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Floriography is the language of flowers. No… your tulips are not outside talking to one another. Floriography, most common in the Victorian era, allowed individuals to send coded messages to one another via flowers and floral arrangements. These secret bouquets expressed feelings that could never be spoken in public. The nuances of the language are now mostly forgotten, but red roses still imply passionate, romantic love, which is the personality of today’s pillow. By combining two tapestry style fabrics with vintage lace and buttons, we created a pretty red roses pillow that softly whispers its undying devotion.

We chose a rectangular pillow form from Fairfield’s Soft-Touch® collection. Fairfield products are easy to find! They’re available at the big box stores, national fabric stores, as well as your favorite local quilt shop.

Sewing Tools You Need

Any sewing machine (we recommend the Janome DC1050)

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • ½ yard of 54″ wide décor weight fabric for the center front and the back; we used Norfolk Rose in Rose by Waverly, available at Amazon
  • ¼ yard of 54″ wide décor weight fabric for the front and back end panels; we used General Store Stripe in Red by Waverly, available at Amazon
    NOTE: You will use nearly the full width of the 54″ fabric. If you are unsure about your cuts, get ¾ yard to allow you to cut two rows of two. This will also allow you to more precisely match a strong directional print, such as a stripe.
  • One 12″ x 22″ Poly-Fil® Soft-Touch® insert from Fairfield (NOTE: The image below shows the 18″ x18″ form, but ignore that; we wanted you to be able to recognize the general Soft-Touch® packaging, which is the same no matter the size.)
  • ¾ yard of 1″ wide lace to coordinate with the fabric; we use vintage ivory lace purchased locally, we found very similar lace available at Amazon
    NOTE: We put lace on just the front of our pillow. If you’d like lace on both sides, get 1½ yards
  • Three ½ – ¾” buttons; we used vintage ½” bone-colored buttons
  • All-purpose thread to match fabric; we used ivory
  • All-purpose thread to coordinate with fabric to stitch buttons; we used red
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the center front and the back (Norfolk Rose in our sample), fussy cut the following:
    ONE 13″ x 13″ square for the front
    TWO 9½” x 13″ rectangles for the back
  2. From the fabric for the sides (General Store Stripe in our sample), fussy cut FOUR 6″ x 13″ rectangles. We wanted our stripes to run horizontally, so our cuts were 6″ high x 13″ wide.
  3. Cut the lace into two 13″ lengths (four 13″ lengths if you are adding lace to the front and back).

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Find the center front piece and the two lengths of lace.
  2. Measure and mark ⅜” in from the raw edge along each 13″ side. Place the lace along this marked line.  
  3. Pin in place, then machine baste in place, using a ½” seam allowance, which means you’ll be stitching along the very edge of the lace. 
  4. Find two of the four end pieces. Place one along each 13″ side of the center piece, sandwiching the lace in between the layers. 
  5. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch in place.
  6. If you have a fabric that will ravel easily, consider finishing the seam allowance edges with a machine finish or a serger. We used a serger.
  7. Press the seam towards the center on the back. Press the lace towards the center on the front. 
  8. Find the remaining two end panels and the two back panels. 
  9. Place an end panel along the outside 13″ edge of each back panel. 

    NOTE: If you are adding lace to the back panels, repeat the above steps first.
  10. Pin in place. Stitch in place, using a ½” seam allowance
  11. As above, finish the seam allowance if necessary. Press the seam allowance towards the main back panel. 

Create the envelope back

  1. Find one seamed back panel. Along the inside 13″ edge (the floral edge in our sample), measure and fold back the raw edge 3″ and press well. 
  2. Open the fold so the creased line is visible. Fold in the raw edge so it aligns along the crease. Press in place.
  3. Re-fold along the original fold. Press again. You have created a simple 1½” double fold hem
  4. Pin in place. Edgestitch in place, staying close to the inner fold. 
  5. This will be the panel for the buttonholes. 
  6. Find the remaining seamed back panel. Repeat the steps, but create a simple ¾” double fold hem. In this case, your first fold-and-press would be just 1½”. 
  7. This narrow-hem piece will be the panel for the buttons.
  8. Find the completed buttonhole panel. Mark the position for the three buttonholes. One should be at the center (top to bottom) of the panel, and the other two should be centered between the center mark and each raw edge
  9. Following the instructions for your machine, create the three buttonholes. 

Assemble front to back to finish

  1. Place the finished front panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
  2. Place the buttonhole back panel on top of it, right side down and with the left edges of the two pieces aligned.
  3. Place the button back panel (there aren’t any buttons on it quite yet) on top of these panels. You are overlapping the buttonhole panel with this panel so the right edge of the front panel and the right edge of the button panel align. 
  4. Pin in place all around. Take the time to precisely match the vertical seams, and if you used a directional print like our stripe, precisely match the motif as well.
  5. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch in place all around. Press the seam open. The photo below shows you how carefully we matched up our seams and the stripes. 
  6. Clip the corners at a diagonal. Our fabric easily frayed, so we used pinking shears to clip our corners.
  7. Turn right side out through the back opening. 
  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. Overlap the opening and mark the position of your buttons. 
  10. Hand stitch the buttons in place with contrasting thread. We created a strong “X” on our buttons. See our Quick Button Tip tutorial for how to do this.
  11. Insert the pillow form and button closed.


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

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