Two recent self improvement books that took the best-seller lists by storm centered on how to be happier: The Happiness Projectby Gretchen Rubin and her follow-up, Happier at Home. Here at S4H, we believe one of the best ways to be happier is to surround yourself with home décor that makes you smile. Why are you smiling? Because you made it yourself! We knew one of our 10 Designers & 10 Collections had to be Happy Land by Jennifer Paganelli for FreeSpirit Fabrics. Even though it's been out for awhile (a Fall 2012 debut), it caught our eye back then, and we've been waiting for a chance to use it. In fact, the Happy Land collection made us so happy, we were inspired to make three different pillows. Today's is a mini bolster. It looks fancy with its ruched center panel, piping accents and candy wrapper ends, but it's easier than you might think... because easy makes us happy!
Jennifer Paganelli has been a Sew4Home featured artist before. We've used her fabrics and talked about her great book, Girl's World. Every time I've spoken with Jennifer and each time I've met her at industry events, she is happy! Even after hours in her booth at Quilt Market, she was smiling and hugging. Happy Land is a perfect Jennifer collection. Today's tootsie roll bolster pillow is designed to bring yet another smile to her face... and yours!
Our thanks to the great folks at FreeSpirit and Rowan Fabrics for sponsoring these four weeks of Resolution Inspiration from ten of their amazing designers. What's Jennifer's resolution? It makes me feel more peaceful just reading about it!
"Goals I continually aim to achieve are meditation and carving out spiritual moments of calm. I've come to realize these moments of resolution and renewal are important to acknowledge many times throughout the year - not just in the New Year. For me, this encourages a healthy, positive mindset."
Sewing Tools You Need
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1 yard of 44-45" wide quilting weight cotton for the main body of the pillow; we used Claudia in Blue from the Happy Land collection by Jennifer Paganelli for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- ⅓ yard of 44-45" wide quilting weight cotton for the piping; we used Candice in Red from the Happy Land collection by Jennifer Paganelli for FreeSpirit Fabrics
NOTE: To get the proper curve, you really need to work with bias cut strips for the piping fabric, which do require more yardage, however, the finished smooth look is worth it. If you are new to the technique, see our Bias Binding tutorial for more information about figuring yardage, cutting and making bias binding.
- 1¼ yards of ¼" piping cord
- ½ yard of low loft batting: we used American Spirit Classic Cotton Batting by Fairfield Processing
- One 14" x 6" bolster pillow insert
NOTE: If you cannot find an appropriate size bolster pillow insert, you can make your own with lightweight muslin and polyester fiberfill, such as Poly-fil®.
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
- From the fabric for the main body of the pillow (Claudia in Blue in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 5" x 40" rectangle for the main center panel
TWO 6" x 20 rectangles for the main side panels
TWO 20" x 12" rectangles for the ponytail ends
TWO 20" x 1½" strips for the ponytail ties
- From the fabric for the piping (Candice in Red in our sample), cut enough 1½" strips on the bias to yield TWO 21" strips.
- Cut the piping cord into two 22" lengths.
NOTE: As mentioned above if you are new to bias cuts and binding (it's the same technique for the strips to wrap piping cord), see our tutorial.
- From the batting, cut ONE 14" x 19" rectangle.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Main body of the pillow
- Find the 5" x 40" center panel.
- Use your favorite method to gather both 40" sides, reducing the panel to 20". We used the corded zig zag method.
- Adjust the gathers as needed so they are evenly spaced along the entire panel.
NOTE: If you are new to gathering, check out our How to Make Gathers by Machine tutorial, which shows the zig zag method as well as two additional options.
- Find the two 6" x 20" side panels.
- Place one side panel right sides together with each 20" gathered side of the center panel. Pin in place.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch each side panel to the main panel.
- Press the seam allowance toward the side panels.
- Topstitch along each seam within the side panel. Your stitching line should be approximately ⅛" from the seam. Be careful to keep the spacing consistent on both sides.
- Find the batting. Place it flat on your work surface.
- Center the main body of the pillow right side up on top of the batting. If necessary, trim the batting so it is flush with the main panel. Lightly pin the two layers together. This layer of batting will make the center of the pillow look nice and smooth when done.
- Find the bias cut strips and the piping cord.
- If you did not cut full-length strips, stitch your multiple strips together end-to-end to yield two 21" strips. Press all seam allowances open.
- Place the two finished strips wrong side up on your work surface.
- Place a length of cording down the center of each strip.
- Wrap the strip around the cording, aligning the long raw edges of the strip.
- Attach a Zipper foot.
- Thread your machine with thread to match the piping fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Stitch the length of the strip, staying as close to the cording as the foot will allow. If possible on your machine, you can also move your needle position to the left to snug up your seamline even closer.
NOTE: If you are new to piping, check out our step-by-step tutorial
Adding the ponytails
- Place the main panel (with the batting pinned to it) right side up on your work surface.
- Place a length of piping along each 20" raw edge of the main panel. On each side, the raw edges of the piping should be flush with the raw edge of the fabric panel. The ends of the piping will extend beyond the piping a bit.
- Pin the piping in place. Hand or machine baste each piping strip in place. If machine-basting, continue to use your Zipper foot.
- Find the two 20" x 12" ponytail rectangles. Place one right sides together along each 20" raw edge of the panel, sandwiching the piping between the layers. Pin in place.
- Still using the Zipper foot, stitch the ponytails in place through all the layers. As above, stay as close to the piping as the foot will allow. If you machine-basted your piping in place, you can follow along in this basting seam.
- Press the ponytails away from the center panel, revealing the piping.
- Fold the entire piece lengthwise, right sides together, aligning the long raw edges. Pin in place.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch in place.
- Trim away the excess piping.
- You now have one long tube. Turn this tube right side out. Roll the tube so the seam is at the center back. Press flat.
Finish the ends and make the ponytail ties
- Make a deep hem on each ponytail end. To do this, fold in the raw edge of the ponytail ½" and press.
- Fold an additional 4" and press again.
- Stitch the hem in place. If your machine has a free arm, now is a good time to use it.
NOTE: If you are new to hemming, we have a Simple Hem tutorial.
- Slip the pillow insert inside the tube. Center it side to side; it should end right at the piping line on each end.
- Find the two 20" x 1½" ponytail tie strips.
- For each strip, fold and press each end ¼".
- Fold in each 20" raw edge ¼" and press.
- Fold the entire strip in half lengthwise, aligning all the folded edges.
- Lightly pin in place.
- Edgestitch across both ends and along the folded edge to create your finished tie.
- Gather each end like the ponytail it's named for, wrap it with a tie, and make a pretty bow.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Aimee McGaffey