pillow tutorial from maybe matilda

I have a special post today - a guest post from one of my very favorite bloggers, Rachel of Maybe Matilda. She is so talented, funny, and down to earth. I don't want to get all stalker but I really do love her blog! I look forward to everything she writes and am really excited to share one of her tutorials with you. 

Hi! I'm Rachel and I blog at Maybe Matilda about sewing, crochet, and my various domestic failures pursuits. How exciting to be on Little Lovelies today! I have a bit of a bloggy crush on Allison, so this is kind of a big moment for me. I feel like those people in the background of the Today show, jumping up and down with a Hi Mom! poster.
Allison and I thought it would be fun if we each put our own spin on the same theme . . . pillows! It was a great project for me to work on, because my couch has been completely bare for 5 months now. You know it's getting bad when even your husband, who could not possibly care any less about design/aesthetics, asks you to please get around to sewing up some pillows for the couch, because it looks ridiculous.
(Here are some of my favorite projects from my blog:

I saw this pillow on my sister-in-law's pinterest and thought it would be perfect for my living room. I've been trying to add more color to my home, and my mom, an interior designer, tells me some texture wouldn't hurt, either. Check and check! 
I got to work with some beautiful mustard yellow wool felt from Joann (coincidentally the exact same material Allison used for her pillow--great minds!), and created this:

I think it adds just the dose of color and texture my couch so badly needed. And in case you think the red pillow behind it looks awfully sloppy, it's because it's fake--I just folded fabric around a pillow form for the sake of getting a decent picture. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

The pillow really was not difficult to make at all, but it was rather time-consuming, especially when you count my emergency dash back to Joann when I realized I had grossly underestimated my fabric needs. It would probably be a much quicker project if you bought enough to start with.
I'm not 100% sure how much wool felt I used to make my 16" square pillow cover, since it was divided between two separate trips. I'm going to guess something like 1 1/2 to 2 yards total--all the little felt "petals" sure used a lot of fabric!

My pillow form was 16" square, so I started by cutting a 17" square piece from my felt (to allow for 1/2" seam allowance on each side). I've read, though, that you actually shouldn't add a seam allowance when sewing pillow covers--they'll look fluffier if you have to kind of cram and stuff the form in. I wish now that I hadn't added the seam allowance, since my pillow is lacking in the fluff department, so I would recommend adding either a very small seam allowance, or just being brave and cutting your front piece to the same size as your form. But my instructions here include a 1/2" seam allowance.
Then I cut about a zillion little circles from my felt. The real circle count was something like 73, or, in diy seamstress speak, "a crapload of circles." I doubled up the fabric to make cutting easier, and used a little can as a template--it gave me roughly 2-3" circles, which was the perfect size:

I only cut about 20 at a time, and after each cutting session foolishly thought to myself, "Surely this will be enough!" No, it will not. Just cut more. Many, many, many more.

Then iron each circle in half, making a pile of little taco shells:

Head over to your sewing machine and start sewing the circles to the square of felt you already cut. I started in the center of the 17" square and worked outwards. Just sew a line straight down the crease line of each circle, then sew down another circle, close to the first one, in a different direction.

Some tips for this portion of the project: I think it looks best if the circles aren't crammed too close together--leave a little room so they can "fluff" out and the sides won't just be pressed straight up together. I also found it easier to not cut the thread after stitching each circle--I would just backstitch at each end of the circle, lift the presser foot, leave the threads alone, and move the fabric to position the next circle, and keep sewing, then cut all the threads at the end. I think that saved quite a lot of time.

Keep adding your circles, varying the directions of the stitching as you go, until you've filled the entire square, leaving at least 1/2" open around the edges:

Now head back to Joann for more felt, because you've probably run out. Come back home and cut a piece 17" high (or the size of your pillow form), but a few extra inches long. I created an envelope back so I could remove my pillow form if necessary, so you'll need to have some fabric overlap to create the opening. Cut your long piece apart into two, and fold over and sew along that cut line to create a neat little hem.

Sandwich all you pieces with the right sides together, overlapping the two back "envelope" pieces. Your sandwich should look like this:

The back "envelope" pieces are on the ground, right sides up, overlapping with the sewn seams in the middle. The outer edges of the "envelope" pieces are lined up with the pillow front piece, which is layered petal side down. Pin it all together, and sew with a 1/2" seam allowance around the edges (making sure you don't catch any of the petals in your stitching!). 
Insert the pillow form through the nice envelope back:

And admire that beautiful, textured pillow front!

Thanks for inviting me over, Allison, and I hope you'll all stop by and say hi at Maybe Matilda!

I love the texture and the petal look! I might have to make one to match my pillow, since we used the same felt. I would love for you to head over to Maybe Matilda and check out my take on a yellow felt pillow (and say hi to Rachel!).



  1. I'm so glad you motivated me to FINALLY make a pillow . . . my couch looks just a teensy bit less pathetic now :-) Thanks for having me on your blog! This was so fun!

  2. The pillows looks fantastic, Rachel. I love it! It's just what the doctor (Mom) ordered!

  3. You both are so cute! I loved both pillows and now have to head to Joann's for some Mustard colored felt. It would match my living room...........

  4. A great idea! I like how you have girl-crushes on each other. : )

    I tried to pin Rachel's doily tee on pinterest and pinterest freaked out and somehow LOST the pin. I'm so glad to have found it again!!!!!! Thanks, guys.

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  6. Came here from M.M, and I'm officially following you. You certainly do make little lovely things. I also appreciate that you're employed! Looking around I thought for sure I was the only one who does work/craft/blog. And I'm impressed that you're a rookie blogger, I started in September. have I creeped you out yet? Not my intention, sorry. =)

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