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We did quite a bit of searching to find out where/how prairie points got their name. In doing this, we discovered quite a bit about prairie dogs, the ecosystems of Kansas prairies, and even Prairie vodka. However, the history of these cute little triangles in the world of sewing and quilting seems a bit vague. There was one posting about their possible start as a trim on undergarments in the mid-1800s. If you are a prairie point historian, leave us a comment and let us know the real scoop.

While we’re waiting, let’s make a few prairie points to create a very unique edge for a pretty pillow. We use charm pack squares to make things quick and easy. There are 32 points around the edge; including clever mitered corners, which we show you how to make. And, we added three along the back as buttonhole accents. In case you were wondering, prairie dogs are considered to have one of the most sophisticated communication systems in the animal kingdom.

We originally used yardage and a Charm Pack bundle from the Marmalade collection by Bonnie & Camille for Moda Fabrics. This is an older collections, which is no longer readily available, but your new fabric options are endless. A great place to start is to browse the amazing Charm Pack selection at Fat Quarter Shop. Once you have your Charm Pack selected, pick a couple of your favorite fabrics from within the same collection for the pillow front and back.

The coordinating pillows you see peeking out in a few of the photos here are also accented with Charm Pack squares, but as a patchworked ruffle. Go to this pillow tutorial.

This Prairie Points pillow finishes at approximately 20″ square, excluding the prairie points. At their highest point, these extend approximately 2″ beyond the seam all around.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

NOTE: Supplies listed below are for ONE 20″ pillow.

  • ¾ yard of 44-45″ wide fabric for the pillow front
  • ¾ yard of 44-45″ wide fabric for the pillow back
    NOTE: You need the full width of the fabric (at least 44″) to get all the cuts to fit. If you are worried about your cutting skills or have a strong motif to fussy cut, get 1¼ yards in order to stack the cuts vertically rather than horizontally. 
  • One 42-piece Charm Pack
    NOTE: Not all Charm Packs contain a full 42 squares, but you need to look for the ones that contain at least 35 squares or buy multiple smaller packs. Each pillow uses 35 squares. If you choose not to use a Charm Pack, you would need to cut 35 coordinating 5″ squares.
  • Three 1″ buttons; we used three vintage-style white buttons 
  • One 20″ x 20″ pillow insert
  • All-purpose sewing thread in colors to match fabrics
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • See-through ruler
  • Tape measure
  • Fabric pencil or pen
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the pillow front, cut ONE 20″ x 20″ square.
  2. From the fabric for the pillow back, cut  the following:
    TWO 10½” wide x 20″ high rectangles for the back overlap
    ONE 22″ wide x 20″ high rectangle for the back underlap
  3. Select 32 squares from the charm park and arrange them in an order that is pleasing to you. Alternate both color as well as motif size to get a pleasing pattern. Select an additional 3 squares for the back points.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Prairie points

  1. Make 32 prairie points, eight per side for a 20″ x 20″ pillow.
  2. To make a point. Fold a charm square in half, wrong sides together, to create a wide triangle and press.
  3. Fold this triangle in half again to create a smaller triangle. Press again.
  4. Arrange the prairie points in four groups of eight.
  5. Place the first prairie point flat on your work surface with its “open edge” facing right. Slide the second prairie point in the sequence in between the layers of the first until its left-most point is at the exact center of the first triangle.
  6. Repeat this tuck-to-the-center pattern until you have a finished row of eight.
  7. You’ll have what looks like a colorful mountain range when all four rows are complete.

Mitered corners

  1. Our pillow’s corners come together with a pretty side-by-side miter.
  2. Place the 20″ x 20″ front square right side up on your work surface.
  3. Position one row of prairie points along one edge. The points will extend beyond the front square to the left by half a triangle; on the right, the points are in line with the pillow front’s square edge. Below you can see how ours extended to the left.
  4. Unfold the prairie point on the left edge.
  5. Fold in the 90˚ corner to meet the opposite folded edge. Press.
  6. Fold the upper corner back down into place, aligning the bottom edges once again and forming an upper square. Press.
  7. Bring the last prairie point on the right edge out from under its neighbor. Unfold the prairie point.
  8. Fold in each point so they meet at the center fold (a little like you’re making a paper airplane). Press.
  9. Fold the prairie point back into place along the original center crease, aligning the bottom edges once again and forming an upper square. Tuck it back under its neighbor. Press.

Attach points to pillow front

  1. Pin the points to secure their positions, then slide the entire row into on to the right side of the front square so the raw edges of the prairie points are flush with the raw edge of the pillow square. The right and left mitered points should each be ½” in from the corner. Re-pin in place through all the layers.
  2. Machine baste the prairie points row in place, staying within the ½” seam allowance.
  3. Rotate the pillow top square 90˚ and repeat to create mitered corners for the next side of the pillow. Repeat two more times to complete all the sides. Remember, each side should be pinned and then machine basted in place. At each corner fold the mitered points on top of one another and pin so they will not get caught up into the final seam. This will reveal a ½” triangle of pillow top fabric at each corner.
  4. Set aside the pillow top.

Pillow back

  1. Find the remaining three charm squares and make three additional prairie points, following the steps above.
  2. Find the two 10½” x 20″ overlap panels.
  3. Place the three prairie points along the one 20″ side of one panel. One prairie point should be in the exact center; the other two to either side of the center point. Just barely overlap the points as shown below.
  4. Pin the prairie points in place so their raw edges are flush with the raw edge of the panel.
  5. Layer the second 10½” x 20″ overlap panel right sides together with the first, sandwiching the points between the layers. Pin along just the 20″ edge with the prairie points.
  6. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along this 20″ side through all the layers.
  7. Fold the panels wrong sides together so the prairie points extend from the seam.
  8. Following the manual for your sewing machine, make a buttonhole in the center of each prairie point.
  9. Find the 22″ x 20″ back underlap panel.
  10. Fold the panel in half, wrong sides together, so it is now 11″ x 20″. Press.
  11. Find the pillow top (with all the prairie points machine basted in place) and place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
  12. Place the back overlap panel right sides together over the left half of the pillow top, aligning the raw edges along the top, bottom and left side. Pin in place.
  13. Place the folded underlap panel over the right half, aligning the raw edges top, bottom and along the right and covering the prairie point buttonholes. Pin in place.
  14. Stitch together through all layers around all four sides, using a ½” seam allowance and pivoting at the corners. Go slowly and make sure your layers stay flat.
  15. Clip the corners diagonally. Be careful not to clip into your seam or your pretty prairie points.
  16. Turn right side out through the back opening.
  17. Gently poke out the corners from the inside using a long, blunt-end tool, such as a knitting needle or chopstick.
  18. Pull out the prairie points all around. Un-pin the mitered corner pieces. If needed, pick out any stray basting stitches with your seam ripper.
  19. Sew a button in place to align with each buttonhole.
  20. 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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1 year ago

Love the pillow with prairie points!

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Justine

Thanks, Justine — we do too – they are so cute and colorful!

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