I don’t know about you, but I have a ton of NICE fabric lying around from PJ pants, minky blankets and other projects. I tend to get way too much material “just in case” and then have a bunch of extra left over. It isn’t enough for another blanket, but it’s enough that I don’t want to throw it away. That stuff is expensive!
There are a lot of examples out there of what to do with your scrap fabric. I don’t love most of them. They usually require you to use a bunch of fabric that doesn’t match and mash it together into this form or that. I don’t like blankets, rugs or other projects that don’t have matching material. Sorry. I just don’t. The great thing about these pillows is that you only need 15 squares. That’s it! You can do them all one color, 2 colors, 3, 5, 15 for Pete’s sake! If all you can scrape together are 5 inch squares, the pillow is still pretty darn cute. Make a bunch of them for your littles. If you only have 1-2 inch squares, make it a pincushion! I love that they are sooooo versatile. This pillow I’m showing you is made of 8 inch squares, and it’s the perfect size for its intended 3-year-old. The other pillow in the picture above is made of 9 inch squares, and it’s probably my favorite size for kids. It’s big enough to be my son’s new favorite seat on the floor… or anywhere. (I obviously made it out of scraps from his PJs.)
A while back, I made my sister’s kids some baby blankets out of minky. I’ve held onto the extra material for the last 3 years and now I’m making both her kids matching pillows! Yay! On to the pillow! …that was a lot of exclamations… phew.
What you’ll need:
- Sewing machine… of course
- 15 perfectly cut squares (any size, as long as they are all the same)
- Marking pen (I love these because they disappear with water and they have one for light AND dark fabrics!)
- Clear ruler
- Matching thread
- Button cover kit (I used 1 1/2″ but I really wanted 2″ or BIGGER)
- Pillow stuffing (I used this and I loved it because it stays nice and fluffy. It’s enough to stuff at least 5 pillows of this size.)
The first thing you want to do is cut out all of your squares. Be very precise when cutting. It helps to cut them out one at a time instead of layering fabric and cutting a few at a time. Your pillow will go together much more smoothly if your squares are all EXACTLY the same size. If you have a pattern on your fabric that goes vertical/horizontal, it would look best if you cut your squares on the bias. That way the pattern will look towards the center and go around in a circle instead of being perpendicular. But, we’re using scraps here so waste not right?
When you’re cutting, consider how many colors you want and what your pattern will be. That sounds like a no brainer but I thought that I could do both sides of my pillow in pink and zebra… Obviously that didn’t work out. You can’t really use only 2 colors on the front/back unless you’re OK with 2 of the same color touching. So I tried to add a third color… fail. I’ve decided that this only works if you have ALL the same color or ALL different colors. The next step is crucial. It’s something I almost never do. It just takes up too much time for a regular project. I’ll tell you a little about me. If I can’t finish a sewing project in 1 or 2 sittings, I’m not going to do it. Period. That’s one reason I don’t unpick my mistakes… it takes too much time. I just throw them away and start over. With that attitude, I tend to cut a lot of corners. I don’t do things like iron, mark or meticulously measure. So when I tell you I did this you know it’s essential. Using your marker, mark EVERY corner of EVERY square with a dot 1/4″(my chosen seam allowance) from both sides. (We’re marking the wrong side of the fabric of course.) I made a mock-up mini-pillow as well as a pillow for my son without doing this, and my corners turned out awful. Just do it. You won’t regret it.
Now the sewing begins. It’s all pretty straight forward. You are pretty much just sewing one square to another the whole time. No curves, tucks or manipulations. The thing you need to remember is to USE YOUR DOTS. Always place your squares right sides together and start sewing right on the dot. Stitch back and forth a few times because you won’t necessarily sew over it to keep it from unraveling. Sew right to the next dot and STOP don’t go any farther. Stitch back and forth a few times here as well. Be exact. You will regret it if you aren’t.
Sew 4 squares together as if you are going to make a regular block. Leave one side open as shown below. Insert your fifth square in into the gap. The picture below is a little confusing because you will have to turn the square like a diamond to fit it in the gap. When sewn it won’t lay flat, but that means it will be 3-D.
Easy peasy right? Now sew another one. You now have a front and a back. Yay!Now comes the hardest part… not hard to sew, just hard to explain in pictures. Take one of your sewn stars and lay it right side facing up on the floor/table. Now lay one of your squares right side down on top of one of the squares of the star. Now sew the 2 outside edges together making sure to USE YOUR DOTS.
Now do the same for the remaining 4 sections of the star. I’ve pulled back the black a little so you can hopefully see what it looks like when you are done with this step. Can you guess what famous character is making a cameo in the upper left corner? 🙂
P.S. I hate sewing with minky… it gets EVERYWHERE as you can see in the picture.
OK. So I didn’t take a picture of this step but we’ll try to work with what we’ve got. In the picture above, I’ve folded out the black square on the bottom so it looks like a triangle. Do that with all 5 black squares. (Yours will be a different color I know.) Now lay your second star piece right side down on top of your folded triangles and pin all around. Be sure you are only pinning the top to the black square and not to the bottom.
The points don’t matter as much but pay special attention to pinning the inside corners of the star. Match up your seams perfectly and pin them in place. This will make or break your pillow. It’s also where it will show if you didn’t USE YOUR DOTS.
Now you will sew all around your star, leaving a hole big enough for your hand to fit through for stuffing purposes. When turned right side out, it will look like this. I’ve turned up one corner so you can tell how it was sewn.
The last steps are pretty basic. Stuff your pillow through the hole. Be sure to use good stuffing that won’t go hard and flat. I used this stuffing because it’s sooooo fluffy. There are higher quality versions out there, but they are MUCH more expensive and this does the trick. I haven’t found a polyester stuffing that I love. I think they all go hard after a while and they are difficult to re-fluff… is that a word? Let me know what you use. I’d love to hear.
Now you can either hand-stitch the opening closed or, if you are lazy like me, you can just topstitch the opening closed on your machine. No one will even notice… especially if you are using minky.
The last thing you want to do is put on your buttons. Cover them with your material as per the instructions on the box. No equipment is necessary. Before hand-sewing them on, I like to make it a bit easier on myself and pre-squeeze my pillow. To do that, take a LONG needle and thread it. Now press the middle of one side of your pillow tightly to the other sides middle… you know… so you make it indent.
Now sew through the middle on one side straight through the middle on the other side and then back out the original side. Pull it tight to keep the indent and tie off. Now sew on your buttons and you’re done!
It seems really complicated and I tried to show a lot of pictures, but it’s pretty simple. Don’t over think it. I’m so excited about this pillow and I will be making a bunch more before the week is out. I hope you love it too!