It’s the classic special touch: adding a little something on top. For instance, pie is great. Pie with whipped cream is awesome. A beautiful blend of fabrics in a simple patchwork pattern is always good. Overlaying that patchwork with a touch of embroidery can be great. It’s a simple way to make a stunning statement.
We chose four prints, originally from the Indelible collection by Art Gallery Fabrics, then incorporated one coordinating solid to bring it all together.
The patchwork itself is super simple – just a modified nine-patch but with eight blocks rather than the traditional nine.
The back features an easy envelope opening. We added a binding strip accent in the coordinating solid to the overlap panel.
The icing on the cake is the dramatic embroidery. It stretches across five of the patchwork blocks. By selecting a large, open design, then stitching it out in just one color, you add texture, dimension and flair without distracting from the background beauty of the fabrics. You’ll also notice the embroidery is slightly offset; this heightens the juxtaposition and creates a more interesting look than placing it exactly in the center.
We used the amazing Janome Horizon Memory Craft 15000 for both the sewing and embroidery on this project. The machine’s built-in design library is fantastic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also browse for even more options. This pillow’s design came from an embroidery website, which was no problem at all thanks to how easy the MC15000 makes it to bring in and work designs from all types of sources.
As we’ve mentioned, the patchworking is elementary, but if you are brand new to any type of quilting work, check out our five-part series on the basics.
The pillow finishes at 16″ x 16″.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot – an embroidery machine to add embroidery
NOTE: The amazing Janome 15000 sewing and embroider machine comes with a great compliment of standard and optional presser feet, including several feet for the built-in AcuFeed™ Flex Layered Fabric Feeding System. We used the standard AcuFeed™ foot as well as the optional AcuFeed™ Ditch Quilting foot for our stitching and quilting. If you have a different system, consider having these feet on hand:
- Quarter Inch Seam foot
- Ditch Quilting foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot
Fabric and Other Supplies
- This patchwork design uses four coordinated prints plus one solid. We originally chose four prints from the Indelible collection by Art Gallery Fabrics plus a Kona Cotton solid. The illustration below shows reference letters to key the cuts to our chosen fabric blend. The amounts listed below allow extra for a nice fussy cut.
Fabric A (front and back): ½ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight fabric
Fabric B (front and back): ½ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight fabric
Fabric C (front): ⅓ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight fabric
Fabric D (front): ⅓ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight fabric
Fabric E (front and back solid): ½ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight fabric
- ½ yard of low loft, lightweight batting
- ONE 16″ x 16″ pillow form
- 40wt embroidery thread; we used white
- Bobbin thread
- Tearaway stabilizer, as recommended for your machine – we used two layers cut to fit our 9.1″ x 11.8″ MC15000 GR Hoop
- All-purpose thread to match fabric
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors and/or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Safety pins for pin basting
- Remove all the selvedges and square up the fabric.
- From Fabric A (Floret Stains in Tealberry in our sample), fussy cut the following:
ONE 13″ wide x 16½” high rectangle for the pillow back
ONE 8½” wide x 6½” high rectangle for the front patchwork
- From Fabric B (Doiland Gloss in Plum in our sample), fussy cut the following:
ONE 11″ wide x 16½” high rectangle for the pillow back
ONE 6½” wide x 7½” high rectangle for the front patchwork
- From Fabric C (Stylus Text in Lagoon in our sample), fussy cut the following:
ONE 6½” x 6½” square for the front patchwork
ONE 8½” wide x 3½” high rectangle for the front patchwork
- From Fabric D (Threaded Shreds in Dim in our sample), cut ONE 8½” wide x 7½” high square for the front patchwork.
- From Fabric E (Solid Green in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 17″ x 17″ square for the patchwork backing
ONE 1½” x 16½” strip for the back envelope binding
ONE 2½” wide x 6½” high rectangle for the front patchwork
ONE 2½” wide x 7½” high rectangle for the front patchwork
ONE 8½” wide x 3½” high rectangle for the front patchwork
NOTE: If you use any directional prints, as we did, remember to pay attention to its positioning within the patchwork to insure you cut the width and height dimensions correctly.
- From the batting, cut ONE 17″ x 17″ square.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Create the pillow front patchwork
- Using our drawings as a guide, lay out your cut pieces in order so you can keep track of each of the three rows.
- Working from left to right, and starting with the top row, pin the first two pieces right sides together along their inside 6½” edges.
- Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch together. We used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot.
- Place the third piece in the top row, right sides together with the sewn panel, again aligning the inside 6½” edges.
- Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch together.
- Press the seam allowances together and to the left.
- Repeat to create the second and third rows. Press the seam allowances of the second row to the right. Press the seam allowances of the third row to the left. Alternating the pressing in this manner allows the seams to “nest together” when assembling top to bottom. For more about this and other Quilting Basics, take a look at our five-part Quilting Basics Series.
- Place the first and second completed rows right sides together. Carefully align all the seams. Pin in place and stitch together with a ¼” seam allowance.
- Stitch the third and final row in place in the same manner. Press the seam allowances together and down towards the bottom of the pillow top.
Quilt the pillow top
- Find the 17″ x 17″ squares of patchwork backing and batting.
- Place the patchwork backing wrong side up and flat on your work surface. Place the batting on top of the backing, aligning all four sides. Finally, place the patchwork panel on top, right side up, centering it top to bottom and side to side. This creates a “quilt sandwich.”
- Using the safety pins, pin-baste across the patchwork through all the layers.
- If possible, switch from the Quarter Inch Seam foot to a Walking foot or Ditch Quilting foot. As mentioned above, we used our AcuFeed Foot, which combines both functions.
- Quilt through all the layers, running your seams in the “ditch” of each existing seam (directly on top of the existing seam).
- When all the ditch quilting is complete, baste around the entire perimeter of the pillow top, staying within the ¼” seam allowance (eg. staying very close to the raw edge of the patchwork panel). We switched back to our standard AcuFeed foot.
- Following the instructions for your machine, set up for embroidery. Thread the machine with 40wt embroidery thread in the top and bobbin thread in the bobbin.
- Select your design. For this patchwork pillow, you want an embroidery design that is not too dense or busy. If multi-colored, you will want to stitch in a single color. We used white, which contrasted nicely against the dark fabrics. The design should also be taller than it is wide. Our design stitched out at 10.51″ x 6.85″.
- The Janome Horizon Memory Craft 15000 has a wonderful selection of built-in designs, but just as cool is how easy it is to bring in and stitch out designs from outside sources. We found our design at EmbroideryDesigns.com.
- Position the design’s template to match the drawing above. It should appear to “climb up” from the bottom left corner. Our crosshair was 4¾” in from the left raw edge of the patchwork panel and 6½” up from the bottom raw edge of the patchwork panel. Mark the position of the crosshair with a pin.
- Hoop TWO layers of tear away stabilizer. Place the hoop on the machine.
- Position the patchwork panel over the hoop. The pin marking the crosshair’s center point should be directly under the needle. Make sure the patchwork panel is parallel to the sides of the hoop.
- If possible, use your machine’s “Baste” or “Fix” function to baste the patchwork panel to the stabilizer. The Janome MC15000 has an option for a double basting line. This is perfect for quilted layers.
- Start the embroidery.
- When the embroidery is complete, remove the hoop from the machine, then remove the fabric from the hoop. Take out the basting threads and, from the wrong side, remove the stabilizer one layer at a time.
- Place the patchwork panel on your cutting mat and trim away the excess batting and backing.
- Re-thread the machine with all-purpose thread to match the fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Find the two back panels and the back binding strip.
- Select the narrower 11″ x 16½” panel. Create a hem along the left 16½” raw edge.
NOTE: If your fabric is directional, you’ll have a distinct left and right. If not, simply select on 16½” edge to become the overlap edge. Our overlap fabric was directional; we placed a pin along the left edge to keep track.
- Fold back the raw edge ¼” and press.
- Fold back an additional 2½” and press again to create the hem.
- Edgestitch the hem in place close to the fold.
- Select the wider 13″ x 16½” panel. Create a narrow hem along the right 16½” raw edge.
- Fold back the raw edge ¼” and press.
- Fold back an additional ½” and press again to create the narrow hem.
- Edgestitch the hem in place.
- Find the binding strip. Press in each long edge ¼”.
- Press the strip in half, aligning the folded edges, to create the binding.
- Slip the binding over the folded edge of the left overlap panel.
- Pin in place, then edgestitch in place. Go slowly and take care to insure you catch both the front and back of the binding. Switch the thread to best match the binding strip fabric if necessary.
Layer and stitch to finish
- Place the complete pillow top right side up on your work surface.
- Place the bound overlap panel right side down on the left hand side. Place the underlap panel right side down on the right hand side.
- Adjust the panels until the width equals 16½”. Lightly pin in place along the top and bottom to hold the two back panels together.
- Across the very top and the very bottom, make a small seam just across the overlap. Stitch as close to the raw edges as possible. These short seams simply anchor the two pieces together, allowing you to work with the back as one piece rather than two when finishing the front-to-back seam.
- Place the front and back panels right sides together again, aligning all four sides. Pin in place.
- Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch around all four sides, carefully pivoting at each corner.
- Trim the corners at a diagonal.
- Carefully turn the pillow cover right side out through the back envelope opening.
- Using a long, blunt-end tool, such as a knitting needle or chopstick, gently push out the corners.
- Press the cover flat from the front and the back.
- Insert your pillow form through the opening and fluff it out into the corners.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler