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Don't Be Afraid to Finish Your Own Needlepoint Pillows
Transforming a stitched and blocked piece of needlepoint into a pillow with well-shaped edges is a beautiful way to display your needlework. And what’s even more important, is that you can easily learn how to do it yourself at a fraction of the cost of a professional finisher.
Although there are occasions when you will want to use a professional who is trained in all kinds of specialty needlepoint and textile finishing techniques; you need not use one to make a simple needlepoint pillow cover.
If you know how to work a sewing machine that has a basic running stitch, with just a few additional supplies you can conquer your fear and turn your hard-stitched needlepoint pillow top into a gorgeous home decorating item.
Simply gather the supplies on this list and follow the stress-free directions to make a needlepoint pillow in one hour or less!Continue to 2 of 3 below.
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Simple Needlepoint Pillow Finishing in 60 Minutes or Less
Things You Will Need:
- Completed and blocked needlepoint
- Sewing machine
- Heavy duty sewing thread
- Sewing scissors
- Straight pins
- Fabric for pillow backing
- Lightweight muslin for inner lining
- Pillow form or polyester fiberfill for stuffing
- Decorative cording/trim
- Sharp hand sewing needles
Choosing Backing Fabric for the Pillow
The most important decision to make when finishing a needlepoint pillow is the type of fabric you will use to make the pillow back. The fabric should complement the stitched needlepoint and should be sturdy enough to withstand the wear and tear the average decorative pillow gets.
Medium weight firmly woven fabrics like corduroy or cotton velveteen are great choices for backing material. Lightweight fabrics are too thin and cannot support the stitched needlepoint--especially if it was worked on single thread canvas with wool yarn. They tend to rip while sewing the needlepoint pillow. Heavyweight upholstery fabrics are too stiff and hard to sew and turn.
How to Sew a Needlepoint Pillow
Backing Fabric & Inner Lining
- Machine-sew around the entire blocked needlework as close as possible to the stitching without touching the needlepoint. This will prevent the needlepoint canvas from unraveling as you work with the muslin lining and fabric backing.
- Trim the excess canvas around all four outside edges to within 1/2 inch of the worked design to prepare the pillow front. This 1/2 inch will be your seam allowance.
- Using the trimmed needlepoint piece as a pattern, pin the right side of the needle point to the right side of the fabric backing and cut a piece the same size as the pillow front.
- Remove pins and set the needlepoint aside. Pin the backing fabric to the muslin inner lining and cut out another piece.
- Pin the cut piece of muslin inner lining to the wrong side of the needlepoint and baste around the entire piece within one canvas thread of the stitched areas.
Decorative Trim or Cording
- Pin the decorative trim or cording around the edges of the right/front side of the finished needlepoint. Baste around the pillow front as close as possible to the needlepoint stitches to tack the cording. Overlap the ends.
- Turn on the wrong side to check for skipped stitches and to make sure the decorative trim is securely tacked.
- Set the sewing machine for heavy duty sewing. Change presser foot or lower feed dogs as needed to stitch through several fabric thicknesses. Sew an additional row or back over the previous row of sewing to hold the trim in place.
Sew the Needlepoint Pillow
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- Place the pillow front and the pillow back together, having their right sides facing. Begin stitching in-the-ditch along the bottom edge, one-inch from the corner closest to you. When you reach the next corner, place the machine needle in the "down" position, pivot the fabric and stitch in-the-ditch along the next edge.
- Repeat until you are back at the bottom edge, stitching 1-inch from the final corner. You will now have an open area along the bottom edge of the pillow that's large enough to insert the pillow form or stuffing.
- Clip the corners to within 1/4 inch of the machine stitching line--do not cut through the machine stitching line. Clipping the corners reduces the bulk, eliminating rounded corners for a more professional-looking finish.
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Needlepoint Pillow Final Assembly
- Turn the pillow covering right-side-out, making sure to gently push the corners outward.
- Stuff the needlepoint pillowcase with a larger than usual foam pillow insert (about one size larger than the finished case). This will plump out the corners and give your pillow that professionally finished look. If needed, add some pillow filler or fiberfill to smooth out any loose places.
- Fold the remaining open ends of the needlepoint front and fabric backing to the inside so that no raw edges are showing. Slip-stitch the openings together by hand to complete your pillow.
- Fluff out the pillow and place it on display.
Edited by Althea R. DeBrule