Charm squares are just that: charming little chunks of fabric, 5″ x 5″ squares from all the patterns and colorways within a given fabric collection. Moda’s standard charm pack comes with 42 pre-cut 5″ x 5″ squares. They’re a real time-saver and can make patchworking projects a delight. We used a Charm Pack of Bonnie & Camille’s Marmalade collection for Moda Fabrics in a unique way for this very quick and easy pillow. The pillow front and back is made with just three simple yardage cuts (though you could use fat quarters). Then, we stitched charm squares end-to-end to create the ruffle strip. Fast, fun, and with a fantastically colorful result. 

Our thanks to Moda Fabrics for sponsoring this month’s series. We have over three weeks of projects and how-to tutorials to get you through the holidays and thinking about those 2013 sewing resolutions. Thanks as well to accompanying sponsor, Fat Quarter Shop for providing the Charm Packs for today’s sample pillows.

Marmalade by Bonnie & Camille for Moda came out in October 2012, and is still widely available from many of your favorite online and in-store Moda retailers. We found a great selection at these Sew4Home Marketplace vendors: Fat Quarter ShopThe Ribbon Retreat, and Bloomerie. It is available in both a standard quilting cotton (which we used) as well as a soft flannel.

For more information about pre-cuts, check out the Pre-Cuts Lesson tutorial from our friends at Fat Quarter Shop for the inside scoop on the most popular pre-cut bundles.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Supplies listed below are for one 16″ ruffled pillow, but these are such mix-and-match must-haves, you really won’t be able to make just one!

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the pillow front (Cotton Tangerine Bloom and Cotton Raspberry Dot from the Marmalade collection by Bonnie & Camille in our sample), cut ONE 16″ x 16″ square.
  2. From the fabric for the pillow back (Cotton Leaf Dot and Cotton Tangerine on Cream Sugar from the Marmalade collection by Bonnie & Camille in our sample), cut TWO 12″ wide x 16″ high rectangles.
  3. We used the rule of thumb that says your ruffle should be approximately 2 to 2½ times the length of the edge to which you’re applying the ruffle. The perimeter of our pillow is 64″ (16″ x 4). So we should start with 128-160″. Twenty eight charm pack squares is 140 running inches, minus a bit for all the seam allowances. We are golden. You could certainly add more or fewer squares for a tighter or looser gather
    NOTE: If you are new to gathering, take a look at our tutorial: How to Make Gathers by Machine
  4. Select 28 squares from the charm park and arrange them in an order that is pleasing to you. 
  5. One of our strips is shown below. Alternate both color as well as motif size to get a pleasing pattern. 

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board


  1. Sew all 28 5″ x 5″ squares together end to end. To do this, place two squares right sides together and stitch along one 5″ edge, using a ¼” seam allowance. Repeat to create one long strip. 
  2. Press all seams open
  3. Place the remaining raw edges (the ends of the long strip) right sides together and make one final ¼” seam to create a large ring.
  4. Fold and press this ring in half lengthwise wrong sides together.
  5. Gather the entire length of the ruffle to the 64″ perimeter of the pillow front. You can gather using a traditional double row of basting stitching (our choice for this project) or try a Ruffler Attachment

    NOTE: As we mentioned above, if you are new to gathering, take a look at our tutorial: How to Make Gathers by Machine
  6. Adjust the ruffles so you have an equal number of ruffled charm squares showing on each side. We had 28 squares total, which meant seven per side.
  7. LIGHTLY pin the ruffle to the right side of the front fabric. Align the raw edges of the ruffle with the raw edge of the fabric. You may need to continue to adjust your gathers slightly to fit, but be careful not to pull too hard or you will break the stitching and have to re-ruffle… not fun.
  8. Machine baste the ruffle strip in place.

Pillow back

  1. Find the two pillow back rectangles.
  2. Make a narrow double fold hem along one inside edge (one 16″ edge) of each rectangle. To do this, fold the raw edge in ¼” and press, then turn under an additional ¼” and press again.
  3. Overlap the hems of the two pieces to yield the correct finished width (16″ in our samples). Pin the hems together.
  4. Working as close to the edge as possible, stitch the two layers together at the top and bottom, staying within the ½” seam allowance. This secures the two panels to create one piece. It’s easier to work with one piece to stitch front to back.

Stitch front to back to finish

  1. Place the assembled back panel right sides together with the front panel, sandwiching the ruffles between the layers. 
  2. Align all the raw edges and pin in place all around. Carefully pin the extra ruffle fabric away from the corners so it doesn’t get caught up in the stitching.
  3. Stitch together through all layers around all four sides, using a ½” seam allowance. Go slowly and make sure your layers stay flat. We like to stitch with the back piece on top and the front/ruffle piece against the feed dogs.
  4. Clip the corners diagonally. Be careful not to clip into your seam
  5. Turn right side out through the back opening.
  6. Gently round out the corners from the inside using a long, blunt-end tool, such as a knitting needle or chopstick.
  7. Pull out the ruffle all around. If needed, pick out any stray basting stitches with your seam ripper.
  8. Insert your pillow form through the envelope opening and fluff it out into the corners.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation and Instructions: Michele Mishler

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