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Do you have a little bit of time you’re wondering what to do with? Are you staring at a sofa or chair that needs a springtime makeover? Have you been dying to pass on the petite prints and go bold and bright? Check. Check. Check. From buying the fabric to plopping the pillow into place, this fast and easy project is a perfect way to create Décor in a Day.

Our pillow finishes at 20” x 20”, excluding the pom pom trim. That’s a perfect size for displaying your fussy cutting skills and showcasing a striking motif from one of the many home décor fabrics available in-store and online. Since these fabric collections are usually designed for large format projects, such as curtains and upholstery, their motifs are larger and brighter than what you’d traditionally find from a quilting cotton collection.

Normally 54” and wider, you can often cut more than one set of pillow panels from your yardage. It depends on the randomness of the design, the repeat, and whether or not the print is directional. One thing people often forget when creating pillows is that they are normally viewed at a distance in a large room. When you’re looking at a fabric just a foot or so from your face, remember to step back for a minute and visualize it in a much bigger environment. Don’t be afraid to let your motif be large and in charge. For more information about mixing, matching, and designing with prints, take a look at our article: Top 10 Designer Tips for Blending Colors and Prints.

We used a tapering technique on this pillow, which helps prevent crumpled corners. The steps are summarized below and there’s a link to our full tutorial on the subject. We love sharing the little tips that make a project go more smoothly and look better when complete.

This project is a pillow cover, which means it can be removed to launder… or to be stored from season to season. When making pillows, investing in quality inserts can often be more expensive than the fabric and trim! We like to create covers whenever possible, then you can use the insert over and over – just replace the exterior with a new look whenever you’re ready for a Décor in a Day update.

Our cover is secured along the back with a row of four button loops over faux wood 1” buttons. Pretty and practical.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • ¾ – 1 yard of 54″+ wide home décor fabric with a large, bold motif; we used Color Study from the HGTV Home Multi-Purpose Décor Fabric collection in Harvest
    NOTE: The exact yardage will depend on the size of your fabric’s motif and whether or not the motif is directional. Review the cuts in the Getting Started section below to help determine how much yardage you may need based on your chosen fabric. We used a full yard to get all our precise fussy cuts.
  • 2½ yards of standard pom pom trim in a coordinating accent color; we used ¾” poms in olive, purchased locally 
  • 2 yards of 20”+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Shape-Flex
  • FOUR 1” buttons; we used faux wood buttons, purchased locally
  • ONE 20″ x 20″ pillow insert
  • All-purpose thread to match fabrics and buttons
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Rotary cutter and mat
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

  1. From the main fabric, fussy cut the following:
    ONE 21″ x 21″ square for the front panel
    ONE 11” wide x 21” high rectangle for the left back panel
    ONE 2” wide x 21” high strip for the left back panel facing
    ONE 14” wide x 21” high rectangle for the right back panel
    ONE 1” x 16” strip for the button loops – this will be cut into four segments later
  2. Cut the pom trim into FOUR 21” lengths. Take the time to fussy cut each length, making sure each of the lengths has the same number of poms. On ours, each side had 18 poms.
  3. From the lightweight fusible interfacing, cut the following.
    ONE 20” x 20” panel for the front panel
    ONE 10” x 20” panel for the left back panel
    ONE 1” x 20” high strip for the left back panel facing
    ONE 13”  x 20” rectangle for the right back panel
    ONE 1” x 16” strip for the button loops

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Interface the exterior panels and taper the corners

  1. Center an interfacing panel on the wrong side of each exterior fabric panel (front and both back panels, but not the button loop strip). On each layered panel, there should be ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
  2. Find the interfaced front panel.
  3. Mark ½” in from each corner along one side.
  4. Divide this side into thirds. Place a mark at each third. In our sample, this meant we had marks at 7″ and 14″ along the raw side edge.
  5. Rotate the front panel 90° and mark the second side. Repeat for the remaining two sides until you have two dividing marks along each side and a ½” box at each order.
  6. Using a ruler and a fabric marking pen, connect your marks at each corner, forming a sloping “X”. You are drawing a line from the nearest side dividing mark into the corner mark.
  7. This changes the angle of the corner from 90° to an obtuse angle.
  8. Trim along the drawn lines.
  9. Repeat at each corner of the front panel.
    NOTE: This is a technique we use on many of our pillows to create crisper corners. If you are brand new to this option, we have a full, step-by-step tutorial you can review prior to starting.

Pom pom trim

  1. Find the four lengths of pom pom trim.
  2. Center one length of trim along one side of the front panel, on the right side. The trim’s insertion tape is flush with the raw edge of the fabric and the poms are facing the center of the panel. Once pinned in place, if need be, trim away a pom at each end so you have a clean corner for the ½” seam allowance.
  3. Machine baste the trim in place along this first side.
    NOTE:  We used a wide zig zag to baste on our trim. You could certainly use a standard straight basting stitch as well. Our fabric was prone to raveling and so the zig zag acted not only to secure the trim but also to finish the edge of the fabric.
  4. Repeat to add the next length to the next side of the panel. Remember to center the trim first and then trim away a pom if necessary to allow a clean path for your ½” seam allowance that will eventually adhere the front to the back panels.
  5. Repeat to add the remaining two lengths to the remaining two sides of the front panel.
  6. Set aside the front panel.

Button loops

  1. Find the 1” x 16” button loop strip and the matching 1” x 16” length of interfacing.
  2. Place the interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric. All edges of both layers should be flush. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
  3. Fold the strip in half, wrong sides together, and press to set a center crease the length of the strip.
  4. Unfold wrong side up so the crease line is visible. Fold in each long raw edge so they meet in the middle. Press well.
  5. Fold in half again along the original crease line.
  6. Make sure the machine is threaded with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
  7. Edgestitch the length of the strip along the double folded side. The ends of the strip remain raw.
  8. Cut the sewn length into FOUR 4” pieces.

Assemble the back panels

  1. Find the 2” x 21” Left Back Facing strip.
  2. Along one 21” side, fold back the raw edge ½” and press well.
  3. Find the main 11” x 21” Left Back Panel.
  4. Along the inner 21” edge, measure and mark for the position of the four button loops: 4” up from bottom, 4” down from top, 8½” up from bottom, 8½” down from top. In other words, evenly spaced along the 21” height of the panel.
  5. Fold each 4” button strip into a loop. The stitched edge should be at the inside of the loop. Pin a loop at each mark. The raw ends of the loop should be flat and flush with the raw inner edge of the Left Back Panel.

    NOTE: We simply pinned our loops in place. You could machine baste each loop in place for added security.
  6. Find the Left Back Facing, which should have one 21” edge folded back and pressed. Layer the facing right sides together with the inner edge of the Left Back Panel, sandwiching the button loops between the layers. Pin the facing in place through all the layers.
  7. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
  8. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the facing to the panel.
  9. Open up the facing away from the panel, revealing the button loops. Press flat, pressing the seam allowance toward the facing.
  10. Bring the facing all the way around to the back of the panel so the inner edge of the panel is the straight seam line and the button loops are extending out and away from the panel. Press well again and pin in place.
  11. Slightly lengthen the stitch and topstitch the facing in place.
  12. Find the 13” x 21” Right Back Panel. Make a simple hem along the inner 21” raw edge. To do this, fold back the raw edge ½” and press well. Fold back an additional ½” and press again. With the same lengthened stitch, topstitch in place close to the inner fold.
  13. Lay down the Right Back Panel on your work surface so it is flat and right side up. Place the Left Back Panel, also right side up, on top of the Right. Adjust the two layered panels until they measure 21” in width. Pin together at the overlap along both the top and bottom.
  14. Mark for each button placement.
  15. You need a centered mark within the end of each button loop.
  16. Remove the pins holding the overlap in place so the panel is free and hand sew a button in place at each mark along the Right Back Panel.
  17. Slip a loop over each button. Re-overlap the panels so the width is again 21” and re-pin together the overlap top and bottom.
  18. Machine baste across the overlap, within the ½” seam allowance, top and bottom.

Layer and stitch to finish

  1. Place the completed back panel right side up and flat on your work surface. Unbutton the two center button loops.
  2. Find the completed front panel. Place it right side down on top of the back panel so the two layers are now right sides together.
  3. The raw side edges of the layers should be flush, however, the back panel corners will not match up to the nicely tapered front panel corners.
  4. Trim the back panel corners to match the front. Pin in place all around.
  5. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around all four sides through all the layers, pivoting at the corners.
  6. Trim the corners to remove bulk.
  7. Turn the pillow cover right side out through the unbuttoned center loops.
  8. Unbutton the back panels completely. Gently push out the trimmed corners from the inside to make nice, square corners on the outside. A long, blunt tool is best for this, such as a large knitting needle, chopstick or point turner.
  9. Press flat.
  10. Insert the pillow form through the back opening. Fluff out the form into the corners and re-button to finish.


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

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