Haha! Doesn't that remind you of a TV show about how a movie was made? The Making of.... LOL.
Fair warning: This is a really photo heavy post. Sorry! Make sure you get to the end. That's where the giveaway information is!
Today, I wanted to share the process I went through to complete the Christmas Carnival pillow I made for Cindy.
If you are looking for the fabric resources, trim resources, and pattern I worked from, please refer to my previous blog post about that.
In order to make this, I first ordered the paper pieces for the English paper piecing. I got them from Paper Pieces. I could have cut them out myself. The pattern by I'm a Ginger Monkey provides printables for cutting these out, but I bought them, because they were a reasonable price and it made my life easier.
In addition, I also got the acrylic cutting templates (also from Paper Pieces) for cutting the fabric 3/8" bigger than the papers. Again, I could have just cut them myself, but the clear acrylic templates made it so much easier to fussy cut my motifs. I felt kind of bad, because after I bought these, I did see that Katy-I'm a Ginger Monkey, the pattern designer sells them in her Etsy shop. I would have liked to support her for providing the free pattern. But I blew it. Sorry Katy!
I hand pieced all the pieces together to form this. Again, this is smaller than the pattern design. But this configuration would give me about an 18" pillow. I removed the basting stitches and papers from all the fabric pieces that were sewn on all the sides. All the pieces on the outer edges, where there is a side that is not sewn to something, still have the papers behind them and the basting stitches in them. You can probably see them. My next step was to applique' this onto a piece of fabric that would serve as the top of the pillow. (The instructions in the tutorial stop here...they tell you to do this step, and then make a pillow with an envelope closure. So, I thought it might be helpful to see where I went from here.)
I began to audition the background fabrics I had, using the leftover fat quarters from my fat quarter bundle that I hadn't cut into yet. Here was the green. I liked it, but I didn't like it with the red trim I had picked out.
Now, it's time to applique this baby on to the background fabric. Rather than do it by hand, I decided to do it by machine. I starched the English paper pieced top lightly to hold those edges under when I removed the papers. I pinned the piece carefully to the background fabric. I set my machine to a zigzag stitch. I wanted it to be pretty small. So, I set my machine to a 1.0 stitch width and a 1.0 stitch length.
I put a spool of Aurifil's invisible thread on my machine and threaded it through the needle. I used a gray cotton thread in the bobbin.
A while back, I had seen that Aurifil had finaly come out with an invisible thread. I was so excited, because I've used invisible thread before, and I've had trouble with my machine not liking it. By this I mean, even if I set my top tension to zero, I still get bobbin thread poking up through every stitch on my appliques. It's unsightly, and I don't like it. I wrote to Alex Veronelli at Aurifil, asking if I could try his stuff, do a review of it, and do a giveaway. He said, "Sure!" and a couple of weeks ago, a package arrived on my doorstep from Italy. I was so excited. But life has been so busy, and I haven't had time to play with it. Now was my chance. I played!
Now, I don't know if this is the best or only way to do this, but here's how I did it, and it seemed to work okay for me. I lowered the needle into my fabric. I pulled out the basting threads on this first square.
I carefully reached under the square and pulled out the paper. I then got my fabric laid back down nicely, with the edge folded under. (This is where it was nice to have lightly starched the fabric, as it held the crease pretty well.)
I used my open toe foot so it was really easy to see where my needle was in relation to the fabric. With my machine set at 1.0 width and 1.0 length, the needle entered the fabric just to the left of the folded edge when the needle zigged....
...and it landed just next to the fold (only going through the background fabric) when it zagged. Some people refer to this as just "kissing" the edge of your applique' piece. I repeated this all the way around that big piece I had hand pieced. It was extremely relaxing!
I actually forgot to take the paper pieces out a few times. It was okay. They came out easily, as the needle didn't really pierce them much, given that it entered so close to the fold. Whew!
So, here is how it looked when I was done appliqueing the piece down. I am sooo happy with this Aruifil thread! Look at that! You can barely see the stitching. It's nearly invisible. And you don't see a lot of my gray thread pulling up from the back (even on the white fabric!), which is a problem I normally have. I didn't even have my top tension set a zero. I think I had it set at 2, my normal Aurifil cotton tension. I am so, so happy.
I was going to leave the entire piece of fabric on the back for stability, but then I thought, "Gee, that is a lot of good fabric back there that no one will ever see. I'm going to cut it out." So, I took my duck-billed applique' scissors and CAREFULLY trimmed away the extra backing fabric, leaving about 3/8" seam allowance from those zig zag stitches.
Next, I layered it with my top, batting, and a piece of white fabric, and I quilted it. I started sewing straight lines across the entire thing, like the Katy-I'm a Ginger Monkey did on her original pillow. I loved it on her pillow. But I didn't like it on this one. I had four lines sewn in, and I spent the next couple of hours ripping them out. I decided I would rather just quilt in the ditch around all the shapes. I didn't want to detract from the shapes and the fabric.
The thread I used for the quilting was also Aurifil.
I won this thread collection a while back from Aurifil. I won this collection of threads from Aurifil for submitting one of my photos of my finished project for the monthly embroidery projects this year. My project was randomly selected for the prize. I about died when I won it. What a prize! Thank you again, Alex and Aurifil! You've been awfully good to me!
You can see that the 28 wt thread is quite a bit heavier than the 50 wt I piece with. But I love this gray. It just blends so nicely with all the colors in my pillow top. I used it both in the bobbin and in the top. I probably should have used a lighter weight thread in the bobbin.
My next step was to trim it to 19" by 19" to give me a 1/2" seam allowance all the way around. This is where it would have been better to have something a little bigger than a fat quarter. I just barely made it for this size. Luckily, my fat quarter was cut a little generous. On the sides, I actually had to cut off some of the shapes. That sort of makes you hold your breath--after you've done all that hand piecing!
I won't go into a ton of detail on how I turned this into a pillow cover at this point. What I will say is that I pulled out my DVD from the Pam Damour workshop I had attended a year or so ago, because I remembered she had lots of great tips on making a professional looking pillow. I just followed her instructions to the "T." They were really clear and easy to follow along. The DVD is about 30 min in length. If you are interested, you can get one here:
Here is a link I found on You Tube that sort of outlines some of the steps I followed. I didn't follow all these steps, because I didn't have mitered corners and welting on my pillow top. But you can see sort of how I inserted my zipper and how I cut the pillow:
The instructional DVD I own is more simple than this You Tube tutorial. It is also more detailed on some of the steps. So I prefer the DVD I have. I did curve my pillow edges--as shown in the video--so that this pillow top wouldn't have "dog ears," and I think it was pretty successful. The DVD I have has a slightly different zipper installation, but very similar to this You Tube video. All in all, it was pretty easy.
Here's a shot of my pillow, after I've sewn all my layers together. I haven't turned it right side out yet. You can see the back of my quilted piece. There are two sewing lines, because I first basted my red trim to the right side of the pillow top. Then, I put on the backing, right sides together with the front piece, and sewed them together with a 1/2" seam allowance. I clipped my corners. My machine has an overlock stitch on it, so I did overlock all the layers for a nice, clean finish. (Another suggestion from the DVD.)
I took this picture to show you two things. First, I don't know why I agonized over the background fabric so much, you see so little of it! LOL. But, I do think one reason it looks good is it just blends right in so nicely. I am so happy with that choice. Second, this photo shows where the two pieces of trim meet at the bottom of the pillow. I just overlapped them and tucked the raw edges inside the seam allowance. I think it's a barely visible join.
Now, how about a giveaway?! Would you like to get your hot little hands on some of this Aurifil invisible thread?
Alex sent me some spools to give away! I'm going to give away two spools of the invisible thread: one of the clear (which I used) and one that is smoke colored. I use smoke on darker fabrics, because it is less visible than the clear (which actually stands out a lot on dark fabrics...not just Aurifil....all clear invisible thread). If you would like to win this pair of spools, please leave a comment below.
I also have two sampler packs of threads....different weights, different colors, and one variegated...to give away. Leave a comment below, and I will randomly select two names and send you some thread. So, that's three total chances to win!
If you'd particularly like the invisible thread or the colored threads, let me know in your comment. If it works out when I draw names, I'll try to abide!
You are going to LOVE this thread if you've tried other invisible threads.
I will leave the giveaway open until Sunday, December 2. Sometime that evening, I will close the giveaway and draw a name! Good luck!
A huge THANK YOU to Alex Veronelli for allowing me to try this thread and to let me give some away. I am hugely appreciative and apologize profusely that I've hung onto them for so long! I'm sold on it and will only buy this brand from now on. My machine likes it! It really likes it! (Said like Sally Field!) I can't say that for any other invisible thread.
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THE WINNERS WERE COMMENTS NUMBERS 6, 20, AND 24. THANKS FOR PLAYING ALONG!
I still have some embroidery weight thread he gave me to try, too. I will blog that another time. I still need to play with it more! I'll have another thread giveaway with that post.
Hope you enjoyed this process post. I truly enjoyed making this pillow for Cindy. It was a ton of fun.
I'm so excited, because we are going to a Mannheim Steamroller concert tonight. I have wanted to see them for years!
Until next time,
NOTE: The threads I blogged about were provided to me by Alex Veronelli and Aurifil threads. You can take that into consideration when considering my evaluative comments. I would have loved these threads just as much had I purchased them, but I feel it's fair for you to know they were given to me.