I let Arden help choose the fabrics. She gets more excited about anything in which she gets a say and I’ll bet your kids do too! Quilting cottons are perfect for this because they come in and endless variety of colors and patterns, but if you’ve got a stash of vintage sheets, shirting, or any other tight, flat woven cotton those would work just as well. If you’ve got fabric that’s not really suitable for sleeping on but your child has chosen, then use it on the band and steer them towards a softer fabric for the main part of the pillow.
Cut a main piece 24.5″ x 36″ and a band 8″ x 36″ to fit a standard pillow. Press the band lengthwise with wrong sides together (WST).
As my guest Jodi from Sew Fearless shared with you last week, Wonder Tape is a great alternative to pins. I had to ration the bit I had on my roll, so I cut it into pieces and helped Arden apply inside the long edge of the band and to the right side of the main fabric. She peeled away the backing and I lined everything up and she smoothed it into place.
Set up the machine with a backstitch, or show how to reverse at the beginning and end if your machine doesn’t have this stitch selection. I showed her to sew with the edges of the fabric lined up with the edge of the presser foot. This is easier than trying to line up to a seam allowance on the needle plate. Most presser feet will sew with about a 3/8″ seam allowance, or you can move the needle to the left if you prefer a larger allowance.
I showed her how to guide the fabric with one hand to the left of the needle and another to line up the fabric as it moves under the foot. She did really well for a while, but eventually got distracted and I had to help her guide the fabric. She is literally sewing at a turtle’s pace as she has the speed selection all the way down and doesn’t want to move it any faster. I think she’s ready to go a little faster and I think it would hold her attention longer, but that’s something to tackle next time.
She did go off track at one point and I stopped her and ripped out an inch or so with my seam ripper and had her start from there. I pointed out to her that one of the great things about sewing is that almost anything can be fixed.
Once she had the band sewn on, I serged the edges to prevent them from fraying, and pressed the band out from the main fabric. You can pink the edges, or zig-zag over them if you don’t have a serger. If you’ve got a little older student, you could have them topstitch along the edge of this seam.
I didn’t take pictures of the next bit as I was busy guiding Arden, but next up is to fold the pillowcase right sides together (RST) and sew along the two raw edges. I was out of Wonder Tape at this point, so I pinned this and pulled the pins out for Arden well before they would go under the presser foot.
To teach her to turn and pivot, I drew a line on the fabric where I wanted her to stop sewing and then made sure she knew where the needle down button was. You can also use the hand wheel for this.
With the needle in the down position, raise the presser foot, pivot the fabric around the needle, and then lower the presser foot when the fabric is aligned. Continue sewing to the end.
I serged these edges as well. Then I turned it right side out and told Arden to go grab her pillow from her bed.
She’s pretty proud of her new pillowcase, and I’m impressed by how straight her seams are!
Next up: Lesson 8, Project 2