Making it Modern: Slipcovers and Pillows

Make A Relaxed Pillow Case
A beautiful bedroom with plenty of modern slipcovered pillows!

I walked in to the most amazing little shop the other day. Or at least I thought it was a “shop” at first. After chatting with the whimsical and creative-spirited owner I learned it was her showroom. Heather Garrett explained it was originally just a place to showcase her ideas to clients but with a more artful and sophisticated community moving in around her, she thought it couldn’t hurt to open her doors to the public.
Heather’s showroom is definitely high-end gorgeous, but with a modern, relaxed feel. The artwork and accessories she sells in her store are unique and exploding with story… like things you’d discover traveling the world. The furniture was also amazing. As I explored the textures and fabrics, I got a sense for what makes these pieces feel so much more luxurious than the pillows and slipcovers I make at home.
These pieces seem to take notes from fashion…particularly from the world of high-end denim. If you have ever seen the painstaking careful “destruction and deconstruction” that happens with every pair of expensive jeans you know what I’m talking about. The fabric is wrinkled and pressed with a blazing hot iron, worn with sandpaper, ripped, torn, and otherwise abused to look like it has been around forever. I wondered, how can I use these methods to make my home sewing projects look more like these gorgeous things? Let’s talk about how to use these principles to make home made pillow covers that have designer style.

1. Size and Fit

The size of your slipcover/pillow case  matters if you are trying to achieve this look.  Add an 1/2 to 1 inch more on all sides than you think you should. The case should float around the pillow rather than fit like a glove.

2. Filling

The filling on high-end pillows is almost always down or feathers. If you are allergic, you can either try an under cover to provide an allergen barrier or  look for “down-like” fill or pillow forms so the pillows relax when they are placed on a bed or sofa. They should be firm but form fitting and appear super chilled out when they are sitting on their own. Like you just can wait to jump into them…belly flop!

2.Fabric and Texture

Heavy fabrics tend to work better for this look and hold up better to any distressing you might want to play with. White or natural cotton duck is a classic for this. Make sure you launder (Wash and Dry) it first to help it along and protect against future shrinking (remember we want these to appear a little oversized.) You can play with patterns here too but stick to upholstery grade, heavier weight fabrics for the best results.

3. Trim and Construction

A couple of details can make a huge difference here. You might want to play with changing up square corners — try using a pin tuck technique or round the corners slightly. I like to use cotton cording either wrapped in the same fabric or a different accent fabric around the outer seams of my pillow covers. Remember you will only see about 1/4 inch of the fabric when it is sewn into the seams of your pillows so plan accordingly with the way the pattern runs.

The method of closing up your pillow cover is up to you…I like to do a two-piece, overlapping back with a few buttons or ties. You might use an exposed zipper for an edgier style.

Learn More:

Interior Design by Heather Garrett Interior Design – she is amazing and totally gets clients budget needs.

Fabric Distressing Techniques – Everything from sandpaper to coffee and cheese graters can help you get a custom distressed look to your heavier fabrics.

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