Turned-Edge Appliqué Pinwheel Pillow

on February 10 | in Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 85 Comments

Angela from The Artists’ House shows you how to use turned-edge appliqué to create a pinwheel pillow design. You can easily take what you learn today and use the same technique to create a variety of images and scenes; check out Angela’s blog for examples. This pillow is available for sale in Angela’s Etsy shop.

I remember a time not too long ago, where I found myself admiring things made with appliqué. And while it seemed intimidating at the time, I now realize it’s really not that hard. The best part is that once you learn how to appliqué, you will want to add appliqué to everything, including pillows.

Today we’re going to make a simple, turned-edge, machine appliqué pillow with a pinwheel design.

Personally, I always do a turned-edge appliqué unless I’m using felt (since felt doesn’t fray when washed). I feel both the quality and the overall look are much better.

Let’s begin.

First, let’s gather materials. You’ll need:

  • Pinwheel Template PDF
  • Heat Resistant Template Plastic or Reynolds Freezer Paper
  • Scissors
  • Iron & Ironing Board
  • Heavy Ironing Starch
  • Water-Soluble Basting Glue
  • Tiny Cup or Dish
  • Small Paint Brush or Q-tips
  • Sewing Machine and Thread
  • Washable Fabric Pen or Pencil
  • Button
  • Fabric (amounts mentioned below)
  • 20” x 20” pillow insert

Next, let’s cut fabric:

For the front of the pillow, I used two contrasting fabrics to start. Cut a 20.5 ” x 15.5″ piece for the top and a 20.5″ x 5.5″ piece for the bottom. Sew these together and press the seam allowance open.

For the back of the pillow, you have a few options: the back could be solid, it could be made up of the two different color panels like the front, or it could be pieced. Regardless of which way you prefer, you need to end up with two pieces: one being 20.5″ x 17.5″ in size, and one being 20.5″ x 9.5″ in size.

I did a pieced back, because I love using up scraps. The exact dimensions for those pieces were 5” x 20.5” (light blue top), 10” x 20.5” (brown), 3.5” x 20.5 (light blue bottom), and 20.5” x 9.5” (coral). I sewed the first three pieces together, to make a larger piece that was 20.5” x 17.5” in size, and then I used the coral 20.5” x 9.5” piece for the bottom.

For the back of the pillow, iron and sew a double-fold on the ends of the two pieces, about 3/4″ wide.

Overlap the two pieces for the back to make one piece that is 20.5″ x 20.5″ in size. Check to make sure the two pieces, when overlapped, are matching up with the front pillow pieces overlapping line. Pin and set aside.

Now, let’s move onto the appliqué:

Using the Pinwheel Template PDF, trace a single pinwheel piece and a pinwheel handle onto some heat resistant template plastic and cut them out. Label the back of the pinwheel image with a “B,” so that all of your appliqué images are created facing the right direction.

Note: Instead of using heat resistant template plastic and water-soluble basting glue for turned-edge machine appliqué, you can also use freezer paper. A tutorial for that is available here.

On the front of the pinwheel template, put a line of water-soluble basting glue along the edge. While the glue is still wet, place it down on the fabric, leaving at least a 3/8″ border around the entire template. Quickly press with an iron to glue the template to the fabric.

Cut around the template, leaving 3/8″ fabric border around the entire template piece. Spray some heavy starch into a small cup and use a paintbrush to paint a small amount of heavy starch onto the 3/8″ border of fabric surrounding the template plastic. Let dry. When dry, use the edge of a hot iron to iron the 3/8″ inch fabric border around the template plastic. Start with the corners first, and then work on the straight edges, and then the curve. The pictures below show the order in which I completed these steps.

Note: If you don’t like the shape created, just reapply starch, let dry, and try again. It might take you a little bit of practice before you learn to use the corner of the iron correctly.

Once the entire border is neatly ironed around the template plastic, and the shape is neat and to your liking, pull the template plastic out, and use the iron one more time to iron down the edges.

Repeat the above-mentioned steps until you have four pinwheel pieces, and one handle piece.

Note: If the template gets too gunky with glue, just wash the template piece with water to remove the excess glue.

Use basting glue or pins to fasten the appliqué pieces to the fabric.

Cut the pinwheel template down the center, on the line that is provided. Use a washable fabric pencil to mark the line onto your fabric, to signify where you want to sew/embroider. Sew around each piece, sewing very close to the edge. When finished, sew or embroider the lines down the center of the pinwheel as well.

Sew on your button.

Put the pillow back and the pillow front, right sides together. Sew around all four sides.

Put in a 20×20 pillow insert, and you’re all finished.

Now go ahead and appliqué your way to a better day.

Enter our Pillow Contest! Create a pillow this month and enter to win some fabulous prizes.

You can also comment on any post this week for your chance to win one of these great prizes below, courtesy of Robert Kaufman Fabrics:

1 fat quarter pack of Betty Dear, 5 Kona Cotton color cards, 1 fat quarter pack of Night & Day in the Summer Colorstory, 10 sets of 5 Kona charm packs

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85 Responses to Turned-Edge Appliqué Pinwheel Pillow

  1. Sylvie says:

    What a cool tutorial! Thank you.

  2. nic says:

    awesome tutorial- i could learn a lot from angela!

  3. Samantha says:

    So cute! Love the idea

  4. Billie says:

    Pretty, and great tutorial … thanks!

  5. sweet!

  6. Lynda says:

    A darling idea for spring 🙂

  7. Beth T says:

    How cute this is. Thanks for the tutorial!

  8. Sylvia says:

    Love this pillow, great tutorial.

  9. Joy says:

    I love your pinwheels! Thanks for the tutorial.

  10. Oooh, looks tricksy and scary. Will have to try it 🙂

  11. Heidi Anderson says:

    Applique is my new favorite thing, thanks for more great tools!

  12. linda says:

    Very cute design – thanks for the tutorial!

  13. Sara says:

    I have only ever done reverse applique because I only have a straight stitch machine and a serger. I always just assumed you needed to use a zigzag stitch to applique. Thanks so much for shaing this technique!

  14. CJ says:

    Thanks for the tutorial! I might have to give this a try. 🙂

  15. Sharon T. says:

    Great tutorial! Thank you. 🙂

  16. June S says:

    I love it! Very cute and whimsical, and I like the ironing technique to get the fold over. Thanks!

  17. Michelle P says:

    Love this-thanks for the tutorial!

  18. Valerie H says:

    I love the simplicity of the design, thanks for the tutorial!

  19. Margaret says:

    So cute, loved pinwheels when I was a kid, begging for them when I went grocery shopping with my mom!

  20. Really cute pillow!

  21. Bethany says:

    Adorable pillow…thanks for the tutorial!

  22. Wendy says:

    Pretty Pillow, thanks for sharing!

  23. susan h says:

    lovely tutorial. thanks

  24. Southern Gal says:

    That’s just darling and the tutorial is great. Thanks..

  25. Sarah McGrath says:

    Oh great tutorial!

  26. Ali says:

    This is very great for our loft room. Thanks.

  27. Sarah says:

    That is a really great mini tutorial on doing applique- you’re right, it is easier than I though!

  28. SewLindaAnn says:

    Such a cute pillow! The tutorial is really wonderful.

  29. Marcia W. says:

    This is such a cute pinwheel pillow – the applique is something that looks easy.

  30. Claire says:

    Thanks for sharing! I think i’ll make a pillow with a flower like that on it.

  31. This is the cutest pillow ever. And the applique seems so easy. I might have to try.

  32. radiya says:


  33. WandaFish says:

    Great tutorial, thanks!

  34. kathyh says:

    I like turned-edge applique better too.

  35. Melissa says:

    Oh, gosh! I always forget about using starch to secure the edges. I just did some small hexies and used some stitch-witchery to secure the edges…what a pain! I’ll have to remember starch!
    It’s a very cute pillow, too. Thanks for the tutorial!

  36. Karen Hudson says:

    Very cute. I’m going to give this a try…

  37. Cherie says:

    Great tutorial. To many pillow, not enough time.

  38. Erin d. says:

    I’m loving all of these pillows!!!! Cute cute!!!

  39. Cat says:

    This is so nice ! Thank you for sharing !

  40. Karo says:

    i just love reading about other seamstresses techniques. i’d never think to do applique like this but it totally works and looks ver pretty!

  41. Christine says:

    Thanks. It looks fairly easy.

  42. Cat says:


  43. Ms. Fine says:

    I’m in love. This is fabulous and will be coming to my daughter’s room soon!

  44. Jessica says:

    So fun! I never thought about ironing around a cutout. I thought you just always had to have cut ends on your applique

  45. jm says:

    I’ve nevr tried turne dedge applique…thanks for the tutorial!

  46. Tiffany says:

    Great fabrics.

  47. Jennifer says:

    These would be great for accent pillows on my girls’ beds. Thanks for the tutorial!

  48. Crystal says:

    I like the pieced bottom and the cute button centre. Thanks for sharing.

  49. Great tutorial! Thanks!

  50. sharonj says:

    Really nice tutorial and a great pillow!

  51. Jen says:

    What a beautiful pillow!

  52. Rebecca says:

    Great instructions and cute pillow! Thanks!

  53. Laura says:

    i adore pinwheels!

  54. MamaBee says:


  55. Maryann says:

    Liked the instructions! Funny, how we think we have all the know-how we need, until we go bak and read the basics, and realize that there was a much easier way. Thanks!

  56. Andi says:

    Great tutorial! I can’t wait to apply this technique to other projects, too!

  57. Jacqueline says:

    What a great technique.

  58. What an awesome pillow and a great tutorial!Really like your blog. Glad I found it.

  59. Tez says:

    looks cool, I don’t think I’d try it yet though

  60. Debbie says:

    thank you for the wonderful tutorial! i will definitely try this.

  61. Stephanie S says:

    Pretty! What a great idea!

  62. Laura Reich says:

    That is so stinkin’ cute! I love the color combination and the pinwheel is amazing.
    Thanks for the tutorial.

  63. Alethea says:

    This is great! I’ve been wanting to learn how to applique and this is a great way for me to get started.

  64. Kelli says:

    Maybe I’ll use this tutorial. I tend to be a raw-edge kind of girl, because turned edge seems so difficult. I’ll give this a try and see how I do. Thanks!

  65. Christine says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial. Your way is easier than the way I was taught.

  66. Anita says:

    Great tutorial thank you!

  67. Maya says:

    This is a great tutorial and I just love the pinwheel pillow!

  68. Kati M says:

    Love this one. Thanks for the tutorial.

  69. patricia says:

    Pinwheels= Smiles. Thanks for this tutorial. It makes me think I can make one of these.

  70. Alison says:

    So many cute pillows this month. I don’t know what to make first!

  71. Mary says:

    I really like the combination of fabrics and patterns that you chose. I’ve never done turned-edge applique before, but you make it look so easy, I might give it a try!

  72. Susan C. says:

    Totally adorable. 🙂

  73. Rebecca says:

    I’ve been wanting to try turned applique, and this method looks great. Thanks for sharing!

  74. Tong says:

    great tutorial! i’ve never done this technique before.

  75. Robyn says:

    I can’t wait to try this!

  76. Wendy D. P. says:

    So cute! Love the button in the middle!

  77. Tara says:

    Great tutorial – never had tried the turned edge style. Thanks for opening my eyes. 🙂

  78. Cassandra says:

    Yay! I love tutorials! Thank you!

  79. Becky T says:

    this is simply precious

  80. Allie says:

    Great! I’ve been wanting to know how to do turned-edge applique! It looks easier than I thought it would be. 🙂 Thanks for sharing. I’ve loved checking out all the pillows this month. I’ve bookmarked new things to do a lot!

  81. Valerie says:

    Very cute! Makes me think of spring. Yeah!!

  82. Jill B says:

    So cute and the tutorial is so detailed – thank you!

  83. Vanessa says:

    Great tutorial. Thanks!

  84. Suzie says:

    Thank you for all the lovely pillow tutorials this month – loving it!

  85. Joanne says:

    The pinwheel is adorable, especially with the button center. Makes me want to give applique a try!

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