Tuesday, May 15, 2012
How to Make a Feather Pillow
Recently a co-worker brought in a feather pillow his grandmother had made for him and asked if I could repair it. The fabric was worn thin on several seams. I just tucked the seam in deeper and whip stitched the edge so he could get more years of use from it. He then asked if he bought the fabric and feathers if I would make 3 more pillows for his children. Of course I said yes, silly me.
So here's the standard blue ticking he bought. This stuff is tough and will wear for years. It is twill, rather like denim, solid cotton and is usually blue & white striped. It is normally 30-36" wide, not the standard 45" that most other fabric is these days. You'll need to decide what size pillow you want and how many to decide how much fabric you will need. Any clerk in the fabric shop can help with that. These were standard pillows so they would be 20" x 26".
Before you do anything else, zig zag or whip stitch any raw edge so that it does not ravel. Then throw it in the washer to pre-shrink it and to remove the stiff sizing. Who wants to sleep on a stiff pillow? Dry as usual. Then you'll need to iron it to get out the wrinkles. Next comes cutting the fabric. Remember to add 1/4" to 1/2" for seams on each side. I cut a long rectangle, one long side of the pillow is only folded, not seamed. Once your pieces are cut, zig zag the raw edges first unless you are using a serger.
Fold your fabric with the right sides together, matching up the stripes and set your stitches to the smallest your machine will do, you don't want those feathers escaping. Sew your seams about 1/4" to 1/2" wide and on one short side leave an open area like the above photo shows.
Slightly trim the corners so you can turn your pillowcase right side out and have nice looking corners. And once again iron it so the seams don't sink in and the opening lays flat. Trust me you need to do this in order not to be frustrated later. Now to stuff it with feathers!
These are chicken feathers, just the soft down from the chicken's belly, no pokey pins! But do this outside, not in your house and preferable not on a windy or breezy day. The feathers weigh nothing and they go everywhere. These feathers came in a plastic bag in a box. I put the pillowcase IN the bag and kept it as closed as possible while grabbing handfuls and stuffing the pillow. The pillow will not be stuffed tight but it will be full, remember it fluffs.
I told you they go everywhere!
Next I whip stitched the opening closed. No need to be super fine on this as it will get machine stitched. Last thing I did before bringing the pillows back in the house was to get rid of as much feather residue as possible. The tiny fluff sticks to the fabric like pet hair. I brushed them with my hands and beat and fluffed them. Then I wrapped 2" wide tape backwards around my 4 fingers. I used this to brush the fabric even more. I used 2 pieces of tape per side, you could use a lint roller if you have one. I used packing tape but duct tape would work also.
Then I brought them in the house, held them by the end that had the opening and shook the feathers down. Now I could fit the hand sewn area onto my sewing machine to run a top stitched seam to seal in the feathers.
A final fluffing and done! They turned out terrific but it was a lot more work than I thought it would be. I spent some time sweeping the porch and really needed a shower too as those little feathers get everywhere!
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