Toile -- the French word for cloth -- refers to a fabric, generally cotton, that has been printed with themed designs. Cotton toiles in elaborate patterns were popularized in France and England during the early 19th century as an affordable alternative to silks and brocades. Today, Martha uses an antique toile imprinted with traditional patterns to make an accent pillow. In order to make as many pillows as possible from the fabric, she covers only the front of the pillow with the toile and uses a neutral chintz for the back.
Martha Stewart Living Television
Find the fabric's bias (the line that runs diagonal to the grain). The easiest way to find the bias is to fold your fabric diagonally. Mark the center diagonal line with a ruler and tailor's chalk. Continue marking diagonal lines parallel to this one, 1 1/4 inches apart. Using the marks as a guide, cut the fabric into strips.
Pin the ends of the bias strips, right sides together, lining up the ends so that the strips are at right angles. Stitch the ends together, using a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Press open the seams. (For a 22-inch-square pillow, you will need 88 inches of continuous bias strip, plus a small amount for overlapping.)
Make the welting by sewing cotton cording into the bias strip. Cut a continuous length of cotton cable cord, a bit longer than your connected bias strips. Fold the bias strip over the cording, lining up the raw edges so that the cord is centered between it. Sew as close as possible to the cording so that the welting is taut. The zipper foot on your sewing machine -- with the needle position adjusted so it is to the right of the zipper foot, if possible -- is best for this purpose.
Cut two panels of fabric, one for the front and one for the back of the pillow. To accommodate a 1/2-inch seam allowance, cut the length and width of your fabric 1 inch larger than the size of your finished pillow. (To maximize the fabric's usability, cover only the face of the pillow with the toile, and use a plain chintz for the back.)
Pin the welting to right side of the pillow front, matching up the raw edges. At each corner, make a cut in the seam allowance of the welting so that it can be turned in a sharp corner.
Where the ends of the welting meet, cut off one end so that it overlaps the other by about 1 inch. Open the stitching on the long side of the welting, and trim just the cording where it meets the other end of the cording. Wrap the excess bias trim over the other side of the cord, and turn under the raw edge. Pin this in place, then stitch close to cord, using the zipper foot.
Pin the pillow back to pillow front, right sides together. Machine-stitch around the perimeter, just inside the stitching used to attach the cord. (Use that row of stitching as your guide.) Leave an 8- to 10-inch opening on the side where the cording is joined. Turn the case right side out, and press. (If you're using antique toile, be careful to press with a cool, dry iron to avoid damaging the original glaze on the fabric.) Insert the pillow, and slipstitch the opening closed.
Solid chintz, for back of pillow
22-inch pillow insert
Sewing machine with zipper foot
No. 16 cable cord
Fiskars acrylic ruler with grid (6 by 24 inches)
Iron and ironing pad
Cotton toiles in elaborate patterns were popularized in France and England during the early 19th century as an affordable alternative to silks and brocades. Today, Martha uses an antique toile imprinted with traditional patterns to make an accent pillow. In order to make as many pillows as possible from the fabric, she covers only the front of the pillow with the toile and uses a neutral chintz for the back.