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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Simple Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Hey there friends!  The holiday season is upon us, and if you're anything like me, your list includes some handmade awesomeness for the special people in your life.  Well, pillows are one of my favorite go-to gifts.  There are unlimited ways to personalize them, and they show thoughtfulness without being too time consuming.  They are also a great way to freshen up a room's decor without spending an arm and a leg.

As a quilter, I don't sew a lot of other things like bags, pouches, etc., and frankly, branching out from quilting makes me a little apprehensive (I have an irrational fear of interfacing, but that's another post).  Even though I know there are probably fifty different tutorials for basic pillow construction on the internet, I needed to figure it out for myself.  So, I played around with it, and this is the method that I came up with.  It is super easy, and really quick.

Materials Needed (for an 18 inch square pillow)-
*20" pillow form (I like my pillows extra full, so I buy my pillow forms slightly larger than my pillow, but you can use an 18" form if you prefer)
*1 yard muslin (I used bleached white muslin)
*18" square cotton batting
*1/3 yard backing fabric
*18" square pieced pillow top

Once you've got the method down, you can modify your fabric requirements to make a pillow in any size!

Start off by making the front of your pillow however you like.  Think of this as a mini quilt, and make it as simple or as intricate as you want.  A pillow is a great place to show off applique', regular paper piecing, or English paper piecing- but you can also keep it simple!  I decided to do some improv piecing with my scraps.  Be sure to give it a good press, and trim to size if needed.

Next, cut your muslin to 18" square, layer your muslin, batting, and top, and baste.  A project this small only takes a few pins, and of course there is the bonus that you don't have to crawl around on the floor!  Since the muslin will be the on the inside of the pillow, it is okay for this purpose (it is a bit thin for me to use elsewhere).

Now, quilt that baby to your heart's content!  If you're in a hurry, a quick stipple or some straight line quilting fits the bill, but if you have more time, the sky's the limit.  Again, personalize it!

Time for the envelope closure backing.  It really is easy!  From your backing fabric, cut two pieces, 12.5" x 18."  Cut two pieces of muslin the same size.  You want your two flaps to overlap by several inches so that when your pillow form is inserted, it still stays closed (I like about six inches of overlap).  So, since the pillow is 18 inches, we need 24 inches of actual fabric, which means that each piece should be 12.5 inches (including seam allowance).

Align the backing fabric with the muslin piece, right sides together, and sew along one long side.  There is no need to sew all four sides, and you'll see why!

Press the seam, and fold in half with the backing fabric right side out.

Press again.  Voila!  You have one side of your envelope closure!  Just repeat with the other piece of muslin and backing fabric.

Now it's time to turn that mini quilt into an actual pillow!  Lay your quilted top face down and layer your envelope closure flaps on top.  Align the bottom one with the bottom of the pillow, making sure that the sewn side is toward the center of the pillow.  Lay the second backing piece on top.  You can pin the three layers together if you desire, but this is so small, I just hold everything in place while I stitch.

Use your walking foot, and increase your stitch length just a little bit.  I usually set mine on 3.0.  Sew 1/4 inch from the edge, all the way around the pillow.  It is helpful if you start sewing at a point where your two backing pieces overlap to anchor them, especially if you aren't using pins.

See why we didn't need to sew all the way around those backing pieces?  They'll get secured in this step.

Now, the very last step is to bind your pillow!  Binding covers up all of those raw edges, and I think it gives the pillow a little bit of flair.  I like pillows that have pretty edges, so binding the pillow is great for form and function.  Check out my machine binding tutorial HERE if you're new to quilting and aren't sure of this step.

Finally, insert your pillow form, or if you're like me and you always buy a slightly bigger one than your pillow- STUFF it!  Be sure you get it pushed all the way into the corners (I just noticed in my final photos that I need to do that a little more).

Now you're ready to gift your pillow, or enjoy it yourself!  Have fun, and make lots!


  1. Lovely cushion; thanks for the tutorial. I recently made some cushions, almost the same method as yours, but with the parts sewn together inside out, and without binding. I agree with you that binding is the finishing touch. Next time ...!

  2. Thanks for giving me a new way to do pillows. I've always made them like Marly (above) has, without binding, but the binding sets off the quilted front nicely. I have to try this.

  3. Thanks for the pillow tutorial. The random piecing reminds me of a pillow top I started years ago in Christmas fabrics. Maybe I should go dig that up and finish it....


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