Saturday, February 22, 2014

Contoured Memory Foam Pillowcase

  The rooster and I both love our contoured memory foam pillows but I was tired of using ill-fitting standard pillowcases if I wanted to match my decor.  I couldn't find any tutorials for a contoured pillowcase, and this won't be much of one, but it will be an outline of an approach you can take, should you wish to make one for yourself.

There were really only two things I wanted from my pillow case: It had to be asymmetric so that there was more material on the curvy side than on the flat side (so that the case would actually fit!) and it had to have an envelope opening because I am sick of pillowcases sliding off.  If I didn't have the envelope opening, it would have been a lot easier to make.

These requirements mean I need five pieces of fabric:  Two for the flat side, making the envelope; two for the ends, and one for the curvy side.  Make sure you have pre-shrunk and ironed your fabric.  Mine is left over from my duvet cover.  Begin by making a pattern for the ends of your pillow.  I traced an end onto tissue paper, cut it out and pinned it to my fabric.  If I had it to do over again, I would have doubled the fabric to ensure that the ends matched exactly in shape (and had a similar pattern), and made one cut to get the two pieces.  While cutting, I added a gap between my scissors and the pattern for my seam allowance.

Getting ready to cut around a pattern made by tracing the end of the pillow onto tissue paper.

Cut two rectangles which are slightly wider than the pillow.  The length of these will depend on where you want the envelope opening to fall.  Since memory foam is fairly stiff, I thought it would be easier to insert and remove the pillow if the envelope just folded over one end of the pillow, so one of my flat side pieces was cut to accommodate the entire length of the pillow, plus several inches for hemming, and the other piece was cut to about ten inches (and was later trimmed significantly). 

I then measured the distance across all of the curvature of the curvy part of the pillow and cut a rectangle to accommodate this width and the entire length of the pillow (plus seam allowances).

Measure along the curvature of the contoured side of the pillow to get the dimensions of this piece.

You will need five pieces: 2 ends, 2 flat side pieces (one for each side of the envelope), and a curvy side piece.

I began sewing the case by hemming the two flat side pieces so that the envelope opening was not raw.

Ironing a 1in double folded hem.
The hems on both envelope edges of the flat side pieces have been stitched.
 I pinned the straight edge of one of the end pieces to the raw width edge of the longest flat side piece, placing the pinned structure on the pillow to ensure that the envelope opening would fall where I wanted it.  Then I stitched along the pinned line.

Check to make sure it fits correctly before moving on.
Then, and this is where the "tutorial" (if it hasn't already) really begins to fail, positioning the newly finished seam on the pillow, I pinned another seam (I think it is easiest to do the curved side first).  It is important to pin on the 3 dimensional form or you will never capture the curvature you need (and be sure to pin so that you can remove the pins as you stitch (I had to redo this several times!)).  Then, as you are stitching this, try to hold your left hand between the pieces of fabric to mimic the 3D-ness so that you don't end up with a bunch of creases.  Check the seam you just stitched by placing the piece right side out on the pillow before moving on (it is easier to rip out one seam than many seams).  Repeat the process of fitting to the pillow, pinning while on the pillow, stitching (while trying to mimic 3D by moving the fabric around with your hand), and checking for each of your remaining seams.

Put the so-far stitched piece on the pillow, wrong-side out, and pin the next piece (here it will be the curvy piece) in place. Then stitch, trying to give the fabric some dimension while you are stitching, to avoid .  Check it (right-side out) before moving on to the next piece.

I would suggest piecing as follows:
  1. one end to the longest flat side piece
  2. add the curvy piece
  3. add the other end
  4. add the other flat side piece
  5. one of the flat side to curvy side seams
  6. the other flat side to curvy side seams

 I would also recommend that you pin the envelope opening closed as soon as you have both flat side pieces in place.  You will need to make the opening a bit generous, since these pillows aren't very flexible.  

If I had it to do over, I would pay more attention to matching up the patterns.  Here's the final product up close and on the bed with the duvet cover and ruffled throw pillow (and with the with my white mat pictures (my bedroom redo is coming along nicely!)).  Ignore the wrinkles - we slept on them for a few nights before I took the final pictures.

There you have it; clear as mud! Let me know if you have questions an I will try to clarify.


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