Sunday, January 9, 2011

make with me {Love Pillow}

I Heart Sewing

As much as I heart my JOY pillow, it no longer 'tis the season.  Inspiration struck this weekend, centering around an idea to make the word "LOVE" with a combination of applique and embroidery.  Only the "O" will be embroidered, so this is perfect for those of you who said you want to learn embroidery this year.  I'll use just one stitch (the bestest and most useful "backstitch") and I promise to walk you through it step-by-step.

Getting Started

First off, do you have a pillow form?  I have one that measures 18" square.  I'd like a plump pillow, so I'll be making my pillow cover to finish at 17", which is 1" smaller than the pillow form.  If you like a really firm pillow, have your cover finish 2" smaller than the pillow form.  We'll stitch the front and back together with a 1/2" seam, so your pillow will finish 1" smaller than you cut.

If you don't have a form, here in the US an 18" square pillow is an easy-to-find standard size.  You'll see that the design is so simple that you could easily make a much larger pillow too.


* 1/2 yard or 2 fat quarters - a red print or solid.  I'm using Woodcut in Passion from Anna Maria Horner's Innocent Crush (available here and here).  If your pillow form is larger than mine, you'll need more fabric!
* medium scrap of linen or white solid.  I'm using Essex Linen/Cotton in natural (available here).  For this project, I preferred Essex' pale "natural" to the browner "natural" of most 100% linens.  It looked fresher with the vibrant red.
*  Pinking blade for rotary cutter or pinking sheers
* 3 coordinating scraps for letters.
* embroidery floss.  I anticipate using black, red and pink.
* 1/2 yard batting.   The batting will back the main red fabric for your pillow front and back.  If your pillow form is larger than mind, you'll need more batting!
* invisible zipper.  Choose one that blends in with your main red fabric, if possible.  It should be approximately 1-2" smaller than your finished goal (my pillow will finish at 17", so a 15-16" zipper would be perfect).  It is truly EASY to shorten a zipper. So just buy a bigger one if necessary.  Make sure it says "invisible" zipper.


Cut Front & Back

To begin with, cut your main red fabric to the appropriate size for the pillow front and back, calculating a 1/2" seam.  For example, if you want a 19" square finish, cut two 20" squares. 

I desire a 17" finish, so I should cut two18" squares.  Unfortunately, after prewashing and squaring up my fat quarters, they only measured 17.5" square.  A 16.5" finish it is!

Cut Battings

Now cut 2 battings at the same size as your main red fabric (2 battings at 17.5" square for me).

Cut Linen Patch

Fitting your rotary cutter with a pinking blade or using pinking sheers, cut the white or linen scrap into a rectangle patch.  I cut mine 9 1/2 x 5 3/4".  If your pillow is a different size than mine, just choose a size for your linen scrap that seems to balance the proportions of your pillow.  If you're not sure, start with a bigger size.  You can always trim down your patch.  To preview the look, lay your pillow front fabric on the pillow form, lay the patch and step back to take a look.

When cutting with a pinking blade in your rotary cutter, be sure to press firmly.  You don't want to have to do a second pass with the rotary blade as it will mess up the pinking!

Choose scraps

At this point, I played with my fabric scraps to find 3 prints for the letters L, V and E.  Placing the scraps on my linen patch helped me confirm the right size for my patch.  I needed more room than I thought!



Baste the battings to your pillow back and front.  You could use basting pins or basting spray.  I decided to be thrifty and save my basting spray for larger projects.


Quilt pillow back and front with irregularly spaced straight lines.  I randomly alternated lines spaced at a generous 1/4" and 1/2". The Woodcut print made this much to easy.  I just quilted along the lines in the background, skipping either 1 or 2 lines as I went!   The finished texture is lovely and will contrast well with the smooth linen patch.

OK, that's all for now today.  I'll be back towards the end of this week with directions for letter applique and embroidery!


  1. So cute! This is the first sew along I've been tempted by in a long, long time! Just off to root around in my fabric stash now!

  2. This is going to be really cute. Really. I mean, you are using Henna Garden scraps, my all-time FAVORITE fabric design!

  3. What a beautiful website. Loads and loads of color stitched beautifully together. Thanks for the opportunity to share.

  4. Hi, Rachel! Can't wait to see the rest of the tutorial!! And FYI, Rave hairspray makes a great (and cheap!) substitute for basting spray for small projects. It doesn't work well on larger projects, because it isn't repositionable and doesn't do well if you have to roll your sandwich but it's great for small things like pillow tops and mugrugs!

  5. Okay, this has nothing to do with your pillow, but I just had to say that when I first read the title of your post I could have sworn it said, "Make love with me pillow" and I about choked on my coffee. I thought I'd accidentally subscribed to a VERY different kind of blog. :)


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