Wednesday, October 07, 2009

How to sew a cushion cover with an invisible zip - A Tutorial!!

finished cushions
Cushion covers with invisible zips - let me show you how!

It has been a very, very VERY long time since I've posted a tutorial on this here blog. Truth be told it's been a long time since I've learnt how to do any new and exciting things, until last weekend when Pete's mum showed me how she made cushions with invisible zips!

They look great, but the thing that excited me most was that it was EASY. Like 10 gazillion times less fuss and hassle than any other technique I've tried for sewing zips. So I decided to document the process and share it with you lovely folk. Now I must say that although Heather showed me how to do this, she originally learnt the technique from here, so huge kudos to the Sew? I Knit! Blog!

Step 1) Cut your fabrics to size. I'm making covers for a 45cm cushion so my pieces are 47cm x 47cm including a 1cm seam allowance. I also overlock the bottom edge of each piece where the zip is going to go.

making cushions - front and back, zipper edge overlocked

Step 2) Prepare your invisible zip! Pictured below are the sort we buy. They're "heavy duty" ones, and you'll see that the bulky teeth side of the zip is the BACK rather than the FRONT like on normal zips. We use a 40cm zip for a 45cm cushion.

making cushions - invisible zips

Now it makes the sewing process a LOT easier if you iron the zip out flat before you begin. Open the zip completely and see that you can kind of 'roll' the teeth outwards to expose some tiny stitches beneath. Iron the zipper with the teeth rolled outwards as shown below, and just go as close to the zipper head as you can. Use a low heat setting so as not to melt the teeth!

making cushions - iron invisible zip out flat

Step 3) Pin the zip in place. Open the zip right up and lay it along the bottom edge of your fabric. The RIGHT side of your zip should be facing down, with the RIGHT side of your fabric facing up. The zipper tape should be lined up with very edge of the fabric.

Also, you'll notice below that I've positioned the zip to one side, with the closed end starting right in the corner. I'll explain this later.

making cushions - pin zip in place

Step 4) Prepare your invisible zipper foot. Okay these are often very weird plasticcy contraptions, but they're not expensive and you can get them from most sewing places. There's generic ones that come with various attachments so you can fit them on any machine. YOU MUST USE AN INVISIBLE ZIPPER FOOT. Trying to sew an invisible zipper without one would be very tricky indeed.

making cushions - invisible zipper foot

Step 5) Sew your zip in place. You'll see that the invisible zipper foot has two grooves in it's base. Your folded out zipper teeth will fit in one of these grooves whilst the needle stitches very closely beside the teeth. You'll probably need to adjust the position of the foot or the needle to get a nice close stitch. Begin sewing where the zipper teeth start and stitch towards the zipper head. Keep the teeth folded out flat as you go.

making cushions - sewing invisible zip

Sew along the length of the zip, removing pins as you go, until you reach the zipper head. You'll probably get to about 1cm away from the zipper head before you have to stop. That's fine. Just do a locking stitch and raise the foot. You're done with that side!

making cushions - sewing invisible zip (front side)

Step 6) Sew the other side. Repeat steps 3-5 for the other side. Be careful to pin the correct side of your zip to the correct side of your fabric:

making cushions - pin zip in place

Sew along the length of the zip as you did before, this time with the teeth of the zipper in the OPPOSITE groove to the one you used before. Sew until you reach the zipper head and stop, do a locking stitch and raise the foot.

making cushions - sewing invisible zip  (back side)

Step 7) Finish off the ends of your zip. If you close your zip completely (ooh it's so neatly concealed!) you'll see that the head and tail of the zip are still exposed. Like this:

making cushions - zip fitted, ends need to be closed off

And this:

making cushions - zip fitted, ends need to be closed off

But to close these ends off is quite simple. Lay your fabrics together again right sides facing. You'll see where your zip stitching ends - a few centimeters from each side of your cushion.

Attach a normal zipper foot to your machine with the needle to the right of the foot. Sew in from the side of your fabric and try and get as close as possible to your existing stitches. Hold the ziper tail out of the way so it doesn't get caught in your stitches.

making cushions - closing off the ends of the zip

Do the same at the other end. When working the open end of the zip, make sure that your fabric & stitches are lined up correctly, and move the zipper head along a bit so it's not in your way.

Step 8) Admire your handiwork so far.
Doesn't it look all neat and tidy? Wasn't that so much less painful than you expected? Also notice that your zipper ends up being more or less centered because of how we offset it's position in the first place.

making cushions - invisible zip fitted

Step 9) Finish it off! Finishing the cushion from this point is a simple affair. Simply lay the cushion front & back fabrics together right sides facing and stitch around the remaining three sides. Make sure you open the zip first before doing so! Then overlock the edges if desired.

making cushions - ready to stitch up the sides and overlock

Et voila! Here's the ones I just made for our home:

finished cushions
Cushion with Rooftops and Delft

finished cushions
New cushions hanging out on the couch. Featuring Delft, Rooftops & Birch prints.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

You can't see me

finished cushions
Cushion covers with invisible zips - ooooh

What does one do with a whole Monday off work? Make cushion covers, o course. You'd think I'd get enough of that at work.

I'd be blogging about them properly right now if I didn't have something much better in store: A NEW TUTORIAL! Yes it's been years since my last one but I'm very excited to share the little bit of wisdom I gained over the weekend:

How to Sew a Cushion Cover with an Invisible Zip!

Stay tuned for tomorrow's blog post and ├╝ber comprehensive step-by-step photo tutorial. And yes, it's easier than you'd ever have imagined.

finished cushions
Cushion covers - Rooftops & Delft and some apt use of the golden ratio

Monday, October 05, 2009

Quiltus Completus

attaching the binding
Finishing my quilt - attaching the binding

Cast your mind back hmmm... 16 months ago and you might remember this quilt that I was working on. Well in true crafting style I left the quilt in a state of mid completion for over a year from being sidetracked by more 'important' things. Okay well starting a new business is a pretty good excuse.

Actually I did have another good excuse - the old Elna Lotus I was working on didn't have a walking foot attachment. So firstly I couldn't actually quilt it, and secondly the last time I tried to machine sew binding without one it was a twisty disaster. And although I have the patience to make lace I do not have the patience to hand stitch binding.

But now! Now that I have my shiny new Janome (and a walking foot attachment courtesy of Pete & his mum - awwwh) I could finally finish it off. Et voila:

finishished quilt
My finished quilt - using mostly discontinued designs unfortunately

finishished quilt
My finished quilt - zoomy shot

And then I tried to take some pretty, stylised shots of the quilt and realised taking photos of quilts is hard. But I persisted.

finishished quilt
With Jhoanna's Peg Bear again - properly this time

finishished quilt
On the couch - there are grids everywhere in this photo!

finishished quilt
On the bed - hmmm not so sure about this one

So yeah, much fun to be had and now I'd like to make another.

But next up - cushions!

28, slightly wiser and less anxious

Sorry I disappeared for a bit there. We spent the first half of last week printing 240 metres of fabric (!!) and then we closed up shop for Thursday and Friday because Teegs had to go have her tonsils out (ouch, everyone wish her a speedy recovery!)

And... I turned 28!

I always find birthdays a bit difficult. A lot of self imposed pressure to make the day feel suitably 'special' whilst at the same time being unable to enjoy any celebrations I might organize for worrying that everyone's having a good time. So I made an effort to acknowledge these anxieties and do things that felt good and relaxing. And it was. Yay. Plus Pete took me out to dinner to Gingerboy and Oh My God it was amazing. I highly recommend.

But the best part by far was the most exciting present ever, my new sewing machine!!

my new sewing machine!
My new Janome DC3018 - Birthday/Christmas present from my entire family

When I say 'new' I should really say 'first' because I've never actually owned a machine before. I used to borrow mum's old Elna Zig Zag, and then Nana's old Elna Lotus, both good solid machines but also a bit limiting and getting on in their years. So thanks to all your advice I ended up getting the Janome DC3018. And so far, so good!

I've already started making some things, which I'll post shortly!