Friday, April 22, 2011

make a ruffle circle pillow sham

This is a reprint of a guest post at Kojo Designs' The Sincerest Form Of Flattery series. Enjoy!

Hi, folks! I'm Larissa Holland of mmmcrafts and I like to make stuff and drink coffee. A lot. I'm a graphic designer turned home-schooling mom, and being creative really helps* to keep me sane. I have a shop where I sell my sewing and papercut patterns and the occasional finished piece. You can find a wide variety of crafts on my blog. I like to try new things, but I mainly squander large amounts of free time on papercuts, cards, felt crafts, and of course sewing clothing, accessories and gifts.
*no guarantee implied

I'm happy to be a part of this Sincerest Form of Flattery series. Most times when I attempt to recreate something from the retail world it is due to one or both of the following reasons:
1) I cannot possibly afford the staggering price tag
2) The item I am lusting after does not quite fit my needs (i.e. color, size, etc...)

In some instances, I think good design is just worth paying for. For me, the price/value is on a sliding scale with ease/cost of replication. For example, I recently purchased this Pintuck duvet cover for our bedroom from West Elm. I love and adore it, and just thinking about trying to make something similar to it gave me hives. It was easily worth the purchase price.

image from West Elm

On the other hand, I elected to make something similar to their wonderful Ruffled-Circle pillow shams:

Image from West Elm

I thought it would be a great look to complement my youngest daughter's new duvet cover, however, I wasn't sure the WE white would match it, I didn't like the way the ruffled circle is cut in half on the West Elm standard sham, and the european sham is the wrong size. So, I stared at their photos for a while and made my own version:

Here we go: West Elmish Ruffled Circle Pillow Sham How-To:

First I grabbed an existing pillow sham from my daughter's bed and measured it. It was 25 x 20 inches. Then I hopped on my favorite design tool, my Mac. I drew a layout to size like so:

Next step was to root around in my fabric shelves to find some likely looking white fabric. Allowing for a half inch seam, I cut the following pieces:
  1. Two 21 x 26 inch rectangles for the front (one for the top, and one for the backing) and also a piece of cotton batting to match
  2. One 21 x 22 inch rectangle for the envelope back
  3. One 21 x 12 inch rectangle for the other side of the envelope back
I pressed the edges of the two envelope back pieces over half an inch, then another half an inch and sewed it down to create a finished edge. I set them aside.

Next was a boatload of bias cut strips for the ruffled circles. (Bias cut because there was no way I was going to finish the edges. Raw bias strips don't fray a lot). I laid my yardage on the floor and pulled a corner over like so:

Then I cut along that fold. This new cut edge was on the bias. Then I cut 2 inch strips from those bias edges until I had what looked like a really ridiculous amount. Turns out 225 inches was not even enough to complete the larger ruffle circle, so I had to cut more. (How much you need may vary depending on how tightly you ruffle the strips, but more about that in a minute.) I figured 2 inches wide would allow for the strips to fray a bit in the wash and still look fluffy. If you look closely at the West Elm photos, I'm pretty sure their strips were not that wide. You can vary it as you like.

I sewed all my bias strips together end to end. Here's how you do that:

Ok. This is where your results may vary. I used my ruffler attachment to gather the strips. I didn't want to hand gather a strip that long because, well, I hate gathering. With every fiber of my being. If you have a ruffler attachment, by all means dust it off and put it on. This is where it shines, man.

I used a stitch length of 2.5 and the 6 setting on the ruffler (meaning a tuck is taken every 6 stitches). Then I just fed the strip through and watched it do all the pretty tucks for me. One thing you want to keep an eye on is the needle itself. It can work loose after a little while from the action of the ruffler and you don't want it to fall out mid-stitch. Like I did.


So you don't have a ruffler? You can cheat too. You can use a gathering foot, or if you don't have one of those you can experiment on a test strip by increasing your stitch length and tightening the tension until your machine is making gathers by itself as you sew. It will really help if your bias strips are a lightweight fabric.

After ruffling all the strips I pressed them in half along the seam.

Next step was to assemble the sham top. I used my fancy compass (from a drafting course in college) with a pencil lead in it to draw concentric circles in position on the sham top piece, like so:

Each nested circle is an inch apart from the next. Then I also drew in my quilting lines with an air soluble marker. I sandwiched the batting between the sham top and the sham top backing, pinned (a lot), and sewed along the quilting lines only, working from the center outward. (Do not sew the concentric circles).

I used fabric glue to tack down the center seams of the ruffled strips to the concentric circles. Beginning with a tight circle in the center, I worked my way around and outward. I tucked the end under when I completed the circle.

Then I used the machine to stitch each ruffled circle in place.

Now to put it all together. First I squared up the sham top. Then I aligned the envelope back pieces right sides together to the sham top and pinned. Using a half inch seam, I sewed all the way around.

Lastly I snipped the corners, turned it, stuffed it with a pillow and viola! The West Elmish look I wanted for her new bed.

I have to say, after making this sham with the 14 miles of bias strip to ruffle, the WE version looked a lot more attractive, and according to my sliding scale I think the $30+shipping they want for their sham is a pretty fair deal.

But having said that, the one I made still wins with me because 1) it's the style/exact color I wanted, 2) I was able to make it from my stash in more durable fabric for zero dollars, 3) it is something special from her mom that my daughter loves!

Monday, April 18, 2011

needle books now in the shop!

Note: Top row, third and fourth from the left, are reserved.

Two posts in one day! Just thought I'd give a shout about the shop update. Maybe your needles need a cozy, handmade place to hang out? If so, hop to the shop.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

more needle books

Update: There is a pattern available for this now: the Flora Needle Book pattern, available for instant download at Etsy and Craftsy.

This new batch is finished! I had a great time picking out new color combos and trying some different things.

They are all handmade of wool and wool-blend felts, and the covers have been fortified with fabric stiffener to make them a bit more durable. They each have a loop for hanging, and a button/string closure. Inside are four felt pages for parking your needles.

I'll be listing them in the shop, hopefully by Monday afternoon.