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FreeSpirit-Rowan 10&10 Series: Ruched Tootsie Roll Pillow in Jennifer Paganelli/Happy Land

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Two recent self improvement books that took the best-seller lists by storm centered on how to be happier: The Happiness Projectby Gretchen Rubin and her follow-up, Happier at Home. Here at S4H, we believe one of the best ways to be happier is to surround yourself with home décor that makes you smile. Why are you smiling? Because you made it yourself! We knew one of our 10 Designers & 10 Collections had to be Happy Land by Jennifer Paganelli for FreeSpirit Fabrics. Even though it's been out for awhile (a Fall 2012 debut), it caught our eye back then, and we've been waiting for a chance to use it. In fact, the Happy Land collection made us so happy, we were inspired to make three different pillows. Today's is a mini bolster. It looks fancy with its ruched center panel, piping accents and candy wrapper ends, but it's easier than you might think... because easy makes us happy!

Jennifer Paganelli has been a Sew4Home featured artist before. We've used her fabrics and talked about her great book, Girl's World. Every time I've spoken with Jennifer and each time I've met her at industry events, she is happy! Even after hours in her booth at Quilt Market, she was smiling and hugging. Happy Land is a perfect Jennifer collection. Today's tootsie roll bolster pillow is designed to bring yet another smile to her face... and yours!

Our thanks to the great folks at FreeSpirit and Rowan Fabrics for sponsoring these four weeks of Resolution Inspiration from ten of their amazing designers. What's Jennifer's resolution? It makes me feel more peaceful just reading about it!

"Goals I continually aim to achieve are meditation and carving out spiritual moments of calm. I've come to realize these moments of resolution and renewal are important to acknowledge many times throughout the year - not just in the New Year. For me, this encourages a healthy, positive mindset."

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the main body of the pillow (Claudia in Blue in our sample), cut the following:
    ONE 5" x 40" rectangle for the main center panel
    TWO 6" x 20 rectangles for the main side panels
    TWO 20" x 12" rectangles for the ponytail ends
    TWO 20" x 1½" strips for the ponytail ties
  2. From the fabric for the piping (Candice in Red in our sample), cut enough 1½" strips on the bias to yield TWO 21" strips. 
  3. Cut the piping cord into two 22" lengths.
    NOTE: As mentioned above if you are new to bias cuts and binding (it's the same technique for the strips to wrap piping cord), see our tutorial
  4. From the batting, cut ONE 14" x 19" rectangle.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Main body of the pillow

  1. Find the 5" x 40" center panel. 
  2. Use your favorite method to gather both 40" sides, reducing the panel to 20". We used the corded zig zag method. 
  3. Adjust the gathers as needed so they are evenly spaced along the entire panel. 
    NOTE: If you are new to gathering, check out our How to Make Gathers by Machine tutorial, which shows the zig zag method as well as two additional options.  
  4. Find the two 6" x 20" side panels. 
  5. Place one side panel right sides together with each 20" gathered side of the center panel. Pin in place.
  6. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch each side panel to the main panel.
  7. Press the seam allowance toward the side panels. 
  8. Topstitch along each seam within the side panel. Your stitching line should be approximately ⅛" from the seam. Be careful to keep the spacing consistent on both sides.  
  9. Find the batting. Place it flat on your work surface.
  10. Center the main body of the pillow right side up on top of the batting. If necessary, trim the batting so it is flush with the main panel. Lightly pin the two layers together. This layer of batting will make the center of the pillow look nice and smooth when done.


  1. Find the bias cut strips and the piping cord.
  2. If you did not cut full-length strips, stitch your multiple strips together end-to-end to yield two 21" strips. Press all seam allowances open.
  3. Place the two finished strips wrong side up on your work surface.
  4. Place a length of cording down the center of each strip.
  5. Wrap the strip around the cording, aligning the long raw edges of the strip. 
  6. Attach a Zipper foot.
  7. Thread your machine with thread to match the piping fabric in the top and bobbin.
  8. Stitch the length of the strip, staying as close to the cording as the foot will allow. If possible on your machine, you can also move your needle position to the left to snug up your seamline even closer.

    NOTE: If you are new to piping, check out our step-by-step tutorial

Adding the ponytails

  1. Place the main panel (with the batting pinned to it) right side up on your work surface. 
  2. Place a length of piping along each 20" raw edge of the main panel. On each side, the raw edges of the piping should be flush with the raw edge of the fabric panel. The ends of the piping will extend beyond the piping a bit.
  3. Pin the piping in place. Hand or machine baste each piping strip in place. If machine-basting, continue to use your Zipper foot
  4. Find the two 20" x 12" ponytail rectangles. Place one right sides together along each 20" raw edge of the panel, sandwiching the piping between the layers. Pin in place. 
  5. Still using the Zipper foot, stitch the ponytails in place through all the layers. As above, stay as close to the piping as the foot will allow. If you machine-basted your piping in place, you can follow along in this basting seam.
  6. Press the ponytails away from the center panel, revealing the piping.
  7. Fold the entire piece lengthwise, right sides together, aligning the long raw edges. Pin in place.
  8. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch in place.
  9. Trim away the excess piping.
  10. You now have one long tube. Turn this tube right side out. Roll the tube so the seam is at the center back. Press flat.

Finish the ends and make the ponytail ties

  1. Make a deep hem on each ponytail end. To do this, fold in the raw edge of the ponytail ½" and press.
  2. Fold an additional 4" and press again.
  3. Stitch the hem in place. If your machine has a free arm, now is a good time to use it. 

    NOTE: If you are new to hemming, we have a Simple Hem tutorial.
  4. Slip the pillow insert inside the tube. Center it side to side; it should end right at the piping line on each end.
  5. Find the two 20" x 1½" ponytail tie strips.
  6. For each strip, fold and press each end ¼".
  7. Fold in each 20" raw edge ¼" and press.
  8. Fold the entire strip in half lengthwise, aligning all the folded edges.
  9. Lightly pin in place.
  10. Edgestitch across both ends and along the folded edge to create your finished tie. 
  11. Gather each end like the ponytail it's named for, wrap it with a tie, and make a pretty bow.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Aimee McGaffey



Comments (47)

ktvita said:
ktvita's picture

I love making pillows!!! This is very cute... I've recently found nice bolster inserts on a sale... This is a great tutorial!!!! am going to try this soon!!!

My 2013 resolution is to sort out, proritize, actually use my stash and implement at least 3 of the projects from my to-do list!!! One quilt, One handbag/may be this clutch and one skirt (yes want to start with a simpler one)! I've bookmarked so many projects and have bought many books on quilts, handbags, dress making and home decor in 2012.  

Picking one favorite designer is really hard.. I've collected fabric lines from Joel Dewberry, Ty Pennington, Jennifer Paganelli, Paula Prass, Sweetwater, Tanya Whelan and just love all other designers for their creativity!!! 

Okay, if at all I've to pick one now, I think it is Joel Dewberry :)

DesignsbyJanet said:
DesignsbyJanet's picture

My goal in 2013 is to make several for my granddaughters and several for my self.  Great tutorial.  Thanks

irisb said:
irisb's picture

Is it me, or do fabrics whisper your name, and say, "Come loooooook at meeeeee!!!! Come buy me, and don't forget to get the coordinating fabrics that go with me as well!" So my resolution for 2013, is to organize my fabric stash, to be able to complete more projects! (and of course that leads to buying more fabrics after that!) All the designers are so good, it is hard to pick just one, but since I HAVE to pick one for this, it would be Jennifer Paganelli, especially this season's" Happy Land." One cannot help but be "happy" with the bright colors!

goonybird said:
goonybird's picture

This is so cute!  My resolution is to sew more and finish my projects! My favorite designer is Kaffe Fassett...

Dupcodeb said:
Dupcodeb's picture

Very cute project! No girls around here to sew for, but I love how girly this is.  My favorite deigner is Anna maria Horner and my 2013 resolution is to finish a coat I have been working and and then moving to some of your projects.

Dena said:
Dena's picture

Love the tutorial.  Now, where can I put another pillow????

Cheryl B said:
Cheryl B's picture

I like the unique touch of gathering in the middle of the bolster pillow. I'm adding this to my to-sew list.

glendasue said:
glendasue's picture

Jennifer's designs are so bright and cheerful.  Working in 2013 to help my granddaughter re-do her room and pillows are a must.

ginamari said:
ginamari's picture

Aahh --  both the pillow and the fabric transports me back to Nana's place!

sewalittle2 said:
sewalittle2's picture

Pretty!! My 2913 resolution is to spend more time in my sewing room creating! All time favorite designer is Joel Dewberry.

jovy.ann said:
jovy.ann's picture

Simple yet pretty bolster.  If only the other half would go for cute frilly things like this...  I may have to remove the center ruffle, but that seems boring.

smithcindyk said:
smithcindyk's picture

Great pillow and pattern. I need to add this to my to do list!

Pam S said:
Pam S's picture

I absolutely love the fabric used in this tutorial! I compliments the design perfectly.

corsetkitten said:
corsetkitten's picture

My 2013 sewing resolution is a 2-part resolution: 1) that I would like to become a better quilter--since I'm self taught and I'm only making miniature quilts (1:6) and I make a lot of it up as I go along and it's not always "right" and 2) that my goal for 2013 is to start  a Log Cabin quilt to use as a quilt on the couch (and for guests) in our home. It will be the first human size quilt I try to make!

You have fantastic designers and it's really quite difficult to pick just one.  If I had to though I would go with Jane A. Sassaman. Her designs seem to be so vibrant and alive! They jump out and make me want to use them! (a close second is Mark Cesarik -- his designs and colors are ace too!)

If you need to you can contact me by email (I'm registered with the site).

ssmullis said:
ssmullis's picture

My 2013 sewing resolution is to actually start machine quilting my own quilt tops. My favorite designer would have to be Jennifer Paganelli. Her fabrics are so full of joy! This project is beautiful! Thanks so much for this most awesome giveaway!

Jsweets said:
Jsweets's picture

I love the fabric!  The contrasting piping pops and makes such a difference.  This is a great tutorial and I'm inspired to tackle piping.  That's a sewing technique which I haven't tried yet.

Rina said:
Rina's picture

This is just what I need to use as a neck pillow in the car on trips. Besides, it would just make me happy seeing it when I got in the car everyday.

kplaposata said:
kplaposata's picture

Something other than just a square pillow!!  Very nice.  It is sure to stand out in a pile of pillows!.  Thanks for the project idea.

cat222 said:
cat222's picture

I love these fabrics.  My 2013 Sewing Resolution is to sew my way through my fabric stash of over 30 years doing charity sewing and treat myself in between with my new plan for my living room pillows.  I am going to do color themes so I can swap them out several times a year and add candles to match for a new look.  Turquoise and brown, lemon and orange, hot pink and lime green, black and red......endless combinations and with such beautiful prints I can't wait to treat myself with new fabrics as I help others and use my stash up too! LOVE this site and drool every time I see a new fabric!

Stacey Henderson said:
Stacey Henderson's picture

Fun 2013 the year of doing fun sewing?

AlphaBecky said:
AlphaBecky's picture

A wonderful way to add a pop of color to a room - just stunning!

Gale W. said:
Gale W.'s picture

My grand daughters will love this - so cute! Thanks for the pattern.

elimarie said:
elimarie's picture

That print whisks me away to a tropcial island. Maybe I need on for my office chair!

bec.nichols said:
bec.nichols's picture

I LOVE these pillows on my bed!  What a cute Idea!!!

Sew4fun28 said:
Sew4fun28's picture

These are adorable! My 2013 sewing resolution is to sew mor often and create more of my own patterns. My favorite designer is Amy Butler, but I like a lot of other designers too! :)

Savannagal said:
Savannagal's picture

Really cute. I'd like to make one of these to put under my neck when I'm reading in bed.

Fiona Kelly said:
Fiona Kelly 's picture

Ooo just gorgeous! I have so many of Jennifer Paganelli's fabrics on my wish list it's sometimes hard to decide what to get and make.. For 2013 I must make sure I add lots of sisboom fabrics to my stash :)

Rachel Hodges said:
Rachel Hodges's picture

Great directions!  My resolution is to make 50 pillowcase dresses for little girls in Bercy, Haiti, as well as help supply a sewing school there.  I also want to make more dresses for my 1-year-old daughter.  My favorite designer is Jennifer Paganelli, for Free Spirit fabrics.

MooMommy said:
MooMommy's picture

My oldest has been asking for a "neck" pillow. Maybe now she can have one ;)

KnittyWhit said:
KnittyWhit's picture

What a simple bolster, but it looks so good! This would be a great gift to a nursing home/hospital. I couldn't see being depressed with this bright fabric!

Heather81203 said:
Heather81203's picture

This fabric makes me so happy! It's so dreary here in SC this morning. I love the pillows and I wish they were on my back porch right now!

JoyceLM said:
JoyceLM's picture

Cut pillow - thanks for the detailed tutorial.  Love the fabric.

GypsyThread said:
GypsyThread's picture

This is so much fun! Love the bright color choices. This pillow definitely says "candy" to me.

GloriaLaVonne said:
GloriaLaVonne's picture

 Just what I was looking for in a round-tube-tootsie roll pillow. Thanks Sew4Home

Carrie P. said:
Carrie P.'s picture

thanks for the instructions. I love that pillow and the fabric is so pretty too.

Valencia said:
Valencia's picture

I just started sewing in November and I have starting following blogs, and I have to say I absolutely love this site. I learn so much from your tutorials and they're so easy to follow, thank you!!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:

@ Fennewdj - Ha! I just removed that link. We found ours on Amazon, but it must have sold out and they replaced it with a much larger bolster... which was much more expensive. Yikes! Most should only be around $15-$20. I did a quick Google search and found several in that price range. Sorry to frighten you so early in the morning!

Chelle Chapman said:
Chelle Chapman's picture

I absolutely LOVE this pillow! How happy it makes me just looking at it! Thank You so much for the tute w/ all those lovely pix, hints, techniques, etc! You are all so wonderful to share your creativity like this with us all. I would love to stay & gush some more but I'm off to find this gorgeous fabric! Wish me luck & Keep Sewing Happy Things!!


RedHairedLady said:
RedHairedLady's picture

That is absolutely one gorgeous pillow! Definitely one of my favorite projects I've seen on Sew 4 Home. Keep up the good work!

Mousetail said:
Mousetail's picture

So very, very cute; I think I will use this idea of center panel on a bag too. Thanks for great tutorial

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