Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sweater Pillow PART 1

This project was a learning experience and still requires tweaking. This was my first attempt to turn a thrifted cable knit sweater into a pillow. This was also my first time sewing a knitted fabric. There are a couple of pillow designs that I would like to try out.
  1. Simple pillow that highlights a beautiful bottom hem and ties shut across the bottom. This is the version I tried first. It seemed the simplest by far.
  2. Envelop style pillow back for easy on/off. If I am going to have white pillows I need to wash them! (Maybe even adding button closures?)
First attempt: I took advantage of the sides of the sweater already sewn together and decided to sew a straight line just under the sleeves.

Do this- Don't cut the sweater. Leave it whole. Draw a sewing line to follow. Drop your feed dogs to ease the sweater under the pressure foot.

Don't try- an overlocking stitch. It just pulls and bunches the sweater.

You can see in the photo above that I used the overlocking stitch on the left half of the sweater. It's really wonky. Half way through sewing and a broken needle later I switch to a zigzag stitch. This worked much better for me and the sewing machine. But go slow. My Pfaff (which is suppose to sew through 6 layers of denim) was having trouble zigzaging through the dense cable knit design. I then trimmed the sweater 1/4'' from my stitches and turned right side out. You can see that my straight line is not so straight anymore.

Second attempt:
I wanted the top of my sweater to be square so I tried once again to sew it together. Using the advise of one of my commenters, I changed my sewing strategy. To help keep things square I whip stitched the bottom of my sweater hem together using contrasting orange thread. I then basted my sweater together near my new sewing line. This helped greatly in keeping everything moving together in the sewing process.

Squaring up my sweater and drawing a new sewing line.

You can see my orange basting stitch and new sewing line.

My new sewing strategy first had me do a straight stitch down my sewing line and then I went back and did a zigzag stitch to help keep my cut edges from unraveling. Keep in mind not to do too tight of a zigzag. My needle up/down feature really came in handy sewing this. During the zigzag my pressure foot would sometimes want to get hung up on the thick cable design. Stopping the machine while the needle was down and just lifting the pressure foot and setting it back down helped the machine work through the tough spots. You can see the overlock stitch I tried the first go round to the right of my pressure foot. It sure looks nice and neat, but it really wonkified the final result.
A much straighter result and far less puckering. At this point I measured the pillow and made a muslin insert.

I used white cotton ribbon (this was ribbon that tied together my sew-mama-sew fabric order) in 6'' lengths. I hand stitched them evenly across the bottom. I popped in the pillow insert and thought I was finish. Guess again. The corners of the sweater made funny little 'ears' when the pillow form was in.
You can see how the corners stretched out a bit in this photo, but the top hem is straight and not puckery!
So I sewed off the corners, if you will. And this seemed to do the trick. When I put the pillow form back it I got the result I was looking for.

Not the best picture in the world, but you get the idea of the final result.

Ties on the bottom of the pillow.

I am pretty happy with the result. The pillow measures 24'' by 14''. The next step is throwing it in the washer and seeing how it fairs. If anyone else has any suggestions, please pass them along. I am still working out how to finish the edges of the envelope style pillow. Maybe use a bias tape of sorts? But should I use a knit fabric or plain old cotton?


  1. I love the final product! It really looks great. I would love to give this a try. Thanks for working the kinks out for us!!

  2. Love it! Great pillow to pull out for the start of the holiday season. Good work!

  3. It looks great! I want to make one of those too but haven't been able to find just the right sweater.

  4. Love the finished product!

  5. haven't you a little white heart to put above with some beads or paillettes????
    anyway it is so beautiful!!!

  6. Oh, I know all about wonkifying things. : )

    Your pillow looks great!

    And you are so clever to figure out how to make it work!

  7. Thanks so much for this post and the info on your problems and solutions. I am about to try my first project, I'm thinking of all those beautiful sweaters I gave away now.


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