Friday, June 29, 2012

How to Install an Invisible Zipper in a Pillow with Binding!

There are some great tutorials out there on how to install an invisible zipper in a pillow. But those zippers are installed on a seam at the bottom or side of the pillow, and are sewn right sides together and then flipped right-side out.
But what if you like the look of binding on a pillow?
Are your only options either an envelope closure or a lapped zipper [when the zipper is covered with a flap of fabric]?
So in celebration of the weekend, I've prepared a little tutorial on how to install an invisible zipper in a pillow cover. More specifically, in a pillow cover that you also would like to have a binding.

Now, don't be scared. I know that zippers are terrifying for many quilters, and you may have to go slowly at first, but I promise you can do this! In fact, once you get the hang of it, it's so much faster than an envelope closure!

Materials needed:
  •  Invisible zipper [I almost exclusively buy 20-22" invisible zippers]; you do NOT need to shorten it to the size of your pillow
  • Two pieces for your pillow backing - These need to be as wide as your pillow cover front, and then about an inch longer on each piece...for instance, for my 18" pillow I used a 12"x18" piece of Echo and an 8"x18" piece of light gray solid. [ extra inch on the top and bottom]. You can come up with your own measurements, just think about where you want your zipper to be on the pillow back, and go from there.
  • Lightweight fusible interfacing [optional]
  • Not pictured: Zipper foot - I use a regular zipper foot, but if you have an invisible zipper foot then by all means use it
  • Pinking Shears [optional]
  **Note: I apologize for the diagonal line of light across the photos; I was doing this as the sun was setting and no matter how I closed my blinds, it still peeked through.

1. I like to give my fabric a little extra support by fusing some interfacing to the edges where the zipper will be sewn. Zippers pull on the fabric a lot, and this can certainly help! If you choose to do this also, the interfacing should be 2-2.5" wide by the length of your fabric [18" in my case].

2. Iron your invisible zipper. The photo on the left shows the zipper right out of the packaging. The coils are turned under, which is the whole point of an invisible zipper. Using your fingers to help turn the coils to the front, iron the zipper flat. Make sure your iron isn't too hot, because the zipper coils can melt!

3. Decide which of your fabrics will be on top. In the photos, the Echo fabric will be on the top of the pillow backing. Rearrange your fabrics so that the piece that will be on top is on the right, and the other piece is on the left. The fabrics should be right-side up.

4. Unzip the zipper. Place the LEFT zipper tape on the piece of fabric on the right [aka your top fabric]. Pin it so that the zipper side is facing down with a 1/2" seam allowance. The zipper tape should be near edge of the fabric, not the coils. Use way more pins than shown in the photo. You want a pin about every inch or so.

5. Place your zipper foot on your sewing machine. You want to place it so your needle is going up and down on the left side of the foot, as shown in the above photo. 


6. You will need to use both hands to sew the zipper on. Your left hand should be holding the zipper teeth as flat as possible while your right hand guides the fabric through the machine. You need to get the needle as close to the zipper coil as possible. Sorry for the blurry photo! *Helpful hint: If you look at your invisible zipper you will see that the tape has a herringbone pattern to it, and then close to the coils there is no pattern. You want to be sewing in the no-pattern area. 

7. Trim seam down to 1/4" with pinking shears. If you do not have a pair, you can trim down and then zig-zag stitch to keep the edges from fraying. 

8. Take the RIGHT zipper tape and place it face-down on the left fabric. It will seem like you're twisting the zipper and it could never possibly end up ok, but it will. Pin and sew like you did the previous side. Trim with pinking shears or zig-zag stitch.

9. Zip up your zipper and admire your handiwork! Now we need to put some finishing touches on to make it look really great!

10. Iron each side, pressing as close to the zipper as possible.

11. Top stitch approximately 1/8" from the zipper coils on each side. It's easier if you unzip the zipper first.

Note: You'll get better over time at stitching close to the zipper coils even without an invisible zipper foot. The Echo pillow back isn't stitched as close as I would have wanted, but it's hard to tell from a distance. The Silent Cinema backing is much more ideal!

12. Zip the zipper back up. Place pillow front and pillow back wrong sides together. Pin in place.

13. Pin just outside the top stitching on both sides of the zipper. Then unzip a few inches. This is VERY important! You don't want to accidentally sew over your zipper pull when sewing the binding on!

14. Stitch binding to the front of the pillow cover, backstitching over the area with the zipper for added security. Trim zipper ends even with edge of pillow.

15. Turn binding and secure on back with preferred method.

That's it! I know it seems daunting with so many steps listed, but I promise it's really simple. If you have any questions just let me know in the comments and I'll try to address them! Go make yourself an invisible zipper closure! Go on! :)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Race Against the Clock

Yesterday I received an email in the afternoon from my LQS saying that they needed a picture for their online class registration. Not a picture of me [eek, the horror!] but a picture of my class sample.

Which is all fine and dandy.

Except... I hadn't done anything but cut up the fabric.

I promise I wasn't putting it off, but I have a deadline of this weekend for 3 projects [some of which have to be mailed off for photographs], so I was really, really trying to finish those items up first.

I've set myself a very strict schedule for the next 2 weeks, since I have so many different projects and obligations around the Interwebz, so I was a little dismayed to have to abandon it and bump the class sample to the top of the list. In fairness, now I can halfway cross it off the list, which is nice.

I literally was racing against daylight by the end. I had to be able to send them a picture of the top before the day was done!

So hey, if you live in the Central Florida area and want to learn in person how to make log cabin triangles [click here for tutorial] and then turn them into a little hexagon table topper, just swing by The Sewing Studio and sign up :)

I promise I'm only a little bit of a dork in real life. Or a lot. Whatevs.

**Also, while taking pictures outside, I met my downstairs neighbor who just moved in. And uh, she's a clown! She goes all over the country and does clown stuff, although I'm not sure what is considered "clown stuff"...

Do you set a personal schedule for projects? Do you feel flustered if you have to abandon that schedule? Or are you more of a "sew what I want to work on that day" kind of person?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Watch this space! Lots of tutorials in the next month!

It's another utterly dismal day here in Florida. My boyfriend works nights sometimes and today he brought home a dozen donuts, so I'm taking a rare morning off from my sewing frenzy and I've just been sitting around, eating donuts, and meandering around the Internet.

So I just thought I'd let everyone know what's going to be happening around here in the next month and a half:

July 2-30 - Christmas in July! My post is next Monday, July 2nd. 

Plum and June

July 12 - My turn for the Let's Get Acquainted Blog Hop. We were challenged to use novelty prints, and my tutorial is great for anyone who has kids!

July 16 - Or sometime that week. I'll have a tutorial up over at Cut to Pieces for her Sew-Less Summer series. Spoiler Alert: It's cute and can totally be done with kids too!

August 6 and on - Katie from There and Back is hosting a Winterkist blog hop, and I'll have yet another tutorial up! It's not as kid-friendly to make, but it sure is kid [and adult] friendly to use!

Phew! Maybe with all that stuff going on I shouldn't be taking the morning off? Ok, ok, just one more donut :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Topical Storm Sewing

Happy Monday!

I'm over here in Florida, wearing arm floaties, trying to keep my head above water. Seriously. Tropical storm Debby is making it very gloomy over here. Yesterday the entire state was green on the weather map.

BUT. There's only a week left until Christmas in July starts! I hope you're gearing up. And a little birdie told me that there might be a giveaway on the first day ;)

As for in the meantime, I did manage to run outside during the 15 minute break from torrential downpours so that I could take some pictures of my completed Pillow Talk Swap pillow!

I'm still not sure if this is something my partner will like, but hopefully she will at least see that I put a lot of time and effort into making something for her.

 Look! Not an envelope closure! That's progress, people. That is an invisible zipper. Made semi-visible by the fact that it is crooked and a little wrinkly. I think it wrinkled because I used interfacing where the zipper was, for extra strength.


There is a different kind of quilting in each section, each done in a thread to match the section. Gray: pebbles. Green: straight line. Maroon: Free-motion diamonds. White: Free-motion scribbles. Teal: Echo. The aqua section is blissfully unquilted.

I never want to see a pebble again. Like, even in real life. Just the border took me about 2 hours and 3.5 bobbins of thread. I stopped with about 3 inches of empty border space left to quilt, and I almost didn't have the will to do it. Pathetic.

But then there's pictures like this.

And this.

That makes it all worth it. 

Ok, actually, the last picture looks stupid because I don't have a pillow form big enough. But if I did...oh if I did...

*Linked with Canoe Ridge Creations, SewHappyGeek, and Quilt Story!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things [from the past week]

Today's Sunday photo post is all about my recent summer foods! I absolutely love to cook, and I absolutely love to eat. It's a wonder I'm still petite.

When I was 10 my mom made my older sister and I cook for the family for an entire summer. We'd be in charge of lunch and dinner, and would alternate which meal we'd cook each day. That was a really, really long summer. But I'm proud to say that I'm a pretty damn good cook [although the foods shown here aren't exactly ground-breaking], and cook WAY more than the majority of people my age. I encourage anyone with kids to do this too, I think it's an absolutely invaluable experience!

 Father's Day BBQ! I love tater tots and corn on the cob. And BBQ is so tasty!

 I still cut my own grilled cheese into quarters. Plus I found a tiny juice box from Girl Scouts. Nostalgia lunch!

 Got a fantastic batch of strawberries. Great dessert with some whipped cream :)

 A light summer lunch of my own version of a Hot Pocket, which I've never actually eaten. This one has Italian sausage, spinach, and mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Yum.

I gave this mug to Stephen a few years ago to remind him what's up ;) I like to do ice cream in mugs!

*Linked up with Debbie's Tuesdays At the {Summer} Table. I found some great recipes to try!

Friday, June 22, 2012

TGIF and a nap please.

I've been sewing almost non-stop all week.

Here's a breakdown of the last couple days:
Um, there's 4 flowers...I'm not sure what happened in this picture...

1. Got these hexie flowers out in the mail to Chelsea for the Don't Worry {bee} Happy group. These were my first hexies! I realized that I don't enjoy hand-stitching when I have a huge to-do list because all I'm thinking about is how I need to sew faster so that I can reach all my deadlines. Stressful. [I do enjoy it when I don't have deadlines though!] Go over to the Handmade Parade and see people who enjoy hand-stitching all the time!

2. Pieced and quilted my pillow for the Pillow Talk Swap. Except I ran out of gray thread while pebbling [grrrrr!], so I have to get some more. I finished all the other quilting after this photo was taken. Finishing it up today and full reveal coming on Monday!

3. Piecing, photographing, quilting, photographing, writing, and sending a project that will be coming to a publication near you in the very near future ;)  Any guesses? And seriously, pattern-writing is kicking my butt.

4. Sketching, computer-graphicking [pretend it's a word, kthanks], cutting, embroidering, sewing, writing, and sending another project that has been sent off somewhere and will have to remain in radio internet silence for a few months [seriously, it's absolutely killing me because I'm just chuffed to bits about it. Also I'm chuffed to bits that I just got to say chuffed to bits. Which sounds weird if you say it too much. Like I just did. Don't be like me].

5. Learning EQ5 enough so that my Christmas in July tutorial is a nice-looking paper pieced pattern, instead of my charcoal-smudged paper. Oh, and sewing it all up. Here's the teeniest of sneaky peeks on my tutorial [I know, right, stupid sneak peek, you can't even tell what it is! :P]. Only about a week and a half until the merriment starts, yay!

And then there's these:

The piles of fabric that I picked and had cut at my LQS for the classes I'll be teaching in August. I have to make the store samples and have them back to the store by next week. Eeep! But on a happier note, I adore the stack of fabrics on the bottom. Seriously. Having full reign of a quilt shop to happily stack bolts on a counter until I got everything I wanted and then not having to pay for the fabric?! It was beautiful.

TGIF, friends! :) 

*Linked up to Pieceful Life!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On the process of quilting...

How do you choose your quilting design?

Do you draw on a picture of the quilt/block?

Do you use the quilt motifs that can be found in quilting programs to lay over your design?

Do you quilt what you know/are familiar with?

Do you practice on something else first? [I almost never do that because I have the patience of an ant. As you can clearly tell in the below picture of my remarkably imperfect pebbles]

How do you choose your quilting design?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

PTS8 Progress

Oh hi!

First off, maybe you all can help me with something. Does anyone else think that the pancakes at Denny's taste like cookies?!

Phew, now that I've gotten that off my chest...

My Nautical Striped Skirt is being a bit of a contest floozie and has made it to finalist status over at the Summer Sewing Contest at Ellison Lane Quilts. Go vote in all the categories! There are some awesome, awesome projects to choose from!

I also did a lot of work on my Pillow Talk Swap pillow last night. A lot more than was necessary. Since I sewed 3 of the blocks together. And then I picked them apart. Ugh. I changed my process of construction up from my trial block to the ones I worked on last night. That was a mistake. It made pieces not line up just right, and that just won't do for something that's going to someone else!

But now it's sewn together, and I really like how it's evolved from my original idea to the finished pillow top:

 Design sketch in Paint and initial fabric pull

Trial block to even see if my templates that I made from my block drawing worked. This is when I added in the magenta, and I'm so glad I did...a great pop of color!

Mock-up in Paint by rotating the trial block

Finished top. I changed the corners out for solid gray because I thought it needed to be "floating" in a border.

After I cut out all the template pieces for the other blocks I made a paper pieced version in EQ5. Of course that would have made it simpler, but I stuck with the templates. Because I'm stubborn like that.

Today I'll be quilting this pillow top. I already definitely know how I'll be quilting the green section, and I'm just waiting for the other sections to show me what they want [you know, like how Michaelangelo always said that he was just uncovering what the marble was always supposed to be...not that I'm comparing myself to him, but I totally get his way of thinking...]

*Final thought - do you host your photos on your blog directly from Flickr or upload them in both places? Is it worth taking the time to do the code and not upload?

*Linked with Fabric Tuesday :)