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Cording on Oval Pillow

Smoothing Out Cording on Curved Pillows
The solution can be fairly simple, however you may need to experiment a little with some scrap fabric.

Others may have different solutions. This is my suggestion. The solution has several parts. Read all the instructions before beginning.

1. Summary.
In order for the welt to lay flat in the seam after the cushion is stuffed, both face fabrics of the cushion need to be sewn loose and slightly gathered while pulling the welting tight. As you are sewing, you are slightly pushing the face fabrics into the seam, being careful to line up the top and bottom marks (see #3a below), or have it pinned together (3b below).

Try on a Scrap
2. I would suggest that you try this with some scrap fabric first. This method assumes that you are using two oval type (or curved, arced, etc.) cushion faces, a strip of welting fabric (I cut my welting strips 1 ½” wide), and the inner cording. In this picture, I've only used one piece of fabric ( 1/2 of of cushion) and the welt fabric

(Click on Picture to enlarge)

Keeping Two Faces Together
3. Here are two methods to keep the top and bottom fabrics lined up as you sew. (when you are lightly gathering, it is more crucial to keep the top and bottom fabrics aligned)

A.)To make sure that the top and bottom pieces of the cushion stay lined up, I would suggest that you make marks every few inches on the back side of the seam allowances of both fabrics. ( I do this by laying the fabrics with the faces together and then line up the marks on both fabrics. As you sew around the edges (as explained below) keep checking that the marks on both fabrics are lined up.

B.) An alternative to #2 would be to put both fabrics together, face to face. Next, pin the fabrics together, about 2 inches in from the edge. Space pins ever 4 to 6 inches all around. The pins should help to keep both fabrics aligned as you sew them together.

Snipping the Welt Seam Allowance
4. One problem is that the welt on your cushion is sewn uneven and bumpy, some places are sewn tighter than others. This can easily happen on these oval cushions. To fix this part, (in addition to 3a or 3b) as you sew the welt onto the curved edge, snip "V-shaped notches" in the seam allowance every few inches all around the curved edge. (see Buck's message below) This will help the welt to spread out (like a fan) and lay flat as you are sewing the welt, which will enable you to sew the welt more consistently.

(Click on Picture to enlarge)

Slightly Gather The Face Fabrics
5. A second problem is that the welt was not pulled tight enough when it was sewed (which causes the “snaking) as compared to how much the seam allowances of the faces were pulled. Clipping the edge of the cushion (as explained above) will also help with this problem. The other part of this is, as you sew the welt into the cushion edge, pull the welt (fabric strip and inner cording) tighter than the seam allowances of the pillow faces. This will cause the face fabric to gather* just a little, (slightly like a drawstring purse) which is what you want.

(Click on Picture to enlarge)
(In these pictures, because I wanted the gathering to show in the pictures, I have gathered it more that you would.)

As you are sewing all the pieces together, pull the welt snuggly towards you as you are gently pushing the seam allowance away from you towards the sewing machine foot. This will slightly gather the fabric into the seam. On slight curves, you only need to gather a slight amount. On rounder curves, add more gathering into the seam. This will lightly gather the top and bottom fabric into the seam. Ideally only let it put the top and fabric slightly into the seam where it shouldn’t actually have any folds in the fabric. (* I don’t mean the tight gathering in the traditional sense, which has tiny folds. This slight gathering , in most cases, wouldn’t have the tiny folds. This light gathering is needed to allow for expansion of the cushion when filled.) The amount of gathering at the seams will also be partly determined by how much filling is put into the pillow. Not much gathering is needed on thin cushions, while more gathering is needed on thicker cushions.

This picture shows after it is finished sewing, the welt is tight, but the fabric is not flat, but a little gathered

(Click on Picture to enlarge)

This last pictures show what the welt would look like after the cushion was stuffed:

(Click on Picture to enlarge)

Because I gathered the pillow top more than you would, this would take a pretty thick cushion and notice how the welt doesn't snake, but is smooth. Also note, the sample in the picture is just one side of a pillow, and is only set on top of some cotton. On your pillow, you would gather it less than these pictures, and you would stuff it fuller, since your cushion would have 2 sides. As I said at the top, you need to experiment a little to see how much gathering you'd need to do.