I have a sweet, fun tutorial to share with you today... a Valentine Pillow holder! This cute project helps add some festivity to a ho-hum holiday (in my humble opinion).
In all honesty, I'm not really a Valentine's Day kind of person. However, the hubby and I decided that making the day special for our young daughters was important. Every year they are graced with flowers, chocolates and a sweet card from Daddy. Yes, I get those things as well....but that's not really the point ; )
I'm sure we could psychoanalyze why I'm really not into it, but let's move on....
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This is a true beginner project. Several intentional decisions make it so.
- Pillow cover has an envelope-style back closure, meaning no zipper insertion is required.
- Pillow covers are great seasonal decor, as they can be removed, washed, folded and easily put away after the holiday without taking up a lot of storage space!
- No special interfacing is needed for the heart pocket.
- Only straight stitches were used. I resisted the INTENSE urges I had to use my serger!
1 1/4 yard cotton fabric (44 inches wide)- you will have leftovers!
1/3 yard for heart pocket pieces (fat quarter or scrap fabric would work too)
Heart shape template (large enough to fit valentine/greeting card)
Erasable fabric marking pen (I recommend Frixion Gel pens)
Pillow insert- 20 x 20
- I use & LOVE the IKEA Fjadrar feather pillow inserts. The 20 x 20 inserts are $6! There are also 16 x 26 and 26 x 26 sizes. These are the best inserts, and best price, that I have found. But they do not come in smaller sizes...bummer!
Cut out your pieces
Let's start by cutting the pillow cover pieces. You will need to cut out the following:
- Pillow front: 20 inches x 20 inches
- Pillow back A: 20 inches x 14 inches
- Pillow back B: 20 inches x 14 inches
Also take your heart template (or half a heart, like I did) and cut out 2 heart pieces from your chosen accent fabric. I placed the template on the fold of the fabric and cut out in this manner. This ensures that both halves are exactly the same.
Creating the heart pocket
Press your heart pieces.
Place right sides together and pin.
We need to leave an opening, so that we can turn it right sides out after it is sewn together. I always double pin my "start" and "stop" sewing marks. I recommend you do the same.
Also, it is MUCH easier to leave your opening along a relatively straight area. The best we can do for this shape, is the straight portion near the bottom point of the heart. Notice where my double pins are placed in the picture, right.
Pick a seam allowance and sew your hearts together.
I used a 1/2 inch seam allowance, but you can use whatever you would like. Just be consistent!
Start and stop at your double pins....and make sure you back stitch at your starting and stopping points as well!
It is important to reinforce the starting and stopping points of your stitch lines, particularly when you need to turn an item right side out. If you neglect to do this, your stitching will be stressed at those points and may come undone in the process of turning!
Clipping & notching the seam allowance is very important!
Go slow around the curves, pivoting your fabric around a downed needle, when needed.
After this is done, it is important to clip into the seam allowance in the curved areas of the heart. This reduces bulk in the seam allowance and allows the fabric to ease in and around sewn curves.
The picture to the right, shows what the heart pocket looks like after notching and clipping.
Clip vs notch
To determine whether you clip or notch an area, you need to look at the length of the seam compared to length of the curve:
- If the seam is longer than the curve → clip straight cuts into seam allowance so fabric will spread and allow curve to take shape after turned right side out.
- If the curve is longer than the seam → clip away notches of excess fabric in seam allowance so it won’t bunch up along the pretty curve after turned right side out.
Below you will see two diagrams that more clearly visualize what these techniques look like and why they are needed. Think about what happens when these items are flipped right side out. If notches and clips are not cut, the seam allowance would not give and ease around the sewn curves. This results in bunches or pulling, that is noted in the seam line after the item is turned right side out.
It is not pretty....just learn to clip and notch and do it consistently!
Turn right side out & press
After you have clipped and notched your seam allowance, flip your heart right side out thru the opening left in your stitching.
The larger the opening you leave, the easier it is to turn right side out! But remember you have to sew that open area closed later on...
Poke out the corner and smooth out the curved seams to your liking. Make sure the opening edges are turned under neatly to match the rest of your seam allowance.
Determine pocket placement
Place the pillow front (20 x 20) on your work surface, right side up.
It is time to determine the placement of the heart pocket on the pillow cover. After all, that's what makes it a Valentine Pillow Holder : )
We will attach the pocket and create the "card area" with one stitch line, so a little planning is needed.
As you can see above, I used one of my rotary rulers to help measure and "center" the pocket. This is one of my favorite uses for these clear acrylic rulers!
Once you determine placement, pin the heart pocket to the pillow cover, placing pins around the perimeter (shown left).
Plan pocket opening
I used a standard greeting card as a template to determine the size of the pocket opening. This makes the most sense for my family. However, you could use the pocket for smaller "valentines" by making a smaller pocket. Customize to your needs.
Place the card where you would like it to be located on your final product. Using a straight edge/rotary ruler and marking pen, draw lines around 3 sides of your card. This is where you will sew the seams that frame the pocket opening and also attach the heart to the pillow front.
Be sure to make the pocket opening slightly wider than your card or template. This will ensure that it can easily be inserted and fits comfortably inside the pocket.
I made my pocket 1 inch wider than the width of the envelope, and it will be large enough to hold a card AND a candy bar.
Attach pocket to pillow cover
The picture to the right shows the heart pocket pinned to the pillow cover, with a drawn stitch line outlining the shape of the pocket opening.
Notice that there are no pins at the center top of the heart. That part will not be sewn closed! Also, notice that the double pins were placed at the point where the drawn line meets the top of the heart. This will allow you to have one continuous stitch line all the way around the heart.
Start sewing at the double pin on the bottom "hump" of the heart. Sew around the hump to the bottom point and up the other side, stopping at the double pin on the other "hump".
When you stop at the double pins, pivot and begin sewing down the drawn stitch line. This will form the open pocket. Continue sewing the 3 lines marked, to form the pocket. The end point will be at the other double pined point on the opposite side of the heart.
This is what you will now have. A heart attached to the pillow front (with no raw edges!) with a rectangle pocket opening, sized for a greeting card and candy bar.
Use water or heat (depending on the type of marking pens you use) to erase the marked sew line on your heart.
Sweet....now onto the "pillow" part...
Creating the envelope closure
Make double fold hems on opening flaps
Take the pillow back A & pillow back B pieces, which measure 20 x 14 each.
Double fold hems will form the edges of the envelope closure. This will create a finished edge that will not "string" when laundered! I HATE "stringing"....and items in my home MUST be washable (kids, dogs, life)!
Fold the raw fabric edge, along the 20 inch length, 3/4 inch towards the wrong side of the fabric. Use your sewing gauge and measure to make sure it is a consistent 3/4 inch fold all the way down the 20 inch length.
Repeat and fold again, measuring and pressing another 3/4 inch fold. Pin in place.
Repeat the same process for the other pillow back piece, along one of the 20 inch lengths.
The two pillow back pieces will each now have one edge, along the 20 inch side, that is pressed under and pinned.
See picture to the left.
Next, sew a straight seam down the prepared double fold hem to secure it in place. I put my seam line 1/4 inch from the left folded edge of the hem (1/2 inch from the exterior edge, shown to the right).
I like to finish my double fold hems close to the interior folded edge, so that a rogue flap of unruly fabric does not develop. If that happens the hem will not lay flat and might get bunched up or folded.
Create envelope back
Now its time to assemble the envelope back.
Take pillow back A and place it wrong side up on the pillow front (which is right side up).
The hemmed edge of pillow back A, is on the right edge in the middle of the pillow back, and the raw 20 inch edge is aligned with the left edge of pillow front.
The right sides of the fabrics should be together.
Take pillow back B and place it on the other half of the pillow front, opposite the orientation of pillow back A. Ensure it is wrong side up.
The hemmed edge of pillow back B, is on the left edge in the middle of the pillow back, and the raw 20 inch edge is aligned with the right edge of pillow front.
How much overlap is needed?
Your pillow cover should look like the picture to the right. The two pieces that make the back envelope closure, overlap each other by several inches, in this example by about 4-5 inches.
This is where the pillow form will be inserted into the pillow cover once it is sewn closed and flipped right side out.
The amount of overlap can be adjusted. Sometimes a smaller or larger overlap should be used.
- A smaller overlap, often creates more pulling at the opening on the back of the pillow.
- A larger overlap, can make it difficult to insert the pillow form without stressing or ripping the seams holding it in place.
Sew around perimeter
With your envelope closure in place, pin around the entire perimeter of the pillow cover.
No need to leave an opening in the stitch line, since we can turn the cover right side out through the opening in the envelope back.
Sew around the perimeter of the cover with 1/2 inch seam allowance.
I recommend securing the overlapped portion of the back cover (picture below, right), with an extra line of stitching. This area will be stressed with pillow insertion and removal and will be a weak point.
Finish seam allowance
Please finish your seam allowance in some way, so that you do not get unraveling and "stringing" (my term for annoying thread shedding) with laundering.
Possible options for finishing your raw edges:
- pink the edges with pinking shears (shown left)
- zig zag the edge
- serge the edge (shown below, right)
Clip off the corners, at an angle, as shown to the right.
This helps reduce bulk inside the corners, once turned right side out. It is much easier to achieve crisp corners when you reduce the bulk in this manner.
Turn, poke out corners & press
Turn cover right side out through the envelope closure opening.
Use a sharp object (chop-stick, empty mechanical pencil, clean screwdriver, etc.) or point turner, to poke out the corners to nice crisp points.
Here is the pillow cover pressed and ready for insertion of the insert.
Here is the beautiful finished Valentine Pillow Holder, ready for a card, candy bar and maybe even a small bouquet of flowers.
I made a unique one for each daughter, since they are sisters but VERY different little creatures ; )
If you are feeling lovey-dovey and inspired to create more projects of this type, check out my Pinterest Board, Heart Sewing Project Ideas. It has several cute heart themed fabric crafts and sewing project ideas to try.
If this project seems a little overwhelming, consider making a standard pillowcase in festive Valentine's Day appropriate fabric! Check out Sew a Pillowcase: A Tutorial for Beginners using French Seams, if this is more your current speed.
Handwarmers: A Quick & Easy Tutorial, is another heart themed, cold weather appropriate project idea.
Remember, showing love and appreciation for those in our lives should be an EVERYDAY occurrence, not just on 1 day in February : )
Be kind & stay safe,