Bird Pillow Cover Tutorial

5:00 AM

 Remember a while ago, I had a guest post on Ucreate? Well here it is on my blog too in case you missed it.
Many different ideas combined to inspire this pillow.
Here are a few:
The pillows you can purchase here for $124 to $135.
The fabric is from HERE for $14.00 per yard.
So I combined my fabric scraps and designed my own variations of these to make a unique decor pillow.

-pillow form (mine today is 16x16)  I snagged mine for $1.00 at a yard sale!
-main fabric (1/2 yard)
-scraps for applique leaves
-freezer paper (buy next to the tin foil) or freezer paper printable sheets in craft section
-fabric paint
-decorative trim (18 " or half yard)

1. Cut fabric
You'll need:
1 square 17x17
2 rectangles 17x13
These dimensions are for a 16x16 square pillow form, just add 1" in each direction from the pillow form size for other pillow sizes.

2. Apply Freezer Paint Bird
If you are new to freezer paper stenciling, here's a more in depth tutorial. We'll briefly go through the steps here.
First, cut your freezer paper down to 8 1/2" x 11" so it can go through your printer.  Make sure you load the freezer paper so it will print on the paper side, not the plastic side.
{I just sketched the template myself, so don't expect perfection!}
Next you'll cut out the image, making the stencil.  I just use regular paper scissors, and a craft knife in certain places that are tight.
Center the freezer paper on the right side of your 17x17 square and iron in place. 
Put cardboard under your fabric, and paint the stencil using fabric paint.
I always let it dry at least an hour, then paint a second coat.
The brand of fabric paint I used requires you to iron to seal the paint once it's dried, just follow the directions on your paint if there's additional instructions.
Peel off the paper once it's dry.

3. Add Trim
I pinned and top-stitched along each side of the trim, going the full length of the pillow

4. Applique Leaves
I just hacked out leaf shapes from 2 different colors, white burlap and chartreuse suede left over from the slipcover I made for the chair this pillow will go on.  You could use the bird template as a pattern to cut your leaves if you don't want to just hack them out.
I played around with the leaf arrangement until I liked it, and pinned the leaves on.

Usually with applique, you reinforce the fabric with fusible interfacing, Heat N Bond, lots of starch, or I've even used a coffee filter in a pinch.  Because these fabrics were thick and quite stiff, I didn't reinforce them, but just sewed them straight on the pillow.  If your leaves are quilting cotton, I'd recommend using one of the above reinforcing methods on the back.
You also have lots of different options when sewing on your leaves.  You can just sew a straight stitch around, blanket stitch, zig-zag, etc.
I chose to use a zig-zag with a width of 2.5 and a length of almost zero, creating a thick, solid looking edge.
I used the blue thread to applique my leaves on, but after I thought a dark chocolate brown would have looked cool too, to use a contrasting thread to stand out.
Because the blue fabric of my pillow was just thin cotton broadcloth, I added scraps as I sewed each leaf on to reinforce the blue pillow.  Once the leaves were sewn, I trimmed off the excess scraps. If you're using medium to heavy weight upholstery fabric, you probably don't need to back your leaves like this.

5. Construct pillow back
Fold and press a long edge of your rectangles 2", folding the right side onto the wrong side.
Fold the raw edge under, to tuck it right into the fold you just ironed.  So now you have a hem that is 1" folded twice.  Sew down the hem.
Once both back rectangles are hemmed, place them together, both right side down, and overlap one over the other, to make a 17x17 square.  This has the hemmed edges overlap in the center 4".
Sew the 4" of overlap on each side to secure them, with a 1/4" seam allowance. Now you've made the back of the pillow cover, and the overlap creates a kind of pocket to get the pillow form in and out.

6. Sew Pillow Cover Together
Take the front and back, and place them right sides together.  Remember to put the opening of the back perpendicular to the trim, so the pocket opening is horizontal on the pillow.
Sew around the entire square with a 3/8" seam allowance (the line just to the right of your presser foot edge)
Trim off the corners.

Press it if you need to, (I starched mine since it was just broadcloth), jam the pillow form in, and plop it on your couch.

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  1. With a name like Robyn I need one of those pillows on my couch.

  2. Oh I wish you could come take over my house and make it fun and cute! Love the pillows! You are seriously amazing! I hope you guys are doing well!

  3. I'm printing off the template...I've been wanting to make one of these for a while. Now I can start planning projects for 2011, and this is one of them!

  4. This is a great tutorial, thanks for sharing! I love the stencil you made.

  5. This is a really sweet pillow. I can't sew worth beans, so I really appreciate when other people have a talent for it. Gorgeous!

  6. Hi Jessica,
    I used your template to make a bird pillow of my own. I love how it turned out. Stop on by to see how it turned out when you have a minute. Thank you for the template..
    I'm going to make every attempt to link back to this page on your blog, but it may take a bit as I am new at this!


  7. I like your blog post. Keep on writing this type of great stuff. I'll make sure to follow up on your blog in the future.
    Christopher Kilkus


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