Hi there! We have a treat for you today! Sarah, from Berry Barn Designs is guest posting today and has come up with this darling throw pillow to show you guys. If you have wanted to learn to sew curves, but have been hesitant to try, I think this tutorial is a great opportunity to get you started!
Welcome! My name is Sarah, and I'm a milspouse and work-at-home mom who loves sewing and quilting, sharing whatever craftiness I’ve been up to on my blog, Berry Barn Designs. I enjoy carving out time for large quilts, but with two preschoolers underfoot, gravitate toward quick projects, ranging from doll quilts to home decor to clothes - you can see a variety of my projects here. Today I’m excited to share my very first ever guest post with all of FWFS's readers – an easy tutorial for making my “Daffodil Days” throw pillow. If you’re new to curved piecing, this is a great starter project. The blocks are quite forgiving and you’ll have this cute pillow whipped up in no time!
As I’m sure you’ve heard (I feel like all of us northerners have been a little more vocal than usual the past few months on the topic), this winter was a looong one. I live in Portland ME, and while I expect snow and cold, this past season seemed snowier and colder than any I can remember – it hasn’t even been a full week since I last woke up to a winter wonderland outside my window! I’ve been yearning for daffodils and the true arrival of Spring, but in the meantime decided to go ahead and quilt up a daffodil of my own. With today being Earth Day, a pillow celebrating such a cheery flower seems especially fitting.
This project is perfect for any larger scraps you may have kicking around, but as I’m always in search of bright new yellows for my stash, I hopped over to the FWFS shop and picked out some fat quarters to work with. It just so happens that their “pocket packs” are perfect for this project – I used fabrics from the Lemon Meringue and Peach Pie collections, and they’re just scrumptious! If you love pie, too, check out their monthly Pocket Packs Pie Club – eight months of yummy fabrics delivered fresh to your mailbox : )
Okay, let’s get started…
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Selection of yellow and orange fabrics for the flower petals (I used Fashion Plate Chevron Yellow by Henry Glass, Sunny Ta Dot by Michael Miller, Special Delivery Trellis Yellow by Quilting Treasures, Impressions Moire Yellow by Clothworks, Floral Elements Tangerine by Art Gallery, and Small Dots White/Orange by Riley Blake. Not feeling these colors? How about making a “rose” or a “violet” instead!)
- White fabric for the flower background and pillow back (I used Kona White, but a print would be fun, too. If you’re using four or more FQs for the front, you’ll have enough left over to piece a colorful back if you'd prefer : )
- Coordinating thread (I used Aurifil 2021 – Natural White)
- Downloadable Daffodil Days template (a Drunkard’s Path block that finishes at 4¼”)
- Template plastic (card stock or cardboard will work in a pinch)
- Batting and backing for quilting (I used Warm & Natural cotton batting and muslin)
- Basting pins or spray
- Spray starch (optional, but very, very helpful with so many curves)
- 20” pillow form
- Rotary cutter, quilt ruler, scissors, pins, pencil, fabric marking pen, and chocolate (hey, the Easter Bunny brought it for a reason – enjoy!)
Before you get started, download the template for the block, then trace and cut from template plastic, and I strongly suggest starching your fabrics because it will stabilize them, making them hold their shape better as you cut and work with the curves and bias. (As a little side note, you’ll see Mary Ellen’s Best Press in the pics, and while it’s a great starch, it’s not what’s actually in my bottle. Since my husband goes through it by the gallon pressing his shirts, I use a homemade vodka starch mix that’s very economical and works just as well. Using any size spray bottle with a nice fine misting nozzle, fill 1/4 to 1/3 full with the cheapest vodka you can find, then to the top with water. Voila! Easy and inexpensive.)
Using Template B, trace and cut 4 pieces from your darker yellow fabrics (which will be the center petals), then trace and cut 8 pieces from your lighter yellows (which will be the outer petals).
Cut 4 squares from your white background fabric measuring 4¾” square (which will be the background corners of the flower).
I like to lay all my pieces out on my design wall to make sure I’m happy with the colors and that I’ve remembered to cut everything I need, so take a moment to look at your design if you’d like, then begin to align each of the four orange flower centers (Template A) to each of the four yellow flower center petals (Template B) to prepare for piecing.
There are different schools of thought about piecing curves, but I adhere to the pin-like-crazy method, so that’s what you’ll see here. Finger press each A and B to find the center, then align at the creases and pin right sides together. Take tiny “bites” with the pins, starting with the center point and working out to the corners. (But don’t forget to pull the pins as you sew! You definitely don’t want to risk running your needle over them.) Your Template A pieces will be just shy of the corners of the Template B pieces – that’s ok, it’s supposed to be like that.
Begin sewing using a ¼” seam allowance and using your fingers to guide and ease where necessary to keep the seam smooth. (See that little purple strip? That's my favorite sewing notion ever! It's a handy seam guide for assuring a scant quarter inch when you're piecing.)
Continue to sew the outer petals (B) to outer background pieces (A). When you have all twelve A/B pieces sewn together, spray with starch and iron so the seam fans out above the arch. If your blocks look a teensy bit wonky at this point, don’t panic. I’ve made a few projects now with these templates and it’s amazing how forgiving the blocks are despite the tendency to stretch a little because of the curved seam and bias of the fabric. Take your time piecing and press carefully to avoid stretching them, but don’t rip it all out if the block is a tiny bit uneven because you can accommodate for it as you go.
Now you’re ready to sew the four center blocks together, being careful to align and pin the seams so you end up with nice matching points. (You might notice I have a walking foot on my machine during piecing. I don’t do this regularly, but I find it helpful with all the thick seams that result at the corners of these blocks. If you don’t own a walking foot, I definitely recommend getting one for quilting, but you don’t absolutely need it to piece this pillow – just be sure to take your time over the places with four layers so you get nicely matched points.)
Next sew each set of adjoining outer petals together, and then head to the ironing board. Iron all seams from Step 4 open. You will have four layers at each corner where A and B meet and are pieced to the adjoining block, so ironing these seams open will make it easier to continue piecing the rest of the flower, and will make it easier to quilt once you’re done. I did not use open seams elsewhere in the pillow top, but you can iron the rest of your seams however you’d prefer after ironing all four-layer seams open.
Piece the top and bottom outer petals to the 4 white squares you cut in Step 3, pinning your points carefully.
Chocolate break! And then if you’d like to square up your flower block, this is the time to do so. It should measure 17½” square. Just be sure not to cut into the tips of the flower petals – you should have a ¼" seam allowance visible at the tip of each flower petal around the perimeter of the block.
Cut 4 squares from your orange fabric measuring 2¼” square (which will be the border cornerstones).
Cut 4 strips from your white background fabric measuring 2¼” x 17½” (which will be your borders). Be sure to double check the final measurement of your completed flower. If your block is slightly shorter or slightly longer than 17½”, adjust the length of your white border strips accordingly so the finished top lays smooth.
Sew two border strips to the right and left side of your flower block. Iron seams.
Sew a cornerstone square to each end of the two remaining border strips. Iron seams.
Sew the top and bottom cornerstone borders to the top and bottom of the bordered flower block. Press seams.
Ta da! Your pillow top is pieced. It should measure 21” square, which includes a ½“ seam allowance for sewing the pillow front and pillow back together, but you can wait to square off the edges until Step 10. Time to move on to quilting… or a quick break for more chocolate ; )
Make a quilt sandwich: lay your backing fabric right side down (remember this will be inside the pillow, so it’s perfect for muslin or that weird print you’ve had hanging around that you have no intention of using in a quilt top) and tape tightly to work surface, then add the batting, then the pillow front right side up. Spray or pin baste. I pin basted, but if you’d like to see how to spray baste, Lindsey has a great tutorial here.
The fun part – quilt your pillow top! I chose to straight line quilt about 3/16” off to the right and left of each seam within each part of the flower’s petals, following the curves, and then used the same method along the border seam and inside the cornerstones. The possibilities are endless, though, so have fun! (If you’re new to quilting, Fort Worth Fabric Studio has a great series on "How to Make a Quilt," including tips for quilting the basted top.)
After you finish quilting, take a moment to square off your pillow front. It's helpful to use a square quilting ruler if you have it, but any straight ruler long enough will work. The pillow front should measure 10½“ from the center, or 21" across, including the ½“ seam allowance for sewing to the pillow back.
We’re almost done – just need to make the envelope closure for the pillow back and then join it to the pillow front…
Cut a piece of the white backing fabric measuring 12” x 21”.
Cut a piece of the white backing fabric measuring 17” x 21”.
For each backing piece, fold just the top edge over one inch, press seam, then fold it over a second inch, and press seam.
Top stitch along the folded seam of each backing piece. I like to sew about 1/8" from each folded edge to ensure a nice flat finish. You should now have two backing pieces measuring 10” x 21” and 15” by 21”, each with one double folded and stitched edge running the length of the fabric.
Time to assemble the pillow cover! Lay the pillow front on your work surface face up. Taking the narrower backing piece, lay it face down (the folded edge should facing you, smooth edge down) on the pillow front, aligning the unfinished edge with the top edge of the pillow front. Then take the wider backing piece, lay it face down on the pillow front (it should be overlapping the narrower piece by four inches) and align the unfinished edge with the bottom edge of the pillow front. (The reason I offset my back overlap by using two different width pieces was to minimize gaping - the seam falls slightly above center where the pillow form is a bit narrower and lays straighter. I know all the top/bottom/front/back directions get tricky – hopefully the picture helps if you’re new to sewing envelope closure pillow covers, but if you're stumped, you can find a detailed step-by-step tutorial - and adorable heart pillow design - from Lindsey here.)
Pin around all edges.
Using a straight stitch, sew the pillow front and back pieces together using a ½” seam allowance. Now, finishing the raw edge that is left on the inside of the pillow is another instance where there are differing solutions. I’m not very picky about how my seam looks when I’m sewing for myself, so I usually sew a zigzag or blind hem stitch just to the outside of the straight seam all the way around, then trim off the excess fabric and clip the corners simply because for me it's easier than sewing zigzags along a cut edge. Feel free to trim then zigzag or use whatever other method you prefer to minimize fraying and reduce the bulk of the seam before turning.
Turn your pillowcase right side out, working the corners to nice points. If you don’t own a tool specifically for this, a very blunt pencil or a chopstick tip work just as well!
Tuck the pillow insert inside your pillow cover and smooth the envelope closure in back.
I appreciate you taking time to follow along with my "Daffodil Days" throw pillow tutorial. If you’d like another idea for using this quilt block, I invite you to visit Berry Barn Designs tomorrow for more “daffodils” to add a burst of color to your decor!
And thanks so much to Jodie and Lindsey of Fort Worth Fabric Studio for having me stop by today - I always enjoy the chance to share with others who love the great fabrics and tutorials available through FWFS as much as I do : )
I want to thank Sarah for stopping by today and showing us to make this pillow! I now have the confidence I need to maybe try my hand at curves! So, thank you for that Sarah. If you want to see more of Sarah's work please stop by her blog and check out all the wonderful things she is working on!
Talk to you soon,
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