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During our recent DIY wedding series, A Rustic Wedding with Fabric.com, we developed a little bit of a crush on burlap and were looking for a reason to use it again. We’ve actually combined two elements from this series in today’s project: burlap, this time in the form of pre-cut ribbons and the weaving technique brought to us in the specialty Guest Tutorial by Elaine Schmidt for the ring bearer’s pillow. We put the two together to create a unique reversible pillow that looks as stylish and trendy as anything you’d find on the shelves of Anthropologie®. The front is Mapped Out in Sienna by Waverly from Fabric.com. The back is woven and stitched burlap ribbon. 

The ribbon we found actually had a very light wired edge, which we didn’t notice when we first picked it up. We were able to make it work, however, we would recommend you use a non-wired ribbon or cut your own ribbon strips from a larger piece of burlap. Burlap comes in many different colors these days. We chose a natural tan to match the vintage look of our focus fabric, but check out some of the other colors available at Fabric.com, like Fuchsia, Terracotta and Ecliptic Blue.

Our thanks to Fabric.com for sponsoring today’s pillow project. The Waverly fabric for the front, which features a wonderful hand-drawn map of Paris, is a heavy weight, and we suggest staying with this heft to balance out the burlap weave. Mapped Out in Sienna (item #UN778) is 90% cotton, 5% Rayon and 5% flax and is 54″ wide; it has a beautiful feel (or “hand” as the experts say).

Not only is this a great project you can use to upscale your décor, it’s also a good example of how techniques or fabrics you find in one project can be repurposed and used in another. It’s one of the wonderful things about experimenting and trying new things. You open yourself up to a world of possibilities, your brain gets to mixing and matching and designing, and before you know it, you have something totally unique. It’s one of the reasons we put today’s pillow project within a Re-imagine & Renovate week; even though this is a new project, it has that flavor of re-working an existing idea into something brand new.

Sewing Tools You Need

Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8900 QCP)

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • 1 yard of 45″ + heavy weight fabric with an elegant featured print that will coordinate with your burlap; we used 54″ Mapped Out in Sienna by Waverly from Fabric.com (item #UN778) 
  • 7 yards of 3″ wide burlap ribbon (or cut your own strips from burlap yardage – see the cut notes below to figure out yardage needed based on your chosen width)
  • 8¼ yards of 1½” wide burlap ribbon (or cut your own strips from burlap yardage – see the cut notes below to figure out yardage needed based on your chosen width)
    NOTE: As mentioned above, we used a wired burlap ribbon found at Amazon, but would recommend non-wired for easier construction. Here is one online outlet we found for plain burlap ribbon. A Google search or a visit to your local craft/sewing store will yield more options. 
  • ¾ yard of 45″ wide firm fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Décor Bond
  • ONE 24″ x 24″ pillow form; we used a Poly-fil® Home Elegance™ 24″ x 24 pillow form 
  • All purpose thread to match fabric and burlap ribbon
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Tape measure
  • Seam gauge 
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

  1. From the 3″ burlap ribbon, cut TEN 24″ lengths 
  2. From the 1½” burlap ribbon, cut TWELVE 24″ lengths
  3. From the feature fabric, fussy cut ONE 24″ x 24″ square
    NOTE: A dramatic fussy cut is important to the look of this pillow. If you are new to this technique, check out our tutorial.
  4. From the interfacing, cut ONE 24″ x 24″ square

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Weaving the burlap pillow back

  1. Place the 24″ x 24″ square of fusible interfacing, adhesive side up, on your work surface.
  2. With your see-through ruler draw a line ½” away from the edge around the entire square.
  3. Starting from the top left corner the square, and lining up the end of the ribbon with the drawn ½” line, pin the burlap ribbons horizontally, alternating the two widths. The order, top to bottom, is as follows 1½” strip, 3″ strip, 1½” strip, 3″ strip, 1½” strip, 3″ strip, 1½” strip, 3″ strip, 1½” strip, 3″ strip, 1½” strip. Pin both ends in place.
  4. Once the horizontal ribbons are all pinned in place, starting from the left again, repeat the same order going vertically. Weave one ribbon at a time, over then under, over then under, and so on. Once you have woven the strip from top to bottom, gently push it as close to the left as possible (paying attention to your drawn lines) and pin at both ends to secure. 
  5. As you near the right side, with about two strips to go, you will need to push the strips to the left as far you can (without overlapping them) to fit within the drawn lines. Securely pin all the ends in place.
  6. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the ribbon weaving to the interfacing.
  7. Once fused and stable, flip over the burlap and press from the back as well. It needs to adhere well in order to stay nice and flat. 
  8. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around all four sides to secure the ends of the burlap ribbons. Remember to remove the pins as you go.
  9. Each vertical and horizontal ribbon row is secured with a zig zag stitch. Set up the swing of the zig zag to catch both adjacent ribbon rows. To prevent any shifting of the ribbons, start stitching at the center of the weaving and work out to the sides.
  10. Here’s a shot of the finished ribbon weave stitching from the front and back.

Stitch front to back and turn

  1. Place the back woven panel right sides together with the fussy-cut pillow front. Pin around all sides, leaving a 6-8″ opening along one side for turning. 
  2. Using an approximate ½” seam allowance, stitch around all four sides, remembering to pivot at each corner and to lock your stitch at either side of the 6-8″ opening. 
    NOTE: We stitched with the interfacing side facing up so we could follow along the ½” stitching that secured the ribbon ends in place. 
  3. Clip the corners at a diagonal and turn the pillow cover right side out. Using a long, blunt-end tool, such as a knitting needle or chopstick, gently push out the corners to create pretty 90˚ angles. 
  4. Press well, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  5. Insert the pillow form through the opening and fluff it out into the corners.
  6. Pin the opening closed.
  7. Hand sew the shut.


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

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