Creating a Chevron Pillow
Difficulty rating: Beginner
This project stemmed from 2 things:
1. My fascination with chevron.
2. My desire to try new quilting techniques this year.
The "problem" with my love of chevron is chevron tends to be very crisp and bold whereas our decor tends to be very rustic and muted. Chevron looks great floating around in my brain or on the front of a journal that obviously isn't intended to be decor and, thus, is granted a pass if found looking out of place lying on the couch. Placing most things chevron (especially in the 2012 Pantone color of the year, Tangerine Tango ) on a wall in my living room would leave people even more convinced that I could use a day at an interior design spa. I have no idea if such a thing exists, but along with chevron, it looks like a really good idea floating around in my brain. I decided that by using fabrics with small printed patterns, it would soften the crispness of the chevron pattern so that it would fit in just fine with my decor.
The "problem" with my desire to try new quilting techniques this year is the expense. I decided trying the techniques out on smaller projects will allow me a more cost effective way to try some of them before deciding if I want to invest the time and money into an actual quilt. A pillow seemed to be the perfect solution this time around. By the end of 2012, I might have a couch full of unmatched throw pillows!
Making this chevron design is extremely easy. It is constructed from squares of fabric. The challenge in it is being patient and taking the time to be as accurate as possible with your cuts and stitches. The finished size of the pillow is 16 inches square. All seam allowances are 1/4 inch. All seams should be ironed open as you go.
Begin by cutting 3 inch squares of fabric. You will need 32 of your base fabric (I chose muslin) and 32 of a variety of printed fabrics. I originally planned to mix and match a lot of different fabrics but changed my mind while laying out the blocks. If you stick to 4 fabrics as I did, you will need 8 squares of each. If you are not yet confident in your cutting accuracy, cut your squares to 3.5 inches and I'll show you how to trim them down later.
Place 1 square of base material on top of 1 square of printed material, right sides together. Using a Fiskars acrylic ruler and a marking pen, chalk, etc., draw a line diagonally from corner to corner. Pin the blocks together if you need to and stitch a 1/4 inch seam on each side of the line you drew. Be as accurate as possible with both of these steps!
Using an acrylic ruler and a Fiskars rotary cutter, cut along the line you drew. Iron the seams open and you now have 2 squares.
This is the step where we tidy up the "squareness" of the squares and the reason it was OK to cut the squares larger in the first step. Place the 45 degree angle mark on the ruler directly over the diagonal seam on each square. Move the ruler around until the top edge and right-hand edge of the square are lined up as closely as possible with the 2.5 inch marks on the ruler, taking care to keep the 45 degree line of the ruler on the seam. The seam remaining aligned is the most important part of the step. If the edges of the square don't line up perfectly with the 2.5 marks, make sure there is excess beyond the 2.5 lines instead of leaving any space below the lines. Firmly holding the ruler down to prevent it from slipping, trim off the excess from the bottom and left-side of the square. Rotate the square 180 degrees and repeat the aligning/trimming. You should end up with a perfect 2.5 inch square.
Next, for each colored zig-zag in the pattern, you'll sew squares together to create 2 strips that are 8 squares long. This photo is just to remind you to take care to match up the seams as accurately as possible in both corners before you begin sewing.
This photo is to help you see how to match up the squares. Match them up so you create a strip of 8 squares with colored triangles. Match the rest of the squares up so you create a strip with white triangles. It's best to lay them out in the order you'll stitch them before you begin pinning.
Next, put the strips together as shown and you'll see your chevron pattern emerge. Flip the top strip over onto the bottom strip (like you're folding an omelet) with right sides together. Pin, taking care to carefully match up the seams of the squares.
Again, accuracy is very important! When stitching the strips together, look ahead at the approaching seam for the small triangle that is the intersection of the triangle points. Your seam you're sewing should be ever so slightly above the tip of that little triangle. So in this example you want your seam to go right above the tip of the little orange triangle. You don't have one of these little triangles at each seam but it still gives you an extra check on overall accuracy of the seam and your finished chevron pattern. Finish the pillow front by stitching the 4 zig-zag strips together. Make sure they are all oriented in the same direction. You can add piping to the pillow front at this point if you want.
To finish the pillow, cut 2 panels that are 12.5 inches x 16.5 inches. Hem one of the 16 inch sides of each panel by folding it over 1/4 and then 1/4 inch again and stitching it down. Place the panels on top of the pillow front, right sides together, matching the raw edges of the panels with the edge of the pillow front. This will cause the hemmed edges of the panels (marked in the photo with arrows) to overlap. Stitch around the perimeter of the pillow case, clip the corners at an angle to reduce the bulk, and turn the cover right side out and slip a pillow form under the opening between the flaps.
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