Scrapbook of Quilts ~ Week 4

Scrapbook of Quilts ~ Week 4

Written by: 
Carrie Nelson

You weren't sure about this "pillow-thing", were you?  But if you've made even one, you're probably falling for the quick-finish aspect of it.

CT PAL Scrapbook of Quilts Cover

We're halfway through the Scrapbook of Quilts Pillow-Along.  Three pillows are "done", and there are three more to come.  

This week, I'm sharing my preferences for the back of the pillow.  Joanna is sharing her preferences here - Scrapbook of Quilts Pillow Along Week 4.

I made my first pillow cover almost... a very, very long time ago.  I even took a class on "Making Pillows" at Poppy Fabrics in Berkeley, California.  It's where I learned to make box corners!  In the years since then, I've tried a lot of different methods and techniques, often with different kinds of fabrics.  When I started making quilts, it wasn't long before I was making blocks and "mini quilts" to use for pillows.

I've used button-closures on the back, and while I liked the look and fit, it was more time-consuming than a zipper.  I've also had the dog-factor to consider, dogs that were once puppies.  Do you know how appealing a row of exposed buttons is to a puppy?  

As for zippers, they've always been in the bottom of the pillow.  My days as a garment-maker meant that I knew a dozen ways to put in zippers, and because fancy, store-bought pillows put the zipper in the bottom, so did I.  It was probably also a holdover from the class at Poppy Fabrics.  I've used the binding-on-the-outside-edge finish a few times, but I don't think I've done that for many years.  

So when it comes to my preferences now, how I made/finished the pillows in Scrapbook of Quilts, this is what I do.

Quilted?  Definitely a Yes.  I like the way that the pillows look and feel when the backing is quilted, especially after it's washed.  I've found that it holds up a little bit better, probably because the weight of the front and back are the same.  And since I use the pillows I make, how they hold up through washings is an important consideration for me.  

CT Scrapbook of Quilts PAL Week 4 Pillow Backings

These are the backings for four of the pillows in Scrapbook of Quilts - from the top, Pirouette, Nine-Across Rectangle, Nine-Across Square, and Pirouette.

The layering of the backing is the same - quilting cotton, thin batting, and a thin lining fabric.  (See Scrapbook of Quilts PAL for more details on materials.) 

Quilting.  This is almost always straight line of some kind - either parallel straight lines, a straight-line grid that runs lengthwise-crosswise, or a straight-line grid that is aligned diagonally.  Spacing depends on the fabric being used, and sometimes on how much quilting is one the front of the pillow.

CT Scrapbook of Quilts PAL Week 4 Mackinac Backing

I also like using a wavy-straight line stitch on my sewing machine for quilting the backs of pillows.  This is a print from Minick & Simpson's Mackinac Island.

Fabrics.  My first choice is usually for something that has a bit of "pop" - it's unexpected.  If the front of the pillow is a neutral or monochromatic palette, don't be surprised to find something big, bright and floral on the back.  

CT PAL Week 4 Lady Bird Backing

This is the back of last week's Nine Across Neutrals pillow.  The labels are part of the selvage, and a 2021 label.  (More about both in a moment.)

I use leftovers from quilt backings, and fabrics I really love but never seem to use.  Or forgot I had.

CT PAL Week 4 Cosmo Cricket Vintage Spool 2

This is the back of one of my Vintage Spools quilts, the print is from the Baby Jane collection by Cosmo Cricket for Moda, circa 2013 or so.

I also love using plaids and stripes on the back, or fabrics that have a linear element to the design.  Porquoi?  Because I can use that as my quilting line without marking.  Text prints are also great for the back of a pillow because they're something different.  

CT PAL Week 4 Plaid Backing

Vintage Spools with a Bonnie & Camille Woven for the backing.  There is a selvage on the back, and a Circa 2021 label in the seam on the left side.

Pieced pillow backs?  Absolutely.  I've made a few of those, and I've added leftover blocks and pieces to the backing.

Labels.  Most of my pillows now get a label of some sort.  What exactly often often depends on the fabrics, what the pillow is for, my mood at the time, and how much of a ruch I'm in.  I really do like including some kind of label.  My two favorites are using part of the selvage on the backing, or a label that dates the quilt.  

CT Scrapbook of Quilts PAL Week 4 Winkipop Pillows

These are by Kylie and The Machine, a sewing company in Australia.  (They ship internationally, and KATM labels can be found in many quilt shops in the US.)  

CT Scrapbook of Quilts PAL Week 4 KATM Labels

This week's pillow is made with the Oregon Trails block - and the templates! (ISE 783 from It's Sew Emma)  The theme was two-color.  

I was planning to use red and white, maybe even a Christmas collection.  Then I saw Joanna was using that.  And Susan Ache.  So blue and white it is!

CT Scrapbook of Quilts PAL Week 4 Oregon Trail

There are a few things I would change, but I do like the way this turned out. I know I will enjoy using it, especially after it comes out of the wash.  (They really are so much softer and quilt-ier.)  This just needed a bit of red.  And maybe some pink.

For the pillow, I made four blocks.  The center sashing was cut at 1¼", so it finishes at ¾".  That makes the center of the pillow measure 20¾" x 20¾" finished, or 21¼" x 21¼".  I added borders to the four sides - cut at 2", trimmed to 1¼" after quilting.  The quilted top measured 23¼" x 23¼".  A 26" x 26" feather pillow form fits it nicely.

Joanna is sharing her thoughts about pillow covers, inserts, sizes and sources here - Scrapbook of Quilts Pillow-Along Week 4.

The other blog posts related to the pillow-along can be found here:

If you're on Instagram, be sure to check out #scrapbookofquilts and #pillowalong.  

And don't miss Joanna - @figtreeandco / Kimberly - @itssewemma - / and this week's friend, Susan Ache - @yardgrl60.

Next week's pillow is Pirouette. 

And Joanna and I will also be sharing our ideas about the back of the pillow - closures, quilting and favorite prints to use.  

I hope you have a good week.  And that you make a pillow or two.

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