“Working With Upholstery Fabric”

As I shared with you in an earlier blog, I have begun my Christmas sewing.  I am still working on the embroidered blocks for my table runners, but I thought I would also start work on the floor pillows for my niece and her husband at the same time.  They have a very small apartment with only about 650 square feet, so I wanted to make them large pillows but not so large that they would be a problem to store.  I settled on a size of 24” x 24” and since they would be used for seating, decided on upholstery fabric as heavy enough to hold up to use over time.  If you have not worked with upholstery fabric before, I thought I would share a few tips that might make that venture a little less intimidating should you decide to try it.

Upholstery fabric cannot be pre-treated by washing.  It sometimes will hold up to dry cleaning, but generally should only be spot cleaned and under an iron a minimum amount.  There is usually a definite right and wrong side.

These fabrics usually have a definite right and wrong side. In this picture, the left shows the right side and the right shows the wrong side of the fabric.

You will need very few tools to work with this fabric.  I only used a yardstick, tailor’s chalk and a pair of sharp scissors.

These are the basics tools you will need. Remember to keep track of the lengthwise grain of the fabric once you have cut your pieces. Your grain direction needs to match from piece to piece of the project.

Work from the back of the goods as much as possible as the marks made on the right side of the fabric may not be able to be erased.  Once I drew the dimensions I needed for the pillow, I used a template to round the corners.

This template gives just the right amount of curve to the pillow’s corners.

On all pillows, if you will round the corners in some way, you will be much happier with the results.  Sharp corners will produce “dog ears” on the corners that hang down and are a tell-tale sign of a homemade pillow!

Remember to pin all around your pillow before sewing. Upholstery fabrics tend to slide against one another, making it difficult to accurately sew the edges together just by holding them.

To center the embroidery I marked everything on the back and then hand basted with contrasting thread along those markings so I could have accurate placement on the front of the pillow.  After cutting out the fabric and before working with it, I ran a triple zig-zag overcast stitch along every edge.  You will find that upholstery fabric frays very easily.  Once the embroidery was complete, I stitched up the pillow, put in the form with some extra stuffing added and voila!

One pillow complete……three more to go!