!
You won't be a beginner long. Look at you just zooming along!

For the simplest introduction to sewing garments - check out the free Lazy Days Skirt pattern on the Oliver and S website. Master that, and you can move on to the free Popover Dress Pattern. I swear they are easy and so well explained that total beginners can handle them. And SO cute!

Looking forward to seeing what you do next!

Joy October 15, 2010 at 11:16 AM  

love your fabric choices and the tutorial is great! I have been wanting to make some fun pilowcases! Please come share your project on Fantabulous Firday!

Tiffini October 15, 2010 at 11:53 AM  

I too am a newbie at mom can sew anything!! I have just recently purchased a sewing machine and am trying some easy things. I LOVE your authenticity!! Much needed. We all have to start at the beginning and we all make mistakes...:)

Taylor-Ann October 15, 2010 at 1:12 PM  

Erin- I just had to feature this pillow. You sure can't tell your new at this. Great job.


Becolorful October 15, 2010 at 11:19 PM  

I don't know what it is, the pop of the colors or their freshness but I am so drawn to these two colors together lately. Thanks for linking this project up too at Motivated Monday.
Make the weekend a good one.

Meg October 16, 2010 at 9:08 AM  

Oh, I love the fabric you chose. So pretty! Thank you for the tutorial, I will be trying this in the future. It seems like only straight lines are involved, so I should be ok! I would love for you to share this at my link party going on now! I'm also having a giveaway to CSN stores, too! Check it out!

Katie's Nesting Spot October 20, 2010 at 12:35 AM  

So happy to see you at A Crafty Soiree again. I am the person this tute was written for! Writing down the start date for your series of posts too. The whole bobbin thing, totally me...clueless! Can't wait for more tips and cute projects like this. Really love the fabric you picked the aqua and red is so pretty together. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to seeing you next time too:)

Remodelaholic November 5, 2010 at 2:25 PM  

Erin- This is AMAZING! I am behind on party Highlights but I want to feature this on our new craft blog Polly Want a Crafter, during our DIY Gift Ideas week 11/26 @ 7:00 am. I hope you get some new traffic from it!

Keep up your awesome series of sewing crafts! So cool!

our sweet life January 29, 2011 at 7:54 AM  

i just found your blog and i love the shut up and sew part of it. i've just recently re-found my love of sewing and am sewing up a storm (although i'm still working on the shutting-up part ;). i'll definitely be visiting on a regular basis. thanks for being so real about what works and doesn't~it's a huge help!

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