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Patchwork Pillows

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Click to Read MorePatchwork is a classic quilting pattern, but you can use a mini version of it to create a colorful pillow. Want a vibrant and fun toss pillow? Use a different fabric for every square – 25 in all. Would a more subdued palette better suit your room? Stick to just four or five patterns in a similar tonal family.

With this project, you can use as many coordinating fabrics as you want. The squares for the patchwork are cut 4 ½" x 4 ½". Dig through your fabric leftovers for scraps from which you can cut a square at least 4 ½" x 4 ½".

Sewing Tools You Need

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Fabric and Other Supplies

Note: All measurements include ¼" seam allowance. Finished size of pillow is approximately 20" x 20".

  • Five - "Fat Eighths" (9" x 21") of coordinating cotton fabric for Pillow top. A "fat eighth" is a quilting term for a pre-cut piece measuring 9" x 21. There are also "fat quarters," which are 18" x 22". These pre-cut pieces are often available for sale in fabric and quilting shops in color-coordinated bunches. Buying a fat eighth or a fat quarter speeds up your patchworking, but you can certainly make your own squares.
  • 5/8 yd - Cotton fabric for backing
  • 2 ½' yds - ½" or 3/8" fabric covered cording. Note: Look in the Notions department of your fabric store for pre-covered cording to coordinate with your fabric. If you can not find what you are looking for, at the end of these instructions are directions for "Creating your own Fabric Wrapped Cording."
  • 3 Buttons
  • 20" x 20" Pillow Form
  • All-purpose sewing thread to coordinate with fabric
  • Quilter's ruler, rotary cutter and mat
  • Iron and ironing board

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Fabric Preparation

  1. From Fat Eighths or your own fabric cut a total of twenty five (25) 4 ½" x 4 ½" squares
  2. From Backing fabric cut two (2) 21" x 15" rectangles

At Your Machine

Patchwork Top

  1. Set up your sewing machine for a straight stitch. Snap on a ¼" Seam foot. Place all-purpose thread in the needle and bobbin.
  2. Lay the twenty-five 4 ½" squares out on a flat surface in a pleasing arrangement.
  3. Using a ¼" seam allowance, sew five squares together to yield a row.
  4. Repeat four more times to yield five rows.
  5. Sew the five (5) rows together to create the pillow top. Finished size 20 ½" x 20 ½"

Attaching the Cording to the Pillow Top:

  1. Starting a long edge, place raw edge of pillow and raw edge of pillow top, right sides together, leaving approximately 3" of piping hang free at the beginning.
  2. Still using a Zipper foot and a straight stitch, sew to within 1" of the corner. Stop with your needle down. Using sharp scissors, clip the seam allowance of the piping only up to the seam. This will allow the piping to turn the corner smoothly.
  3. Ease the piping around the corner and continue on the next straight edge.
  4. At each corner remember to clip the seam allowance of the piping.
  5. To join the two cording ends, cut the cording approximately 3" longer than what seems necessary. With the 3" left at the beginning, this will allow about 1 ½" for overlapping.
  6. Push the fabric away to expose the cording on both ends. Untwist the ends of cords. Cut away about half of each untwisted end.
  7. Lap the two ends back together and twist.
  8. Replace the fabric that is covering the cord, turning one end under to cover the raw edge.
  9. Replace on pillow top and complete the sewing.

Pillow Back

  1. On each half: fold under ½" and press. Fold under another 2" and press.
  2. Stitch along edge of each finished fold to secure the hems.
  3. On one of the pillow backs measure half way down and add buttonhole.
  4. Measure half way between middle buttonhole and top and add another buttonhole.
  5. Measure half way between middle buttonhole and bottom and add another buttonhole. Note: Refer to your Instruction Manual for sewing Buttonholes.
  6. On remaining pillow back add buttons in the same manor you added buttonholes.

Attaching Pillow Front to Back

  1. Button the two back halves together and place on top of pillow front with right sides facing each other.
  2. Line up corners and pin in place.
  3. Stitch together using a ¼" seam allowance.
  4. Turn right side out, unbutton back halves, insert pillow form, button opening closed.

Making Your Own Fabric Wrapped Cording

For this project you will need:

  • 2 ½ yds - ½" or 3/8" cording
  • For ½" cording you will need ¼ yd cotton fabric
  • For 3/8" cording you will need 1/3 yd cotton fabric
  • Zipper foot, Cording or Piping foot

Cutting Strips

  1. For ½" cording, cut three (3) 2" x width of fabric strips.
  2. For 3/8" cording, cut three (3) 2 ½" x width of fabric strips.


  1. Set up your sewing machine for a straight stitch. Place all-purpose sewing thread in the needle and bobbin. Snap on a ¼" Seam foot.
  2. Right sides together, sew the short ends of the three strips together to create one continuous strip.
  3. Place either a Zipper foot or Cording foot/Piping foot on your machine. Note: If using a Cording or Piping foot follow the Instructions that came with the foot.
  4. Fold the long strip in half widthwise, wrong sides together.
  5. Sandwich the cording between the two layers next to the fold. Note: The cording will be shorter than the fabric strip.
  6. Place wrapped cord under the sewing machine foot. The cording will be on the right and the raw edges will be on the left.
  7. Sew slowly. Stitch as close to the cording as you can, but do not actually stitch on the cording.

Other machines suitable for this project include the Pfaff hobby 1122 and the Bernina bernette 82e.



Comments (3)

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

@SMK - My - this is a older project, but yes - you could make it without the cording. You won't have any "dividing line" between the front and the back so you might want to coordinate the back fabric more closely to the front.

albus said:
albus's picture
smilies/wink.gif nice information of sewing a pathwork pillow. now I can easily make one with step by step instructions and purfect pictures to see a visual picture of what they turn out to be. -Albus 10 years old