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FreeSpirit-Rowan 10&10 Series: Gathered Round Cushion in Jennifer Paganelli/Happy Land

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If you're happy and you know it... make a pillow. Pillows are one of the best things for a beginner to tackle; they're fast and fun projects for anyone and immediately brighten up your décor. Today's pillow in Jennifer Paganelli's Happy Land for FreeSpirit Fabrics is what I envision Little Miss Muffet's tuffet must look like. Even though you end up with a completely different look, today's pillow is constructed similarly to Monday's Happy Land bolster pillow. They both start as a tube. In this case, you gather the top and the bottom, cinching the fabric to create the cushion shape. You then conceal your gathering points with jumbo covered buttons.

Just like happiness, pillows come in all shapes and sizes; and when you're creating a pile of pillows on a bed or sofa, it's important to vary both size and shape. A unique shape in a bold color will make your pillow scape more interesting and fun. Arrange big, blocky pillows in the back, happy little pillows in the front... just like when they lined you up on the bleachers for grade school class photos!

The pillow finishes at approximately 14" in diameter x 7" deep. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Getting Started

  1. The diagram below shows you the cuts that will be assembled to create the tube that will form the finished pillow.
  2. From the fabric for the main body of the pillow (Claudia in Red in our sample), cut the following:
    TWO 7½" high x 44" wide (WOF) rectangles for the top and bottom panels
    ONE 4" high x 44" wide (WOF) rectangle for the side panel
  3. From the fabric for the piping (Candice in Red in our sample), cut enough 1½" strips on the bias to yield TWO 47" strips. 
  4. Cut the piping cord into two 47" lengths.

    NOTE: As mentioned above if you are new to bias cuts and binding (it's the same technique for the strips to wrap piping cord), see our tutorial
  5. From the fusible batting, cut ONE 3" x 44" rectangle.
  6. Cut the yarn/floss into two equal lengths.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board


  1. Find the bias cut strips and the piping cord.
  2. If you did not cut full-length strips, stitch your multiple strips together end-to-end to yield two 47" strips. Press all seam allowances open.
  3. Place the two finished strips wrong side up on your work surface.
  4. Place a length of cording down the center of each strip.
  5. Wrap the strip around the cording, aligning the long raw edges of the strip. 
  6. Attach a Zipper foot.
  7. Thread your machine with thread to match the piping fabric in the top and bobbin.
  8. Stitch the length of the strip, staying as close to the cording as the foot will allow. If possible on your machine, you can also move your needle position to the left to snug up your seamline even closer.

    NOTE: If you are new to piping, check out our step-by-step tutorial.

Main body of the pillow

  1. Find the three panels, the two lengths of piping, and the fusible batting strip. 
  2. Place the 7½" high x 44" pillow back panel right side up and flat on your work surface. 
  3. Center a length of piping along the top 44" raw edge of the panel. The raw edges of the piping should be flush with the raw edge of the fabric panel. The ends of the piping will extend beyond the fabric a bit.
  4. Pin the piping in place. Hand or machine baste the piping strip in place. If machine-basting, use your Zipper foot
  5. Find 4" high x 44" side panel. Place it right sides together along the top 44" raw edge of the back panel, sandwiching the piping between the layers. Pin in place. 
  6. Using the Zipper foot, stitch the 44" seam through all the layers, staying as close to the piping as the foot will allow. If you machine-basted your piping in place, you can follow along in this basting seam.
  7. Place the bottom/side sewn panel right side up on your work surface. 
  8. Place the remaining length of piping along the top (the remaining) 44" raw edge of the side panel. The raw edges of the piping should be flush with the raw edge of the fabric panel.
  9. As you did above, pin the piping in place. Hand or machine baste the piping strip in place. If machine-basting, use your Zipper foot.
  10. Place the 7½" high x 44" pillow top panel right sides together along the top 44" raw edge of the side panel, sandwiching the piping between the layers. Pin in place.
  11. Again as you did above, stitch this 44" seam through all the layers, staying as close to the piping as the foot will allow. If you machine-basted your piping in place, you can follow along in this basting seam.
  12. Press the top and bottom panels away from the side panel, revealing both lines of piping.
  13. Flip the sewn panel to the back. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the batting strip to the wrong side of the side panel. This layer of batting will give both stability and a smoothness to the side of the finished pillow.
  14. Fold the entire piece in half, right sides together, aligning the raw edges and being especially careful to line up the ends of the piping. Pin in place.
  15. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch in place.
  16. Trim away the excess piping.
  17. You now have one tall tube. Turn this tube right side out. Roll the tube so the seam is at the center back. Press.

Drawstring channel top and bottom

  1. Fold down the top raw edge ½" and press.
  2. Starting just to one side of the seam, stitch the folded edge in place, staying close to the raw edge. Stop just to the opposite side of the seam so there is an opening over the seam. Lock your seam at the starting and stopping points.
  3. Repeat to create a matching drawstring channel along the bottom raw edge.
    NOTE: This pillow design is meant to be spot cleaned only and our fabric was not prone to raveling, so we simply made one fold and stitched to create the drawstring channel. If you want a more finished edge or you do have a ravel-prone fabric, make a double fold. First fold under the raw edge approximately ⅛", then fold an additional ⅜" and press again. Edgestitch along the inside folded edge. Your channel will be ever so slightly smaller, but should still be big enough for the yarn/floss.
  4. Find the two lengths of yarn/floss.
  5. Tie one end of one length to the end of a safety pin. Feed the safety pin all the way through one of the channels. 
  6. Repeat to feed the remaining length through the opposite channel.

Cinch and stuff

  1. Turn the tube right side out.
  2. On the bottom panel, pull the ends of the yarn/floss to cinch up the panel as tight as it will go, gathering the panel and flattening that end of the tube. Tie a tight knot and trim away the excess yarn/floss.
  3. Flip the tube so it is sitting up on the cinched end.
  4. Through the open end, stuff the polyester fiberfill.
  5. When filled to pleasantly plump, cinch down this open end just as you did on the opposite side.

Covered buttons

  1. Make two covered buttons using the leftover fabric from the piping strips (Candice in Red in our sample). Also, we always add a small scrap of lightweight batting under our fabric for a smooth, curved shape to our covered buttons.

    NOTE: If you are new to covering buttons, we have two tutorials, one using Covered Button Kits (what we did here) and one about Making Your Own.
  2. Thread a hand sewing needle with button or carpet thread. Hand sew one covered button to the pillow front and one to the back. Pull the buttons tight so they create a nice, tufted effect. 
  3. Be careful to keep the buttons in the exact center so they nicely cover the "cinched hole" on both sides.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Aimee McGaffey



Comments (49)

Hayley said:
Hayley's picture

Thanks for that, great tutorial!  I was wondering, I didn't take to much notice or think to much of it in regards to the fabric weight and used a heavier weight fabric and am now having trouble cinching it together so the hole is small enough for a button. Any ideas in what I could do as seems such a waste to not continue? :-(

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Hayley - maybe you can find a larger covered button kit or even a large real button that can better cover the gathering point. You could also make a small circle patch with finished edges in the same fabric and hand sew that over the gathering point. If your fabric is "busy" enough, that same-fabric-circle might be enough to disguise the gathering point under whichever type of button you use. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ theresa cipressi - The pillow finishes at approximately 14" in diameter x 7" deep.

maria aparecida said:
maria aparecida's picture

Nossa, eu amei essa idéia........Muito obrigada......

Deanna said:
Deanna's picture

I liked the pillow idea so much I modified it to a pincushion.  Thanks for the inspiration!



ktvita said:
ktvita's picture

I love making pillows!!! This is awesome! Lots of new ideas... inspired to use piping and fabric button details! I had ordered JP's tunic pattern and JP fabric... I guess I'm going to use thay fabric to make this pillow! Thank you very much for the great ideas!!!

My 2013 resolution is to sort out, proritize, actually use my stash and implement at least 3 of the projects from my to-do list!!! One quilt, One handbag/may be this clutch and one skirt (yes want to start with a simpler one)! I've bookmarked so many projects and have bought many books on quilts, handbags, dress making and home decor in 2012.  

Picking one favorite designer is really hard.. I've collected fabric lines from Joel Dewberry, Ty Pennington, Jennifer Paganelli, Paula Prass, Sweetwater, Tanya Whelan and just love all other designers for their creativity!!! 

Okay, if at all I've to pick one now, I think it is Joel Dewberry.... wait a sec... I'm loving Tanya whelan/Jennifer Paganelli as well:)

DesignsbyJanet said:
DesignsbyJanet's picture

Will definitely have to make a few of these for my granddaughters birthdays in 2013. 

goonybird said:
goonybird's picture

Another great pillow tutorial!

My resolution is to sew more and finish my projects! My favorite designer is Kaffe Fassett...

JennaH said:
JennaH's picture

I always wondered how to make the pillow gathered in the middle like that. Thanks!

Dr. G said:
Dr. G's picture

My New Year's Resolution is to try out new techniques with my sewing (example crocheted trim, embroidered accents).  I love all of these designers(and have made things from each of their lines) but have I been following and have loved Anna Maria Horner from the very beginning.

Cheryl B said:
Cheryl B's picture

I love making round pillows like this but I've never added piping before. So cute!

ginamari said:
ginamari's picture

One look, and you are in "happy land" indeed! Thank you, Jennifer.

sewalittle2 said:
sewalittle2's picture

I need this pillow!! My 2013 resolution is to spend more time in my sewing room creating! All time favorite designer has to be Joel Dewberry.

Martieo said:
Martieo's picture

I have resolved to focus on more modern projects for 2013 such as those featuring Jennifer Paganelli's bold, out of the box designs featured on sew4home.  Jennifer is my favorite designer.  Her fresh, beautiful colors lend to so many projects, including this stunning cushion.  


Martieo said:
Martieo's picture

I have resolved to focus on more modern projects for 2013 such as those featuring Jennifer Paganelli's bold, out of the box designs featured on sew4home.  Jennifer is my favorite designer.  Her fresh, beautiful colors lend to so many projects, including this stunning cushion.  


ggiffinrao said:
ggiffinrao's picture

My resolution is to learn how to make clothing that does not look "home-made". My favorite designer is Valori Wells!

jovy.ann said:
jovy.ann's picture

This looks amazing!  I love how the pillow is completed with a button in the middle. 

Cassandra Ryan said:
Cassandra Ryan's picture

Alright, I think you officially awed me.  I would have never guessed that's how a gathered round pillow would be constructed.  Love this tutorial!

Madmeninge said:
Madmeninge's picture

My plans for 2013 included joining my first bee, watching and following tutorials, joining several BOMs and generally gangbusting my stash. One fugly fabric has already been glamorised, pieced quilted and donated.Then my daughter announced I am about to become a grandmother for the first time. So now I'm thinking cot quilts, wallhangings, mobiles, growth charts, and more! Fabrics? So hard! But I finally chose Star Flakes and Glitter by Tina Givens for her unique and arresting "Circus".

Pam S said:
Pam S's picture

I love all her pillow patterns. One could certainly create a happy land with all these pillows!

M5luke said:
M5luke's picture

Exactly other tutorial I needed!  Can't wait Ito make it!

corsetkitten said:
corsetkitten's picture

My 2013 sewing resolution is a 2-part resolution: 1) that I would like to become a better quilter--since I'm self taught and I'm only making miniature quilts (1:6) and I make a lot of it up as I go along and it's not always "right" and 2) that my goal for 2013 is to start  a Log Cabin quilt to use as a quilt on the couch (and for guests) in our home. It will be the first human size quilt I try to make.

You have fantastic designers and it's really quite difficult to pick just one.  If I had to though I would go with Jane A. Sassaman. Her designs seem to be so vibrant and alive! They jump out and make me want to use them! (a close second is Mark Cesarik -- his designs and colors are ace too!)

If you need to you can contact me by email (I'm registered with the site).

ssmullis said:
ssmullis's picture

This is my favorite project of the series! My 2013 sewing resolution is to actually start machine quilting my own quilt tops. My favorite designer would have to be Jennifer Paganelli. Her fabrics are so full of joy! Thanks so much for this most awesome giveaway!

Sama0930ntha said:
Sama0930ntha's picture

These look like the perfect pillows to have a bunch laying around for lounging with!

kplaposata said:
kplaposata's picture

I was pleasantly surprised at how this was constructed.  It really makes sense as a good way to make this shape of pillow.  Thanks so much.

AlphaBecky said:
AlphaBecky's picture

Love the cording on this pillow!  Thanks for illustrating so many embellishments in your tutorials.  Those touches really make the project feel so polished!

Gale W. said:
Gale W.'s picture

Thanks for this great tutorial! Love this pillow and the fabric is awesome.

elimarie said:
elimarie's picture

I really like the touch of the piping. I haven't used piping before, but this is certainly inspiring me to try.

bec.nichols said:
bec.nichols's picture

WOW!!  Great pillow design.  I'm afraid of piping, but I think I could make this pillow!

theelvengarden said:
theelvengarden's picture

I need to make a round pillow so I will definitely be using this tutorial! 

Savannagal said:
Savannagal's picture

Super cute. Would be great for yoga, but I'd need to leave the button off.

squigglytwigsdesigns said:
squigglytwigsdesigns's picture

Lovely pillow.  Happy Land is so pretty!

Momma tam said:
Momma tam's picture

I agree w/Rachel, MUST MAKE THIS!  The challenge is, which JP fabric should I use?  I suppose I need to make several, this is cute.

sarahkate said:
sarahkate's picture

I have never done a round pillow and I really didn't have a clue how to do one. This is such a great tutorial!

KnittyWhit said:
KnittyWhit's picture

Clever! Thanks for showing us a pillow that isn't a square/rectangle. I've done triangle pillows, but never round.

Fawn B. said:
Fawn B.'s picture

I feel like I could make this pillow.  I'm a recent fan of homemade piping too so I can see this being really popular at our house!

Heather81203 said:
Heather81203's picture

Oh man! I love pillows! I've never tried piping before and I need to learn! It really makes the pillows pop! Along with the gorgeous fabric!

JoyceLM said:
JoyceLM's picture

Great pillow tutorial.  Your detailed photos & instructions make this doable.  Thanks.

GypsyThread said:
GypsyThread's picture

Love the piping. And your assembly instructions are fantastic. I know a few beginners that I'm sharing this tutorial with for certain!

Carrie P. said:
Carrie P.'s picture

wow! great tutorial. I think I could make that pillow

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