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When we talk with our friends in the industry about how to entice new people into the world of sewing, everyone seems to agree a pillow is the best way to start on your sewing adventure. If you’ve been sewing for years, a pillow is also one of the best and easiest ways to update the look of your décor, adding a dash of fresh excitement to a sofa, bench or bed. What makes it even more special is when you work with a wonderful collection like Amy’s Butler’s Alchemy for Rowan Fabrics. The fabric does the heavy-lifting. It’s so beautiful, all you really need are two fussy cut panels. We added contrasting piping, covered buttons and tassels to give our pillow some extra holiday elegance. Turnaround a new pillow and a new look in just a few hours.

To create our elegant look, we have three additional tutorials for the new sewers out there: How to Make and Attach Piping, How to Make Covered Buttons, and How to Make Tassels. We purchased our tassels, but a traditionally wrapped tassel is quite easy and much less expensive than buying. Plus, because you select the floss colors, you can precisely coordinate the tassel colors with your fabric colors. 

Our thanks to the great folks at FreeSpirit and Rowan Fabrics for sponsoring all this holiday happiness! Each week, we’ve brought you a new collection from a different designer. During our first week, you met Melissa White of Rowan Fabrics and her new Amelie’s Attic collection. For Week Two, we thank Ty Pennington Impressions for allowing us to feature Ty’s new Fall 2012 Collection. During Week Three, you were surrounded by the sweet loveliness of Verna Mosquera’s Pirouette. And now, we’re working our way through two weeks of wonder with the new Alchemy collection from Amy Butler for Rowan Fabrics. 

For this busy time of year, we created a slate of fast and easy, “do-it-in-a-day” projects. Simple yet classic creations executed in gorgeous fabrics – perfect for holiday giving and decorating, but with a beauty that will last year ’round.

Alchemy will begin appearing next month, December 2012, at participating online and in-store retailers.

In addition, for all of the projects in our series, Westminster helped us put together a handy Where to Buy Retailer Locator, giving you a fast and easy way to source the fabrics we are featuring from both brick and mortar stores in your area (the page is broken out by state) as well as online options..

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the front and the back panels (Imperial Paisley in Zinnia in our sample), carefully fussy cut TWO 18½” x 18½” squares. Part of the beauty of this pillow are the perfectly centered motifs; take the time to make a great cut.
  2. From the fabric for the piping (Memoir in Zest in our sample), cut TWO 1¾” x Width of Fabric (WOF) strips.
    NOTE: Remember, we used straight-cut strips for our piping. If you’d prefer to cut bias strips, check out our bias binding tutorial for measuring and cutting notes. 
  3. From the fusible interfacing, cut TWO 18½” x 18½” squares.
  4. Cut an 80-82″ length of cording.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse an interfacing square to the wrong side of each fabric square. This provides the pillow with an extra smooth finish and gives the center buttons good stability.
  2. Fin the exact center of each square and mark it with a thread tack. You will use these marks at the end to sew the buttons and tassels in place.


  1. If this is your first time making piping, see our tutorial, How To Make And Attach Your Own Piping.
  2. Stitch together your 1¾” strips to create one long strip.
  3. Wrap the fabric around the cord. Pin close to the cording to hold it in place.
  4. Using a zipper foot, sew close to the cording to create your fabric covered piping
    NOTE: If your sewing machine allows, move the needle all the way to the left. Or, use a narrow base zipper foot so you can get nice and tight against the cording.
  5. Machine or hand baste the piping onto the right side of the pillow front, aligning the raw edges and easing around the corners. 
    NOTE: If you cut your strips on the bias, the piping should curve nicely around the corners, but you can also cut a few slits into the piping’s flange to help it to bend around. However, be sure not to cut into your stitching.
  6. To join, cut back the piping cord to match and overlap to join. 
  7. Again, if you’re new to attaching piping, check out our tutorial for tips on joining and finishing.

Final stitching, buttons and tassels

  1. Layer front and back right sides together, sandwiching the piping in between. Pin well all around, leaving an approximate 6-7″ opening to insert the pillow form (the exact size depends on the “mashability” of your pillow form. If your form is hard to squeeze, leave a larger opening). 
  2. Using an approximate ½” seam allowance and your zipper foot, sew around the pillow, remembering to leave the opening for turning and inserting the pillow form.  We say approximate because you should stitch as close as you can get to the piping, and this may be a bit more or a bit less than ½”.
  3. Clip all four corners.
  4. Turn the pillow cover right side out through the opening.
  5. Insert the pillow form.
  6. Slip stitch the opening closed, hiding your stitches close to the piping.
  7. Cover buttons with coordinating fabric scraps leftover from the piping that have been fussy cut to center a pretty design. Also, we always add a small scrap of lightweight batting under our fabric for a smooth, curved shape to our covered buttons. 
    NOTE: If you are new to covering buttons, we have two tutorials, one using Covered Button Kits (what we did here) and one about Making Your Own.
  8. Find the thread tacks marking the pillow’s center.
  9. Thread a hand sewing needle or curved needle with regular or button/carpet thread
  10. Find your two tassels. Thread the needle through the exact center of both tassel hangers.
  11. Then thread the needle through the button’s shank and into the center of the pillow.
  12. Hand sew one covered button with tassels to the pillow front and one covered button to the back. 
  13. Pull the buttons tight so they create a nice, tufted effect.


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

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