This project is based on the Nurture Nest pillow insert by Fairfield. This specialized U-shaped insert comes with a pattern and simple instructions printed right on the packaging. We’ve followed these basic steps with just a few changes. There are likely other brands available from which to choose, just know that the pattern may be slightly different. Rather than a standard cotton fabric, we selected a cozy fleece. Then, we added jumbo piping for dimension as well as to give baby an extra “ridge” to grab onto during tummy time.
We chose a soft, double-sided fleece in two polka dot patterns: a small gray and white dot for the body and a jumbo yellow and white dot for the piping. Both are super snuggly for baby and mom (or whomever is lucky enough to be holding the little one).
The pillow finishes at approximately 70″ in circumference, which would also make it a good lap support pillow for needlework and other handcrafts. It could even be used as a floor or head-rest pillow for older children and adults.
You could make this project without the specified invisible zipper by simply hand-stitching the center opening closed after inserting the pillow form. However, baby items are best when washable, so we recommend keeping it as a removable cover.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- Concealed Zipper foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional, but makes handling for the thicker layers much easier – you could also engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the AcuFeed™ Flex system we use on many of our Janome studio machines
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1½ yards of 44″+ wide fleece fabric for the main body of the pillow: we originally used a 60″ double-sided Plush Coral Fleece in Stone/White Polka Dot
- ½ yard of 44″+ wide fleece fabric for the pillow piping: we originally used 60″ double-sided Plush Coral Fleece in Yellow Polka Dot
- 3 yards of ⅜” cotton piping cord; we used Size 3 Cotton Piping
- ONE Nurture Nest U-Shaped Pillow Insert by Fairfield
- ONE 12″ – 14″ invisible zipper; we used a Coats Invisible Zipper
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Tape measure
- Straight pins
- Cut out the provided pattern from the Fairfield Nurture Nest Pillow packaging.
- Fold the main pillow fabric (the gray and white polka dot in our sample) in half, and position the pattern on the fold as indicated.
- Cut TWO pieces, giving you a top U-shaped piece and a matching bottom U-shaped piece. Use the pattern to mark the two notches along the pillow’s top curve. These indicate zipper placement.
- From the piping fabric (the jumbo yellow and white polka dot in our sample), cut enough 2½” wide strips on the bias to equal 103″ in total length (when sewn together with a ¼” seam – see notes below). Because our dots were quite large, we were able to use them as a helpful guide for our bias strips, fussy cutting a diagonal row o’ dots. This also insured we would see both yellow and white along the finishing piping.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Make the piping
- Find the piping cord and the 2½” bias strip(s). If necessary, stitch together the shorter strips to create the finished 103″ length. This should be done with diagonal seams, as you would most traditional piping or binding. Pin the strips at right angles.
- Stitch along the diagonal seams and trim back the seam allowance to ¼”.
- Wrap the finished piping strip around the cording.
- Trim away the excess cording so it is flush with the ends of the fabric. The raw edges of the fabric should be perfectly aligned along the length of the entire strip. Pin in place.
- Stitch in place, running your seam close to the cording. We switched to a Janome Walking foot.
- Pin the finished piping around the entire outer perimeter of one U-shaped body piece, on the right side. The raw edges of the piping should be flush with the raw edge of the body piece. We placed our starting/ending joint at the top curve of the inner “U.” Remember to leave a piping head and tail free to join.
- At the starting/ending joint, use your seam ripper to reveal the cord. Cut the ends of the cord so they will butt together.
- Trim away the excess fabric, re-fold the fabric into place around the cording, and re-pin.
- Machine baste the piping in place, keep your seam line as close to the cording as possible. We again used our Walking foot to keep all the layers from shifting. We do strongly recommend a Walking or Even Feed foot or engaging your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system.
- Here is the piping in place on the right side of the body piece.
NOTE: If you are new to these techniques, check out our full tutorials on bias binding as well as piping, which has great step-by-step notes on joining.
Add zipper and assemble top to bottom
- Once the piping is basted in place, place the two layers right sides together, sandwiching the piping between the layers. Pin the layers together all around.
- Find the notch marks you made above. Using an ½” seam allowance, stitch from each notch outwards just 6″, leaving open the space between the notches (at the top of the main curve – where the curve is the closest to being straight) to insert the zipper.
- Remove the remaining pins holding the layers together so the two sides of the pillow can lay open and mostly flat.
- Attach a Concealed Zipper foot and insert the invisible zipper. If you are new to this technique, check out our tutorial: How to Install an Invisible Zipper.
NOTE: As mentioned above, you could opt to not install a zipper, choosing instead to simply stitch the opening closed after inserting the pillow form. Just remember that this does make the pillow a bit harder to clean.
- When the zipper is stitched in place, unzip it about 8″ – 10″.
- Re-pin the layers together around the remainder of the perimeter’s raw edges.
NOTE: Remember, our fleece fabric is double-sided, so it appears as if we are sewing wrong sides together in our photos, but both sides actually look the same. If your fleece is single-sided, work right sides together.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around the perimeter through all the layers. Go slowly to keep your seam allowance as consistent as possible. We continued to use our Walking foot to help control the layers.
- Turn right side out through the open zipper.
- Compress the Nurture Nest pillow form and gently insert it through the open zipper, carefully feeding it around the U-shape.
- Zip closed.
Project Concept: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild