Monday, March 19, 2012

Easy Pillow Shams to show off Grandma's Quilt Blocks!

My great-grandmother, like many great-grandmothers, was a crafty lady. She hand-pieced several quilt blocks that my mother found many years ago. I decided they had been laying around in her basement long enough! There weren't enough of them to actually finish the quilt (and hand-sewing a quilt just isn't in my schedule!), so I decided to make pillows out of them! This tutorial can be used to set off anything, not just vintage quilt blocks, and the squares backdrop I used can be changed as well. I did one for my mother and on hers I did 3 stripes behind the flower and a smaller border around the edge. Forgot to take a picture of it though!

 1. Select your fabric and cut out 4 squares of it. The size will be determined by the size of the pillow you are putting in it, and how large a border you want. Remember your seam allowances! I used a 14" pillow, and wanted a 2" border, so adding in my half inch seam allowance on each side (1"), plus a seam allowance for center seams (1"), my square needs to be 20" when placed together unsewn as in this picture.

2. Sew your 4 squares together. The way to do this and get the corners to line up nicely in the middle is to sew the top 2 together, and then the bottom 2. Line up the center of these 2 sections and then sew the 2 sides together. Make sure you press open your seams as you go.

3. Applique your quilt block onto the center. Appliqueing can refer to several different processes. I zig-zag stitched around the flower then went back over my zig-zags with a straight stitch to really lock it down.

4. Now to make the back of your pillow! You will need to create 2 rectangles that when placed one above the other (like in the picture), is a few inches taller than the front part of your pillow, but the same width. This is because you will slide the top part down over the bottom part about 2" so that it overlaps, creating an opening to put your pillow inside (see step #5). The inside edges should be hemmed. I sewed some gold and blue together to make my two back panels, but you can just as easily use one fabric.

5. With the right sides together, lay your two back panels on top of your front panel, overlapping them a couple inches. (As you can see in this picture, I didn't overlap mine that much--which is an error. Trust me, you want a bigger overlap so that it stays shut after you put your pillow in it). Sew around the edges.

6. After sewing around the edges along your accounted for half inch seam allowance, turn your pillow case inside out and press. At this point you will make the sham border (not sure if that is what it's actually called!). I wanted a 2" border, so using my measuring tape, I placed my needle down 2" from the edge. Sew all the way around the pillow 2" in from the outside.

 7. Here is the finished sham. Now you just need to put your pillow in it!
 I also made a red one. I really love them! It's wonderful to have my great-grandmother's quilt blocks not go to waste since she spent so long putting them together!