Upcycled Denim Heart Pillow
I'm working my way through heart-themed pillows patterns so you can be ready for Valentine's Day with your own creations. If you are looking for more Valentine's themed pillows, look no further than the instructions for the Upcycle Peekaboo Heart Pillow or the Valentine Hearts Pillow. This is one of my favorite ways of upcycling - using denim. This is probably one of the easiest pillows to make and I love it combines so many techniques I enjoy - upcycling, rag quilting and pillow making! It is also a very durable pillow cover that is easy to wash and can work well in your outside decor as well. Just a note - the pillow above is one I made more recently and the one below I made previously using a denim that had more variation in color.
I made a 14 x 14" pillow (front only) using a single pair of 30 x 32" blue jeans that belonged to my son. I was able to recycle enough denim to make 2 pillow fronts.
First, I cut all of the seams off the fabric. You can use seams, but for this project I just wanted the raw fabric. I cut 9 6x6" squares and arranged them so I mixed the color hues.
Constructing the denim side of this pillow was a little like constructing a rag quilt top. Start by matching the squares on the sides, WRONG sides together. This is different than you normally sew seams, but these are ragged seams. Sew three rows of three squares each, side by side, using a 1/2" to 5/8" seam allowance.
After you get the three rows created, you can care fully pin them, WRONG sides together, and sew the horizontal seams. When sewing over the vertical seams you already made, it's fine to push the seams to one side or another and sew over them. You are going to "rag" them anyway. The important thing is to get the horizontal rows lined up correctly.
Create the heart with a 5x5" piece of red fabric. I cut all my hearts free-hand by folding the fabric in half horizontally. Holding the fold in your left hand and starting at the bottom, cut around the folded square in a half-heart pattern. Here's a video that shows you how to cut a heart:
Here is the one I cut for the pillow. Center the heart in your center square and sew it with a 1/4" seam directly onto the denim. The seam allowance will be ragged.
Now you're ready to make the back of the pillow. I used some plain utility canvas and cut 2 12" x 14" pieces. (Be sure to wash canvas fabric before cutting it so if it shrinks, it won't mess up your finished product.) I turned under hems on one of the 14" sides on each of the fabrics - one on the right side of the fabric and the other on the left. I only turn under about 2" total on each hem, so when you match these with the front cover, there will be about a 4" overlap where the pillow can be inserted. See my tutorial on making envelope pillows for a better description of sewing the back of an envelope pillow. I used a decorative stitch in a red contrasting thread.
Once you are done with the back pieces, pin them to the front cover with the WRONG sides facing. You are going to make ragged edges around the pillow. (NOTE: You can also use more traditional sewing method of sewing the front and back pieces together by putting the RIGHT sides together so the edges of your pillow are not ragged. The pillow in the title photo above was sewn without ragged pillow sides.) Sew all the way around the pillow, attaching the front to the back. This is what the front will look like after all the seams are in place.
Time to "rag" the seam allowances. I recommend using a spring-loaded snipper scissors in order to save your hands, but you can use any pair of scissors. Make little perpendicular cuts into the seam allowance on every seam on the front of the pillow, including the side seams and around the heart. Be careful not to cut into the seam itself. Where the seams intersect, be sure to cut parallel to the seam so any seam allowances that have been sewed down are free. This is what the front of the pillow will look like "ragged":
Run the pillowcase through the wash to get the rag effect really going. Then insert your pillow form in the back. You can find pillow forms at most fabric or craft stores, including JoAnns, Hobby Lobby and Michaels. The pillow cover will fit snugly, so don't worry if you have to bend and twist the pillow form to get it into the pillow cover.