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