Improv Log Cabin DIY Pillow Cover Project
~Written by Brother Sews Blogger
Pillow covers are a great way to bring a fresh change to your home décor. My “Improv Log Cabin Pillow Cover Tutorial” features an improvisational patchwork technique that creates a completely unique design.
The pillow cover has an envelope closure, so that you can remove the insert for laundering. It’s simple to put together, which makes it a perfect project for both beginner and experienced sewers. Use your favorite color of solids to coordinate with your furnishings, or pick your favorites prints to customize your version.
Did You Know..Three quilting feet come with the PQ1500SLPRW
- Spring action quiliting foot
- 1/4" foot
- Walking Foot
- 1/4" Yard (each) of four fabrics
- 20 1/2" x 20 1/2" Piece of muslin
- Coordinating thread
- 1/2 Yard of backing fabric
- Rotary cutter
- Cutting mat
- Sewing machine: Brother PQ1500SLPRW
- 1/4" Foot (Included with PQ1500SLPRW)
- Cardstock/printer paper
- Standard quilting ruler
- 20 1/2" Plastic quilting ruler (optional)
- 20" pillow form
- Serger: Brother 1034D (optional)
For my pillow cover, I chose to use four solid cottons: Kona Natural, Silver, Charcoal, and Black.
From each of the four fabrics, cut three “Width of Fabric” (WOF) strips with a rotary cutter (from anywhere between 1 1/2" to 3" in length). These will be used to construct the Improv Log Cabin block for the front of the pillow cover. (Note: I prefer not to use a straight edge with my rotary cutter at this point. I want my strips to have some irregularities to them.)
Continue this process until all of the strips are cut from the four fabrics.
From the backing fabric, cut one 13 ½” x WOF piece. Next, re-cut this piece into two 13 ½” x 20" rectangles for the backing, and then set aside.
Because this part of the construction process is improvisational, there is no need for precise measuring or cutting while you are making the log cabin block for the front of the pillow cover. To recreate the design of my project, separate the fabrics into lights and darks. Begin to make the log cabin block by cutting a square from one of the light strips. (I made my square out of one of my cream strips of fabric.)
Cut another light strip so that it is about the length of the square that you just cut. Remember, since this is being pieced improvisationally, there is no need for precise cutting or measuring.
Sew the first strip to the top of the square (right sides together) using a quarter-inch seam allowance and the quarter-inch foot.
Open the piece that you just sewed and press the seam to the side with a hot iron.
Cut another light strip so that it is about the length of the square and the strip that is sewn to the top. Sew this strip to the left side of the pieced section.
Open the second strip up and press the seam to the side (towards the strip).
Take a dark strip and cut a single piece so that it measures approximately the length of the square and the strip that is sewn to the top. Sew this strip to the right side of the pieced section. Open and press the seam to the side (towards the strip).
Cut another dark strip so that it is approximately the length of the square and the two strips sewn to the side of it. Sew this strip to the bottom of the pieced section.
Open and press the seam to the side (toward the strip).
Continue this process – adding lights strips to the top and left side of the patchwork, as well as adding dark strips to the bottom and right side of the patchwork – until the Improv Log Cabin square measures at least 20 ½” x 20 ½”. Feel free to mix up the order of the lights and darks as a way to add variety to your project.
Here is what mine looked like before I “squared it up.”
Once the Improv Log Cabin square is at least 20 1/2" x 20 1/2", “square it up” so that it measures exactly 20 1/2" square. (This is easily accomplished with a 20 1/2" square ruler, but it can also be done with a standard quilting ruler and cutting mat.)
And here is what mine looked like once it was “squared up.”
Place the “squared up” Improv Log Cabin block on top of the 20 ½” square of muslin (wrong sides together) and pin in place.
Sew along the perimeter of the block (about ¼” from the edge) to finish the pillow top and then set aside.
Make a hem-pressing template to create the backing of the pillow cover by using a piece of computer printing paper, a pencil, and a quilting ruler. Measure ½” from the long edge of the paper with the quilting ruler and draw a line.
Then, measure 1 ½” from that side of the paper and draw another line along this edge.
Take one of the two 13 ½” x 20 ½” rectangles of backing fabric and fold it along the long edge, ½” in towards the wrong side of the fabric, using the pressing template as a guide. Press in place with an iron.
Remove the paper and give the ½” fold another good press with the iron and steam to set the crease.
Fold the same edge of the fabric another 1 ½” towards the wrong side, using the pressing template as a guide. Press in place with an iron to finish the hem.
Repeat this process with the other 13 ½” x 20 ½” rectangle and pin both hems in place with straight pins.
Sew the hem of one of the rectangles along the outside edge (at about 1/8" from the side).
Then, sew along the edge of the other side of the hem (about 1/8" from the edge), and place to the side. Repeat with the second rectangle, sewing along both sides of the hem.
Take both rectangles and place one on top of the other, with the hems facing up and overlapping in the center.
Adjust the two pieces so that (together and overlapped) they measure 20 ½” square.
Pin in place to hold the two pieces together.
Stitch along both the bottom and top edges to secure both rectangles together. This finishes the envelope opening and the pillow back.
Place the pillow cover top on top of the pillow cover back (with the opening running vertically – right sides together), and pin in place.
Sew along the perimeter of the pillow cover (½” from the edge). Back-stitch at the end of the seam to lock the stitches.
When you get near the edge, stop stitching about a half-an-inch from the next side…
…and lift the presser foot.
Then, pivot the fabric, lower the presser foot, and continue to sew along the next side. Repeat this process on all four corners of the pillow cover, and also back-stitch at the end of the seam to lock the stitches.
Remove the pillow cover from the sewing machine and snip off each of the four corners with a pair of scissors to reduce bulk in those areas of the pillow.
Optional: To finish the raw edges of the pillow cover, overlock the edges with a serger like my Brother 1034D. This will reduce fraying and help keep the pillow cover nice and neat – even through washing and normal use.
Turn the pillow cover right side out, press with an iron, and then place the pillow form inside the cover. Your pillow cover is ready to enjoy!