Monday, October 7, 2013

DIY Cording for Throw Pillows

In an effort to simplify the pillow tutorial, let's first tackle how to make our own cording.  The same basic supplies are required.  Go here to find that list...

The pillow that we will be making in the upcoming tutorial will have cording like this...

Cording is a super easy detail to add to your pillows which gives extra punch to a regular throw pillow adding an even more customized and finished look.  Ready-made cording can be found at the store, but with just a little bit of effort and a lot less money, you can make your own and incorporate exactly the look you want.

The first thing you need to do is figure out the diameter of your pillow to get the total length of cording you will need.  I always round up my diameter a little so I have plenty.  No one wants to be 3" frustrating!!

*Math review*  2x length + 2x height = diameter

Then, you'll need to purchase "x" amount of yards of the cotton cording filler.

There are usually a few thicknesses available, but for this project I am using a 12/32".  I believe a 6/32" was used in the picture shown above.  

Next, you'll need to cut your strips of fabric that will be sewn together to make your cord cover.  To do this you'll need to figure out how wide your strips need to be.  

My dressmaker's measuring tape comes in handy here...

First you have to decide how big of a seam allowance you will be using.  For this pillow I am using a 1/2" seam allowance.  In reality I will need to add 1" (2x my 1/2" seam allowance) to the circumference of my cotton cording filler.  But...this is actually how I figure it out....

I place the cording on the 1/2" marker line on my measuring tape...

Then I continue to fold the measuring tape around the cording until it meets on the other side. 

Then, I add my other 1/2".  For tomorrow's project 1 3/4" strips are needed.  

When cutting cording strips you need to determine whether or not it is necessary to cut on the bias.  A bias cut cording is what gives the cording pictured in the pillow above a diagonal stripe.  It allows heavier fabrics to bend and stretch more easily when going around curves.  For this project, my fabric is lightweight and solid in color so I've decided to take the easier way out and use the straight grain.  I'm sure there is a project on the horizon in which a bias cut will be in order...I will go into more detail at that time.  It's not really any more difficult, I just don't have the supplies to demonstrate it for this project!

My fabric is 54" wide but I always round down for this so let's call it 50".  My diameter measurement comes to 110" I'll need to cut 3 strips which will give me 150" (a little extra).

Side note:  Remember when you asked your mom when you would need math in the real world??  Ha!

Ok, so I'm going to use my cutting board and ruler to cut 3 strips @ 1 3/4" wide.

Next I need to sew those three strips into one long piece.  I find it helpful to mark the "right" side of the fabric with a pin if it isn't obvious which is the front or back.  The navy linen blend I'm using here is undistinguishable.  

Pins to mark the "right" side of the fabric

Then I'm going to pin the right sides together at the seams. 

Pinned "right" sides together

I don't bother to cut off the selvage edge of the fabric.  You don't want to include it in the finished project because it has a tighter weave, but it won't hurt anything within the seams.

When I'm sewing the seams here, I use a shorter stitch length, 2-3ish, so backstitching is not required.  And since I have pinned all my seams together beforehand, I can feed multiple strips through the machine without stopping to cut threads between each piece.  Also, you don't need to use the zipper foot for this part of the process, but it won't hurt anything either.  I find I use my zipper foot for quite a lot!

Beginning first strip with extra wide seam allowance
Continue feeding strips through machine without stopping to cut in between
I only had two pieces to sew for this single pillow, but when doing larger quantities of cording, this is a great time saver!  When finished, I just clip the threads between each strip and bingo I have one large strip!  

Next, trim the seam allowance to about 1/4".  No measuring required - just guesstimate.  

Unfold fabric and press open seams.  If the fabric you are using is lightweight enough you may be able to just press open with your fingers.  If it's a little heavier, you may need to bust out the iron.

Time to add the cording!!

Place the cording in the center of the wrong side of the fabric.

Fold the fabric together until the wrong sides meet and the cording is a taco. 

Let's sew!  Using a long stitch (4ish) together the cording sleeve.  It is not necessary to get up close to the cording at this point.  I find it is easier to make a first pass to just line up the edges of the fabric.  It gives you a nice clean edge will be helpful when adding the cording to the actual project (a pillow in this case).  As you can see from the picture below, no precision is necessary as far as straight stitching goes at this point.

For the second pass, you're going to place the zipper foot up next to the cording and stitch.

This is kind of tricky to explain, but I place my hand on the other side of the cording and allow it to guide the cording gently through.

The idea is that you stitch up closely to the cording without forcing it to be extremely tight.  It is okay and even preferred at this point if it isn't the tightest in can be.  That will be done later...when the cording is actually attached to the pillow.  When you're finished with the second pass, you'll have something similar to this...

notice:  perfect stitches NOT necessary
You may have noticed that the color of thread I am using does not match the fabric.  For this case, the thread is the same color thread I will be using for the actual pillow.  It's not really necessary that it match the color of the cording one *should* ever see these stitches.

Congratulations!!! You can now make you're own cording!  And I took me longer to write this post than it has EVER taken me to make a few yards of cording.  :-)

Next up...pillow making!!


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