Introduction: Reverse Applique Pillow
Reverse Applique is a very easy technique to learn, it requires just 2 layers of fabric and you can do any design that takes your fancy. I made circles here, like the sun, but you can do diamonds, squares, or flowers and swirls like in the Alabama Chanin style. I would start small like this pillow I am about to show or even smaller and make some really cute drink coasters, but this technique can also be used on larger projects such as quilts or even with clothes.
The top layer should be out of a material that does not fray very much, such as felt, jersey knit, or in my case a jean material, this will allow the cutting of the top layer to be easier to work with. The second layer of fabric (background) is out of cotton and can be a single piece or you can piece several pieces together to make the background.
Lets get started!
For a 18" (45 cm) Pillow you will need:
- 1 yard (meter) non fraying fabric
- 1 yard (meter) cotton fabric
- Sewing Thread
- Embroidery Thread
- 24" (60 cm) Zipper
- Pillow Form
Step 1: Cutting Fabric
- 20" x 20" non fraying material
- 20" x 20" cotton fabric or smaller pieces pieced together (like pictured above)
Piecing options: Option A-10 strips of 2.5" x 20" sewn together
Arrange the fabric strips long-sides together in a pleasing manner, place the first 2 strips right sides together and sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Sew a third strip to the second in the same manner. Repeat until all 10 strips have been sewn together then iron the seams flat. The pieced background should be approximately 20″ x 20″
Option B -16 different pieces of 5.5" squares sewn together.
Arrange the fabric squares in the order desired. Place the first 2 pieces right sides together and sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew the third and fourth squares in the same manner. Repeat for the second (5-8), third (9-12) and fourth (13-16) rows, then sew those rows all together using a 1/4" seam, press all seams open, the finished background size should be approximately 20" x 20"
- 2 pieces of 11" x 20" non fraying material
- 1 Piece of 4" x 20" cotton fabric, folded in half and ironed
Pillow Binding: 2" x 80" cotton fabric, folded in half and ironed
Step 2: Pillow Front
If you have pieced your background cotton fabric together, iron the seams open.
Place the background fabric face up and place the non fraying material face up on top of the colorful cotton background fabric, so both pieces are facing up! Very important both!
Now take your embroidery thread and make a design using a running stitch going through both layers of fabric.
Embroidery Running Stitch creates a cute dashed line and is one of the first stitches a beginner learns.
How To: The best embroidery thread length is from finger to elbow, thread the needle with one end and make a knot at the other. Bring your needle through from the back of the background fabric and all the way through both layers to the front of your pillow, starting on the line you want to stitch (a good idea is to start in the middle of the pillow and work your way out). Insert the needle and take a stitch about 1/4" (5mm) in length along the line to create your first stitch. Then take the needle back through both layers to the back and skip about 1/8" (3mm) from the back and then push the needle up to the top of the fabric and repeat this "running stitch" continueing around your design.
In order to make circles trace around objects you can find in your house. I used a spool of thread and a plastic lid to help start my circles and then I just eye-balled the rest. Leave room in between your stitching this is where you will cut out the top layer of fabric.
Note: Are you not comfortable doing embroidery and would rather use a sewing machine? Pick a different design, perhaps waves that go all the way across the fabric and just use a sewing machine. Doing circles, diamonds, hexagons are easier with embroidery thread because then you don't have to deal with so many stop and knots. But if doing a design that goes all the way across the front of a pillow then an easier solution would be a sewing machine :) Imagine a blue background with a white felt or jersey to cut through and it would be like waves crashing (I just might do pillow like that it sounds very beachy).
Step 3: Cutting the Pillow Front
Now this is the FUN part, cutting back the top layer fabric to show the bottom background fabric and let it shine! You don't need to cut in between every stitched line, just go with what you think looks good. Be careful when you cut that you don't cut through the second layer. Good tools to use, a seam ripper to start the cut and then small scissors to get around inside of the lines, cut around the embroidery stitching and exposing the background fabric.
Step 4: Pillow Back
Place 1 piece of 11"x20" non fraying material right side up, place the 4" x 20" cotton fabric that you have ironed in half with wrong sides together (now 2" x 20") with the raw edges together, then place the zipper with the teeth facing down on top, stitch a 1/4" seam along the edge, use pins or clips to keep all 3 items in place from slipping. Iron the cotton flange over the zipper. Now take the bottom 11"x20" piece with the zipper facing with the teeth up and the flange out of the way, place the bottom piece raw edge against the zipper and pin or clip the 2 pieces together and sew a 1/4" seam along the whole piece then flip the bottom over and iron. The flange should cover and hide the zipper, top stitch along the top above the flange and on the top piece of the pillow back, this will help flatten the zipper tape underneath all the layers, and looks good too!
Step 5: Combining the Front to the Back
Place your back pillow panel face down on a cutting mat then place the front of the pillow face up on top of the back panel. Be sure your zipper tab is pulled in a little to the middle of the pillow so you don't cut it off. Now trim the pillow down to 18" square, making it nice and even on all sides.
Step 6: Sewing the Binding On
For the binding take a 2" strip about 80" long and fold wrong sides together and press. Match the raw edges of the binding with the raw edges of the pillow "sandwich" use clips to keep the layers together, sew a 1/4" seam along all sides. When you get to a corner stop 1/4" to the end and backstich, pull the needle up and cut the thread. Take the binding strip and fold it up away from your project creating a 45degree angle, then bring the binding strip back down to follow along the raw edge of the next side of the pillow (see pictures) Start sewing a 1/4" from the edge be sure to back stitch and continue to the next corner and do the same for all 4 corners, making it back to where you started the binding. Cut any excess off and sew the ends together. Iron the binding to the back and hand sew the binding to the back of the pillow.
Step 7: Couch Pillow?
What do you think? Would you like to make one? If you have any questions, just let me know.
First Prize in the