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  • Writer's pictureprimspretties

Creating Pillow Shams & Pillows

Pillow shams are a favorite of mine to create as there are no limits to preference. You can choose darn near any fabric & pillow content you like & create a pillow insert in any size you wish. Now, I don't want to make anything less than 3" as my fingers simply don't comply with the filling & turning of said pillow. I can almost do it if it is a closed seam rag pillow but that is where I draw the line. I've made some pretty small doll house sets for clients & I love doing it for them. But given the choice & as a rule, I'd rather make them larger. Which brings me to today's post.

Cottage Chic Roses Rag Quilt Pillows

I wanted to chat about how I make my pillows & why I choose to do them the way I do. If it's a rag pillow, I do the traditional 3 layers (your top fabric, your center whether it be flannel or batting & the backing). Sometimes it's all one color of muslin & sometimes I'll pair up what I have (such as white with off white) as you don't see the inside, so long as they are the same quality. Muslin can run from really cheap & won't hold up through a couple of washes to gorgeous quality & my 15-year-old princess pup is still using her blankies today, quality. IT MATTERS. I can't stress this enough to new sewist. Pay for the good stuff, your clients will thank you.

Muslin Backing for Pillow

Onto the seams which we (the raggers of the world) clip to give you your ragging effect. I always clip 1/16th" apart. Now please, don't get out a tape measure & measure each clip. Yes, it varies very slightly but suffice, usually within a 16th. I prefer a ragged, not semi ragged or barely ragged, edge. That means you have to get use to & gain muscle/tendon memory in your hands and wrist & invest in short snip scissors. Also, invest in a pair of fine tip scissors while you're at it. There will be occasions you will need to get into tight spots but only if it's 2 layers or less or you can warp your scissors.

Rag Quilt Scissors, Snipping tools

Now, onto close seam pillows or "traditional" style which you can find at any box store, only they are not made like homemade. How you ask? Well, let me share how "I" make my pillow shams. I construct the top like any other pillow, but I quilt my tops to batting (gives it extra loft) and I sew every seam on my pillow top. I believe in 'quality first or don't bother' when I sew. I want a pillow that will hold up to a to some jostling around without fear of falling apart. Not one that I will panic when it's thrown in the wash or the dryer without becoming all discolored or misshaped. I add a backing to my top layer & batting as well, so the batting is protected over time. All three layers are involved in the sewing down of the seams or the quilting in general. I then construct the back using whatever fabrics my eye sees (whether one solid or two different fabrics) to complete the project. Whether I use a patterned fabric or a muslin, all backing parts have two layers. I always add a muslin (which you won't see) to pattern fabrics as well as muslin. I find the two layers help pillows to last far longer from being put under stress.

Country Reds Quilted Pillow

Joining the back to front. I overcast all my edge seams twice. I don't not currently own a serger, so I carefully cut & clean up my edges before overcasting. This is not required but I find it adds strength to the outside seams & it offers a cleaner nonfraying edge. That is not to say you won't have random threads, you will & to expect there be none would be unrealistic. It happens. Period. However, overcasting cuts down on this dramatically. I also double stitch a straight seam at 1/2". I reinforce the areas which are put under stress during the turning or stuffing of your insert into the sham. Just because I'm a nervous Nilly & don't want to give my shams any reason to fail.

Cottage Roses Rag Quilt Pillow Blues/Greens

Inserts: I generally use down like polyfill or poly fiber inserts I purchase from another company. On occasion, I will create my own insert for custom size pillows. When I create them, they always have double layered muslin & finely shredded polyfil stuffing. I also offer Buckwheat Hull Pillows for those of us with neck issues & shoulder tension. Hulls generally draw the price upwards as they are costly. However, they also last for years & years.

Victorian Red Ticking Park Bench Setting Pillow

All shams are made envelope style unless stated otherwise (sometimes it's requested to make end tie cases/shams). ALL of my shams are laundered prior to listing & selling. I want the client to know how their pillow sham is going to look when they launder at home. No surprises. I've heard so many comments over 20 years how they purchase something from another place of purchase (pillow or rag quilt) that doesn't look the same when they launder at home & how disappointed they are after the fact. I believe in full disclosure & 'what you see is what you get'. It's probably why I do most of my business through 'custom' orders than I do hard sales. I'm grateful either way but that is testimony coming back to me. I love it.

Primitive Pillows, Multi-Colored

All of 4 of these pillows are SOLD. Thank you Ms. J!

Before I store your product, I run a delinter over everything. I then check everything for quality control if you will. It's the last time I can eyeball a product before the last step which is, everything goes into plastic zip or tied bags. (A freak accident & many tears' years ago taught me to protect my product at all costs once complete). Larger pillows get air compressed for mailing to save us all on shipping cost. I take every measure from choosing fabric, batting & threads all the way to choosing new & clean plastic bags in various sizes to accommodate your product, seriously. My pillows are made to hold up & look nice.

Cottage Roses Quilted Pillows, Pair

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