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Citrus Holiday: In-a-Word Pillow

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There's one in every family. The helpful host/hostess who just won't rest – always rushing around to make sure everyone else is in tip-top shape. You know who I mean, don't you? This special holiday pillow is for that special holiday someone. Toss it his or her way and demand they 'SIT!' Bold red letter appliqués and matching red piping make a statement even Helpful Hannah (or Hank) will have to stop and pay attention to. The pillow is reversible, so when they pop up again to refill your glass, you can flip it over and try again later.

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We provide you with an entire alphabet of letters to download and print. So, if "SIT!" isn't right for you, how about: "HAPPY" or "PEACE" or "ANGEL" or even "SANTA". Then, there's my personal holiday favorite: "QUIET!"

Our Citrus Holiday projects were made using Heather Bailey's delightful Pop Garden & Bijoux Collection. To learn more about how we created this non-traditional holiday palette, read our article Citrus Holiday: A Lighthearted Living Room.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • Fabric for pillow front panel: ½ yard of 45" width fabric: we used Heather Bailey's Pop Garden & Bijoux Mod Bead in Canary
  • Fabric for pillow back panels: ½ yard of 45" width fabric: we used Heather Bailey's Pop Garden & Bijoux Pop Garden Daisy in Cream
  • Fabric for lettering and piping: ½ yard of 45" width fabric: we used a wine red cotton sateen
  • Lightweight fusible interfacing for lettering: ¼ yard of 45" wide fusing
  • 2¼ yards of ¼" diameter cording for inside of piping
  • 12" x 22" pillow insert or a pillow filler (like Polyfil)
  • All purpose thread for seams
  • Matching thread to lettering fabric for zig zag embroidery stitch around letters
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

Cut your fabric

  1. From the fabric you're using for your pillow front (Mod Bead in Canary in our sample), cut one rectangle 13" x 23".
  2. From the fabric you're using for your pillow back (Pop Garden Daisy in Cream in our sample), cut one rectangle 13" x 23".
  3. From the fabric you're using for piping (red sateen in our sample) cut two strips 1½" x 40".

Make your letters

  1. Decide what you'd like your Word Pillow to say. Then, using the provided pattern downloads of alphabet monogram letters, print out the file(s), cut out the letter(s) you would like around their outside lines, and set aside. We've also provided one pattern download, with exclamation point, for our exact SIT! sample.
    A-F Letters Pattern DOWNLOAD
    G-L Letters Pattern DOWNLOAD
    M-R Letters Pattern DOWNLOAD
    S-W Letters Pattern DOWNLOAD
    X-Z (plus some punctuation) Letters Pattern DOWNLOAD
    SIT! Letters Pattern DOWNLOAD
  2. For each monogram letter you desire, cut out a small square of the fusible interfacing 2½" wide x by 2½" high, and fuse this square to the WRONG side of the fabric you are using for the monogram letters (red sateen in our sample). Cut out this newly fused 2 ½" fabric square. The fusing will make the letter stiffer, and therefore, it's much easier to work with than plain, limp fabric
  3. Place the pre-cut paper letter pattern onto the RIGHT side of a fused fabric square, trace around the letter with a fabric pencil or pen, then cut out the fabric letter. Repeat for each letter you need.

    At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

    Stitch down your word(s)

    1. Using your ruler, very carefully line up your pre-cut fabric letters in the middle on the right side of your pillow front fabric piece. Make sure the tops and the bottoms of all the letters are even and the space between letters is equal.
    2. Carefully pin all your letters in place.
    3. Using a matching thread color to the fabric letter color, appliqué around the outer edges of each cut-out letter using a short-stitch-length zig zag stitch. Be sure the width of the zig-zag is wide enough to secure the raw edges of the cut-out letter to the pillow front. Go slowly! Appliquéing a more intricate shape, such as these letters, is a more advanced technique than appliquéing a simple circle or square. Stop as often as you need to, with your needle in the DOWN position, and adjust your fabric so you are stitching in as straight a line as possible. You might want to practice on a scrap piece of fabric if you are new to appliqué.
    4. Set aside your completed pillow front.

    Make and attach piping

    1. Take your two 1½" x 40" red sateen strips and sew them together along the 1½" sides, using a ½" seam allowance, to make one long, continuous 1½" x 80" band.
    2. Create approximately 80" of piping. If you are new to piping, refer to our tutorial: How To Make And Attach Your Own Piping.

    3. Pin your piping around the entire outside edge of the pillow front piece, matching raw edges. Clip to ease around each corner and leave approximate 1" tails for finishing.
    4. Sew piping to pillow front, using a ½" seam allowance. Sew slowly and carefully. We highly recommend a zipper foot to allow you to stay close to your piping.
    5. Trim and wrap to finish the point where the two ends meet.
    6. Piping is easier than it looks; it just takes a bit of practice. The main thing to remember is it's a two-step process. You have to first stitch the piping to the edge of the pillow front. Then, when you sew front to back, you're sandwiching the piping in the final seam and it will "pop out" when you turn the pillow cover right side out.
    7. Again, if you are new to making or attaching piping, read our tutorial: How To Make And Attach Your Own Piping.

    Finish the pillow

    1. With right sides together, and sandwiching the piping in between, stitch the pillow back to the pillow front. Use a ½" seam and stitch with the wrong side of the pillow FRONT facing up. This way, you can stitch along the exact same stitching line you used to secure the piping to the pillow front. Again, a zipper foot is helpful.
    2. Using a ½" seam allowance and starting about 1" - 2" from the corner of one side, sew to the first corner, pivot, sew completely around the next three sides, pivot at the fourth and final corner, sew about 1" - 2" and stop.
    3. You are stopping, because on this fourth side, you need to leave an opening just large enough to insert your pillow form or filler. About 8" - 9" should be big enough.
    4. Clip corners and turn your pillow cover right side out. The piping will pop out and make a pretty edge all around. Push out the trimmed corners from the inside to make nice, square corners on the outside. Use your finger or a blunt-edge tool, like a large knitting needle.
    5. Press the seams flat. Remember, the edges of the opening should be pressed so they fold in to match the stitched edge.
    6. Insert your pillow form or filler and fluff out the corners of the pillow evenly.
    7. Hand stitch the 8" - 9" opening closed with a slip stitch.


    Project Design: Alicia Thommas
    Sample Creation: Heather Tucker

    Other machines suitable for this project include the Pfaff hobby 1142 and the White Sew Easy 2335.



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