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We love sewing by machine! It’s fast, it’s easy, and when you have great machines like the Janome models in our S4H studios, it’s almost effortless. But it doesn’t mean you can’t whip out the hand needle and thread now and then. A few well-placed hand-stitched accents adds a unique decorative touch. Today’s lovely lumbar pillow features rows of simple running stitches in three coordinating colors of embroidery floss. By adding a bit of batting behind the fabric, the finished look has a sweet hand-quilted feel. Against the rich cottons of Amy Butler’s Alchemy collection, it’s the perfect understated embellishment. Not so much that it distracts from the beautiful fabric, just a small, special element that takes only a few minutes to include.

Our thanks to the great folks at FreeSpirit and Rowan Fabrics for sponsoring so much holiday happiness! Each week, we’ve been bringing 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 to cap it off, we now have two weeks of wonder in 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 main front and the back panels (Queen Ann’s Butterflies in Ruby in our sample), cut ONE 19″ wide x 25″ high rectangle.
  2. From the fabric for the front and back accent strips (Memoir in Zest in our sample), fussy cut ONE 4″ wide x 25″ high strip. Fussy cut carefully to insure your motif is in a perfectly straight line. We carefully centered the medallion motifs of Memoir in Zest.
  3. From the fusible interfacing, cut ONE 4″ x 25″ strip.
  4. From the batting, cut ONE 19″ x 25″ rectangle.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing strip to the wrong side of the fabric accent strip.
  2. Pin the batting to the wrong side of the main fabric panel.
  3. Place the main fabric panel right side up and flat on your work surface. 
  4. Pin the accent strip to the left side of the fabric panel, aligning the 25″ raw edges. Pin in place.
  5. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the two pieces together.
  6. Press the seam allowance towards the main panel
  7. Topstitch the seam allowance in place, staying ¼” from the seam within the main fabric panel.


  1. Measure and mark lines to follow for the hand quilting stitches. You can mark with pins (our choice) or you can use a fabric pen or pencil to draw a line to follow. If you choose this route, just be sure the marking will easily wipe away or disappear with exposure to the air.
  2. Start your measurement from the topstitching line between the accent strip and the main panel. Measure 2″ out from this line and mark a vertical line. Measure 2″ from this marked line, and mark a second line. Continue with 2″ intervals. You should end up with EIGHT marked lines. The final line will be 2½” from the raw edge, giving you enough extra for the side seam allowance.
  3. Find the hand embroidery needle and cotton embroidery floss. 
  4. Use an entire length of the six-strand floss; the hand stitching needs to be done with ONE continuous length. You want a nice, chunky weight so the hand stitching is visible, so you could even double the floss if you’d like. 
  5. Knot the end. Hand stitch, using a simple running stitch, following your marked lines. The stitches themselves should be about ¼” with approximately ⅛” between each stitch.
  6. Our colors alternated as follows: Jonquil, Charcoal, Dark Blue, Jonquil, Charcoal, Dark Blue, Jonquil, Charcoal.
  7. Knot of the ends when you finish your stitch line. We left our tails a little long so we could adjust the last stitch or two if they didn’t exactly match up front to back along the bottom seam line.

Optional zipper and finishing

  1. If you would like to insert an invisible zipper, now is the time to do it. It should be centered within what will be the bottom seam of the pillow.
  2. If you are new to invisible zippers, check out our tutorial
    NOTE: If you prefer to not insert a zipper, you will simply leave an 8-10″ opening within the bottom seam for turning and handstitch the opening closed when done. This means your finished pillow will need to be spot cleaned as the insert will not be able to be removed without ripping out the seam.
  3. Unzip the zipper half way. 
  4. Fold the stitched panel right sides together. Make sure you carefully align the accent panel seams. And, as mentioned above, carefully align your hand stitching as well. Pull out the final stitches and adjust if necessary to make sure the lines match up perfectly.
  5. Pin along both sides and the remainder of the bottom seam to either end of where you ended your invisible zipper seam.
  6. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the sides and bottom.
    NOTE: Remember, if you are not using a zipper, leave an 8-10″ opening in the bottom seam. 
  7. Turn right side out through the open zipper. 
  8. Using a long, blunt-end tool, gently push out the corners so they are nice and square. A chopstick or long knitting needle works well. 
  9. Insert the pillow form and zip closed.
  10. Again, if you opted not to insert a zipper, carefully slip stitch your opening closed instead.


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

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