Measure existing pillow with a tape measure, between the welts. The first measurement is up and down. Second is side to side. We'll be using 1/2" seams on most articles in our series, so, add 1" to your measurements to get the cut size. Figure the length of the welt cord. It can be 1 1/2-2" wide, it doesn't have to be exact. Cut the welt material on the bias, that is, diagonally. This will prevent "snaking" or twisting by making the welt fabric more flexible.
Notice the fabric we're using is railroaded, that is, the pattern is run up the roll. It doesn't matter much for a pillow or even a chair but if we were covering a sofa, this fabric could run the entire length of the inside back (IB), outside back (OB), or seat without having to be pieced. Most upholstery weight fabrics are about 54" wide. We have a 60" wide table by 7' and use a 60" ruler. Most fabrics seem to come cut crooked, so use a framer's square to even out the beginning of the material. Mark with chalk and cut out the 2 fabric squares (plates). Put a"T" on the top so you won't get confused when you get to the sewing machine. Mark everything that you cut, (or you'll be sorry) even the backside of the welt.
Make sure both plates are the same size by laying them face to face and trim where nesassary. Due to the warp and woof properties of fabric they will often pull to one direction or the other even though you may have cut them exactly the same measurements. The plates have to be the same or the corners won't line up. Add a bow to the fabric (as in above photo). Start with about an 1/2" and taper off to nothing in about 4" or 5". See the scrap above the sissors. The bow makes up for the dip (like rabbit ears) that you would see in the filled pillow if cut straight across . Shape all four corners this way on a pillow that you're going to close by hand but not on the bottom of one that gets a zipper.
We use an industrial upholstery machine which features a walking foot and reverse. It takes large prewound bobbins which saves a lot of time. For most jobs we use #16 polyester top thread and bobbins. Three basic colors are necessary: black, white, and beaver (a neutral beige). It's good to have a spool of clear thread on hand, especially for top stitching when you don't have the right color.
Here's picture of a walking foot. This is a zipper foot which I use
for most sewing jobs. I've ground the left side of it down a little so
I get really close to the welt. For a HOME MACHINE: use heavier thread than sewing clothes, adjust your machine's tension if necessary
and use a long stitch. Use a zipper foot if you are installing welt.
If your welt material is in more than one piece join them now with a
1/2" seam and back stitch or sew twice if necessary. We mostly use 5/32
jute welt cord ( there's also plastic and tissue welt). Fold the welt fabric around the cord and begin sewing either
on the side or bottom of one plate. Never start, end or piece the welt
fabric on the top of a pillow or front of a cushion. Use 1/2" seams. The
seam (1/2") is the distance from where the needle enters the plate to the
ouside of the plate. Get close to the welt, learn to feel for the cord
inside with your finger tips. But be carefull, of course, of your fingers
Two or three inches before the corners, stop, leaving the needle in
the fabric to secure it, and make 3 cuts to help release the welt fabric
to easily make the turn. Make one cut directly across from the plate corner
and one before that point and one after. Again, stop sewing when your needle
has come to the spot directly across from the plate corner, leave the needle
in and lift the foot. Slightly crimp the welt as you turn the plate for
the next side.
Finish off sewing the welt by butting the cord ends together and lapping
the welt material at least 1/2" to 3/4". We leave no raw edges on any job
with the sometimes exception of when we're using vinyl.
Be carefull to keep the seam even and close to the welt cord. If you'd
like to have a zipper in your project then go now to,
"How To Install A Zipper In A Pillow".
If you're going to hand sew your project, place the plate with the welt already sewn, on top of the second plate and line up the corners. Leave just enough space at the bottom to insert the filling. If you installed a zipper start at the corner and back stitch a few stitches. Sew on top of or just to the left of the the previous line of thread. Try sewing a pillow with contrasting thread to test yourself. The thread shouldn't show when you turn the pillow right side out (even with the black thread we used here). You can fill the pillow with a pre-made form of down, dacron or kapok or make your own . We make a cover of quilted polyester by stapling the sides and fill with leftover loose polyester from wrapping cushions. See, "How To Hand Sew" to finish off your pillow. See How To Sew Boxed and Welted Cushions on How to Upholster Page. More about zipper instalation and how to make a boxed cushion.
Consew 206RB5 upholstery machine
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