Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Travel Pillows-Pillowcase Tutorial

Mini travel pillow cases

If you read my Backpack name tag or my Backpack make over posts, you know that my youngest son is going off to Kindergarten this year. We received a lovely letter from his teacher last week. She sent a letter to my son inviting him to come in for a meet and greet. Along with a two page letter telling us, as parents, what to expect for the first few weeks of school. She detailed some things that we could do to make the transition easier on our son. There were some do’s and don’ts and some rules she had pertaining to the first day of school and the first 3 weeks. She also gave us a short list of what our son will need on the first day of school. I love her already!!!

Since it is all day kindergarten, she is aware that the kids will be tired after lunch. For the first 3 months they will have time after lunch to lay down and rest. For this she asked us to send a small pillow and a towel to school, to be kept in their cubby.

I had some fabric remnants that I let my boys choose their fabric from. Funny enough they decided on Halloween fabrics that I had gotten last year. I think they are already getting excited over Halloween. This is a great project for using up some of your larger fabric remnants or even two fat quarters. You will need fabric remnants at least 20.5 x 13 times 2 for this (if your pillow and plastic bag are the same size as mine).

They are great for nap time at daycare, preschool or kindergarten, in the car, camping, sleep over's or as a decorative pillow for the bed.

1 2 for 10 travel pillow

Travel pillows are PERFECT for this. Walgreens has them 2 for $10. I had actually been considering buying a couple for use in the car on long trips.

In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to take the plastic bag the pillow comes in to make a pillowcase pattern. The plastic bag isn’t sealed it has a fold over flap (kind of like sandwich bags before Ziploc was invented). Please bear with me for the first few pictures. Plastic bags aren’t the easiest to photograph.

If you have a sewing machine, even if you don’t really know how to sew, you can make this. It is a good way to cut your teeth on sewing because it is just straight stitches and very straight forward.

2 make a pillow case pattern

1. Cut the edge seams that holds the flap in place.

3 the pattern

I have made some lines in sharpie to show you the fold line of the flap you just cut open and a line that shows the edge of the opening to the bag for reference points. (you do not need to do this part unless it helps you)

4 layer fabrics under pattern

2. If you are using two different fabrics, like I am doing here, lay one on top of the other. Line up two of the edges. I suggest you put the fabric that will be the back of your pillow on top.

3. Lay your pattern (plastic bag) over your fabric. Leaving room for 1/2 inch seam allowances on two edges (the other two sides you will leave a seam allowance when you cut them down to size).

5 get ready to cut the bottom side of the case

Here the picture in the picture is reminding you of the earlier picture that shows the two lines I drew on the pattern.

4. Fold the flap of the pattern over to the line of the bag opening. You are going to cut the black, backside, fabric. Cut about 1/2 an inch away from the edge of your pattern.

This is just smaller than the width of the pressure foot on the sewing machine.

6 get ready to cut the top side of the case

5. Fold the flap back out and get ready to cut the front side fabric. Again cut about 1/2 inch away from the edge of the pattern.

7 leave seam allowance all the way around

6. Cut the fabric on your last side, again leaving 1/2 inch for your seam allowance.

8 fold down seem allowance on one edge

7. Eye ball it….. Fold down ONE edge of the fabric about 1/2 inch (wrong sides together). Either iron it down or pin it in place. This is going to be the edge of the flap that covers the pillowcase opening.

8. Repeat step 7 with the the other fabric.

9 Straight stitch

It makes it easy to sew a straight line when you follow the edge of the fabric with the edge of the pressure foot. When sewing a cut edge, if your cut bumps out in a spot just keep your eye on the spot where the fabric straightens out again and follow your line of sight instead of the fabric edge.

If you plan on adding your child’s name, now would be a good time to do so. I decided to embroider my son’s name on the flap (it will be on the backside of the pillow). You can add your child’s name by printing it out on iron on sheets available at your craft store. You can also use printable fabric and then stitch it on.

10 fold over flap

9. Line up your fabrics with the right sides together (what you want to show on the outside of the pillow) and lining up the cut edge.

11. Sew the bottom seam. I always back track over my stitching at the top and bottom edges of the seam to make sure my seams won’t open up later on. This way the pillow won’t open up at the corners.

11 lay bottom fabric over the folded flap

12. Here I folded the black fabric over the flap I folded down and pinned it in place to keep the flap from slipping while I am sewing.

13. Start at the seam you already made (the right side of this picture). This will prevent puckering when you sew the sides closed. When you pass over the flap edge back stitch a bit to help the seam withstand stress on the seems when dressing or undressing your pillow. I also back stitch at the very edge again to reinforce the corners.

14. Repeat step 13 for the other unfinished edge.

12 the front view

15. Turn your pillowcase right side out and cover your pillow.

13 backside

This is the back side of the pillow. It is hard to see because I smeared out my son’s name but you can just make out where I embroidered my son’s name on the flap.

Steps for using one piece of fabric:

If you are making the case out of one fabric fold your fabric in half.

In step 3 you will line the edge of the pattern (right hand side of the photo) with the folded edge of your fabric.

Leave seam allowances on all other sides as shown in the rest of the cutting steps.

In step 7 you will fold and sew both of the short end edges.

Here is where you will stop to add your child’s name if you wish.

Continue on with step 9 matching up the end of the fabric with the fold again. The rest of the steps are the same.

14 using one fabric-backside

Here is the first case I made using only one fabric. You cannot imagine how excited my little guy got when he saw the embroidery machine making his name. He thanked the machine and even blew it a kiss. When the pillow as all finished he carried it off to his bed. He gave me lots of love over this one. All because of a pillowcase. With responses like that is it any wonder that I like doing all this stuff for my boys?

These pillowcases were fun and easy to make. They don’t require a lot of fabric, sewing or time to make. I am planning on making Christmas cases for their pillows as well as some everyday ones that will coordinate with their bedding.

As always I would love to see what you come up with! Join our Flickr group and post your finished projects.


Rebecca here. Katrina, I love these travel pillows. Years ago I was given one of these for my first child (I only had one child at the time). I remember that it was perfect for all the road trips we do. You have inspired me to make one for each of my kids. We travel so much these small pillows are so perfect to take with us! Thanks for the idea.


Ferrers Locke. said...

Ah, using the bag is clever. An idea to remember.

Unknown said...

I am a bag lover, I like a simple bag capable of carrying all of my needs. Your post is really very good, creative and gives a lot of information travel BAG ANAK

Unknown said...

I am a bag lover, I like a simple bag capable of carrying all of my needs. Your post is really very good, creative and gives a lot of information travel BAG ANAK

Unknown said...

These pillowcases are beautifully made. I'm inspired to sew my own pillowcase after seeing your post. Thanks for the inspiration.

Gretta Hewson
Veritable Alaska Fly Fishing Lodge