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Decorative Stitch Color Pop Pillows

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I still remember the first sewing machine I bought with a full compliment of decorative stitches. I was in seventh heaven. It felt like the same unbridled choice as when you opened a fresh box of 64 crayons. Variety unleashed! But we often get so busy with the construction process, we forget about all those great stitches. Not today! Most machines have at least some decorative stitches, many of them, like our wonderful Janome studio machines, have hundreds! This pillow project gives you three different decorative stitching options to try, and we've included three template downloads to re-create our exact designs. There are random intersecting lines, which allow you to mix and match a variety of stitches. Our starburst showcases the option to program stitches, creating what appears to be individual dots. And finally, we give you the steps to stitch a spiral, using a padded satin stitch in variegated thread. It's all to encourage you to take advantage of your patiently-waiting decorative stitches... or maybe it's time to look for a new model with even more selection!

When you're shopping for a new machine, test out the stitches so you can not only see the patterns but also how/if they can be adjusted. On some models, such as the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9400QCP, you can build your own unique stitch patterns, then memorize them to the machine's memory bank. The top-of-the-line Janome Horizon Memory Craft 15000 even lets you design, build upon, and save your own custom individual stitches.

Depending on the level of machine you buy, decorative stitches are usually adjustable in width and/or length; they can often be flipped or mirror-imaged. Many of Janome's newest models – the Skyline S7, MC9400QCP, Skyline S9, and MC15000 to name just a few – are adjustable up to a 9mm stitch width (for the majority of the decorative options), which makes a beautifully dramatic accent for all types of projects – the 9mm width is what we used on our intersecting lines pillow.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • Our pillow samples are made for a 12" x 12" pillow form.
    NOTE: The construction itself is standard to other piped pillows we've done. At the end of the article are links to previous tutorials which are similar and you might find helpful. And, we've included links to tutorials on piping, bias binding, and covered buttons. 
  • We used an off-white cotton for all three pillow fronts: Bella Solids by Moda in Porcelain. The pillow backs and binding are Medium Cotton Dots from Riley Blake Designs. We chose four coordinating dot colors: orange, lime, and brown for the pillow backs plus aqua for all the piping. A half yard of each fabric is appropriate. 
  • For each pillow you will also need a 12" x 12" pillow form, 1½ yards of ¼" cotton piping cord, two 1⅝" cover button kits, and tearaway stabilizer. Tearaway comes in sheets as well as rolls. You need a 15" x 15" square for each pillow.
  • We used all-purpose thread for construction, 40wt embroidery thread for the decorative stitching on the starburst and intersecting lines, and 30wt variegated cotton thread for the spiral with a pearl cotton for the padding. Appropriate bobbin thread was in the bobbin for all the decorative work.

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the pillow back, cut one 13" x 13" square for each pillow.
  2. From the fabric for the pillow front, cut one 14" x 14" square for each pillow.
  3. From the tearaway stabilizer, cut one 15" x 15" square for each pillow.
  4. Print out the template(s) of your choice.
    NOTE: Each template consists of FOUR 8½" x 11" sheets. Each set of template sheets has been bundled into one PDF file to make the download easier. You must print the PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
    Starburst Pillow
    Intersecting Lines Pillow
    Spiral Pillow
  5. Cut out each piece along the solid line. 
  6. Line up the numbered arrows and tape the four pieces together to make one complete pattern piece. Butt the pieces together; do not overlap.
  7. On a flat surface, place the tearaway stabilizer over the pattern. Trace the lines for decorative stitching onto the stabilizer with a pencil or chalk marker.
  8. Remove the paper pattern. Place the square of front fabric (the Bella Solids Porcelain in our sample) over the stabilizer with its drawn lines, centering the fabric. Pin in each corner. The lines on the stabilizer should be visible through the fabric.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

NOTE: Below are the three general steps for all the pillows. Following that are specifics about how we achieved our decorative looks. 

  1. At the machine, select the desired decorative stitch. Sew along the marked lines, using a foot that is easy to see through so you can follow along your drawn lines. We used Janome Satin Stitch foot F
  2. When the stitching is complete, center the back square over the stitched front square and trim the front fabric to match the back square (13" x 13").
  3. Assemble the pillow, adding the piping and the covered buttons. See the link suggestions below if you are new to these techniques.

Starburst

  1. The dotted decorative stitch is created using a leaf style motif. (It was stitch #147 on the Janome Memory Craft 8900 QCP, which was used for the stitching on this sample.)
  2. We adjusted the stitch to 0.25 in length and 9.0 in width. We added this adjusted stitch to the machine's memory by pressing the "M" key. Next, we selected bridging stitch #165 (a straight line), adjusting its length to 3.0. We added this adjusted stitch to the memory by again pressing M. You've just created your own stitch pattern! Starting ½" from the center, sew this unique stitch pattern out towards the edge of the fabric, following along each drawn line.
  3. When finished, clip away the bridging stitch to isolate the "dots."

Intersecting Lines

  1. The following stitches from the Heirloom collection on the MC8900 QCP were used: 60, 63, 71, 80 and 86. All were stitched at the full 9mm width.
  2. Simply follow along each drawn line on the templates. We worked from bottom to top.
  3. We liked the look of a variety of stitching all in the same color of thread. For a more vibrant look, you could change both the stitch and the thread color. 

Spiral

  1. To give the spiral design a slightly raised texture and dimension, it was sewn as a padded satin stitch, using the Janome clear Appliqué foot, variegated cotton thread, and pearl cotton for the padding.
  2. Select a zig zag stitch. Adjust it to 3.0 in width and 0.30 in length. 
  3. As with the other designs, you should have already traced the spiral onto the stabilizer and layered it behind the front fabric square.
  4. Place the stabilized fabric under the needle and use the Needle Up/Down button to bring the bobbin thread up to the top of the fabric. 
  5. Place the end of the pearl cotton under the channel at the front of the Appliqué foot
  6. Pull the pearl cotton, bobbin thread and variegated cotton to the back. Hold onto these three tails as the stitches are starting. You can let go as soon as as the pearl cottom is secured with the first ¼" or so of stitching. From that point, hold on to the front of the pearl cotton, using it to follow along the drawn spiral line; the channel in the foot will help guide the pearl cotton under the zig zag stitches. 
  7. When the stitching is complete, trim the thread tails and the pearl cotton. 
  8. At the pillow's center, use a hand sewing needle with a large eye to take all the threads through to the wrong side of the fabric. 
  9. Knot at the back.

Hints & Tips

Below are links to similar piped pillow projects (saw that three times fast!):

Patchwork Lumbar Pillow with Free Motion Quilting 

Appliqué Animal Piped Pillow

Outdoor Piped Pillows

Cat's Meow Appliqué Pillow

Diamonds & Tufing Patchwork Pillow

These tutorials may also be helpful:

Bias Binding

Making & Attaching Piping

Covered Buttons

Contributors

Project Concept: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation and Technique Notes: Michele Mishler

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Comments (2)

Ota said:
Ota's picture

I have never ever seen this before. This is awesome and inspiring. I can't wait to try these.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Ota - Thanks so much! Let us know how yours turn out. If you follow us on social media, we'd love to see a pic or two. We are sew4home on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and sew4home_diy on Instagram. 

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