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How I Met Your Mother’s Pillow ~ A Flange Pillow Tutorial

I enjoy sewing.  I really do.  Don’t let my threatening words and angry glares at my sewing machine fool you.

What I dislike are roll hems.  And frankly, hemming in general.  I get it, fraying is bad and it creates nicer edges, but when you’re putting something together, it can sometimes feel like a step that just gets in the way.  It’s a necessary evil, otherwise your work unravels like a bad sweater.

Bedding requires the ability to be washed.  That means that all those raw edges in the Duvet cover I made had to be surged or hemmed to prevent a giant wad of linty thread coming out of the dryer instead of a duvet.

Flange pillows start out like a regular pillow, but then you do this fancy thing where you top stitch around to create a fancy flap edge AND SEAL IN THE RAW EDGES.  It’s brilliant.  Let me show you.

Bill measured the top pillows we use on the bed for me (17.5 x 20.5″) and I based my cuts on them.  That’s trust ladies and gents. 🙂  Here’s a sketch I came up with to help explain things:

flange pillow details @

This should help illustrate the front of the pillows and the reasoning for why I had to cut the pieces so much larger.  With a planned 2 inch flappy edge, plus a half-inch seem allowance all around giving you the 33.5×22.5 size.  The second set of numbers is for the back pieces.  Slightly smaller width but when overlapped they have about a 4″ overlapping section.  (for an envelope closure style.)  Since I was using a leftover sheet from the duvet project, I took advantage of the wide top edge for the outside showing piece, and the smaller hemmed edge (the foot of the sheet) for the inside flap.  NO HEMMING FOR ME!

PRO TIP:  When cutting large pieces of fabric at straight lines without a pattern, use a laser level!  Measure where you want the cut on one side/selvage, then place the level.  Next, measure the same distance on the other side/selvage edge of the fabric and line the laser guide up so that the line is straight.  Then, place your yard stick in the middle of the fabric to confirm the laser is aligned there as well.

flange pillow tutorial @

Then, carefully cut along the laser line, being sure not to shift the fabric.  Once you reach the yard stick, slide it across to the edge and continue cutting across.

flange pillow tutorial @

There, now you have nice straight cuts for your project!

Once the pieces are cut out (And if you need to, the flap pieces’ outer edges are hemmed), line up the good sides facing in and be sure that you lay the overlapping pieces in the right order for how you want them to show.  Pin around the edges.

flange pillow tutorial @

Sew around with that half-inch seem allowance.

flange pillow tutorial @

One you have all 4 sides sewn up, then you get to cut some corners!  No, really, cut the corners.  There’s no cheating in sewing!  (except no-sew hem tape. SHH.)

flange pillow tutorial @

Then open it all up and iron the new seam out flat.

flange pillow tutorial @

Now here’s the infuriating part.  Right side the pillow out, and press the edges.  Yup, the ones you just pressed open.  By pressing them open, you exposed the edges nice and clean, so when you press it flat right-side out, you get a cleaner edge.  Trust me on this, you don’t want floppy lazy flanges.

flange pillow tutorial @

All nice and pressed?  Great.  Now it’s time to measure and mark where you want your top stitching to create the happy flappy flange.  For this one, we need 2 inches.  So I measured in 2, then inserted a straight pin parallel with the edge of the pillow, like so.

flange pillow tutorial @ BandBBuildALife.comI recommend looking at it like 4 separate straight lines from edge to edge, so that the pins will intersect where you want to actually turn while sewing.  Also, be sure to insert the pins all facing the same direction.  It should look like this when you’ve finished pinning it.

flange pillow tutorial @

Now, take a deep breath.  Double check you have enough bobbin and spool thread ready in the machine.  Ya know what, clear out the bobbin and re-load it just to be sure it won’t jam.  This is it, this is the top stitching, the ‘for show’ threads.  Set the stitch length to something pretty and carefully line up the needle over one of the pins (but not directly on it else you’ll bust the needle, duh.)

flange pillow tutorial @

Face the direction you’ll sew around the pillow towards the head of the pins so that you can easily grab the head of the needle and drag it out ahead of the presser foot.  Sew c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y around the pillow following your pin lines.  gently back-stitch to lock it in place.  If you’re a perfectionist, then go back to your iron and smooth out the wrinkles.  If you’re me, you run those puppies to the bed and sucker-punch those pillows into their new flange cases.

How I Met Your Mother inspired DIY Duvet @

Now go to sleep on them.  Ahhhhhhhzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……

What an exhausting week of sewing.
~ Beth

Update: For more details on the full bedding project, try here.

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