Around March or February of this year, I happened to be on hand as Joann was clearing out a ton of special order fabric samples: 18″ squares of decor fabric, most costing upwards of $30.00 per yard — and some much more.
The remnants were only $2.00 apiece, so I bought a few with no real intentions. A few days later, they marked the remnants down to $1.00 each. In a singularly unfortunate alignment of circumstance, this markdown coincided with a temporary lapse of sanity on my part. Unfortunate because I bought two dozen or so samples, scouring both Joann locations in my fair city to make sure I got every last one worth buying.
And then my sanity returned because I haven’t touched them since.
However, with Holiday Market on the horizon, it’s high time I got a’sewin’. And what better way to kick off this sew-a-thon than a pair of charming cowboy pillows?
I love this fabric (Waverly Wild West in Red, if you’re wondering) but thought it needed some trim, preferably something rugged to compliment its cowboyishness. Nothing in the trim section at Hobby Lobby leaped out at me, but a lucky turn down the upholstery aisle pointed me to the very thing.
Happiness is great trim that costs less than $1.00 a yard.
[I hesitate to call this post a tutorial. There are serious holes in my documentation, mainly because it's pretty darn hard to hold a camera in one hand and demonstrate with the other. However, if you're inclined to try your hand at trimming a pillow with jute webbing, I thought a few tips might not be unwelcome so consider this post after the manner of a real tutorial.]
For this project, I used:
- fabric (in this case, two 18″ squares for each pillow)
- upholstery webbing
- invisible zipper
You may also want to increase your needle to a heavy-duty size to handle the bulk of the jute.
I also used three different presser feet: an invisible zipper foot (left), a standard foot (center) and a regular zipper foot (right). That’s just my personal choice. You probably don’t need to be so indecisive.
Cut the upholstery webbing to the desired width. I initially thought I would use 1/2 the total width, but wound up using 1/4 of the width instead. Note that you want to leave one bound edge intact to prevent fraying. Cut enough webbing to outline the full length of the perimeter plus several inches.
Using a loose stitch, baste the jute webbing to the “right side” of your pillow front. (Make sure you stitch on the unbound edge of the webbing.) Try to be consistent with your seam allowance; it will help you later when you’re sewing “blind.”
When you get to a corner, cut a small notch in the webbing.
Stitch to the corner, then plant your needle down and raise the presser foot.
Pivot the fabric and webbing 90 degrees.
Scrunch the webbing back towards the corner of the fabric, closing the notch as much as possible.
Sew the ends together at a nice, roomy angle; you’ll trim it down and clean it up later. (I’m sure there is a better way to do this step, but it’s jute — not bridal satin. I took the lazy route, I admit it.)
Once you have the jute trim attached, it’s time for the zipper. There are much better invisible zipper tutorials out there, but I’ll offer the crash course since it’s relevant to how I made the pillow.
Open the zipper package and throw away the instructions. With prejudice. Then open the zipper and pin it to the pillow front (over the attached webbing trim), right sides together.
We interrupt this program for a word on invisible zipper feet.
I wish I’d discovered this little darling ten years ago. Mine came in a set of seven super-neato feet.
Forsake all cheap plastic, “one-size-fits-most” versions and buy one made for your particular machine. You will cry tears of joy. And now, back to our regular programming.
Beginning where the zipper teeth start, stitch the zipper tape to your fabric. Keep stitching as far down as possible without hitting the slider and then stop. (You do not want to go past the slider or sew into the part of the tape with no zipper teeth.) Backstitch a couple of stitches.
Thanks to our handy-dandy invisible zipper foot, this is what you should have by now: stitches close to the zipper but not too close. Unless you ignored my advice and followed the manufacturer’s instructions, in which case you painstakingly unrolled this little flap, ironed it flat and stitched as close to it as possible. And then you realized you can’t operate the zipper because your stitches are too close to the teeth. In which case you’re probably swearing a blue streak right now. It’s okay. We’ve all been there.
But I did try to tell you.
Next, pin the zipper to the pillow back and stitch it on. Again, don’t stitch past the slider or the end of the zipper teeth.
Now pin the front and back with right sides together, adjusting to make sure your zipper lines up neatly. However, make sure to keep the zipper open or you’ll be cursing again in no time.
If we were making a basic pillow with dainty or no trim, I would just say stitch the remaining three sides of the pillow and call it a day. Due to the bulk of the jute trim, however, I would recommend taking this one side at a time.
Pick a side perpendicular to the zipper and stitch all the way across your seam allowance, stitching inside the basting thread from the jute trim. (This will help make sure your trim stays a uniform depth and hide your basting stitches.) Repeat with the remaining two sides, leaving only the corners of the zipper side unstitched.
Draw the loose ends of the zipper out of the way and then stitch from the outside edge toward the stitches holding the zipper in place. Matching up your seams is the key to having a nicely invisible invisible zipper, so take your time.
Turn the pillow right side out to make sure you don’t have any gaps of trim around the edge. The jute will unravel if not sewn securely, so now is your chance to make sure it’s right. If you have a gap to correct, just stitch the seam allowance inside your last line of stitches.
If you like, now is also a good time to sew the far side of the zipper tape to your seam allowance for a little extra finishing.
If you need to do so, touch up the joint of trim on the corner. All I did was shave it down to mimic the other corners and stitch it together on the back side.
Then run a lint roller over everything you own to collect those lovely bits of frayed jute. You might have the do your neighbor’s house, too.