April showers bring May flowers, but with this project you don't have to wait until next month to enjoy the blooms.
Fresh flowers abound with this embroidered pillowcase which features a field of delightful, 3-dimensional petals.
Throughout this post, I'll walk you through how I made the flowers and share a few tips on finishing off a perfect pillowcase.
First, allow me to back up a bit and share my inspiration for this project.
Of course, inspiration comes from just about anywhere and in this case it came in the form of seed packs that my kids found in our garage.
I love Zinnias and the packaging here reminded me of an embroidery disc in my collection.
Actually, I'm not sure whether these embroidered flowers are Zinnias or Chrysanthemums but I was inspired nonetheless.
As you can see in the photo below, a reference box stitches out first. This is really helpful because it allows me to see the boundries of the design and to see how the dimensions of each flower will line up, in relation to what has already been stitched out.
The use of vellum templates also help to line up exactly where to position each flower set as you're moving across the fabric.
Reminder: Always use a water soluble marker when drawing guide lines and marking your reference points. The markings are easily removed with a damp cloth.
Continue to stitch out the design across the fabric until you have the desired number of flower sets in place.
As you can see in the photo below, the embroidery is flat and all the threads are still intact.
Don't be afraid to experiment with design placement. I staggered the flower sets here to add more visual interest to the overall design.
Once the flowers are all stitched out, now comes the fun part, albeit a little scary. The fringe is created by cutting the threads on the back of the design.
Initially, I was a tad nervous about cutting into all this great stitching. However, as long as you cut slowly and carefully along the outside of each circle there's little risk of messing this up.
Note: The white material you see around the design is called "stabilizer". It's used to help hold the fabric firmly in the embroidery hoop so it doesn't slip around during the stitching process. It's easily cut and peels away from the back of the finished embroidery.
Once the flower threads have been cut from the back, return to the front and use the tip of the scissors to carefully pull the cut-threads through the fabric. This creates the fringe.
The main threads are held in place thanks to reinforced areas that are stitched into the design during the embroidery process.
Here's a closer look at how the fringed flowers look compared to the flat, uncut ones.
While I love the loose flower edges, you could also mix up this layout by including some fringed flowers and leaving others uncut in a different project.
Before attaching the back pillowcase panel to the front, I decided to add another embroidered element.
Even though most people will never see the back of the pillow unless they pick it up, you can still add a splash of color to an otherwise plain, off-white backside.
Use the same thread colors for the back element that are in the front pattern to maintain a coordinated overall appearance.
Small, extra touches and details can give a project a much bigger WOW factor.
For example, take a close look at this finished pillowcase in the photo below. Looks fine, right?
Now, take another look at the same pillowcase with the addition of leaf-green piping.
The piping is such a simple element but it packs a big punch by framing the pillow with a thin border of pretty green.
Not only does the green piping help the pillow "pop", it also gives the pillowcase a more formal appearance.
I actually like both versions but I think the pillowcase sans piping definitely has a more casual feel to it.
Which version do you like better?
For a long time, I skipped using piping on projects because I could never get it to look as neat as I wanted.
After much practice, here's my bit of advice (and alliteration) on piping.
Practice, pacing, plus plenty of pinning and piles of patience make perfect piping possible.
Now, try saying that six times fast.
I use a lot of pins to hold the piping in place between the two pieces of fabric while stitching. This really makes a difference by helping to prevent any puckering.
A zipper foot attachment is also essential to perfectly-fitted piping because it allows the sewing machine needle to get as close as possible to the piping as you stitch the seam.
A zipper foot is a standard attachment and should be included with most sewing machines.
However, if you've lost yours along the way, you can always order one on-line to fit your machine. You may also be able to order one through your local sewing machine shop.
I know of two ways to connect the two loose ends of binding within a seam.
The first involves overlapping the two ends and sewing them into the seam as you can see in the photo below.
Technique #2 (below photo) involves fitting one end of the piping inside the other and stitching it into the seam.
I personally think this second technique provides a more seamless-looking appearance and since that's the technique I used for these pillows, that's the technique I'll illustrate for you here.
Start by pinning the piping into place all the way around the pillow.
Make sure that the two ends come together at the bottom of the pillow because it will be less visible and won't take away from the clean, more visible edges of the pillow.
Cut one end of the piping @1/2 inch longer than the other end.
Use a seam ripper to gently open piping seam on one end (right side here).
Stretch the piping on the other end (left side here) so that it extends about 1/2 inch beyond the end of the piping on the opposite side.
Fold over the piping end with the opened seam about 1/4 inch. Trim the cording inside the opened-seam to the point where the other end of the cording naturally meets it.
Look at the photo below and you can see how the intact-cording and the trimmed-cording will come together.
Make sure both ends of cording meet each other and then fold the opened-seam back to its original position and pin in place.
Make sure the piping with the opened-seam is pulled tightly in position between the two pieces of pillowcase fabric.
As you stitch along the outside, you'll be able to see and feel the piping under the fabric.
Gently push the piping toward the zipper foot and needle with your fingers on one side of the piping at the same time stitching as close to the piping as possible on the other side.
This will give you a nice, close piping fit.
Whether you use the insert or the overlap technique, remember to always connect your two loose piping ends at the bottom of the pillow.
That way, when the pillow is displayed upright, the piping connection will be obscured and nearly invisible along the bottom of the pillow edge.
If you decide to use the same design on a pair of pillows, it's a good idea to arrange the design so that the finished embroidery creates a mirror image when propped up side by side.
I think this makes for a less cookie-cutter look if using them as book-ends on a sofa.
Meanwhile, when it comes to this particular embroidery design, it looks wonderful on just about anything.
I added a stem to one of Cameron's old denim vests to give the garment new life and she loved the tweak.
While the threads in these embroidered flowers seem secure, I suggest always spot cleaning embroidered projects gently and by hand as opposed to machine washing.
Whether you're adorning a garment or embellishing pillows for your home or gifts, fresh flowers like this look great no matter where you place them.
Considering the long, harsh winter most of us have had, it certainly is a pleasant sight to finally spot a few flowers in full bloom. ♥