Monday, October 12, 2015

autumn pillow and mini tutorial

Good morning everyone. Well, another few weeks have gone by and still no new posts from me. I am such a bad, bad girl. ;-) I've been busy like all of us; just using the extra time I have to sew instead of blogging. Since we are in the middle of fall, I thought I would share my beautiful, autumn pillow that I made for my sweet Pillow Swap Four Seasons partner, Betti from Bettis Stitches on Instagram.

What do I want to say about this pillow?.... It was really fun to make!

If you know me, you know I like a good challenge! And this time, I wanted to sew something really small. I took the traditional maple leaf pattern from EQ7 and designed my own pillow using the fabric line Tucker Prairie from Moda. This was my original design from EQ7 with a triple border. You can see from the final pillow, I removed the second patchwork border; I thought it was a bit too much in the end and was a little too loud or "unruhig."

My fabric pull came together rather quickly. I wanted blues, oranges, yellow-greens and purples. This may not be your "traditional" fall color palette, but I wanted the colors to jump out and be vibrant. I wanted to ground the entire idea by using low volumes for the background. I didn't purchase any new fabrics for the front of the pillow and most came from designers such as Tula Pink, Brigitte Heitland for Zen Chic, Carolyn Friedlander, and Sarah Watts if you want to recreate this. The outer border fabric was still undecided at this point.

I first made the four bigger leaves in the center which finished up at 4 1/2". Each of my corner blocks were cut to 2" and finish up to 1 1/2". (You could construct the entire block from a nine-patch using 1 1/2" blocks for each of the nine segments if you want to make this pillow.)

After I made my "big blocks" out of the way, I started with sewing my teeny tiny leaves. I actually found out that the leaves go together very easily when you know two principles - traditional foundation (paper) piecing and sewing on paper "sew-all-at-once" method.

Each leaf took about 15 minutes to make. I made about 30+ one-inch leaves for this project.


First of all, cut out your template along the dotted lines, making sure to keep both adjacent sides of A and B together. Using a good light source, fold exactly between sections A and B; you will be sewing on line A6/A7 to B1/B2 later. (Templates are discontinued. You can also make your own.)

Sew Section A exactly as your normally would on paper using a smaller stitch than usual. I use 1,5 stitches instead of 2,5 when sewing on paper. Make sure none of the fabric extends over the folded line. If it does, cut it away by folding the paper in half and cutting off what extends over the fold. You may reference a previous tutorial here.

After you have made your leaf, iron it well and trim the block along the seam allowance line. The block should measure 1 1/2 inches. Use the blocks however you wish.

I made a couple extra blocks and used one of them in a pin cushion for my swap partner. I added a one inch border on each side ending with 1/2 border all the way around. The pin cushion measures 2" in total. ;-)


After I made all of my mini leaves, I arranged them together for a matching border. Yes, it is matching. AND there is one leaf that is a little wonky!  Can you find it?

I didn't notice my wonky leaf until after I sewed the border on! I showed it to several people and no one noticed! I did take the time to change it, because I would have have been a eye sore for me in the end.

I finished the pillow top by sewing on a 3" finished border of black around the center and first border to make the entire center pop out. I chose a matching butterfly and black print from Westminster Fabrics. It has the same yellow as the leaf on the front. I know I took a picture of the pillow from the backside, but I must have deleted the photos. You can jump here to Betti's photo of the backside.

This was as selection of possible fabrics I did buy to finish up the pillow. I used the yellow butterfly for the back and the black checkered for the outer border. I didn't like the bottom fabric with this pillow. It had a strange hue to it.

After everything was made, we went on location for a little photo shoot. ;-) I took the pillow along with us to Tuscany where we spent our summer vacation this year. When we weren't having fun by the pool, I stole a few minutes to tote the pillow around and take some nice location photos. ;-)

Thank you for joining me for explanation of my autumn pillow for Betti! I really and truly had a lot of fun making this pillow. I learned that I love to sew small! I hope you discover you like to sew small too. It really is achievable as long as you know and use a few special techniques.

You can download an entire sheet of one-inch maples leaves to try yourself just how easy they are! If you don't want to pay for the sheet of templates, you can always make your own. ;-)