Pretty pillow numéro deux in our French Pillow Trio features a French word in its name: appliqué. Derived from the French verb “appliquér,” meaning “to put on or apply,” appliqué does exactly that, putting one fabric onto another as a decorative embellishment. We’ve created two free appliqué templates you can download, one for either side of the pillow. Use them to display your mood: “Oui” — “Yes! it’s a great day.” or “Non” — “No, perhaps you should sit this one out.”
Corner accent triangles, fussy cut from a strong graphic print, counter balance the black and white crispness of the appliqué. We used a print from our scrap stash.
Soft pom pom trim adds a touch of understated fashion fun. You’ll notice the poms are a charcoal gray rather than a true black. This softens the sharp contrast of a black and white palette.
A corner pattern is also offered as a free download to help achieve a precise fussy cut for all eight accents. As mentioned above, templates are also offered for the front/back “Oui” and “Non” appliqués.
Of course, you could pick a bold font and generate your own word pairing, perhaps Bonjour and Au Revoir (Hello/Goodbye) or Pour Vous and Pour Moi (For You/For Me). Flip the pillow each day for a new message!
Our pillow finishes at approximately 16″ x 16″, excluding the poms, and is designed with a loose fit to allow a “karate-choppable” softness.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- Satin Stitch foot; optional but good for appliqué
- Zipper foot; optional for pom trim
Fabric and Other Supplies
- ½ yard of 44″+ wide 7 oz canvas or similar for the pillow front and back panels; we used 54″ 7 oz Duck Canvas in White by James Thompson
- ½ – ¾ yard of 44″+ wide cotton fabric for the corner accents; we used a scrap from our stash
NOTE: We used, and recommend, a careful fussy cut so all the triangle corner accents feature a matching motif. However, this does require more fabric and is why you see the yardage as a range above.
- Scrap or ¼ yard of opaque black fabric in a weight to match the main pillow fabric; we used 54″ 7 oz Duck Canvas in Black by James Thompson
- 2 yards of medium pom pom trim in a coordinating color; we used charcoal gray
- One 16″ x 16″ pillow form
- ¼ yard of 20″+ wide paper-backed fusible web for the appliqué; we used Pellon Wonder Under
- 1 yard of 20″+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon ShirTailor
- All-purpose thread to match fabric and trim
- See-through ruler
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- Download and print out the triangle pattern piece and the appliqué templates page.
NOTE: Our custom appliqués were designed to coordinate with our chosen French Pillow Trio theme. If you chose a different theme, you may want to search for a different appliqué motif or draw your own.
IMPORTANT: The pattern and template are each ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print the PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
- Cut out the triangle pattern along the solid line.
- Cut out the template words. Don’t forget the dot for the “i” in “oui.”
- From the main pillow fabric, cut TWO 17″ x 17″ squares.
- Using the triangle pattern, fussy cut EIGHT triangles.
- As mentioned above, it will look best if all the triangles have an exactly matching motif.
- From the interfacing, cut TWO 17″ x 17″ squares.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- If you are new to appliquéing, review our How To Appliqué tutorial prior to starting this section.
- Find the appliqué template, fusible web, and appliqué fabric.
- Cut a piece of the fusible web large enough to cover both template words. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the web to the wrong side of the appliqué fabric.
- Pin the template words to the right side of the appliqué fabric, making sure you are within the fusible web area.
- Carefully cut out each word.
- Peel away the paper back to reveal the fusing material.
- Find the front and back panels. Fold in quarters or measure to find the center of each panel. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse each appliqué in place on right side and at the center of each panel.
- When complete you should have two matching panels, each with a word fused in the exact center of the fabric.
- Find the two squares of interfacing, following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse an interfacing square to the wrong side of both the front and back panels.
- Thread your machine with thread to match the appliqué fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Select the stitch for your appliqué. We used a traditional tight zig zag/satin stitch for our designs. The finished look is entirely up to you: use a loose to tight zig zag or choose a decorative stitch, but take the time to accurately set your stitch width and length, testing first on scraps.
- Start your stitching on one of the straightest parts of the design.
- Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to appliqué. We like the Janome Satin Stitch foot, which is see-through and has a handy red arrow you can use as a guide to insure your stitching stays even as you move around the design. These word appliqués have a fair amount of twists and turns; don’t be afraid to stop, with your needle in the down position, and adjust your fabric as you move around the curves.
- Hold on to the base fabric from both the front and back to keep it moving smoothly. Don’t pull or force it through the needle, but be an active participant, guiding it at all times.
- Watch the edge of your appliqué as you turn, turn, turn. Pick a point on your presser foot (if you don’t have a cool red arrow like our Janome) so you can keep the appliqué’s edge moving along the guide line at all times.
Add the corner triangles
- Find the eight accent triangles. Fold back the long straight edge ⅜” and press well.
- Position one triangle at each corner, aligning the outside raw edges of the triangle with the raw edges of the panel.
- Repeat for each corner on both the front and back.
- Edgestitch each triangle in place along the inner folded edge.
Add the poms
- Pin the pom-pom trim around the right side of the back pillow panel, overlapping the trim in the center of one side.
- Trim off excess poms at the overlap. Be careful to position the poms around the corner. You want to try to get a pom drop at each corner.
- The trim’s insertion tape should be flush with the raw edge of the fabric and the poms should be hanging down into the middle of the pillow.
- Machine or hand baste the pom-pom trim to the pillow back. We used our Satin Stitch foot, you could also use a Zipper foot.
Stitch front to back
- Pin the pillow front and back right sides together, matching all raw edges and sandwiching the poms between the layers. Leave an approximate 6″ opening along the bottom edge for turning and inserting the pillow form.
NOTE: The side you leave open should NOT be the same side where the pom trim overlaps. It will be more challenging to sew the pillow closed if you have to deal with these ends too!
- Using a ½” seam allowance, sew around all four sides. Remember to pivot at the corners and to lock your seam at either side of the opening.
- Trim all four corners at a diagonal.
- Turn the cover right side out through the opening and press flat, turning in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- Insert the pillow form through the opening. Gently fluff it into each corner, working from the farthest side out toward the opening.
- Pin the opening closed. Thread a hand-sewing needle with thread to best match the pillow, and slip stitch the opening closed. Use small stitches to keep your work as unnoticeable as possible.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Leah Wand