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Set this pretty kitty on your sofa to keep watch over the rest of your pillows. The bold silhouette with its sweet dimensional bow is truly the Cat’s Meow. Our original design was created to show off the amazing appliqué capabilities of the Janome machines, which have amazingly precise stitch quality, from the top-of-the-line sewing and embroidery powerhouses to the entry level compacts. We’re an exclusive Janome studio at Sew4Home, and it’s one of the top reasons our finished samples turn out so beautifully. Your sewing machine is the tool at the center of the process; it better have your back! That means a machine you can rely on to do what it needs to do easily – without any unnecessary frustration on your part. When you’re confident in your machine’s performance, it frees you to concentrate on your creativity. 

Our appliqué design is offered as a free three-page download. The Cat does require some assembly and it is precisely sized for our 18″ x 18″ sample. The lettering for the “MEOW” caption is also included within the download.

For the best look of a traditional silhouette, we recommend black for the Cat and her caption. However, a petite print could also be lovely. Perhaps a “calico cat” in calico fabric?!

We used a natural linen for the main pillow panels, which provided a neutral background to showcase the appliqué as well as a bit of texture, which is a nice contrast against the smooth finish of the quilting cotton used on the appliqué.

Piping rims the edge of the pillow and also adds a feature strip along the back envelope closure. We made our own so it could be a perfect match to the Cat’s bow and so we could use a thicker piping than is usually available with packaged piping. Once you get the hang of making your own piping, it’s hard to go back since the ability to customize is endless. And (of course), we have full tutorial on the piping process if you are just starting out.

The Cat’s bow is real, made from the same fabric as the piping and hand stitched in place. If you have a particularly fancy feline, you could kick things up a bit by adding a little glitter or sequin bling to your bow.

As mentioned above, the letters for the “MEOW” caption we used are part of the template download. However, you can certainly pick your own font and/or change what your kitty has to say. For the best size and balance, keep the word about the same length. Maybe “Purrr” or “Sit” or “Love”.

We outline our appliquéing steps below, but if you are brand new to the process, we have a full How To Appliqué tutorial, which shows tools, options, and styles. There are a number of curves and points to the silhouette as well as the letters, but by going slowly and carefully, you can maneuver the path for a gorgeous finish.

As you embark on your own Cat’s Meow pillow, remember these inspiring words from Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat, “Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”

Our pillow finishes at approximately 18” x 18”.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Getting Started and Appliqué Templates Download

  1. Download and print out the Cat and Caption appliqué templates, which have been bundled into one PDF file to make the download easier.
    IMPORTANT: Each page of this three-page download is ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
  2. Cut out each half of the Cat template along the solid line. Butt together the two pieces, aligning the arrows, to form the full Cat. Do not overlap. Tape together.
  3. From the main background fabric (natural linen in our sample), cut the following:
    ONE 19″ x 19″ square for the pillow front
    ONE 19” high x 10½” wide rectangle for the back overlap panel
    ONE 19” high x 13” wide rectangle for the back underlap panel
    ONE 19” high x 3” wide rectangle for the back overlap panel facing
  4. From the fabric for the piping and bow (green cotton in our sample), cut the following:
    THREE 1¾” x WOF (width of fabric) strips for the piping
    ONE 3” x 16” strip for the bow
  5. From the lightweight interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 19″ x 19″ square for the pillow front
    ONE 19” high x 10½” wide rectangle for the back overlap panel
    ONE 19” high x 13” wide rectangle for the back underlap panel
    ONE 19” high x 3” wide rectangle for the back overlap panel facing
  6. Keep the appliqué fabric as one piece.
  7. Keep the piping cord as one piece.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board


  1. If you are new to appliquéing, review our How To Appliqué tutorial prior to starting this section.
  2. Find the assembled Cat template, the letters for the caption (MEOW), the fusible web, and the appliqué fabric.
  3. Cut a piece of the fusible web large enough to completely cover the assembled Cat design and another piece to cover the full MEOW.
  4. Do not cut apart the letters yet. Instead, simply trace them on the paper side of the fusible web.
    NOTE: Our block letters are perfectly symmetrical (left to right and top to bottom) so we were able to work with them right side up when tracing. If you choose a different font with unsymmetrical letters, in order for the letters to fuse in place correctly, you’ll want to trace and cut with the letters flipped – as we are show with the Cat design below.
  5. Flip over the assembled Cat design. With the wrong side of the template facing up, trace the design onto the paper side of the fusible web.
  6. Trace all the way around. Lift up the template now and then to insure your line is consistent.
  7. Roughly trim around the traced design. You want about an inch of extra fusible web all around.
  8. Place on the Cat template paper side up, exposed fusing side down on the right side of the appliqué fabric.
  9. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
  10. Cut the design from the appliqué fabric.
  11. Peel away the paper backing from the fusible web to reveal the second side of fusing material.
  12. Repeat to fuse the caption to the appliqué fabric and cut out each individual letter.
    NOTE: As you’ll see in our How To Appliqué tutorial, the other common way to work with fusible web is to adhere a large piece to the wrong side of the appliqué fabric. You can then trace the design on the right side of the fabric with the template facing right side up. The issue of using this option on this project is the inability to easily trace a clearly visible line onto the black fabric. Choose your favorite method; just remember to think about the direction your final silhouette design and lettering should face when fused into place on the right side of the front panel.  
  13. Find the front 19” x 19” base panel. Place the Cat exposed fusing side down on the panel. Don’t adhere too firmly yet. You want to make adjustments to get the right position.
  14. Follow the illustration below for exact placement. The Cat’s tail will go almost all the way down to the bottom raw edge of the fabric square, stopping just about ½” up from the raw edge.
  15. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the Cat in place on the right side of the front panel.
  16. Position the letters to the right of the Cat as shown in the illustration above. Remember, we cut our symmetrical letters right side up, which means when we peeled away the paper backing, the exposed fusible was on the right side. We flipped and carefully re-positioned each letter prior to fusing in place.

    NOTE: For exact letter spacing, consider printing a second copy of the lettering template page to use as a guide for aligning the letters.
  17. Thread your machine with thread to match the appliqué fabric in the top and bobbin.
  18. Select the stitch for your appliqué. We used a narrow zig zag stitch for our design. The finished look is entirely up to you: use a loose or tight zig zag, a straight stitch, or even a decorative stitch. Whatever your choice, take the time to accurately set your stitch width and length, testing first on scraps. We also attached our Janome Appliqué foot.
  19. Start your stitching on one of the straightest parts of the design.
  20. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to appliqué. A see-through foot, like the Janome Appliqué foot or the Janome Open Toe Satin Stitch foot is the best option to be able to watch your stitching form and keep it even along the edge. Our zig zag stitch was set so the right swing of the needle hit at the edge of the appliqué. There is a handy guide on the front of the Appliqué foot to use to follow along the fabric’s edge and keep the swing exact.
  21. Don’t be afraid to stop, with your needle in the down position, and adjust your fabric as you move around the curves – especially on the lettering.
  22. Hold onto the base fabric from both the front and back to keep it moving smoothly. Don’t pull or force it as it moves under the needle, but be an active participant, guiding it at all times.

Create and place the Cat’s bow

  1. Find the 3” x 16” strip for the bow. Fold it in half, right sides together, so it is now 1½” x 16”.
  2. Pin along both ends and down the long side, leaving an approximate 3” opening at the center of that long side.
  3. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch both ends and along the side, locking the seam at either side of the opening.
  4. Press open the seam allowance and clip the corners.
  5. Turn right side out through the opening.
  6. Gently push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. A long knitting needle, chopstick or point turner works well for this.
  7. Press flat, pressing in the raw edges at the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  8. Hand stitch the opening closed.
  9. Tie the strip into a bow.
  10. Find the front panel of the pillow.
  11. Place the bow at the Cat’s neck. Pin in place.
  12. Hand stitch the bow in place at the knot as well as at the end of each of the bow loops. The tails of the bow remain free.
  13. Knot securely at the back of the front panel.


  1. If this is your first time making piping, see our tutorial, How To Make And Attach Your Own Piping. We are summarizing the steps below.
  2. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the piping in the top and bobbin. Re-set for a straight stitch.
  3. Find the three 1¾“ x WOF strips.
  4. Attach the strips as you would multiple lengths of binding. Place the strip lengths at right angles to one another. Draw a line across the corner. Pin in place.
  5. Stitch along the drawn line.
  6. Trim back the seam allowance to approximately ¼” and press open.
  7. Find the length of piping cord.
  8. Wrap the fabric, right side out, around the cord. Pin close to the cord to hold it in place. You’ll end up with more fabric than cord. Trim the fabric flush to match the cord.
  9. Lengthen the stitch for basting.
  10. Using a Zipper foot, sew close to the cord to create your fabric covered piping.


  1. Match up the interfacing panels with the main front panel and the three pieces that make up the overlapped back panel.
  2. Place the appropriate interfacing panel against the wrong side of each fabric panel. The edges of each pair should be flush on all sides.
  3. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing in place.

Create the back panels

  1. Find the facing panel. Fold back one 19” raw edge ½”. We used a Clover Hot Hemmer.
  2. Find the 19” x 10½” back overlap panel. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
  3. From the piping, cut one 19” length.
  4. Place this length of piping along one 19” raw edge of the overlap panel. You are placing the piping against the right side of the overlap panel. Pin in place.
    NOTE: If you are brand new to working with piping, you may want to machine baste the piping along the edge for added security.
  5. Place the facing strip right side down over the panel, sandwiching the piping between the layers. Align the raw edge of the facing (the unfolded edge) with the raw edge of the panel. Pin in place.
  6. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the main fabric in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
  7. Still using a Zipper foot, sew close to the piping cord through all the layers.
  8. Fold the facing around to the back of the panel, revealing the piping along the seamed edge. Pin the facing in place.
  9. Replace the standard presser foot.
  10. Topstitch to secure the inner edge of the facing in place.
  11. Find the 19” x 13” back underlap panel. Along one 19” edge make a ½” double turn hem. To do this, fold back the raw edge ½” and press.
  12. Fold back an additional ½” and press again.
  13. Pin the hem in place against the back of the underlap panel.
  14. Topstitch to secure the hem in place.

Add piping to the front panel

  1. Find the front panel and the remaining length of piping.
  2. Pin the piping to the right side of the panel, aligning the raw edges of the piping with the raw edge of the panel, and leaving about 1″ free at the head and tail. We put our joining seam along the bottom edge of the pillow under the Cat’s tail. You will likely have excess piping beyond the 1” at the head and tail. If so, simply trim away and discard that excess.
  3. At each corner, clip into the piping to better allow it to curve around the corner. Be careful to not cut too deep; keep the snip below the basting.
  4. At the joint, lay the piping against the fabric so it is flat and smooth.
  5. With a seam ripper, peel back the fabric on the 1″ tail to expose the cording underneath.
  6. Trim the end of cording tail so it exactly butts together with the head of the cording.
  7. Fold under the end of the loose fabric to create a clean edge. Trim away excess fabric if necessary. Overlap the folded end to conceal the piping cord. Pin in place.
  8. Switch to a Zipper foot (and set the needle position all the way to left), lengthen the stitch for machine basting, and baste the piping in place around the entire panel. Run the seam as close to the piping cord as possible.

Layer and stitch to finish

  1. Place the front panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
  2. Overlap the back panels until their width equals 19”. Stitch a short seam along the top and bottom, within the seam allowance, to hold the panels together. Working with the two panels as one unit makes it easier to stitch front and back together without shifting.
  3. Place the front and back panels right sides together. Pin the layers together along all four sides.
  4. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
  5. Still using a Zipper foot, stitch close to the piping cord around all four sides, pivoting at the corners.
  6. Turn the cover right side out through the overlap, press flat, and insert the pillow form through the envelope opening.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

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