Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Personalised pillowslip - A tutorial

So you may remember the other week I finished a quick pillowslip as a birthday gift for one of Lala's preschool buddies.  I got a request on a how to - and with another special little friend's birthday coming up I thought it was a great opportunity to do another one and take some pictures so you can give it a try.

I'm using

  • a plain pillowslip (or why not try a retro printed one with plain fabric for the appliqué design)
  • Some vliesofix (or any fusible of your choice - if you're not sure ask at your local craft store)
  • a pencil
  • some cotton fabric scraps
  • embroidery scissors
  • Chipboard letters for templates*
  • sewing machine with either contrasting (brown looks good) or complimentary thread to match your project

*you could draw your own design or letters; photocopying letters from typography books at the library; search for and download free fonts to print out.

So, this is how I did it:

First you need to transfer your design to the smooth side (paper side) of your fusible.  Your final design will be the reverse of what you draw - therefore it is particularly important with letters to draw them backwards. If you have printed out letters to use, tape them to a lightbox or a window and then place fusible paper side up on top and trace around - remember to reverse the letters.  TIP: leave a decent amount of space around each letter - say 1cm on all sides.

Once you have your design drawn on the fusible, roughly cut it out (don't cut it out exactly at this stage). Press the fabric you are using for your appliqué design first, then make a sandwich with the fabric (wrong side facing you), then the fusible (paper side up so that you can see the design).

Press with a hot dry iron (cotton setting no steam) .  When you iron, place the iron over the area and press down hard for 5 seconds - check for adhesion and give it another 5 seconds.  This seems to work best for me.  For large areas work a section at a time - whatever you do don't slide the iron over the whole surface - the design might move and then you get hot stick glue where you didn't want it!

TIP:  I like to use an old tea towel under and over the appliqué so I don't accidently get melted glue on my ironing board or iron.  If some does get on the iron, you can wipe it off straight away with a clean rag.  If it gets on your board - wait until it cools a little and then try and pick it off with your finger nails.

Once you have the fusible applied to your design its time to cut it out exactly.  I find small sharp embroidery scissors are really helpful for the fiddly bits.

Now peel off the backing paper and line up your design.  Vliesofix is slightly tacking before you iron it on for good - that's helpful at this stage.  Take your time with the layout - once you press it (next step) there is no going back.

Once you are happy with your arrangement press it with a hot dry iron.  Again I like to use my tea towel to protect my work and that iron.  I work with a section of the design at a time, pressing down hard then lifting the iron to press down on the next section - don't wipe the or shimmy it over the surface - the design will move!  Lift the cloth and check for adhesion regularly.  You can easily go over areas - if they look a bit bubbly they haven't had enough heat  just go back and press down on that section hard.

You could stop there - but since this is a pillowcase and will be washed regularly a bit of stitchery will make it last longer.  You can of course hand stitch if you want, or if your clever you could drop your feed dogs and free-motion the stitching.  

I find this way easy and effective - you just need to take you're time.  Select a regular (2.5) stitch length.  Use a bobbin thread to match the pillowcase and a top thread to compliment or contrast with your design.  Start with long tails of thread, don't back tack - go around the outline twice.  Don't worry about wobbles, but  do try and stay on the appliqué design.  On my second time around I like to deliberately cross over the first line of stitching - this all adds to the naive whimsical look.  Pull your work out of the machine, again trim your thread with long tails.

Flip your work so you are looking at the reverse side, pull on each bobbin thread so that the top thread pops up as shown above.  Using your nails pull that top thread to the reverse side.  If the top thread doesn't want to come through, take a hand sewing needle, thread that top thread and bring it from the right side to the wrong side.

Now tie off your threads with several reef knots and trim the threads as shown.

Give it a final press and enjoy!

 Pin It


  1. Awesome! Thanks for the Tut - I have pinned it! :)

  2. Cool! I've pinned it too ;)

  3. Thankyou, I love the double stitched look and the last step is a great tip with the reef knot! Cheers :)

  4. THank you!! Always wondered how I could get away with not backstitching!!



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