This is the first time I have used an organic cotton fabric. Organics are a still a small percentage of the quilting weight cottons available, and almost twice the cost. But, I figure organic fabric will grow in the marketplace similarly to organic food. Remember how difficult it was to reliably find organic groceries? And they were almost prohibitively expensive. A decade later, it's how I shop. There's a great selection and milk is no longer $8 for a half gallon. So, I was pretty thrilled to find emerging organic fabric companies debuting high-quality and colorful fabrics as well as some pretty edgy designs. These summery box-pleat pillows made from organic cotton make a powerful statement: We are pesticide free!
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome DC2010)
Fabric and Other Supplies
These pillows look great as a set, so we show the supplies needed for both pillows. If you choose to make just one, you'll need to recalculate your insert fabric amount. Our thanks to Fat Quarter Shop for providing the organic fabric for these pillows. As always, we received our fabric FAST and beautifully cut and packaged.
- ½ yard of 44-45" wide fabric for the 14" square pillow: we used Beyond the Sea from Cloud9 Organic Fabrics in Sea Urchin
- 1 yard of 44-45" wide fabric for the 16" square pillow: we used Beyond the Sea from Cloud9 Organic Fabrics in Sand Dollar
- ½ yard of 44-45" wide fabric for the box-pleat insert for both pillows: we used Beyond the Sea from Cloud9 Organic Fabrics in Earth Solid
- One 14" x 14" pillow insert
- One 16" x 16" pillow insert (the most green solution is to reuse your pillow inserts)
- All-purpose thread to match/compliment all the fabrics: we used a chocolate brown
- See-through ruler
- Measuring tape
- Fabric pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Straight pins
Cut fabric for the 14" x 14" pillow
- From the Sand Dollar, as shown above, cut:
ONE 16" x 15" rectangle
- Cut the 16" x 15" rectangle in half to create TWO 8" x 15" rectangles, as shown above.
- From the Sand Dollar, cut TWO 12½" x 15" rectangles
- From the Earth Solid, as shown above, cut:
ONE 5" x 15" rectangle.
Cut fabric for the 16" x 16" pillow
- From the Sea Urchin, as shown above, cut:
ONE 20" x 17" rectangle
- Cut the 20" x 17" rectangle in half to create TWO 10" x 17" rectangles labeled A and B, as shown above.
- Finally, cut each of those A and B rectangles again, as shown above, to create A-1 (6" x 17"), A-2 (4" x 17"), B-1 (4" x 17") and B-2 (6" x 17").
NOTE: By cutting in this order, you make the best use of any fabric motif or design.
- From the Sea Urchin, TWO 13½" x 17" rectangles
- From the Earth Solid, as shown above, cut:
THREE 5" x 17 rectangles
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
14" x 14" Pillow
- Using a ½" seam allowance, with rights sides together, sew alternating Sand Dollar and Earth Solid rectangles together as shown in the diagram above.
- Mark the center point of the Earth Solid panel. You can do this by folding the panel in half and marking with a pin or you can make a light crease with your iron. You can also draw a line with your fabric pen or pencil, but be SURE it will brush away or disappear with exposure to the air.
- Pull the seams in towards the center marked line to form the pleat, as shown below. Press flat.
- Pin and stitch the pleat closed close to the raw edge of the fabric with a short horizontal line of stitching.
- Then, topstitch approximately ¼" from the center line to create a long box around the pleat. Stitch down 2¾" from the top, pivot, stitch across the opening, pivot again, and stitch back up to the top. This secures the pleat and adds a nice accent.
16" x 16" Pillow
- Using a ½" seam allowance, with rights sides together, sew alternating Sea Urchin and Earth Solid rectangles together as shown in the diagram above.
- Create three box pleats, using the same process as described above, except topstitch 3¾" to create a slightly longer box for this larger pillow.
Making an envelope back
- Collect your cut back pieces and separate them into their appropriate pairs.
- For each pair, take one of your pillow back pieces, and turn under the right side of the fabric ½" along the entire width of the piece (15" on the 14" square pillow, and 17" on the 16" pillow). Press
- Fold under an additional 1½" and press.
- Edgestitch along the folded edge to make a clean double turn hem.
- Repeat Steps 1-4 with the other back piece.
- Take both pieces and overlap the hems to yield the correct finished height (15" on the 14" square pillow, and 17" on the 16" pillow). Pin hems together.
- Working as close to the edge as possible, stitch the sides of hems together to secure and create one piece. It's easier to work with one piece when you stitch front to back.
- Place your newly completed pillow back piece and your pillow front piece right sides together, matching raw edges all around. Stitch a ½" seam around all four sides of the pillow, making sure to back-tack three to four stitches at each corner to reinforce the seam at these stress points.
- Trim all four corners of the pillow at a diagonal, but be sure not to clip into your seam.
- Using the envelope opening on the back, turn the pillow covering right side out. Push out the trimmed corners from the inside to make nice, square corners on the outside. Use your finger or a blunt-edge tool, like a large knitting needle or a chopstick.
- Insert the pillow form through the envelope closure and fluff out the corners of the pillow covering evenly.
Project Design, Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Alicia Thommas