Make an Easy Travel Pillow Case

Pajama pants before . . .
I have a pair of pajama pants that don’t fit, but I love the feel of the fabric – very soft and smooth. I also have a travel pillow with no case. Well, guess what? You can make a really quick and easy travel pillow case from a pajama pants leg!

This is the perfect sewing project for even a very young child as it takes just one seam. That’s right, one seam and it’s done. How’s that for instant gratification?

Pillowcase How-to

Before you cut, stuff the pillow inside the opening of the leg to make sure it fits.

Cut the pant leg.

Then cut the leg off 17 inches from the hem.


Sew across the cut edge.

Sew a ¼ inch seam across the cut end. Finish the edge with a zigzag stitch or pinking shears.

Easy one-seam pillowcase finished!

Turn the pillow case right side out and put the pillow inside. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

I realize the pillow case is a little funny-shaped but I don’t care. I could have squared it up but then it would have taken more than one seam, right? And this way, the pillow can’t fall out!

Now I wonder what I'll do with the other pajama leg . . . 

Civil War Quilts Block 2

North Star by Barb Fife
North Star is the second block in the Block of the Week series at Civil War Quilts. Be sure to read the snippet of history and view the cradle quilt made of this block.

As you can see, this block has lots of possibilities. In the cradle quilt, the center square and star points are cut from the same fabric. The example pictured here uses contrasting fabrics. What I see is that the large center square is perfect for fussy-cut focus fabrics, which are always a favorite when sewing and quilting with kids.

Fork Pins 35/Pkg By The Each
A quilting must-have!
North Star requires one center square, four corner squares and four flying geese (try Speed Piecing Method A). And to make matching the seams easy, try using fork pins (image is an amazon affiliate link). You just nest your seams together and the two prongs hold them perfectly in place while stitching. I discovered fork pins a year or so ago and couldn’t live without them now!

Another Block-Piecing Shortcut

Piece with flying geese and half-square triangles.
This is the first block in the free Civil War Quilts Block of the Week and is an old design with many names including “Devils Puzzle,” Winding Blades” and “Flyfoot.” At Civil War Quilts, it’s known as “Catch Me If You Can.” Although pieced from 16 half-square triangles, you can eliminate some of the matching seams and bulk by using four flying geese and eight half-square triangles instead. Do you see it?

Note the four larger orange triangles. If you simply make flying geese units (I recommend Speed Piecing Method A at this link) with the light color on the left and the dark on the right, you would have the same look without a seam down the center. How cool is that. Then you’d need just eight half-square triangles sewn together in pairs and added to the top of each flying geese to make four identical units. Rotate these as needed and sew together to form the block as shown.

What do you think? Can you see other ways to easily make this block? If so, please post a comment and share!

Learn History and Quilting at the Same Time

Civil War Quilts Block of the Week - block #1
Civil War Quilts is a new blog that offers a free Block of the Week in honor of the American Civil War Sesquicentennial. So what is a sesquicentennial, anyway? Well, it means 150 years – either an anniversary, time period of that length, or occurring that often. In this case, it’s the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, which began April 12, 1861.

Throughout 2011, author and quilt historian Barbara Brackman will post a quilt block each week along with a true story about people who lived during the Civil War. Just think – by the end of the year, you could have 52 blocks completed!

The first block is called “Catch Me If You Can” and requires 16 half-square triangle units. There are instructions on the site, but for piecing with children I recommend a different method than the one shown. This kid-friendly technique eliminates sewing along a bias edge and allows for the less-than-perfect ¼-inch seam allowances that often occur when learning to sew.

How to Make Perfect Half-Square Triangle Units

To make perfect half-square triangle units every time, you simply add 1⅛ inch to the finished size desired and then square-up the unit after pressing. The "Catch Me If You Can" block consists of 2 inch finished squares so you cut your fabrics to 3⅛ inches square.   
Cut 3⅛ inches square.

Then pair your fabric squares right sides together, with the lightest one on top, and draw a diagonal line from one corner to the other. I used a black marker so that you could easily see the line but I usually use a pencil.
Draw a diagonal line.
Stitch ¼ inch on both sides of the drawn line and cut. I used black thread so you could see it easily but you'd want to use thread to blend with your fabric.
Stitch ¼ inch on both sides of the drawn line.

Cut on the drawn line.
 Press each unit open, with the seam allowance toward the darker fabric.

Press open - you now have two units!

Now square each unit to 2½ inches.
Trim your square on two sides.

Finish squaring to 2½ inches.

Untrimmed and trimmed units compared.

Both units squared up.

Now wasn't that easy?
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