Embroidery turned a simple round, white pillow into a stunning statement. Our friends at Janome America sponsored this beautiful custom embroidery design, allowing us to offer it to you as a free download in the six major embroidery machine formats. The ascending and descending triangles simulate a rosy sunrise reflected in a cool mountain lake. We used the Horizon Memory Craft 15000 for our sample and also tested the design on the Memory Craft 9900. Both models stitched out the design with the incredible precision for which Janome is famous.
We know not everyone has embroidery capabilities on their sewing machines, but it's always inspiring to see what a bit of embroidery can add to a project. It can be mesmerizing to watch a design stitching out. Each perfectly formed stitch flies by at hundreds and hundreds of penetrations per minute, the colorful picture building right before your eyes.
If you're a Sew4Home regular, you know we are fans of Janome machines and use them exclusively in our S4H studios. From the most basic model, all the way to the top-of-the-line computerized dream machines, Janome never disappoints. Beautiful stitches, amazing quality, smooth and quiet, and most important of all: easy to use!
Janome is known throughout the industry for building machines you can use right out of the box. They're smart, intuitive, and frustration-free. If you're in the market for a new sewing-and-embroidery model, we highly recommend you test drive the Horizon Quilt Maker Memory Craft 15000 – it has a wireless connection via your PC or iPad and their fastest processor to date. If love your current sewing machine, and are looking to just add embroidery, take a look at the embroidery-only model: the Memory Craft 500E.
Thanks to Janome America, our Mountain Sunrise embroidery design is available as a free download in the following formats: .JEF, .EXP, .ART, .PES, .VIP, and .VP3. A link is provided below to the download page where you're also find a full color chart with the five Aurifil thread colors we used for our stitchout.
A wedge pattern download is also offered below that will not only allow you to cut twelve perfect wedges to create the pillow's front and back, it has the embroidery design printed right on the pattern so you can perfectly center your embroidery on each piece prior to cutting.
Tone-on-tone piping adds a nice finishing touch to the pillow without detracting from the splash of the embroidery. The stuffing is added through a break in one of the back wedge seams, preserving the continuous circle of piping around the edge.
The pillow finishes at approximately 18" in diameter. We created our own insert for this pillow because of this slightly unusual size and the fact that we wanted a flatter finish rather than a more traditional plump pillow form. The steps and supplies needed for this custom insert are listed below.
Of course, the embroidery doesn't have to be used on a pillow! The tall, elegant shape would be lovely to embellish new or existing apparel, such as down the front of a trendy kimono wrap or along the lapel of the popular long-line blazers. It would also be excellent on the pocket of a bag or tote.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and a standard presser foot; you'll need an embroidery model to create our free Mountain Sunrise design
- Zipper foot
- Piping foot; optional
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1 yard of 54"+ wide cotton duck or similar for the pillow exterior and piping; we used 7oz Duck Canvas Cloth in White
- 1 yard of 44"+ wide lightweight muslin or similar for the pillow insert; we used a standard quilting muslin
- Stabilizer for the embroidery as recommended for your embroidery machine
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- Embroidery thread in five colors for the Mountain Sunrise design; we used 50 wt Aurifil cotton thread - the specific Aurifil colors are detailed in the color chart, which is on the same download page as the embroidery files
- Bobbin thread
- 2 yards of ⅜" cotton piping cord
- ONE medium size bag of high quality polyester fiber; we used Poly-Fil 100% Premium Polyester Fiberfill
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
- Download and print out the Pillow Section pattern.
IMPORTANT: This pattern is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guideline on the printout to confirm your sizing is correct.
- Cut out the pattern's two pieces along the solid lines. Butt together the pieces at the printed arrows. Do not overlap. Tape together to form the complete Pillow Section pattern.
- From the fabric for the pillow exterior, cut the following:
SIX 10½" x 10½" squares
Using the assembled pattern, cut SIX wedges for the pillow back
From the remaining fabric, cut enough 2" strips on the bias to yield approximately 72" of length.
NOTE: If you are new to working with bias strips and/or to creating piping; we have a great step-by-step piping tutorial you can review before starting this project.
- From the fabric for the pillow insert, cut TWO 17" circles.
NOTE: You can use a 17" circle template of any kind. Or, check out our tutorial: How to Make and Measure a Circle Without a Pattern.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Download the Mountain Sunrise embroidery design in the appropriate format for your machine.
- Find the six 10½" x 10½" squares.
- Thread the machine with bobbin thread in the bobbin and your embroidery thread of choice in the top (we used 50wt cotton). Refer to the color chart for the appropriate starting color.
- Set up the machine for embroidery.
- Stabilize according to your machine's specifications. We hooped two layers of stabilizer in a 5" x 7" hoop. The design requires a minimum 5" x 7" hoop, but you could use a larger hoop. If you do, your starting 10½" squares may need to be larger.
- Place the hoop on the machine. Center a 10½" square of fabric over the hoop. Use the baste function of your machine to secure the fabric in place. If you do not have a basting function, an alternative option would be to first hoop a sticky stabilizer then use that to secure the fabric in place.
- Start the embroidery, following the included color chart for thread changes. The inner copper triangles stitch first.
- Then the charcoal accents.
- ... the light pink highlights...
- ... followed by the deep rose...
- ... and finishing with the main turquoise triangles and the upper and lower mini triangles.
- When the embroidery is complete, remove the fabric from the hoop and remove the excess stabilizer from the back of the embroidery. Press from the wrong side.
- Repeat for a total of 6 embroidered squares.
Cut and assemble the front embroidery wedges
- Find the assembled pattern piece. We positioned an exact size embroidery image on the pattern so it is easy to cut each final wedge from each embroidered square.
- Place a pin through the very top and very bottom of the embroidery design on the paper pattern. Line up these pin points with the very top and very bottom of the actual stitched design.
- With the design correctly position, fully pin the pattern in place.
- Cut out the wedge.
- Repeat with the remaining five embroidered squares.
- Pin together the first two wedges along one side. Be especially careful to line up the points of the embroidery design.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to match the fabric in the top and bobbin. Re-set for ordinary sewing.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch together. Press open the seam allowance.
- You can see in the photo below how important it is to make sure the embroidery designs line up side to side. The sewn points will create little "dog ears" at the top; this is normal, they'll be trimmed away later.
- Pin a third wedge in place with the sewn pair. Again, be very precise when aligning the embroidery design.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the third wedge in place.
- Press open the seam allowance, then press the full piece flat from the back. Flip to the front and trim away the "dog ears." This creates one half of the top circle. Repeat the steps with the remaining three wedges to create the opposite half of the circle.
- Place the two half circles right sides together, carefully matching the center seams. We used a pin to mark the center point through both layers.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the two half circles together.
- Press the full embroidered circle flat from the back. You can also press from the front with a pressing cloth.
- The back wedges should be assembled in the same manner as the front. It's easier because there isn't the critical motif matching on this side.
- Leave an approximate 6" opening between two of the wedges. This is the opening that will be used to turn the pillow right side out and for the pillow insert.
Make and attach the piping
- Find the bias cut strip(s) and the piping cord.
- If you did not cut a full-length strip, stitch your multiple strips together end-to-end with a ¼" seam allowance to yield one approximate 72" strip.
- Press all seam allowances open and trim the sides flush
- Place a length of cording down the center of the wrong side of the strip.
- Wrap the strip around the cording, wrong sides together, aligning the long raw edges of the strip.
- Attach a Zipper foot or Piping foot (what we used).
- 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 seam even closer.
- When the piping is complete, trim the seam allowance to an exact ½".
- Find the embroidered top circle. Pin the piping in place around the perimeter, aligning the raw edges of the piping and the fabric as you pin. To join the ends, trim the cord so it butts together and overlap the fabric.
- With the Piping or Zipper foot still in place, baste the piping to the embroidered pillow top. Simply stitch along the original piping seam line.
- The piping should lay nice and flat all around. As mentioned above, if you are new to making and/or attaching piping (including the steps for finishing the ends), we have a great step-by-step tutorial.
Finishing the pillow
- Place the pillow front and back right sides together. Match up the wedge seams all around. Pin the layers in place.
- Attach a Zipper foot. Stitch the layers together around the entire perimeter. Stitch with the top facing up so you can simply stitch right on top of the piping seam.
- Clip the curves and turn the pillow right side out through the opening in the one back wedge seam.
- If you can find an appropriately sized pre-made pillow form, you can of course use it. However, we wanted a flatter finish to our pillow than is traditionally achieved with a pillow form in order to better showcase the embroidery. So, we opted to make our own insert.
- Find the two muslin circles.
- Pin them right sides together.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around the perimeter of the circle, leaving an approximate 3" opening for turning.
- Turn the muslin cover right sides out. Press the cover flat, turning in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- Stuff the cover with the polyester fiber-fill. Again, we recommend more of a flat finish; the embroidery won't look as good if it poofs up in the center.
- When the cover is filled, hand stitch the opening closed.
- Work the pillow insert through the opening in the back wedge seam. The seam of the insert should align with the outer seam of the pillow. Fluff out the insert until it sits flat inside the cover.
- Once in place, we recommend adding a few small handfuls of the filler to insure the piping smooths out all around. For more information, take a look at our full tutorial on pillow stuffing tips and tricks.
- When you have just the look you want, slip stitch the opening in the back wedge seam.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler