I realize it’s been a while, a long while, since I last posted here. Life the last few months has been busy with crafting and performing and, well, living. During the hiatus, I handled Christmas rush with my business, which was as crazy as ever; I performed in two musicals with local professional theatre companies, one on stage and one in the pit; and I’m currently in rehearsals for a performance as “Frasquita” in Bizet’s Carmen this weekend. In the midst of all that, my husband and I started a joint blog together to follow our adoption journey. Yes, we are adopting, and we couldn’t be happier about it! 🙂 Follow our progress here: www.fromhouse2home.us). To say the least, I’ve had little room in my schedule for crafty blogging.
I think the time away from this blog was actually helpful, as it allowed me to re-examine why I was blogging and to re-evaluate my vision for this little corner of the internet. Never you fear, I’m back! My posts may be a bit less frequent than they were before — one or two posts a week instead of 5 — but this blog space is officially up-and-running again.
To start off my renewed commitment to crafty blogging at JennJill Designs, I’m actually going to repost an old guest post from Christmas of 2011. Yes, that was well over a year ago, but the blog on which I was guest blogger has removed their archives, meaning the patterns and instructions are no longer available on their site. I’ve been getting comments and emails asking for links to those old patterns. So, if you were trying to figure out where to find instructions to make the pillows shown here, wait no more. Here is the full text of that guest post, now available on my blog, complete with patterns and photos. Enjoy!
Hello DIY Kinda Girl readers! I’m Jennifer Araya of JennJill Designs, and I’m super excited to share with you a fun Christmas project: raggedy reverse appliqué pillows.
I’ve loved crafting and creating for as long as I can remember. Sewing was my first crafty love. My first sewing project was a tiny patchwork pillow, and I’ve loved making pillows ever since. Today, I’m a full-time artisan, and while most of my work is with polymer clay, I still make time to quilt and work with fabric. On my blog, I share my crafty projects, my thoughts about life and family, my triumphs and tribulations running a creative small business, and my adventures with my wonderful hubby. I hope you’ll take a moment to stop by and say hello!
Now that you know a bit about me and my craft endeavors, let’s start creating!
Our project is a Christmas tree pillow:
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Three contrasting fabrics and a tiny scrap of a 4th fabric (Fat quarters are plenty big enough) – Since the design is that of a Christmas tree, I chose red, green, and white fabrics, with a small scrap of yellow – nice, standard Christmas colors. But there’s nothing to say you can’t have a blue and purple Christmas tree or a pink and yellow one. 🙂 Don’t be afraid to raid your fabric stash for unconventional color combinations.
- A pillow form – I used a standard 14 inch pillow form that I picked up from JoAnn (using a coupon, of course!). If you use a smaller or larger pillow, be sure to adjust the pattern templates and fabric measurements accordingly.
- A good pair of fabric scissors, preferably spring loaded ones. You will be doing a LOT of cutting!
- A sewing machine
- Thread to match your fabric
- A washer and dryer
- A pattern template, printed or traced onto thin paper – You can either use one of my patterns (four of my holiday-themed pillow patterns are available for free at the end of this blog post!), or you can create a pattern of your own. For the paper, cheap copy paper works just fine, although tracing paper is ideal.
My Christmas Tree Pillow was created using the “raggedy reverse” method of appliqué. I was first introduced to this process by Kim Deneault’s book Raggedy Reverse Appliqué, and if you like making this pillow, you should definitely pick up a copy. Deneault goes into great detail about working with the raggedy reverse technique, and her book is one of my most-used craft manuals.
Begin by cutting a square block from each of your three chosen fabrics. For 3/8 inch seam allowances and a 14 inch pillow form, each piece should be a 14 3/4” square. (If you’re not using a 14 inch pillow, adjust the size as needed.)
Next, layer the three squares, carefully lining up the corners and with all the right sides facing up. The piece on top will be the uppermost fabric of your pillow and will be on top of all of the applique seams. For my Christmas tree design, I wanted to outline the tree in red, so the red is on top. The tree itself is green, the middle piece of fabric, and the bottom piece of fabric, the white, acts as a background.
Center your pattern on the fabric pieces (a seam ruler comes in handy here),
and pin down the pattern in several places. You don’t want it to move while you’re sewing!
Take the fabric and pattern to your sewing machine and, using small stitches and a thread color that blends with your top fabric, sew along the lines of the pattern. Be sure to keep your needle down in the corners of the design so that you can raise the presser foot and turn the fabric while keeping your place. Also, always remember to backstitch a few stitches at the beginning and end of each line to secure the stitches in place.
The Christmas tree is adorned by randomly sewn “Christmas balls,” which are created by sewing forward and back over a single stitch several times. Be careful to position all of the balls at least half an inch from the tree outline.
Once your tree is outlined with stitches and all the “balls” are sewn into place, tear away your pattern paper. If your stitches were nice and small, you’ve now perforated the paper, and it should easily rip away.
Now we need to add the star to the top of the tree. Take your little scrap of fabric and position it at the top of the tree, along with the star pattern. Be sure to leave at least half an inch between the seam at the top of the tree and the bottom lines of the star pattern. I used a small scrap of yellow fabric for my Christmas star.
Stitch over the star template the same way you did the tree outline, and rip away the paper when you’re done.
When you’ve finished stitching your tree, the balls, and the star, the outline should look something like this:
Note: Since my red thread blends in with my red fabric, this photo is taken from the back and is looking at the wrong side of the fabric.
Now comes the fun part. Using your pattern as a guide, cut away each segment of fabric to reveal the appropriate color, leaving between 1/4-3/8 of an inch between the seam and your cut edge.
For the Christmas tree pattern, white is the background color, so I cut the red and the green layers of fabric along the Christmas tree outline and around the star at the top to reveal the white background. For the tree itself, the green layer should show, so I only cut the red fabric – the top layer of fabric – inside the tree, leaving the green fabric on top. Around each “ball” stitch, cut a circle with a diameter of at least half an inch.
Once your fabrics is appropriately cut away from your design, it’s time to fringe the edges, which will allow the fabric to fray in the wash. Snip the fabric with small parallel cuts that run perpendicular to your seam. Be very careful not to cut the seam itself!
This is where spring loaded scissors will definitely come in handy. The raggedy reverse process is quite simple, but snipping the fabric so it will fray can take a while. This is a perfect activity for watching TV or for keeping your hands busy on long car rides.
Now that your pillow is sewn and cut, it’s time to put a back on it. I usually use two pieces of overlapping fabric to create a flap in the back, where the pillow can easily be inserted or removed. To create a pillow flap back for a 14 inch pillow form, cut 2 pieces of fabric to 14 ¾ x 9 inches. Hem one of the 14 ¾ inch seams on either piece.
(Tip: to eliminate one of the hems, cut one of the pieces with a 14 ¾ inch edge along the fabric selvage. The selvage won’t fray, and it will be hidden inside the other, nicely hemmed pillow back piece once the pillow is complete.)
With right sides together, layer the pillow front and pillow backs, and stitch around the edge with a 3/8 inch seam allowance.
Cut away the excess fabric in the corners, and turn your pillow right-side out, using a handy-dandy corner tool to get nice square corners (or the tip of a pencil, if you don’t have a corner tool).
Now comes the magic of raggedy reverse. Pin the back of the pillow closed with a safety pin so that the pillow won’t accidentally flip wrong-side-out in the wash, and put your new pillow in a cold rinse cycle with some towels in your washing machine. (Don’t use your nicest towels, or you’ll have to spend hours picking frayed fabric threads from them. Believe me. I know.) Then, toss the pillow and the accompanying towels in the dryer on a normal cycle.
Voilà! The washer and dryer will fray the raw edges of the fabric that you spent hours cutting, and the fabric seams will pop up in a touchable, fun, soft outline. Insert a pillow form, and your raggedy reverse Christmas pillow is ready for use.
Tip: If needed, you can run a lint roller over your pillow to remove all those pesky little threads.
A quick note on fabric choice: I usually use cotton quilting fabric for my raggedy reverse projects. Different types of fabric fray in very different ways, and I personally like cotton fray best. If you’re interested in learning about how the different fabrics work with raggedy reverse, you can either test them yourself or refer to Deneault’s book, where she has photos of the fray from many types of fabric.
Holiday Pillow Patterns:
Click the pattern links below to download a free PDF pattern.
- Christmas Tree Pillow Pattern
- Christmas Stocking Pillow Pattern
- Christmas Ball Pillow Pattern
- Snowflake Pillow Pattern
Please note: These patterns are for personal use only and may not be sold or used to make any item for sale or profit.
If you use one of my patterns to make a raggedy reverse pillow, please let me know! (jennifer at jennjilldesigns.com) I’d love to see your masterpiece. 🙂
Thanks for joining me for some sewing fun, and thank you, Heather, for letting me share! Happy Friday, all!