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Patchwork Strip Pillow with Decorative Stitch Accents

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Working with pre-cuts often makes me hungry... the names are so tantalizing: Jelly Rolls, Honey Buns, Layer Cakes. Thankfully, pre-cuts have zero calories and it's fun to come up with creative ways to turn them into what we like to call "new fabric." For today's project, we used Jelly Roll strips from one collection and Honey Bun strips from another collection, proving once again, you can combine beautiful prints from different designers to create a your own unique look. We created a fast, strip-pieced pillow in lovely seasonal colors with decorative stitch accents. 

Our 12" x 22" pillow used just a few of the strips from each pre-cut bundle, which means it's a great way to use up leftover pre-cuts in your stash. Or, you could make a pile of pillows for quick holiday gifts. Each one will be different as you mix and match the strips to create a new effect each time. Our friends at Fat Quarter Shop have one of the best selections of pre-cuts!

For more ideas on blending fabrics, check out our tutorial: Top 10 Designer Tips for Blending Colors and Prints.

Our pillow finishes at 12" x 22", but the technique is easy to size up or down for the look you want. You could even go with a square rather than a rectangle. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • Jelly Roll Strips and Honey Bun Strips to fit your chosen pillow size and shape; we used 12 Jelly Roll strips and 13 Honey Bun strips 
    NOTE: The original collections we used, Christmas Spirit by Holly Taylor for Moda and Sentiments by 3 Sisters for Moda, are no longer readily available, but this time of year, pre-cuts are often on sale at local retail outlets and there are SO many from which to choose.
  • ¾ yard of 44"+ wide solid fabric for the strip backing; we used a plain white quilting cotton
  • One pillow form, we used a 12" x 22" pillow insert
  • All purpose thread to match fabric
  • 40wt. embroidery thread in a contrasting color(s) for decorative stitching
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

  1. From the backing fabric, cut two pieces to fit your chosen pillow size and shape. For our 12" x 22" pillow form, we cut TWO 13" x 23" rectangles. 
  2. Lay out your strips side by side until you have a color and pattern blend that strikes your fancy. Alternate patterns, colors and strip sizes to keep things interesting.You can use your backing pieces as a guide for knowing when enough is enough. 

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Working from left to right, assemble the strips to build your "new fabric." To do this, start with the first two strips in the sequence. Place these strips right sides together and pin in place along one long edge.
  2. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch these first two pieces together. 
  3. Place the next strip in the sequence right sides together with the two-strip piece. Pin in place and then stitch in place. 
  4. Continue in this manner until all the strips are sewn together as one unit. 
  5. Press all the seam allowances together and flat in the same direction. 
  6. Flip the "new fabric" over and press again from the right side.
  7. Place the "new fabric" right side up on your cutting surface.
  8. Find the two backing pieces. Place the backing pieces on top of the new fabric, moving them around to find your favorite part of the "new fabric" to fussy cut both the front and back pillow panels. We wanted our strips to run at a diagonal so we added this choice into the fussy cutting decision as well. 

    NOTE: If you are new to this technique, check out our fussy cutting tutorial.
  9. Once you have both backing pieces right where you want them, pin them in place.
  10. Cut around each backing pieces with a pair of scissors. 
  11. Place the pillow front panel and pillow back panel wrong sides together with a backing piece. 
  12. Pin in place around the outer edge. If you are worried about slipping, you could machine baste the two layers together. 
  13. Thread your machine with bobbin thread in the bobbin and the 40wt embroidery thread in the needle. Following the settings and process for your machine and model, select a number of interesting decorative stitches.
  14. Topstitch along each seam line through the layers (front and backing) on both the front and the back. Stitch along the seam in the direction to which you pressed the seam allowances, so you are stitching through the main layers as well as through the seam allowance. 
  15. We used both red and green thread and so did all the red decorative topstitching, stopped, re-threaded, then did all the green topstitching. 
  16. You don't have to topstitch every seam. And, you don't have to use contrasting thread; you could also go for a tone-on-tone look. The overall appearance is totally up to you. 
  17. When your topstitching is complete, press the front and back panels so they are super flat. 
  18. Place the front and back panels right sides together. Pin in place, leaving a 4" - 5" opening along one side for turning. 
  19. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around all four sides. Remember to pivot at each corner and to lock your seam at either side of the 4" - 5" opening. 
  20. Clip the corners and press the seam open.
     
  21. Turn the pillow cover right side out. Gently poke out all the corners with a long, blunt end tool, such as a chopstick, knitting needle or point turner, so they are nice and sharp.
  22. Insert the pillow form through the opening.
  23. Fold under the raw edges along the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. 
  24. Pin in place. 
  25. Slip stitch the opening closed to finish. 

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

Section: 

Comments (4)

Doreen Tavares said:
Doreen Tavares's picture

I agree with Linda! This is a beautiful pillow & I can't wait to try making one! Thank u so much for sharing your great ideas weekly. I so look forward to seeing what u have come up w/for the week every Monday.

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

@Doreen - Thank you! We're thrilled you are such a dedicated follower. Come back often.... and bring all your friends 

Linda Southworth said:
Linda Southworth's picture

This pillow is beautiful.  The extra decorative topstitching adds so much in a subtle way.  You know we all look and admire these daily posts but are guilty of not expressing our pleasure as often as we should.  I so appreciate Sew4Home!  It is my first dose of inspiration in the morning.

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

@Linda - Thank you - and we so appreciate you taking a minute to share such a lovely compliment. Be sure to let us know if you make the pillow! 

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