Decorating a new home is both fun and exciting. After painting my bedroom I decided I needed a few throw pillows to pull the room together. I’ve always loved chevrons, and I realized this was the perfect project to employ my favorite zigzags. You too can add a touch of sassy fun to any decor with a chevron throw pillow.
First you’ll learn the basics of creating a chevron pattern, and then we’ll look at the string piecing technique to help speed up your sewing. The easy zipper closure on this pillow adds a professional finish. Even if you don’t have a perfectly matching zipper, it will be hidden away.
Related Video: Make Your Own Chevron Print Fabric
Here are the materials and supplies you’ll need to complete this project:
- • 1/8” yard of three coordinating fabrics
- • One 13”x13” rectangle of backing fabric
- • 12”x12” pillow form
- • 9” to 10” zipper
- • Coordinating all-purpose thread
- • Removable fabric marker
- • Zipper foot
Planning the Layout
The following instructions describe how to create a 12”x12” chevron pillow featuring 6 rows of 2” blocks. If you would like to create fewer (or more) rows or want to use a different sized pillow form, you’ll need to create a different layout.
Step 1: First off, take a few minutes to watch Ellen March’s video on chevron prints to get an overview of how the blocks are used to create the pattern. When deciding how many rows you will need for your pillow, it helps to draw a layout guide. Begin by drawing a square or rectangle to represent the pillow form. Then draw horizontal lines across the pillow form to represent rows of blocks and vertical lines representing columns of blocks.
TIP: Each block is made up of a diagonal line; four blocks together create the classic chevron “V” shape.
Draw diagonal lines through the blocks creating the chevron stripes. Once happy with the drawn layout, count out the blocks. The pillow featured in this project required six rows of six blocks. In total, 36 blocks will be required.
Divide the pillow form’s width by the number of columns. In the featured project, the pillow form is 12” and when divided by six, the result is 2. The resulting number is the finished width required for each block. Repeat the process using the pillow form’s length and the number of rows. Ideally these blocks will be square, but different shaped chevrons can be made using rectangular blocks.
Next add 1” to both the width and length measurements. In the featured project, you would add 1” to the 2” result from the previous math. There will be 36 blocks making up the featured project and each will measure 3”x3”.
Test out your math by cutting practice blocks from scraps and stitching using Ellen’s (or the following) directions. If after sewing diagonally the blocks are 1/2” shorter than the initial size, they are the correct size to complete your project.
Now that you have your layout determined, follow these next instructions to finish your pillow!
Step 2: Launder the fabrics according to their fiber content and washing suggestions, and press. From each of your three coordinating fabrics, cut twelve 3” squares. In total there should be 36 squares, 12 of each color.
Step 3: Determine the preferred order for the colors on your pillow. In the featured project the colors repeat yellow, light blue, dark blue. For the purposes of this tutorial, yellow will be referred to as color A, light blue as color B and dark blue as color C. Designate the colors as A, B and C, for your pillow.
Place six color A squares right sides together with six color B squares. Place the remaining six color A squares right sides together with six color C squares. Place the remaining six color B squares right sides together with the remaining six color C squares.
Piecing the Front
Use 1/4” seam allowances, unless otherwise noted.
TIP: A 1/4” foot is a handy tool to have when quilting, and will also come in handy for this project.
Step 6: Chain stitch the blocks, stitching to the right of the line along each block. Chain stitching is the practice of stitching across the block (or span of fabric) allowing the machine to take 3-4 stitches into nothing and then starting the next block of fabric. This saves time as you don’t have to remove each block from the machine, cut the tails and place a new piece under the foot. Once all the blocks are stitched down on one side of the line, you’ll have a long chain of blocks held together by thread.
Step 7: Don’t unclip the blocks immediately. Run them through the machine again, stitching on the opposite side of the line as you go. This will save additional time. Then you’re ready to snip the threads between each block and cut along the diagonal line.
Step 12: Proceed to chain stitch the blocks together using 1/4” seam allowances. Stitch the six blocks of a row together first, then stitch the rows together, finish by stitching the three sets of two rows together.
Use 1/2” seam allowances, unless otherwise noted.
TIP: The zipper should be shorter than the finished edge; this leaves room for it to zip open and closed completely.
Step 16: Stitch to the right of the area where the zipper will be, backstitching near the pins marking the space for the zipper. Repeat to stitch to the left area of the zipper. Then adjust the stitch length to 5mm (or as long as your machine allows) and baste stitch between the pins where the zipper will be.
Step 17: Press the seam open. Then place the zipper right side down over the seam, lining up the zipper stops with the backstitches, and pin. Then install a zipper foot on your sewing machine. Stitch to the right of the zipper, stopping to move the zipper pull past the presser foot as you go. Repeat to stitch to the left of the zipper. For a detailed video showing how to install a zipper, be sure to watch Krista Williams’ video.
Step 18: Pin just inside the zipper stops on the fabric’s wrong side, then using a seam ripper, carefully rip out the basting stitches over the now fully installed zipper. Open the zipper about halfway.
Pin the backing fabric and pieced front right sides together. Stitch the pillow case’s remaining three sides, and clip the corners. Finish the seam allowances using pinking shears, a zigzag stitch, or however else you see fit.
Now toss that pillow onto your couch or bed and admire your handy work. Be sure to note how this amazing chevron pillow is now the highlight of the room!
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