Mix and match! That’s what these big, fun pillows are all about. One fabric on the front, another on the back, a third for the ruffles and ties. Put them all together for a cornucopia of color. We’ve blended some great greens, oranges and browns to create an updated take on the late ’60s – early ’70s mod palette. With a cute bow closure on the back, this set of 18″, 20″ and 24″ pillows looks great from either side. Plop them against a plain sofa and watch the room go from boring to beautiful in the blink of an eye.
Our thanks to our pals at Michael Miller Fabrics for providing us with what has become one of our favorite fabric collections. It’s called Pretty Bird from Pillow & Maxfield. There are three wonderfully vibrant Baby Shower projects from the Aqua colorway with its incredible hot pinks, limes and bright blues. This time, we are getting ready for fall and selected our prints from the Spice colorway.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Memory Craft 5200)
- Janome Ultimate automatic ruffler attachment, optional, but OH BOY, will it save you time! Check out our tutorial on this accessory.
Fabric and Other Supplies
For the 24″ x 24″ pillow:
- ¾ yard of 44-45″ wide fabric for the pillow front: we used Pillow & Maxfield Pretty Bird from Michael Miller Fabrics in Brown Pretty Bird
- ¾ yard of 44-45″ wide fabric for the pillow back: we used Pillow & Maxfield Pretty Bird from Michael Miller Fabrics in Orange Dancing Flowers
- 1 yard of 44-45″ wide fabric for the blanket ruffle: we used Pillow & Maxfield Pretty Bird from Michael Miller Fabrics in Orange Bloomies
For the 20″ x 20″ pillow:
- ¾ yard of 44-45″ wide fabric for the pillow front: we used Pillow & Maxfield Pretty Bird from Michael Miller Fabrics in Spice Dancing Flowers
- ¾ yard of 44-45″ wide fabric for the pillow back: we used Pillow & Maxfield Pretty Bird from Michael Miller Fabrics in Spice Meandering Vines
- 1 yard of 44-45″ wide fabric for the blanket ruffle: we used Pillow & Maxfield Pretty Bird from Michael Miller Fabrics in Orange Meandering Vines
For the 18″ x 18″ pillow:
NOTE: ½ of a yard is exactly 18″ so you need to be super careful with your cutting; get ¾ yard if you want some extra room to play with. You can always use the leftover pretty fabric for another project.
- ½ yard of 44-45″ wide fabric for the pillow front: we used Pillow & Maxfield Pretty Bird from Michael Miller Fabrics in Green Twirling Tendrils
- ½ yard of 44-45″ wide fabric for the pillow back: we used Pillow & Maxfield Pretty Bird from Michael Miller Fabrics in Orange Ground Cover
- ¾ yard of 44-45″ wide fabric for the blanket ruffle: we used Pillow & Maxfield Pretty Bird from Michael Miller Fabrics in Spice Garden Stripe
For any/all pillows:
- Pillow insert(s) to MATCH each size you make (24″ x 24″, 20″ x 20″ and/or 18″ x 18″)
- All-purpose sewing thread in colors to match fabrics
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- See-through ruler
- Tape measure
- Fabric pencil or pen
- Straight pins
- Iron and ironing board
From the front fabric(s):
NOTE: We want out pillows extra plump, and so are cutting them the same size as the pillow form rather than the traditional 1″ larger all around.
- For the 24″ x 24″ pillow, fussy cut ONE 24″ x 24″ square.
- For the 20″ x 20″ pillow, fussy cut ONE 20″ x 20″ square.
- For the 18″ x 18″ pillow, fussy cut ONE 18″ x 18″ square.
From the back fabric(s):
- For the 24″ x 24″ pillow, fussy cut TWO 24″ x 16″ rectangles.
NOTE: For these pillows, it looks best if the envelope opening in the back goes vertically. So, fussy cut to create a 24″ high x 16″ wide rectangle.
- For the 20″ x 20″ pillow, fussy cut TWO 20″ x 14″ rectangles.
- For the 18″ x 18″ pillow, fussy cut TWO 18″ x 13″ rectangles.
From the ruffle/tie fabric(s):
NOTE: We used the rule of thumb that says your ruffle needs to be approximately 2½ times the length of the edge to which you’re applying the ruffle. If you are new to this technique, you can check out our tutorial: Gathering & Ruffles Made Easy .
- For the 24″ x 24″ pillow, cut SIX 6″ x WOF (width of fabric) strips (trim off the selvedges) and ONE 2½” x 36″ strip.
- For the 20″ x 20″ pillow, cut FIVE 6″ x WOF strips (trim off the selvedges) and ONE 2½” x 36″ strip.
- For the 18″ x 18″ pillow, cut FOUR 6″ x WOF strips (trim off the selvedges) and ONE 2½” x 36″ strip.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Sew all the 6″ strips together end to end. To do this, place two strips right sides together and stitch along the 6″ edge, using a ¼” seam allowance. Repeat to create one long strip. Press all seams open
- Fold and press this long ruffle piece in half lengthwise wrong sides together so it is now 3″.
- Hem one end of ruffle. To do this, turn one end under ¼” and press, turn under again ¼” and press, then sew in place close to the folded edge.
NOTE: This is a LOT o’ ruffling. So, we opted to use the a ruffler attachment for our Janome machine. These puppies look intimidating but are easy to use; check out our good video tutorial on their Ultimate Ruffler, which works on the majority of machines that accept snap-on presser feet.
- Gather the entire length of the ruffle to the approximate length of the four sides of the pillow. I set my ruffler attachment on ONE ruffle per stitch with a depth of about 5-6. Leave some extra length (about 2″) for overlapping to finish the ends.
- Starting with the finished end at the bottom edge of the pillow, and with the fold of ruffle facing toward the center of the pillow, LIGHTLY pin the ruffle to the right side of the front fabric. Align the raw edges of the ruffle with the raw edge of the fabric. You may need to adjust your gathers slightly to fit, but be careful not to pull too hard or you will break the stitching and have to re-ruffle… not fun.
- When you get back around to the beginning, overlap the end of the ruffle by about 2″.
- Cut off any excess, un-pin the ruffle, then hem this end in the same manner as you hemmed the beginning. If you’ve used a ruffle attachment, you’ll need to switch back to your regular presser foot.
- After hemming, pin the ruffle back on the front of the pillow, overlapping the two finished ends. Pin securely.
NOTE: Make sure the right side of the ruffle is against the right side of the pillow. The only way to tell is by the hems, both finished sides of the hems should be against the right side of the pillow. So, you’re looking at the turned under side (the back side) of the hems when you are pinning the ruffle in place.
- Machine baste the ruffle in place around all four sides, using a 3/8″ or smaller seam allowance.
Make the pillow back
- Take one of your pillow back pieces, and turn under the right side of the fabric ½” along the entire height of the piece (the 24″, 20″ or 18″ sides in our samples). Press
- Fold under an additional 1½” and press.
- Edgestitch along the folded edge to make a clean double turn hem.
- Repeat Steps 1-3 with the other back piece.
- Take both pieces and overlap the hems to yield the correct finished width (24″, 20″ or 18″ sides in our samples). Pin hems together.
- Working as close to the edge as possible, stitch the sides of hems together to secure and create one piece. It’s easier to work with one piece to stitch front to back.
- Set aside.
Create the ties
- Find the 2½” x 36″ strip. Cut it in half to create the two ties: 2½” x 18″.
- Fold each piece in half (1¼” x 18″). Pin in place, leaving an approximate 2″ opening in the middle for turning right side out.
- Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch around all sides, pivoting at the corners and back-tacking at both sides of the opening.
- Turn right side out, using a pencil or chop stitch to help. Clip the corners diagonally. Be careful not to clip into your seam.
- Poke out the corners so they are nice and sharp. Press well, making sure the raw edges of the opening are pressed in so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- Top stitch around all four sides. This closes the opening.
Attach the ties to the pillow back
- Place your pillow back right side up on your work surface. Make sure it lays nice and flat.
- Find the center point top to bottom.
- Pin one tie flush with the exposed hem line and the other tie directly opposite it flush against the fold of the opening.
- Stitch each tie in place with a box of stitching (following the existing top stitching), then make an ‘X’ through the center of the box to reinforce.
NOTE: Make sure you pull apart the envelope opening to stitch in place. This seems like a funny note, but when you’re whippin’ along, you can sometimes forget the silliest things. If you don’t pull apart the two sides, you’ll stitch the pillow closed!
Assembling the layers
- Carefully pin the extra ruffle fabric away from the corners so they do not get caught up in the stitching.
- Carefully fold up and pin the ties on the back so they do not get caught in the stitching either. It also helps to pin the envelope opening closed so it lays flat.
- Place your finished front/ruffle piece on your work surface right side facing up.
- Place your finish back/tie piece on top, right side facing down. Your ruffle and ties are sandwiched in 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. I like to stitch with the back piece on top and the front/ruffle piece against the feed dogs.
- Un-pin the envelope opening and turn the pillow cover right side out.
- Pull out the ruffle all around. If needed, pick out any stray basting stitches with your seam ripper.
- Insert your pillow form through the envelope opening and fluff it out into the corners.
- Tie a neat bow on the back.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructions: Liz Johnson