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Just a little fancy cutting and a bit of clever seaming, and you can turn a simple fabric border design into an elegant frame with a center medallion. It’s a great way to give an ordinary square pillow a trendy designer look. And when you have a collection with the depth and drama of Amy Butler’s Alchemy for Rowan Fabrics, it’s easy to find motifs that cry out to be fussy cut. During this busy time of year, a classic pillow executed in gorgeous fabrics is perfect for holiday giving and decorating, but also has the beauty staying power to last year ’round.

Our thanks to the great folks at FreeSpirit and Rowan Fabrics for sponsoring all this holiday happiness! Each week we’ve showcased a new collection from a different designer. Week One introduced you to 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.  In Week Three, we wrapped you in the sweet loveliness of Verna Mosquera’s Pirouette. And now, we’re finishing up two weeks of wonder in Alchemy from Amy Butler for Rowan Fabrics.

Alchemy will begin appearing this 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.

If you are new to fussy cutting, check out our step-by-step tutorial.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

There is extra yardage figured in to allow for the fancy fussy cutting of the pillow front. If you are new to fussy cutting, check out our handy step-by-step tutorial.

Getting Started

  1. Download and print TWO copies of the Pillow Section Template.
    IMPORTANT: This template download consists of ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print this PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
  2. Cut out both pattern pieces along the solid lines. Flip over one and tape the two pieces together along the center line to create one complete triangle pattern.
  3. From the fabric for the pillow front (Victoriana in Port in our sample), use the pattern to carefully fussy cut FOUR triangles. You must cut all the pieces from within the same section of the motif. In other words, position you pattern in the exact same place top to bottom and side to side as you move along the border print. You want a chunk of the motif at the point of the triangle (to form the center medallion) as well as at the base of the triangle (to form the frame).
  4. When fitted together, the outside edges should form a frame and the inside will create a center medallion.
  5. From the fabric for the pillow back (Sketchbook in Spring in our sample), fussy cut ONE 15″ x 15″ square.
  6. From the lightweight fusible interfacing (Pellon Shir-Tailor in our sample), cut TWO 15″ x 15″ squares.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Break your four pillow triangles into two pairs. We like to think of it as the bottom left pair and the top right pair.
  2. Place each pair together along the inside edges. Pin together.
  3. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch each pair together.
  4. On one pair, press the seam allowance together and to the right. On the other pair, press the seam allowance together and to the left.
  5. Pin these two larger triangles together along the long inside edge. Because your seam allowances are pressed in opposite directions, it is now much easier to perfectly match up your seams in the pillow’s center. It is VERY important that you take the time to get these seams exactly aligned.
  6. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch together.
  7. Press this final seam allowance open.


  1. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the lightweight interfacing to the wrong side of both the seamed pillow front and the plain pillow back.

Stitch front to back to finish

  1. Place the front and back pieces right sides together. Pin around all four sides.
  2. Using a ½” seam allowance and starting about 1″ – 2″ from the corner of one side, sew to the first corner, pivot, sew completely around the next three sides, pivot at the fourth and final corner, sew about 5″ – 6″ and stop.
  3. You are stopping, because on this fourth side, you need to leave an opening just large enough to insert your pillow form. About 6-8″ should be big enough. Lock your seam on either side of this opening.
  4. Press the seams and clip the corners.
  5. Turn your pillow cover right side out. Carefully push out the trimmed corners from the inside to make nice, square corners on the outside. Your finger or a blunt-edge tool, like a large knitting needle works well.
  6. Press the seams flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  7. Insert your pillow form.
  8. Hand stitch the 6-8″ opening closed with a slip stitch.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild

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