After the whirlwind of Christmas decorating, it can be hard to muster enthusiasm for Valentine's Day. But a pretty little pillow is a fast and easy way to add a touch of romance. Today's banded bow pillow blends petite florals and sweet stripes. The muted pastels are a softly nostalgic combination that would make a beautiful bedroom accent. We add a light interfacing to the bow, which allows you to sculpt it into the shape you like best: flat against the band or puffed into traditional loops.
Today's pillow was originally made in fabrics from Verna Mosquera's Pirouette collection for FreeSpirit Fabrics, an older collection that can be hard to find. The newer Vintage collection by Annette Tatum for FreeSpirit Fabrics has similar sweet florals, charming wallpaper stripes and soothing pastels.
Tanya Whelan's latest Sunshine Rose collection for FreeSpirit Fabrics is another great choice with a lovely variety of soft florals, ticking stripes and damask.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8200 QC)
Fabric and Other Supplies
- ¾ yard of 44-45" wide fabric for the pillow body: we used Subtle Blooms in Flamingo from Verna Mosquera's Pirouette collection for FreeSpirit Fabrics
NOTE: ¾ of a yard is just enough depth for all the cuts. If you want to fussy cut your panels or worry about your cutting precision, get a full yard.
- ¾ yard of 44-45" wide fabric for the accent bow: we used Vintage Ticking in Flamingo from Verna Mosquera's Pirouette collection for FreeSpirit Fabrics
NOTE: Again, ¾ of a yard is just enough. If you want to fussy cut your panels, are using a highly directional print (such as our stripe) or worry about your cutting precision, get a full yard.
- 1 yard of lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Shir-Tailor® by Pellon
- TWO 1-1½" buttons; we used vintage-look 1" buttons purchased locally
- ONE 12" x 20" pillow from; we used a feather/down pillow from Fabric.com
- All purpose thread to match fabrics
- See-through ruler
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Straight pins
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Hand sewing needle
- From the fabric for the body of each pillow (Subtle Blooms in Flamingo in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 13" high x 22" wide rectangle for the front panel
ONE 13 high x 16" wide rectangle for one back panel
ONE 13" x 13" square for the second back panel
- From the fabric for the flange accent and bow (Vintage Ticking in Flamingo in our sample), fussy cut the following:
ONE 23" long x 11" high strip for the bow
ONE 22" long x 11 high strip for the front ribbon strip
ONE 16" long x 11" high strip for one back panel strip
ONE 13" long x 11" high strip for the second back panel strip
ONE 4" x 5" rectangle for the center faux knot
NOTE: All our bow pieces were carefully fussy cut to center the stripes in the same position from piece to piece. If you are new to this technique, see our fussy cutting tutorial.
- From the fusible interfacing, cut the following:
ONE 23" x 5" strip
ONE 22" x 5" strip
ONE 16" x 5" strip
ONE 13" x 5" strip
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Match up each of the fabric bow strips with its corresponding interfacing strip (the lengths are the corresponding dimension).
- Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of each fabric strip. The interfacing strip should align with the fabric on each end and be centered within the width of the strip - 3" from the top and 3" from the bottom.
Create the bow loops and ribbon strips
- Find the 23" x 11" fused strip. Fold it in half lengthwise, right sides together so it is now 23" x 5½". Pin in place.
- Using ½" seam allowance, stitch together, creating a tube.
- Turn the tube right side out. Roll the seam to the center back and press the tube flat.
- Fold the sewn tube in half, right sides together (meaning the seam is to the outside), aligning the raw ends. Pin in place.
- Using ¼" seam allowance, stitch across the ends. Your tube is now a loop.
- Turn the loop right side out so the seam in on the inside as are the raw edges of the ends.
- Repeat these same steps with the 4" x 5" faux knot piece. It's exactly the same, just much smaller.
- Find the 22" x 11", 16" x 11" and 13" x 11" fused strips.
- Follow the same beginning steps as above to create a pressed tube with the seam running along the center back. But do not sew these tubes into loops. These three tubes remain flat; they will become the ribbon strips.
- Find the 13" x 22" front pillow panel. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place the 22" ribbon strip across the center of the panel. It should be 4" from the top and 4" from the bottom, and the ends of the strip should be flush with the sides of the panel.
- First pin the strip in place along its centerline.
- Then pin the strip in place along both ends. Machine baste the strip in place along the left edge of the panel only, staying within the ½" seam allowance.
- Find the bow loop. Flatten the bow so the front of the bow loop is clean and the seam is centered at the back. Align this centered back seam with the centerline of the ribbon strip. Pin through all the layers.
- Find the faux knot.
- Un-pin the RIGHT end of the strip (this is why you only basted the left end in place).
- Accordion fold the right strip and the right side of the bow loop so they will fit through the faux knot loop.
- Slip the bow and strip through the loop.
- Adjust the knot and the bow until the knot is perfectly centered and the two ends of the body form the wing shapes of a traditional bow.
- Re-pin the right end of the ribbon strip, making sure the strip lays completely flat across the front panel. Machine baste the right end in place as you did with the left end.
- Hand stitch the knot in place from the back side with a few large stitches. This is to insure the loop will not slide out of position.
- Find the two back panels (13" x 16" and 13" x 13") and the two remaining flattened ribbon strips.
- Lay the two back panels right side up and flat on your work surface. Using the same method as you did above with the front panel, place the 16" ribbon strip across the center of the 16" panel and the 13" strip across the center of the 13" panel. Each strip should be 4" from the top and 4" from the bottom, and the ends of each strip should be flush with the sides of each panel.
- Take the extra time to make sure the motifs of the ribbon strips are an exact match when placed sided by side. When the pillow is completed and the back panels overlap and button closed, you want the motif to look continuous - one continuous set of stripes in our sample. If they do not match perfectly, you can adjust one or both by rolling the back seam one way or the other, then re-pressing from the front. Pin the strips on both ends, making sure the strips lay perfectly flat against the panels.
- Staying within the seam allowance, machine baste both ends of both ribbon strips to secure them in place during the remainder of the construction.
- On the 13" x 16" piece, make a 1½" double fold hem along the 13" inside edge. To do this, fold back the edge 3" and press to form a crease.
- Unfold the piece wrong side up so the crease line is visible. Fold in the raw edge so it aligns with the center crease and press. Then re-fold along the original crease and press again.
- Topstitch in place 1" from the folded edge.
- Following the manual for your machine, create two vertical buttonholes within this hemmed edge. Each buttonhole is approximately 1" from the top/bottom of the ribbon strip, and there is approximately 1" between the button holes.
- When you cut the buttonholes open, cut in a little from each edge towards the center. This is better than trying to cut them open with one action, which often leads to cutting into the buttonhole stitching.
- On the remaining back panel, follow the same steps as above to make a ¾" double turn hem along the inside 16" edge, but do not make any buttonholes.
- Find both finished panels. With both facing right side up, overlap the panels and adjust them to yield the correct finished width and height (to match your front 13" x 22" panel). The buttonholes should be on top; the narrow hem on the bottom.
- Pin the two panels together.
- Working as close to the raw edges as possible, tack the overlap together to secure and create one piece. It will be easier to work with one piece instead of two later when you stitch front to back.
- Place a pin at the exact center point of each buttonhole. Make a mark on the opposite panel at this pin point. These points are where you should sew on the buttons.
Assembling the layers to finish
- Find your front panel with the bow stitched in place and your back panel with the two pieces tacked together to act as one.
- Make sure the back panel is unbuttoned.
- Place the finished front panel on your work surface right side facing up.
- Place your finish back/button panel on top, right side facing down. The ribbon strips and bows are sandwiched between the layers.
- Carefully align all the raw edges and pin in place.
- Stitch together through all layers around all four sides, using a ½" seam allowance. Go slowly and make sure your layers stay flat. Pivot at all the corners.
- Clip all the corners at a diagonal, but be careful to not cut into your seam.
- Turn the pillow cover right side out through the back button opening. Use a long, blunt-end tool, such as a knitting needle or chopstick to smooth out the corners.
- Insert your pillow form through the button opening and fluff it out into the corners.
- Button the pillow closed.
- The bow on the front can lay flat or can be shaped open. We liked it open.
The coordinating projects shown above were also originally created with the Pirouette collection:
Woven Braid Patchwork Pillow
Pinwheel & Pom Pom Pillow
Quilted Sugar & Spice Throw
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild