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$300 to $500 and up! That’s the price range we found for similar pillows to this one at the fancy home décor companies in-store and online. And, we don’t mind sayin’… we think ours is actually nicer and more interesting than many of the ones we saw for sale. This project is a great lesson in how to blend trims and fabric to achieve a designer look.

The drama of the pillow depends on a strong motif isolated with precise fussy cutting to be the feature on one side of the pillow. The opposite side is created from, believe it or not, strips of soft jute webbing. The final touch: rich tasseled fringe. Eat your heart out Horchow!

Our goal is to show you how to look at combinations from a new angle, how to mix textures, how to look for unexpected pairings, how to think out of the box.

We started our design with the jute webbing, which we felt was a very unusual material that deserved a more inspired life than simply as a supportive weave for upholstery. By butting the strips, then seaming them together with a wide decorative stitch, we ended up with a wonderfully textured, surprisingly soft panel.

The original fabric was a Jay Yang Tabriz Linen Blend in Floral Red. You definitely want a decorator weight fabric like this with a large, striking motif. Although this specific fabric may no longer be readily available, you can browse the home décor sections of your favorite in-store or online fabric retailer to find an endless supply of new options. Remember to pay attention to the “repeat” dimensions given. The “repeat” is how far it is until the design repeats itself. You need this information to make sure your focal motif will fit within the finished dimension of your pillow. Ours finishes at 24″ x 24.”

Finally, the Russian Tassel Trim is just the right luxe finish to put this design into the “looks-like-a-$300-to-$500-designer-pillow” category. It’s big, bold and gorgeous from either side.

Sewing Tools You Need

  • Sewing machine and standard presser foot
  • Satin Stitch foot; optional but helpful for betting together the jute

Fabric and Other Supplies

Click to Enlarge

  • 5 yards of 3½” Jute Webbing or similar; you could use narrower webbing – you would simply need to butt together more strips than shown here
  • 3 yards of 3¼” Russian Tassel Trim or similar
  • 1 yard of 45-54″ wide decorator weight fabric: we originally used 54″ Jay Yang Tabriz Linen Blend in Floral Red
    NOTE: The actual cut is 24½” x 24½”, but by getting a full yard, we could be sure our motif could be beautifully fussy cut and centered.
  • One 24″x 24″ pillow insert
  • All-purpose sewing thread to match jute and fabric
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • See-through ruler
  • Tape measure
  • Fabric pencil or pen
  • Straight pins
  • Seam gauge
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Iron and ironing board

Getting Started

  1. Cut the jute webbing into SEVEN 24½” strips
  2. From the decorator fabric, carefully fussy cut ONE 24½” x 24½” square.
    NOTE: As we mentioned above, the fussy cutting of the fabric square for dramatic effect really makes this pillow pop. With such a large cut, you might want to actually cut a see-through paper pattern at full size in order to insure your design is center top to bottom and side to side. We not only wanted our center point design to be a focus, we also wanted each corner to have a carefully placed motif. Again, a paper pattern is a great assist, as is the practice of placing pins at the exact center points of the design on all sides.
    Click to Enlarge
  3. Leave the tassel trim as one continuous length for now.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Create the continuous jute panel

  1. Lay out the seven strips of jute webbing on a flat surface. The webbing strips should be aligned with one another – one edge butting against the next not overlapping.
    Click to Enlarge
  2. Pin the first two pieces together.
    Click to Enlarge
  3. Thread your sewing machine with thread to match the jute in both the top and bobbin. Choose a zig zag or decorative stitch with a wide left-right swing. Set the stitch to its maximum width.
  4. Stitch the two pieces together from top to bottom.
    Click to Enlarge
    NOTE: We used our Janome Satin Stitch foot because it has a wonderful bright red arrow in the exact center that can be used a guide line to keep the two edges of the jute perfectly straight. 
  5. Pin the next jute strip to the stitched pair and stitch in place. Repeat in this same manner until all seven strips are sewn together.
    Click to Enlarge
  6. Zig zag across the raw ends ends on both sides to keep the jute from fraying.
    Click to Enlarge

Attach tassel trim to fabric square

  1. Finish all four raw edges of the fabric square with a sewing machine or serger.
    NOTE: If new to machine sewn seam finishes, check out our series on some of the most popular options. 
  2. With the right side of the fabric facing up, pin the tassel trim around all four sides. The solid edge of the tassel’s trim should be against the raw edges of the fabric and the tassels should be hanging towards the middle of the fabric square.
  3. Use your seam gauge to determine where your final ½” seam will fall. You want to pin the tassel trim in place so the tassels themselves as well as the looped fringe from which they fall, are visible after the seam is sewn. This might mean, as it did on our sample, that the trim extends beyond the raw edge of the fabric a bit.
    Click to Enlarge
  4. Curve the trim around the corner. Try to center one tassel at the point of each corner
    Click to Enlarge
  5. Machine baste the tassel trim in place around the entire perimeter edge of pillow top.

Starting and finishing the trim

  1. To start the trim, angle one end down and off the fabric’s raw edge. Pin in place.
    NOTE: Okay. We admit we forgot to photograph these steps during the actual sample constructions. So, yes, eagle eye S4H fans, the trim and fabric you see below are different than our sample. You’ll have to squint and ignore that… the steps are the same.
    Click to Enlarge
  2. Continue around the pillow. When you get to the end, lap the end over the head of the trim, running it down and off the edge as you did at the beginning.
    Click to Enlarge
  3. Pin in place and cut away any excess trim so the tails are flush with the edge of the fabric.

Finish the pillow

  1. Place the fabric square, with the tassel trim basted in place, right side up on your work surface. Brush all the tassels in place so they are hanging in towards the center of the square.
  2. Place the jute panel on top of the fabric square, sandwiching the tassels in between. Pin the two panels together through all the layers.
  3. Leave an approximate 8 – 10″ opening along one side for the pillow insert.
  4. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around the entire pillow, starting and stopping at either side of the 8 – 10″ opening. Remember to lock your stitch at either side of the opening, and remember to curve around the corners; do not try to make a sharp point.
    Click to Enlarge
  5. Trim each corner diagonally. After trimming, run a zig zag stitch across both the jute and the trim at each corner to prevent fraying.
    Click to Enlarge
  6. Along the opening, stitch the trim in place against the fabric, staying right along the ½” stitch line. This is so when you close the opening with your hand stitching, it will be perfectly lined up with the rest of the pillow.
    Click to Enlarge
  7. Turn the completed pillow right side out. You can pull out each corner by lightly tugging on the tassel at each corner.
    Click to Enlarge
  8. Gently insert the pillow form through the 8 – 10″ opening.
  9. At the opening, fold down the jute panel ½” so it is flush with the sewn seam. Pin the opening layers together.
    Click to Enlarge
  10. Stitch closed by hand.
    Click to Enlarge


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

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