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Make Heirloom Pillows

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Three DIY pillow covers add colour and charm to a bed or sofa.

Age-old crafting techniques are making a comeback, so we’ve put together a trio of projects to try at home. Quilting aficionados will appreciate the pinwheel-patterned quilted pillow. Though perhaps the most traditional quilting pattern of all, its green-and-white palette is as refreshing as a peppermint candy. Our checkerboard pillow, a simple weave of grosgrain ribbon, takes its inspiration from the centuries-old style of woven-seat Shaker chairs; select boldly coloured ribbon to update the look of this timeless classic. And gone are the days of using crochet solely for rec room throws and baby cardigans. Our vibrant crocheted pillow cover is completely contemporary. So get crafting – Grandma would approve!

Project 1: Quilted Pillow Cover

Materials and Tools

  • 1/2 yd. green cotton fabric
  • 1/2 yd. white cotton fabric
  • Batting to stuff pillow
  • Thread

Step 1

Cut two 8-7/8”-square pieces of each colour fabric. Draw a diagonal line across wrong side of one white square from corner to corner (Line A). Draw a parallel line 1/4” away on each side of Line A (Lines B and C). Place this white fabric square on top of a green square right sides together and drawn lines facing up. Sew along Lines B and C. Repeat for three other pairs of squares. Press squares open with seam allowance to darker fabric; don't press seam allowance open.

Step 2

Lay out squares so they form a pinwheel pattern. Take two of the squares, place right sides facing and sew together along one side. Repeat with other two squares and press seam allowances to darker triangles. Sew the two rectangles together butting centre point seam allowance. Press.

Step 3

Cut one piece each of quilt backing fabric (we used the white cotton) and batting to 20”-square. Make quilt “sandwich,” starting with the backing, then the batting, and the cushion face up on top. Baste through all layers. Quilt, by machine or hand, pulling threads to the back and tying.

Step 4

Trim “sandwich” to 16-1/2”-square. Cut pillow backing (we used the green fabric) to 16-1/2”-square. Right sides facing, stitch around three sides and 3” in on both edges of the fourth side, with 1/4” seam allowance. Trim corners, press and turn right side out. Insert pillow form and whipstitch opening.

Project 2: Woven Pillow Cover

Materials and Tools

  • 1/2 yd. orange canvas backing fabric
  • 6 yd. 1-3/4” wide orange grosgrain ribbon
  • 6 yd. 1-3/4” wide white grosgrain ribbon
  • Thread

Step 1

Cut an 18”-square piece of canvas for the pillow backing. Cut 11 pieces of each colour ribbon to 18”.

Step 2

To hold ribbon in place while weaving, use a pinning board or sheet of foam-core board, and secure ribbons with pins. Lay out three vertical strips of white ribbon. Weave in three horizontal pieces of orange ribbon, forming a checkerboard pattern. Make sure each ribbon is tucked snugly up against the one beside it. Stick a pin through the end of each ribbon into the board as you weave. Continue weaving and adding pieces until all the ribbon has been used.

Step 3

Remove from board. Baste all around weaving, 1/4” from the edge, to keep ribbon in place. Pin woven front and canvas back together, right sides facing. Stitch edges closed with a 3/4” seam allowance all around, leaving space to insert pillow form along one side. Turn pillowcase right side out, insert pillow form and hand-sew the opening closed with slip stitches.

Project 3: Crochet Pillow Cover

Materials and Tools

  • White “butterfly” mercerized cotton yarn
  • Pink “butterfly” mercerized cotton yarn

Crochet a simple square in “butterfly” cotton by crocheting rounds of single crochet. To achieve the finely detailed lines, work all of the stitches into the back loops. Add the diagonal lines that lead to the corners afterwards. Put together the squares using single crochet.

Photographer: 

Michael Graydon

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