17 April 2013

Little Hand-Quilted Pillow Tutorial

There's one little pillow on our couch that I insist is mine, the perfect size for right behind my head while watching junky TV.  It's about 12x16 inches, and luxuriously feather-filled.  I decided that I needed another, of course, and thought I'd share the process.  

With the directions below, you can create fun hand-stitched a pillow out of any special block of your choosing.  

Step 1:  Pick a favorite 12.5x12.5 inch unfinished block.  I used one of my recent Star Seams blocks.  

Step 2: Cut two strips, 12.5 x 2.75 inches, and stitch them to the right and left sides of your block to create a 12.5 x 17 inch rectangle. This will become your pillow front! You can match the block's background fabric, as I did, or use a contrasting color. 

Step 3: Find a scrap piece of batting at least 1/4 inch bigger than your pillow front on all sides.  Smooth everything out, and pin your pillow front in place. If desired, machine quilt lightly to hold everything in place.  Above, I simply outlined the star once.  

Step 4:  Create some kind of hand-stitching template. You could mark simple straight lines, continue echoing some machine quilting, or create a new texture, which is what I decided to do. Using a folded index card, I cut out a pointy oval/ leaf shape, marked lines on the pillow, and traced  the shape along the lines with a disappearing ink pen.  

I decided I wanted to make it seem like the star was placed in front of the background, so I didn't mark or stitch on top of the it. 

Step 5: Using perle cotton or embroidery floss, hand-stitch in straight lines to fill in your design.  

I had experimented with creating texture via hand-stitching before, and I knew the effect would be subtle, yet also create a highly squishy, squeezable product.

Step 6:  Once it is quilted to your liking, trim pillow front to 12.5x16.5 inches, squaring up corners.

Step 7: Find, or piece together, a 12.5x16.5 inch piece of fabric for the pillow back.  I prefer to use home decor- or upholstery-weight fabrics for pillow backs, to add some structure.

Step 8:  Construct your pillow as desired.  If you love zippers, go for it! This time, I was a little lazy, since I knew that this would just be for me, and went back to one of the first methods I ever learned: just stitch the whole thing up!

To create a closed pillow like mine, layer pillow front and back together, face to face, and stitch around three sides, with a 1/4 to 3/8 inch seam allowance.  Clip corners, turn pillow right side out, stuff with a 12x16 inch pillow insert, and use a ladder stitch to close the final side.

For my back, I used a scrap of ancient home dec fabric (maybe Amy Butler?) I got in a scrap pack once,  to which I added a strip of gray, since it wasn't quite big enough.

I love how the print is so different it is from the straight lines of the front, yet the colors match up nicely.

My product: a soft, nubbly, pretty pillow. And there's one less couch asset to fight over.  Maybe now I "need" more throw quilts?

  Pin It!


  1. The quilting looks like such great texture . Very nice

  2. What a beautiful pillow. Love the quilting.

  3. I really love the idea of creating texture with your stitches like that. I think I might like to try it with stitching alone, without the block in the center. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. Love the star and the texture of the quilting is lovely.

  5. This is gorgeous! I love your paper pieced patterns.
    This summer, I want to make this pillow!!



Hi, nice to see you! Sorry about the word verification but I've been flooded with spam messages recently. Thanks for commenting!