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FreeSpirit-Rowan 10&10 Series: Square Ruffled Pillow in Jennifer Paganelli/Happy Land

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The classic pillow shape is the square. But if that seems a little too, well... square for your home décor happiness project, soften it with a beautiful ruffle. Not only does does a ruffle give your pillow a more interesting shape, it's also a great way to bring in a second fabric and really make a pillow pop. Today's hip-to-be-square pillow is the third of our trio in Jennifer Paganelli's Happy Land collection, part of our 10 Designers & 10 Collections series for FreeSpirit and Rowan Fabrics. The back features a pretty double-bow envelope closure, which means you can pull out the insert and make a new pillow cover whenever the mood strikes you.

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?

"Goals I continually aim to achieve are meditation and caring 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."

The Happy Land collection has three color palettes, which I believe is happiness cubed: Ecstatic with paler blues and softer greens; Joyous with rich midnight blues and fuchsia; and Serendipitous with hot pinks and candy apple reds. It came out in October of 2012 in both a cotton and a laminate. We were able to still find a good selection of the cotton at Sew4Home Marketplace vendor: Fabric.com. Remember, not all shops take delivery and/or display fabrics on the same schedule, so actual in-stock dates may vary. Also, you can always ask your favorite local independent fabric retailer to special order fabric for you. Check out the Westminster Fibers Retail Locator for shopping options near you.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

The yardage shown below allows extra for fussy cutting.

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the main body of the pillow (Candice in Green in our sample), fussy cut the following:
    ONE 16½" x 16½" square for the front
    ONE 16½" high x 12" wide rectangle for the back envelope overlap
    ONE 16½" high x 14" wide rectangle for the back envelope underlap
    FOUR 12" x 1½" strips for the ties
  2. From the fabric for the ruffle (Madison in Blue in our sample), cut THREE 5" x WOF (Width of Fabric) strips. 
    NOTE: We used the rule of thumb that says your ruffle needs to 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". We wanted a softer gather and so opted for 128." With a 44" useable fabric width, that means three WOF strips (128" ÷ 44 = 2.91, rounded up to 3). If you are new to gathering, take a look at our tutorial: How to Make Gathers by Machine
  3. From the fusible interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 16½" x 16½" square for the front
    ONE 16½" x 9" rectangle for the back envelope overlap
    ONE 16½" x 13" rectangle for the back envelope underlap

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Pillow front

  1. Find the front pillow square and the front pillow interfacing. 
  2. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing the wrong side of the pillow front.


  1. Find the three 5" x WOF strips. 
  2. Sew the three strips together end to end. To do this, place two strips right sides together and stitch along the 5" edge, using a ¼" seam allowance. Repeat with the third to create one long strip. Press all seams open.
  3. Hem one end of the long ruffle strip. To do this, turn one end under ¼" and press, turn under again ¼" and press, then sew in place close to the folded edge.
  4. Fold and press this long ruffle piece in half lengthwise wrong sides together.
  5. Prepare the strip for gathering. You can gather using a traditional double row of basting stitches, a corded zig zag or try a Ruffler Attachment
    NOTE: If you are new to gathering, check out How to Make Gathers by Machine tutorial.
  6. Gather the entire length of the ruffle to the 64" perimeter of the pillow front plus about 2" for overlap, so gather to approximately 66".
  7. Starting with the hemmed end at the bottom edge of the pillow, LIGHTLY pin the ruffle strip to the right side of the pillow front square. Align the raw edges of the ruffle with the raw edge of the fabric. You may need 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. When you get back around to the beginning, overlap the hemmed end of the ruffle.
  9. Cut off the excess so your overlap is about 1". Un-pin the ruffle, then hem this end in the same manner as you hemmed the beginning. If you've used a ruffler attachment, you'll need to switch back to your regular presser foot.
  10. After hemming, pin the ruffle back on the front of the pillow, overlapping the two finished ends. Pin securely in place this time. 
    NOTE: Make sure the right side of the ruffle is against the right side of the pillow. The only way to tell is by the hems; both finished sides of the hems should be against the right side of the pillow. So, you're looking at the turned under side (the back side) of the hems when you are pinning the ruffle in place.
  11. Machine baste the ruffle in place around all four sides, using a ⅜" or smaller seam allowance.


  1. Find the four 12" x 1½" tie strips.
  2. For each strip, fold and press each 1½" end ¼".
  3. Fold in each 12" raw edge ¼" and press.
  4. Fold the entire strip in half lengthwise, aligning all the folded edges.
  5. Lightly pin in place.
  6. Edgestitch across both ends and along the folded edge.
  7. Repeat to create four matching ties.

Make the pillow back

  1. Find the two pillow back pieces and the two back interfacing pieces.
  2. On the 16½" high x 12" wide back envelope overlap, make a 3" hem along the inside 16½" edge (if your fabric is not directional, simply pick one edge to be your inside edge. To do this, fold under the raw edge 1½" and press. Fold under an additional 1½" and press again. Edgestitch along the insdie folded edge to make a clean double turn hem.
  3. On the 16½" high x 14" wide back envelope underlap, make a 1" hem along the inside 16½" edge (again, if your fabric is not directional, simply pick one edge to be your inside edge. To do this, fold under the raw edge ½" and press. Fold under an additional ½" and press again. Edgestitch along the inside folded edge to make a clean double turn hem.
  4. Following manufacturer's instructions fuse the appropriate interfacing piece to the wrong side of each back panel. The interfacing should be flush with the outside raw edges and butt up against the inside fold of each hem.
  5. Place the underlap panel right side up and flat on your work surface. Place the overlap panel on top, also right side up. With the top and bottom raw edges aligned, overlap the hems to yield the correct finished width of 16½". 
  6. Find the four finished ties. 
  7. Place one set of ties 4½" from the top raw edge. The second set of ties is 4½" from the bottom raw edge.
  8. For each set, pin one tie flush with the exposed hem line of the overlap panel and the other tie directly opposite it flush against the fold of the opening.
  9. Stitch each end of each tie in place with a 1¼" long box of stitching.

Assembling the layers

  1. Carefully pin the extra ruffle fabric away from the corners so they do not get caught up in the stitching.
  2. Carefully fold up and pin the ties on the back so they do not get caught in the stitching either. It also helps to pin the envelope opening closed so it lays flat. 
  3. Place your finished front/ruffle piece on your work surface right side facing up.
  4. Place your finish back/tie piece on top, right side facing down. Your ruffle and ties are sandwiched in between the layers.
  5. Carefully align all the raw edges and pin in place.
  6. Stitch together through all layers around all four sides, using a ½" seam allowance. Go slowly and make sure your layers stay flat. I like to stitch with the back piece on top and the front/ruffle piece against the feed dogs.
  7. Clip the corners diagonally. Be careful not to clip into your seam. 
  8. Turn right side out through the back opening.
  9. Gently round out the corners from the inside using a long, blunt-end tool, such as a knitting needle or chopstick.
  10. Pull out the ruffle all around. If needed, pick out any stray basting stitches with your seam ripper.
  11. Insert your pillow form through the envelope opening and fluff it out into the corners.
  12. Tie two neat bows on the back.


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



Comments (50)

Tammy W. said:
Tammy W.'s picture

I recently found this pillow pattern and decided to give it a try.  I'm a knitter, not a seamstress - but your directions are easy enough that I made a beautiful pillow in just a few hours.  Thank you.

Mary Ann said:
Mary Ann's picture

I'm working through the tutorial and I so far have one observation. When you lightly pin the ruffle to the edge of the pillow top, before you cut the overlap to one inch. be sure to stitch the basting stitches in place, or when you cut the ruffle, it will cut the basting stitches and I am assuming they will start to unravel. 

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

@ Mary Ann - with a ruffle this long and using a ruffler, your ruffling atitch should stay in place - especially when just working with the very end to hem. You could certainly do the hemming and overlap using a different method if you choose, such as seaming the ends together as you would handle binding.

Mary Ann said:
Mary Ann's picture

Hi Liz~~I have a new industrial machine so I did my gathers with two rows of machine basting stitches. I just sewed across the basting stitches back and forth a few times to secure them. I am wondering if Singer makes machine rufflers for their industrial machine. That would be a very helpful item! Thank you for your response. This tutorial is wonderful.

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

@ Mary Ann - Janome is the exclusive sewing machine sponsor for us here at Sew4Home, so we are not as familiar with all the intricacies of the other brands - especially their industrial lines. You should contact a local dealer or Singer directly.

ktvita said:
ktvita's picture

I love making pillows!!! This is very cute... 

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:
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I will definitely be making some of these for my granddaughters in 2013.  I have at least 3 birthdays to make this year and am again ever so grateful for the great ideas.  Cute fabrics too. Thanks

goonybird said:
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And more cute pillows!

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

Dr. G said:
Dr. G's picture

My New Year's Resolution is to try out new techniques with my sewing (example crocheted trim, embroidered accents).  I love all of these designers(and have made things from each of their lines) but have I been following and have loved Anna Maria Horner from the very beginning.

Dupcodeb said:
Dupcodeb's picture

Very cute project!  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.

Cheryl B said:
Cheryl B's picture

I can see making a couple of these in the Jennifer Paganelli brights to add to my daughter's bed.

ginamari said:
ginamari's picture

No excuses for anyone to have a drab-looking living room after this! 

sewalittle2 said:
sewalittle2's picture

Ruffles!! My 2013 resolution is to spend more time in my sewing room creating! My fave designer is Joel Dewberry!

hollyfri said:
hollyfri's picture

Happy Land line by Jennifer Paganilli is so bright and cheerful. My 2013 resolution is to make the gifts for family and friends  instead of buying (except for the fabric of course!). I see cute aprons and oven mitts out of these fabrics. Thanks Sew4Home for all the wonderful ideas and fabric choices to choose from! I get so much inspiration! I have made several things all ready and the list of things to sew is getting longer....sew many things, sew much to sew!

ggiffinrao said:
ggiffinrao's picture

My resolution is to learn how to make clothing that does not look "home-made". My favorite designer is Valori Wells!

EstateTailor said:
EstateTailor's picture

Fresh green, sparkly blue and bright wow white...just energizing in combination!

jovy.ann said:
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I really love the ties in the back of this pillow.  And it's amazing how you make the ruffles look so easy.  I always seem to mess that up.

cyndi said:
cyndi's picture

Love these pillows, just finished new curtains for my living room and currently making several of these pillows for a fresh new look for the  new year!  I have so many favorite designers I would have to name Amy Butler first, her designs and color palettes are beautiful as well as so many other designers that I love!!  I Love sew4home Thank you for all the wonderful tutorials when I recieve that email everyweek it is so exciting to see what is featured!!


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

Another great Paganelli project! I will definitely be making one of these! 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! Thanks so much for this most awesome giveaway!

kplaposata said:
kplaposata's picture

These 3 pillow shapes make a nice grouping.  Now you've got me thinking that I should make one of each.  Thanks for the idea.

AlphaBecky said:
AlphaBecky's picture

I have never seen a tutorial with a tie closure for the pillow back!  Thanks for that new option for finishing.

Gale W. said:
Gale W.'s picture

So simple yet so beautiful. :)  Thank you for this beautiful tutorial!

elimarie said:
elimarie's picture

I really like the pillow back with the ties. I would definatley try that design.

bec.nichols said:
bec.nichols's picture

I love the Happy Land collection!  I would love to make a few two-zip hipsters from this fabric line.  Your pillows look marvelous too!!

theelvengarden said:
theelvengarden's picture

I'd like to make all three of these pillows, they are gorgeous! 

Savannagal said:
Savannagal's picture

Can never have too many accent pillows. Love the vibrant fabric.

Rachel Hodges said:
Rachel Hodges's picture

So cute!  Perfect in the shared room for my son and daughter.

Rachel Hodges said:
Rachel Hodges's picture

So cute!  Perfect in the shared room for my son and daughter.

Rachel Hodges said:
Rachel Hodges's picture

So cute!  Perfect in the shared room for my son and daughter.

Rachel Hodges said:
Rachel Hodges's picture

So cute!  Perfect in the shared room for my son and daughter.

sarahkate said:
sarahkate's picture

Love the ruffles, I recently bought a ruffler foot and need some good projects for it. This would be perfect!

KnittyWhit said:
KnittyWhit's picture

Making your own trim is time consuming, but the results are so worth it! I like the tie idea too.

JoyceLM said:
JoyceLM's picture

Love the pillow.  Thanks for the great tutorial.  My cats would love the ties.

GypsyThread said:
GypsyThread's picture

I like the use of the ties to close the back of the pillow. They add a decorative as well as functional touch that coordinates nicely with the ruffle.

Beckie said:
Beckie's picture

Thanks for sharing Liz... I would really love to do this pillow. Cute!