Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wednesday Sewing - Pillowcases

Pillowcases are a good beginning sewing project.  Once you figure out how easy they are, you'll never buy the boring plain pillowcases offered in home decor stores again!

This week, I'd like to introduce you to Big C, my niece.  She's learning to sew this summer and will be joining us for our beginning projects.

Materials List:
*1 yard fabric, washed and dried
*thread - decide if you want it to match or contrast

Fabrics that work best for this are cottons, cotton blends, flannel, and fleece.  There are many novelty type prints in these types of fabrics that make fun pillowcases.  C thought about a cotton in her favorite cow pattern, but decided to go with Winnie the Pooh.

1.  Make sure you wash and dry your fabric.  I've had fabric not shrink at all and I've had it shrink quite a bit.  If it's going to shrink, it's better to have it get smaller before you sew your project instead of after.

If your fabric is wrinkled, ironing it now will make sewing easier.

selvage - the woven edges of the fabric piece.  There are cut edges (where the fabric store employee cut it for you) and the woven edges, or selvage.  The photo below is different fabric, but shows the cut edges and the selvage well.

2.  Trim fabric so that each of the cut ends is even.  In a perfect world, the people at the fabric store would make sure the end they are measuring from is even.  Not in this world!  This means that the edges may not line up.  One way to make sure a cut edge is even is to pull threads.  Line your fabric up as well as you are able to, cut near the edge, and pull a thread out.  Your goal is to pull the thread all the way across the fabric so you have a gap where the thread used to be showing you where to cut.

This takes awhile and only works on woven fabrics.  A second way is to fold the fabric so the selvages meet (the fold should be on the opposite side from the selvages), smooth the fabric, and trim the ends.  If you have a grid to lay the fabric along (such as a gridded cutting board or a tiled counter top), line your fabric up along a line.

3.  Turn the fabric inside out (right sides together) so that corners and selvages meet.  Pin.  I'm a fan of pin basting.  I rarely break a needle doing this (I try to get the pins out before they reach the needle).  Old school, you would now get a needle and thread and sew by hand (basting), along the seams we  are about to stitch.

4.    At the sewing machine, line your fabric up along a 5/8 inch seam guideline, beginning at the folded edge.  If your machine does not have a 5/8 inch seam guideline, you can draw one on by measuring 5/8 inch to the right from the needle and using a ruler to draw a line in pencil or permanent marker.

5.  Sew the cut edge (this is the shorter side) of the pillowcase until you are about 5/8 of an inch away from the end of the fabric.

With your needle down in the fabric, lift your presser foot lever up, turn the material 90 degrees, and stitch the selvage edge seam.

6.  Trim the seams to about 1/4 inch, cutting across the corner.

7.  Turn the opening of the pillowcase under 1/4 inch and iron into place.  If you are using fleece, skip this step.  (Different fabric is used in the photo below)

8.  Turn the opening under another 1 1/2 to 2 inches, depending on how wide you want your the hem around your pillowcase opening to be.  Eyeball both and see which you like best.  Iron into place.

9.  Turn right side out.  Find the sewing guide mark on your machine that puts your stitching about 1 7/8 inches from the edge.  You will be sewing on the top of the pillowcase hem - make sure your stitching line is not on the other side of the 1/4 inch fold or you will be stitching where I'm pointing, not on the hem.

10.  Stitch around the opening.  Because you are sewing on the right side (or top) of the fabric, this is called topstitching.

You now have a pillowcase!

It's great as it is, but if you want to add a little more decoration, tune in on Monday.

Next Wednesday we'll be sewing elastic waist pajama bottoms.  Big C's using Simplicity pattern number 3935, however, there are several patterns by the different pattern companies that can be used.  Just make sure they are loose, have an elastic waist, and no slits at the ankles.  Fabrics that work best are cotton, cotton blends, flannel, and fleece.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

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