37 Home Decor | Crazy For You: Crazy-Quilted Pillow Covers are Tops for Upcycling Fabric

Quilting is an age-old tradition of making lovely textiles from bits and pieces of fabrics. While many times these fabrics are purchased with a certain project in mind, quilting can be a fabulous way to use up leftover scraps or rescue fabric from clothes that are headed to a rag bin just because a portion is worn or stained. But a lot of quilting patterns require cutting certain shapes, which can make using those scraps a little tougher.

Enter the Crazy Quilt. Not quite a scary as it sounds, a crazy quilt is simply one without a set pattern. You can see the basics on my How to Crazy Quilt article (back from my eHow days), but the gist is you layer bits and pieces of fabric onto a foundation piece and create a fabric collage of sorts. Then you can embellish to your hearts content.

By the way: Not only is March National Craft Month, March 16th, 2013, is also National Quilting Day–why not give crazy quilting a try?

In our discussion of throw pillows last week I did, rather casually, mention making your own. This might seem like a big task if you’re not handy around needle and thread (much less zippers, button holes and the rest) but I can assure you it really is a simple process.

After all, one of the first things they seemed* to teach in middle school Home Ec. classes was how to make a pillow!

For today’s project I pulled out some crazy quilted panels that I started years ago. I’d been meaning to turn these panels into pillows for some time (yes, they are the same panels from the eHow article posted 4 years ago…they’ve been aging…like wine…or something like that). I finished up a bit of embellishment that had been pinned on (yes, for 4 years–look, it’s finished now is what counts) over the weekend and then whipped up these 2 throw pillows last night.

Two crazy-quilted pillow covers, all ready for snuggling.
Two crazy-quilted pillow covers, all ready for snuggling.

Now, here’s the thing. Even if we ignore the 4 years this project sat dormant, crazy quilting–just like any quilting–takes time and effort. I didn’t want to just have the 2 panels I’d made used up all at once. No, I think if you can put in a sincere amount of work on something and then stretch out its use you get way more bang for your buck, so instead of just trimming the panels to size and adding a back, I cut each panel into 4 and added some fabric from my stash to finish the pillow front.

Here’s a diagram of just how this worked:

This is one way to "sash" your way around a focal panel, the other is to cut 2 pieces 8.5" long and 2 pieces 15" long--it's a bit more straightforward on the sewing end, but not as pretty, I think.
This is one way to “sash” your way around a focal panel, the other is to cut 2 pieces 8.5″ long and 2 pieces 15″ long–it’s a bit more straightforward on the sewing end, but not as pretty, I think.

However you put together the front panel, the back panels are the real trick to quick throw pillows. What makes them so simple is the utter lack of zippers, buttons, snaps, or any other fasteners to fiddle with. Instead, you cut 2 pieces of your fabric the same size as your front panel (in my case I was using a 14″ pillow form, so my finished front and 2 backs are each 15 inches square (allowing for a 1/2-inch seam allowance all the way around) and overlap them to create a pocket fold.

Start by hemming one side of each of your backing pieces by folding over the bottom 1 inch, pinning, and sewing along the length.

Tip: I use corsage pins for just about everything--they're easier to grab and way easier to find when you drop one!
Tip: I use corsage pins for just about everything–they’re easier to grab and way easier to find when you drop one!

Then place the pillow front (right side up) on your work surface, and one of the back pieces (right side down) and fold that hemmed edge up about a third of the pillow length.

Folding the hemmed edge up creates a nice, soft edge for your pocket in the back.
Folding the hemmed edge up creates a nice, soft edge for your pocket in the back.

Do the same with the second pillow back, but coming from the opposite side. This way the two folded-back pieces overlap. Pin the whole sandwich together securely and sew all the way around the perimeter of the pillow case, using a 1/2-inch seam allowance.

The 3 layers are all pinned together to prevent slipping and now ready to zip through a sewing machine.
The 3 layers are all pinned together to prevent slipping and now ready to zip through a sewing machine.

Once sewn, all you need to do is turn the case inside out and insert your pillow form.

Showing both the front and the back of my finished throw pillows. The microsuede is incredibly soft and very durable, too!
Showing both the front and the back of my finished throw pillows. The microsuede is incredibly soft and very durable, too!

I used some navy blue microsuede I found in my blue fabric stash for the back fabrics, so while the front of the pillows are visually interesting, the backs are soft and petable.   If I wanted, I could add some fabric-covered buttons or even these Dorset Buttons (another of my old eHow articles) and have truly double-sided pillows.

For that matter, so could you!

How about it, are you up for some crazy quilting or simple pillow making? I’d love to see what you made!

Oh, and if you want one more bit of throw-pillow inspiration, check out the “shabby applique” technique I made up also back in my eHow days.

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*As evidenced by other students carrying them around–I took band instead of home ec/art.

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