Ahhh…the gratification a small project can deliver.
Patchwork pillows are my favorite improvisational projects. There are no rules, not a huge commitment, don’t require a lot of space to create, eat up scraps, allow you to see on a small scale how fabrics interact, and lend you an opportunity to dig into fabrics you have been dying to use.
I encourage you to improvise by following these directions loosely!
Please note: Covering a pillow requires that your finished block be roughly the same dimensions as the pillow form, plus an inch. Keep this in mind though out your process. You can always cut the finished block down to size. My pillow form is 14×28 inches, so being that I like my pillow cover rather fitted in look, I cut my pillow block to a measurement of 15 by 29” in preparation for installing an invisible zipper.
All seams are pressed open and a ¼ inch seam allowance is used in patchwork construction.
So let’s make one!
Making the Pillow Block:
My favorite part, pick a bunch of delicious fabrics!
Prepare your strips:
Cut a strip of each of the prints your desired width and roughly 18 inches in length. I measured 2 inches, but feel free to vary your strip widths for a more improvisational look. You will likely have leftovers.
Cut the same number of strips in the solid a width you like and 18 inches in length. Mine measure 1 ½ inches.
Display them in the order you wish to sew them, beginning with a print and ending with a solid, or vice versa.
Sew and press strips:
Now it’s time to strip piece. Piece your strips right sides together and sew.
Press seams open from the back as you add strips.
Then turn and press the front of the piece. Your piece should lay nice and flat.
Trim the top edge of the sewn strips to give it an even clean edge.
Cut across the sewn strips to produce the inserted lengths for the pillow. I cut a mix of widths. *See note below.
*If your strips need to be a few inches longer for your pillow design, then cut and sew two strips the same width together, or sew two together and improvisationally re-cut the edges to produce a clean seaming line.
Audition your design:
Drape your background fabric on your pillow form and audition the strips for placement. I went with a more minimalist look, but add as many strips as you like. Consider the addition of another fabric like the white flannel I used if the prints need some pop.
Cut background fabrics and sew pillow top together:
Now that I have an idea for the placement of my design I cut the background strips.
You can improvisationally cut the strips. Keep in mind that seams will eat up some of your width with this horizontal design. Consider adding a ½ inch or more to the width of the strips. Their length should be a few inches beyond the dimensions your pillow form too.
My cuts in width are:
- Prints strips were about 1 ½ inches and 2 ½ inches
- White flannel strips 1 inch
- Beige middle 2 ½ inches
- Beige top and bottom strips about 6 inches
This should give you plenty of wiggle room for cutting down your pillow block to size.
Start with the top background strip and sew to the next strip in your design right sides together. Press as you go. Continue in this manner until all strips are sewn together in a stacked design.
Cut the block down to the pillow form dimensions PLUS AN INCH in both width and length.
Time to make a quilt sandwich. Layer on a smooth surface in this order:
- Sandwich bottom/ A piece of muslin larger than the pillow top.
- Filling/ Batting cut the same size as muslin.
- Sandwich top/ Pillow top, right side up.
Smooth it all out from the middle and pin/baste to hold it together while you quilt.
Quilt as desired:
Quilt as desired.
I liked the simplicity of a triple stitch, but choose a quilting style that suits you and your pillow.
Finishing the Pillow:
Cut sandwich to size:
Before moving on to your choice of pillow closure, cut the muslin and batting to the finish pillow top size. I generally serge or over lock my edges to produce a professional look.
I did the same with the fabric I choose for the back.
Pillow finishing techniques:
You’re almost complete! Go ahead and refine your skills by learning one of these easy pillow closure methods:
- Invisible Zipper Tutorial by me at Sew Katie Did
- Zipper Tutorial by House On Hill road
- Tie Back Tutorial by One Shabby Chick
- Envelope Style Tutorial by Tallgrass Prairie Studio (bottom, right sidebar link)
Yeah! The joy a pillow can bring. Now go make a bunch! Katie
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