Cute toss pillows in interesting shapes are a great way to interject a bit of playful zest into children's décor (although, we will allow you to make this for grown-up types as well). Our ukulele pillow tutorial certainly qualifies as an interesting shape, and we include a free downloadable pattern for it. The finished ukulele is also the perfect size and shape to bonk unsuspecting siblings over the head. Not that we would ever encourage bonking (or would we?). This soft and silent ukulele pillow is just one of the eight projects in our new Storybook Lil' Boy's Room Series sponsored by Moda Fabrics and featuring the nostalgic Lil' Rascals collection by Chloe's Closet .
At the end of the series, Moda will sponsor a generous Great Giveaway with fabric cuts and more. Plus, as a special bonus, we've composed our own storybook to go along with the adorable Lil' Rascals illustrations. You'll be able to download this exclusive, one-of-a-kind S4H Picture Book FREE, courtesy of Moda, after all eight projects have debuted.
Our pillow sample finished at 18" x 6-1/2" (at the widest point), just the right size for Mr. Bear to play a few bars of Tip Toe Through The Tulips .
Sewing Tools You Need
Fabric and Other Supplies
- ¼ yard of 44-45" wide print fabric for the ukulele's front body; we used Lil' Rascals from Chloe's Closet for Moda Fabrics in Sugar & Spice Tan
- ¼ yard of 44-45" wide print fabric for the ukulele's back; we used Lil' Rascals from Chloe's Closet for Moda Fabrics in Blanket Tan
- Scrap or ⅛ yard of 44-45" wide solid fabric for the ukulele's front accents; we used a black quilter's cotton
- One medium bag of high quality, silky fiber fill; we used Fairfield's Bamboo Fiber Nature-Fil ®
- Fusible transfer web; we used Wonder Under
- Four small black buttons; we used ½" jet black buttons
- Four small white buttons; we used ⅜" white mother-of-pearl buttons
- All purpose thread to match all fabrics
- Heavy white embroidery thread for ukulele strings
- Pressing cloth
- Long see-through ruler (24" or longer is best)
- Fabric marker, pen, or tailor's chalk
- Iron and ironing board
- Hand sewing needle
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Straight pins
- Download and print our TWO 8½" x 11" pattern sheets: Ukulele Body and Ukulele Neck
IMPORTANT: You must print these PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
- Cut out the pattern pieces along the solid lines.
- Following the arrows on the patterns, butt the two pieces together and tape in place. Do NOT overlap. You now have one complete ukulele pattern.
- Press all your fabric flat.
- Place the completed ukulele pattern on the right side of the front print fabric (Sugar & Spice Tan in our sample). If you are using a print with a directional motif, as we did, make sure the lines of the motif are running vertically the length of the ukulele and are nice and straight. Pin the pattern in place and cut out the ukulele front.
- Remove the pattern and use it to place and cut out the ukulele back in the same manner (from the Blanket Tan in our sample).
- Remove the pattern from the fabric and using the lines on the pattern as a guide, carefully cut out the three accent shapes from the whole pattern piece: 1) the small rectangular bridge, 2) the round sound hole, and 3) the neck (there are two horizontal lines on the pattern showing where to cut the top and bottom of the neck). Set these three shapes aside.
- Place the remaining pieces of the paper pattern back onto the right side of the ukulele front fabric piece, realigning the pattern and fabric. Use your fabric pen to trace the cut-away openings, marking the position for the accents (the bridge, sound hole and neck). Also mark the placement of the four top "peg buttons." To do this, stick a pin through the middle of each circle, lift up the pattern and mark the point of each pin on your fabric
NOTE: You are marking on the right side of the fabric so make sure you are using a fabric pen or pencil that is easily erasable.
- Following manufacturer's directions, adhere an approximately 8½" x 11" piece of the fusible web (Wonder Under in our sample) to the wrong side of the solid fabric (black in our sample).
- Place the three pattern shapes you cut on the fused solid fabric, pin in place and cut out. Peel off the backing from the fusible web.
- Following your markings, place the three shapes on the right side of the ukulele front. Again following manufacturer's directions, fuse the shapes into place.
At Your Sewing Machine
- Thread the top and bobbin of your machine with thread to match your solid fabric (black in our sample).
- Appliqué the three shapes in place: all the around the circle, all around the rectangle, and the top and bottom of the neck (the sides of the neck will be secured in the perimeter seam).
- With our Janome machines, we like to use the Satin Stitch foot for appliqué.
NOTE: If you are new to appliqué, take a look at our Chubby Heart Coasters tutorial.
- Using a seam gauge and see-through ruler, mark the placement for the strings on your now-appliquéd ukulele front. The start of the first and fourth strings should be ¼" from each edge of the appliquéd bridge rectangle. The string lines end at the two top circles you marked at the top of ukulele (the two top "peg buttons").
- Use your long see-through ruler and fabric pencil to connect the start and end points of these first and fourth strings. Make sure your line is perfectly straight, and as above, make sure you are using an easily air or water erasable pen since you are marking on the right side of the fabric.
- Repeat these steps to create the marked lines for the second and third strings. Each of these lines should be ¼" from the lines you just marked, which will leave a slightly wider space (approximately ⅜") in between the second and third string lines.
- You can also refer to the printed pattern to help you check your string placement.
- Re-thread the top and bobbin of your machine with the heavy white embroidery thread.
NOTE: We also lengthened our stitch. You should test your stitch on a scrap of your solid fabric to get the look you want.
- Following your marked lines, stitch from bottom to top to form each "string."
- Hand sew one small white button to each string start point within the bridge rectangle.
- Hand sew one small black button to each string end point to create the top "pegs."
- Pin the completed ukulele front right sides together with the ukulele back, aligning all raw edges. Leave a 3-4" opening along one side of the neck for turning and stuffing. There are a lot of curves and corners in this pattern; don't be afraid to use plenty of pins.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around the entire perimeter of the ukulele, leaving just the one 3-4" opening for turning. Go slowly around the curves to keep your stitching smooth, and pivot at all the corners. We stitched a second time in the corners for stability and to prevent fraying at these stress points.
- Press the seam open (yes... it's kind of tough; do the best you can).
- Clip the curves and points, being careful not to clip through your stitching.
NOTE: This clipping allows the curves and points to stretch slightly (to "ease") when you turn the finished piece right side out, which gives you a smoother edge.
- Turn the ukulele right side out and stuff with fiberfill (Fairfield's Bamboo Fiber Nature-Fil ® in our sample).
- The pillow should be stuffed so it is pleasingly plump. Make sure the neck is well-stuffed; you don't want it to be flimsy. Take a handful of loose fiberfill and fluff the fibers with your fingers to remove any clumps. To do this, gently separate the fibers as if teasing hair. Insert these small handfuls of fiberfill, starting with the curves of the body and the points of the top and working toward the center.
- Using your hand sewing needle and thread, slip stitch the pillow opening closed. Keep your stitches small so the fiberfill won't poke out.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild
Other machines suitable for this project include the Bernina 380 and the Babylock Melody.