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I wanted a finished pillow just slightly larger than the 13.5 by 8.75-inch worked area of this design. A running stitch 12 fabric holes from the worked design (shown in this photo) gave me about half-inch of unused fabric outside of the worked design area.
Before machine sewing you need to make sure the back side of your worked piece is facing you. It can be hard to distinguish front side from back without looking closely at the worked design. I marked this photo with “front” and “back” to help you determine which side is facing you.
Getting ready to sew:
The backing material that I selected is a printed leafy brown (overdyed) fabric (100% cotton). Not wanting to chance the overdyed colors rubbing off on upholstered furniture I prewashed the material and ironed it before using it to create a pillow.
The printed fabric is 44-45 inches in width. Fold (22-inch width) the printed material (good side out) to form an envelop (pocket). This is where the stuffing will be placed.
Place the worked embroidery design (be sure back side is facing you) on top of the folded printed material. The worked design should be parallel to the bias edge of the folded printed material.
Machine stitch three sides:
Machine stitch two fabric holes in from the running stitch along three sides, doing soft (slanted) corners. Do three passes (forward, backward, forward) around corner areas to reinforce the machine sewing. Leave the fourth side unstitched (except at the corners) at this stage so you can pull the pillow to be outside out.
I snipped excess material off two fabric holes outside of the running stitch. I took this photo before removing the third side running stitch so you can see that machine stitching is two fabric holes inside the running stitch and that I trimmed excess material off two fabric holes outside of the running stitch.
It is through the unstitched fourth side’s open area that you stick your hand in between your worked design and the printed material. I would suggest to remove any rings, bracelets, etc.. while doing this in order not to snag any stitching thread of your worked design.
With your hand inside (between the work design and top printed fabric) grab both back corners and the back seam.
Take your time pulling the pillow to be right side out as the stiffness of the embroidery fabric bunches until pulled completely through.
Use your finger tips to push the corners out. I used to use my large general purpose sewing scissors until I got too aggressive and jam the scissor tips out of a corner, almost ruining all of my work.
When the pillow is all the way turned out do a check of your corners and other machine sewn areas.
In this photo: the left pillow was ironed after being pulled through and the right pillow is still rumpled from being pulled through. Notice, for both pillows, the front side of the worked design is now facing outside.
For both pillows I have left the fourth side’s running stitch alone (not pulled out) to aid me with closing the pillow (once the stuffing is in).
For the left pillow I have trimmed the worked piece (the mono canvas) to have an inch lip. I turned-in that fourth side along the running stitches and pressed it to form a sharp edge. I will leave the lips of the printed material long until I place stuffing into the envelop formed by the printed material.
Layers of the pillow:
At this stage the four layers of the pillow are:
Top layer: Front side of worked design is facing out.
Second layer: Behind the worked design is the front side of the printed material (to keep any stuffing from peeking through the fabric holes of the mono canvas).
Third layer: Envelop (pocket) formed by the folded printed material. This is where you will place the stuffing in between the back sides of the printed material.
Bottom layer: Front side out of the printed material.
If you have high confidence in the color fastness of your worked piece lightly spray starch and ironed the pillow between two slightly damp towels.
If you are not sure of the color fastness I would suggest not to spray starch and not iron between any damp towels. I did this on a finished Hardanger piece only to see halo rings developed around overdyed stitching threads.
Stuffing the pillow:
I think of the area formed by the two layers of the leafy brown material as the stuffing envelop.
I like to use loose filling. Rip/pull into 2-3 inch fluffy balls and push them into the pillow’s inside. Make sure not to stuff any filling directly behind your top worked piece.
Adding the filling into the stuffing envelop I first push filling into the corners, then along the sides and finally into the center.
I under stuff more than over stuff. After I took below photos I removed several handfuls of the stuffing in the rose threads pillow (right photo).
You can see in the above photo that the running stitch (pink thread) is still there. I left it until I started the closing stitching so I had a nice straight edge on the fourth side to stitch along.
One thing I did wrong was to stuff the rose thread pillow before it had completely dried from steam ironing. This created a rumpled look to the mono canvas fabric whereas the other pillow had dried overnight after I steamed ironed it and that pillow looks a lot more crisper.