I made a few of these pillows a couple of years ago and gave them as gifts and as much as I loved them, I never made any for myself—I ran out of material, steam and time. I was reminded of them at Thanksgiving when we traveled to my parents house and they had theirs out on the couch. I’ve decided my living room couches deserve a little holiday pizzazz so I’m making some for myself and I’m doing my first step-by-step tutorial for the blog. Hopefully I’ve added enough clear details and instructions but please contact me if you have any questions or if anything is unclear. There are a lot of steps but nothing too complicated and the more complicated added detail steps are optional. If you can sew a straight line you can make the basic version of these. If your sewing skills are a little more advanced you can add a little more detail. My skills are somewhere between “I can make a pillow” and “I continually try and fail more advanced projects like a simple skirt or a zippered pouch.”
The materials you need for these are pretty basic and I got all of my supplies at Hobby Lobby: a half yard of felt for each pillow (if cut well, you may be able to get two pillows per half yard depending on the width of the felt you buy. The felt I purchased from Hobby Lobby was 38″ wide), the same amount of lightweight plain white cotton fabric, a roll of Heat ‘N Bond, pillow forms (I used 18″x18″). Supplies already on hand: scraps of patterned cotton fabric (I have a lot on hand but this might be something you will need to purchase, please see my notes on this below), thread to match your felt color and a contrasting thread to add detail stitching (optional, I used white), scissors, pins, pencil, yardstick, an iron, a sewing machine (though I suppose this would be a simple hand-sewn project as well) and a sewing needle to hand stitch your pillow in the final steps.
You will also need to print out and cut out templates for the cut out designs available here: ornaments, and here: tree. If you don’t like either of the templates I’ve made, do a search on Pinterest for Christmas stencils, and search for a simple template that doesn’t have a lot of detail or multiple cut-outs. I just printed on regular paper but if you want something sturdier you can print on card stock. You can also make your own templates if you have the skills. When I gave these as gifts I made silouhettes of my brother’s two Great Danes and made a pillow of each.
The instructions I am giving are for a 18″x18″ pillow form. If your pillow is 12″x12″ then please adjust the sizing of all of your fabric cuts and Heat N Bond cuts to 12″x12″ or whatever size you need.
- The first step is to cut felt fabric squares in the same size as your pillow form. So for my 18″x18″ pillow forms, I cut two squares of 18″x18″ felt for each pillow.
- Cut one square of heat and bond per pillow (the heat n bond I purchased came in a roll 17 inches x 5 yards so I cut 17″ squares.
- Cut one square of plain white cotton fabric per pillow. Cut it the same size as your felt which in my case is 18″x18″.
- Iron the square of Heat N Bond to one side of one piece of felt. Since square of Heat N Bond is a little smaller than your felt square, you will want to position your square of Heat N Bond in the center of your felt with the textured side down on the felt. You will iron the paper side. DO NOT iron the textured side—it’ll ruin your iron. Use the iron on the hottest setting and turn off any steam functions—you just need the dry heat.
- After you allow the felt with the ironed one Heat N Bond to cool for a few minutes. Center your design template on top of the paper side of the Heat N Bond and trace the design onto the paper.
- Carefully cut out the shape.
- Choose a cotton patterned fabric for your shape. I would recommend something that contrasts with the color of your felt and has a simple graphic pattern. For my tree pillow, I made a red felt pillow with bright green polka dot fabric for the tree cutout. For the ornament design I chose two different but coordinating polka dot fabrics, one for each ornament. I looked through my bins of fabric to find the scraps I used for my pillows but if you need to purchase fabric for this you really don’t need a lot for each pillow—1/4 to 1/3 yard. If you do need to purchase find fabrics with fairly simple designs but otherwise choose those that appeal to you. There aren’t really any rules as far as that goes. Most of my fabric stash has been purchased at Hobby Lobby and Joann Fabrics over the years and is 100% cotton. You’ll need to cut a piece of patterned fabric so that the entire cut-out shape of the felt is covered and there is about a half inch to an inch overlap on every edge of the design.
- Peel of the paper of the Heat N Bond. When you do this you will expose the material that will bond your patterned cotton fabric to the felt when you iron it.
- Place the patterned fabric face down over the Heat N Bond but don’t iron yet. Position your plain white fabric over top of the patterned fabric making sure all of the Heat N Bond is covered.
- Once everything is in position, iron throughly making sure everything is bonding together.
- Turn it over and check the edges of the design making sure everything is bonded.
- Now this is the point where your level of sewing comfort comes into play. You can make a choice to leave it is as and not add a stitch around the design (and still have a super cute pillow) or you can choose to add a little flair and stitch around the design with a contrasting thread. For both of my pillows, I used a white thread and slowly and carefully stitched around the designs using a longer stitch setting on my machine. I used the foot on the machine as a guide and created an outline about 1/8″ away from the edges of the design. For the ornaments, I also sewed a straight line up from the top of each ornament so they looked like they were hanging.
- Whew, the hard part is over and now you’re ready to construct the pillow. Take your completed design side and put it face down on the other piece of felt that you cut out in the first step and pin the two sides together.
- Switch out the thread and bobbin on your machine to match the thread color to the felt color of your pillow and carefully stitch the two sides together leaving a 1/2″ seam. Leave an opening approximately 6″ wide on the bottom edge of your pillow cover to feed the pillow form through.
- Turn the pillow cover right side out using the point of our scissors to help poke the corners out
- Feed the pillow form through the open hole. You’ll have to wrestle with it a little bit.
- Using a needle, hand-sew the hole to finish the pillow. I used the ladder-stitch technique to close the opening. You can watch a YouTube video if you don’t know what that is.
- I also added some little bows to the top of my ornaments that I stitched on by hand.
And voila! Super cute holiday pillows to jazz up your space or give as gifts.