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One easy way to use up odd-sized scraps of pretty fabric is to patchwork them together into an interesting pillow. This pretty pillow is an example of one made using a grid. The design is the same on both the front and back, however, we turned one grid panel 90º to create an interesting effect when the pillow is viewed from the side. We originally dove into our scrap stash and pulled out a Kate Spain layer cake bundle from her old Central Park collection for Moda Fabrics, because we loved the huge variety of bright colors and bold graphics, but the concept will work with any pile of scraps you think look good together. Just goes to show there is almost no cute little scrap without a future in one of your creations. 

Our grid plan is shown below so you can easily see what size scraps are needed for a standard 16″ x 16″ pillow form. As mentioned above, we started with leftover 10″ x 10″ layer cake squares.

The patchwork pattern calls for 11 different quilting cotton prints for each side of the pillow; they can be from just one collection or you can mix and match from a variety of collections – whatever looks good to you. Don’t be afraid to try some unlikely mixes.

When you select scraps, there really are no hard-and-fast rules. But if you are unsure, try finding scraps that have similar colors; or pick a few colors as a theme, such as turquoise, red and white; or stick to scraps from within a single fabric collection (as we did). Even mixing in a little texture can be interesting… just don’t overdo. For more tips and tricks, take a look at our article: Top 10 Designer Tips for Blending Colors and Prints.

If you’re wondering who the Trixie is in the project’s title, she’s the pretty calico cat in the photo above. With their gorgeous multi-hued fur, calicos know all about achieving the optimum mix of color and tone. They are patchwork pals of the kitty world.

Our pillow design uses a covered button in the center to give the pillow a subtle tufted look. If you are new to working with covered buttons, we link below to our full step-by-step tutorial. We love making our own covered buttons because you can fussy cut tiny motifs to center on the fabric covering to give you such interesting little pops of color.

Do you have an idea for a little item you’d like us to consider making into a ScrapBusters project? If so, send an email to info@sew4home.com. We love to hear from you and we’re always interested in what our followers are hoping to make.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • Up to 22 fabric scraps or pre-cuts that look good together (11 for each side); see the grid and the cuts list for sizes required
  • 16″ x 16″ pillow form
  • TWO 1⅛” covered buttons
  • All purpose thread to match fabric
  • See-through ruler
  • Tape measure
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins

Click to Enlarge

Getting Started

  1. The grid above shows finished measurements for a 16″ pillow (you can scale the grid, using your own clever math skills, to fit any size square pillow). The actual cut sizes for our 16″ x 16″ grid are shown below and include the required extra amounts to account for the ¼” seam allowances.
  2. Following the grid, figure out how you’d like to place your 22 pieces of fabric (11 on the front and 11 on the back – they can be the same front to back, 22 different pieces, or a few repeats as we did).
  3. From your scraps or pre-cuts, cut 22 pieces in the following sizes. If you are using fabric with a directional print, think about the direction in both cutting and placing the piece so you don’t have a sad little upside down piece somewhere.
  • Cut EIGHT 4½” x 8½” rectangles (these are the top and bottom pieces)
  • Cut FOUR 4½” x 4½” squares (the squares to the right and left of the center)
  • Cut TWO 8½” x 8½” squares (these are the center pieces)
  • Cut EIGHT 4½” x 2½” rectangles (the small fill-in pieces to the right and left of the center)
    NOTE: The position descriptors are when looking at the pillow front; the pillow back is exactly the same just rotated 90˚.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Click to Enlarge

  1. This pillow is easy to patchwork if you follow the what-seam-to-sew-first guide in the photo above. Simply create a ¼” seam, starting with seam #1 and continuing in order through seam #8, using a ¼” seam allowance for all your seams
  2. After seam #8, you’ll end up with three panels of patchwork you can then easily join with straight ¼” horizontal seams as shown (seams #9 and #10).
  3. Repeat the process for the opposite side.
  4. Place the finished pillow front and pillow back right sides together, then turn one of the squares so its grid is 90º – follow the grid diagram above.
  5. Retaining that 90˚ turn you just completed, pin the front and back together, leaving and approximate 6″ opening along the side you consider to be the base of the pillow.
  6. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around all four sides of the pillow, remembering to pivot at all the corners and to lock the seam at either side of the 6″ opening along the base side.
  7. Clip the corners and turn the pillow right side out.
  8. Using a blunt-end tool, like a large knitting needle, chopstick or point turner, gently push out all the corners so they are nice and sharp.
  9. Press in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  10. Squeeze the air from the pillow form and insert it into the pillow through the opening. Fluff it into place.
  11. Pin the opening closed, matching the pressed edges.
    Click to Enlarge
  12. Slip stitch the opening closed.
    Click to Enlarge

Covered Buttons

  1. Find the center point in the pillow where diagonal lines meet throught the center square as shown below.
    Click to Enlarge
  2. Make covered buttons and sew them onto the pillow, pulling taut to create a center tuft. You can follow the package instructions or our Button Kit Covered Buttons tutorial.
    Click to Enlarge
  3. As mentioned above, we love to fussy cut the fabric circles for our covered buttons to create fun pops of color and design that accent the fabrics into which the buttons are sewn.


Project Concept & Construction: Alicia Thommas

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