In case you missed it, I contributed this tutorial for a monogrammed pillow made from a button-down shirt as part of the Button-Down Rehab series over at My Own Road. Thought I'd post it here for those who never saw it. The idea was to take a button down shirt and guess what? Rehab it into something else! Cheers!
When I thought about what to make for this challenge, my decided on two things. It needed to be easy. And it needed to get this worn-out shirt out of my husband's wardrobe rotation.
Dingy feel, holes in the collar, weird old-man cut -- check, check, check. Ugly, right? I thought so, too. Time to be reborn!
But when I told my husband my plans, he shared something I'd never known -- the ugly shirt I was turning my nose up at was his grandfather's. I can remember my husband tearing up when his grandfather -- the only grandfather he ever knew -- died back in 2000. It was the closest I've ever seen him come to crying (men, right?). He didn't mind me turning the pillow into something else, but he wanted to make sure it would somehow continue to honor his grandfather.
Wow, no pressure, right?
Well, here's what I came up with.
It's a monogrammed pillow with the letter and the entire back made from the hand-me-down shirt. And it has just a few special touches, enough to make it a great belated Father's Day gift! We ended up giving this one to my father-in-law. I hope he loves it.
OK, enough lead-in, let's make this thing!
Here's what you need:
-- A cut-up man's button-down shirt. Mine was a size L. Cut up both side seams and across the shoulder seams to get two pieces.
-- Contrasting fabric square 17 by 17. I used a thrifted sheet. Quilting-weight cotton would work fine!
-- 16-inch pillow form
-- Two yards of coordinating lip cord
-- Scrap of medium-weight interfacing
-- Scrap of tear-away stabililzer
-- Zipper foot
-- Sewing machine, and all the basic sewing supplies.
-- Optional: A computer, word processing program and printed to create your monogram template.
Let's get started.
Step one: Create your monogram template.
There are a number of ways you can do this. If you're handy at drawing, you could simply draw a letter in the size and style you prefer, cut it out and be on your way. I am terrible at drawing, so I turned to trusty old Microsoft.
First I downloaded a font from the Web site Kevin and Amanda. They are free to download and the instructions are simple. The one I picked is called Amazing Ruler. Once it was installed, I opened Microsoft Word, typed a "J" for our last name, and sized it to 500. I printed it out, cut it out (Since my font is a skinny one, I cut mine a little wider to give it more oomph), and had my monogram ready to go.
Make sure you place it on your square to be sure it's the size you want.
Step 2: Create the monogram for appliqueing.
Now place the monogram template right-side down on the interfaced side of your fabric. You want the monogram to be backwards when you draw it on the wrong side, so when you flip it over it will be facing the right way. Make sense? Carefully trace the template onto your interfacing. I used a water-soluable fabric marker, but you could use a pencil, too.
There she is, next to my wine glass, all outlined and ready for cutting. Cut it out!
Step 3: Stablizing time!
Newbie note! This is my first time using tear-away stabilizer. I hope this isn't the blind leading the blind here. :) But I tried to do this applique once on my fabric without it and it was pucker city. That can happen when you're doing a satin stitch on a thinner fabric. So off I went to learn about stabilizers. I landed on Sulky Totally Stable Iron-On Tear Away Stabilizer. It did the job well enough, leading to significantly fewer puckers. Next time, I might use two sheets.
Place the stabilizer on your fabric where you plan to put your monogram. Follow the package instructions to iron the stabilizer on. Then pin the monogram in place.
Step 4: Applique on the monogram
You could applique your monogram on with a lot of different kind of stitches. I chose to go with a satin stitch effect. Here's how it looks when you're done.
To get this look, set your machine to a zig-zag stitch. Now increase the width to something around a 5. That's as high as my machine goes. Reduce the length of the stitch down to almost 0. My machine actually clicks when it gets to zero -- I stopped just before the click. Whatever settings you pick, my advice is to play first on a scrap piece of fabric until you get the stitch the way you want it!
Once you're ready, get your needle set by sinking it into the fabric on the outside of the monogram in the right position. You want the needle to go back and forth over the edge of the fabric, encasing it in thread. Stat out with a few forward-then-backstitches to secure your thread.
To get nice, even stitches, go slowly and make sure not to tug the fabric through any faster than the machine feeds it. On curves, slow down even more. At times, you might need to leave the thread in the down position, lift the presser foot and rotate the fabric a bit to get headed in a new direction.
Certainly you'll have to do that at any corners, like this above picture. Be careful to watch closely that you're getting the thread in the monogram on one side and in the pillow fabric alone on the other. You want to make sure that edge is enclosed!
Then just keep on sewing until you reach the starting point. Back stitch! Now, your monogram is sewed on!
Carefully tear away the stabilizer -- it should come right off, as the needle has punctured it all the way around -- and admire your pretty monogram!
Step 5: Basting on the lip cord to the front of your pillow
If you're not interested in this, you could skip to step 6 and have a fine finished pillow. I just wanted a little extra something to make the pillow look special. It is going to my in-law's house, after all. Did I mention my mother-in-law is an interior designer, has impeccable taste and a very distinct style? No? Presssurreeee! So I wanted to punch my pillow up a little and give it a really polished look. Enter lip cord!
Another disclaimer: this is my first time working with lip cording! I'm silly right? But really, it was easy. Like using piping. I bought mine at a local high-end fabric store. I am sure you could find some online, too. It give the pillow this look when all finished.
And easy, too. Really!
I laid mine out with the intention to pin it on. Probably a good idea. But in the end, I couldn't find enough pins (I know, what the heck? I think my cat eats them. Seriously!) and decided to just carefully guide it through my machine. It worked fine. You just want the edge of the "lip" to align with the edge of your fabric. The cord should be toward the inside of your fabric square.
Pick a spot to start (I chose the bottom) and leave a good three inches of cord free when you begin to sew. You'll need this loose cord to work with when it comes time to join the two ends.
First, put your zipper foot on! This allows you to get right up and cozy with the cord. Then set your machine to use a basting stitch -- your machine set to its longest stitch-length, like a 5.
Baste all the way around, keeping as close as you can to the cord.
One recommendation for the corners: make it a bit easier on yourself and cut a gradual curve into your corners. Because this cord doesn't corner for squat! What I did was try to smoosh it down and lift my presser foot to pivot.
When you get to the end comes the toughest part. Stop basting when you're about an inch from the beginning. You want to join the ends together so the cord looks seamless on the outside of your pillow. Here's what I did.
Here's how mine looks. Not perfect, but not bad, right?
I then trimmed the cord (I had a few inches left over).
Step 6: Assemble the pillow
The final step! And a fast one. You're almost done.
Place the front of your pillow right-side-down on your shirt front, which is right side up. Figure out where you want it arranged. Then pin the two sides together and cut your shirt down to size.
Or be like me and pin after your cut. :) I'm bad, I know.
Once you're pinned, get back to the sewing machine. Change your length to something more "normal." I did a 2.5. Keep the zipper foot, because you're still trying to sew right up against that cording. In fact, try to sew right through your basting line.
I found keeping my finger on the basting line helped me ensure the cording stayed to the left and didn't creep over into my sewing line.
Like so! Just don't sew your finger. Ouch.
Back stitch at the beginning and end. Lift your foot and pivot at corners. Easy, peasy right?
With the built-in button closure, you don't have to worry about hand-sewing shut or creating an envelope back. Just slip your hand in the shirt and open the buttons up when you're all done and ready to stuff your pillow!
And that's it! A pretty monogram pillow.
Looks much better in this form than it did as a stinky-old shirt, right? And instead of Grandpa's old shirt coming out when my husband runs out of stuff to wear, now it's a reminder of him that my in-laws can have every day.
I hope you liked my tutorial! I will answer any questions you have in the comments.