Hi Creative Mamas! I am very excited to share with you how easy and quick it is to make an applique pillow. There are many ways to make an applique pillow but hand embroidering appliques is one of my favorite techniques.
I will show you how you can embroider and applique little stories in a pillow. These pillows can become keepsakes and special gifts to the special people in your life.
Before we get started with the tutorial I want to share with you a little sewing moment that brought tears to my eyes. You may know that I do a lot of work with migrant and refugee women here in New Zealand.
I teach them a process that enables them to share their life stories and to come to terms with being in a new adopted country. We do all that through sewing emotions, memories and most importantly hopes and dreams for the future.
The starting point is always a printable pattern that helps them get started. So I am moved to tears in a regular basis when I see what these women can do through the wonderful world of creative sewing which usually involves embroidering appliques on fabric.
But this time it was my own sewing that made me stop, reflect and cry. Being a migrant myself I am forever teaching my kids the importance of family.
I am always making sure that they know where I come from, that they are aware of their diverse cultural background. Part of that is telling them stories about my grandparents, about me growing up in Argentina etc.
This particular day I was helping one of my students online. She was using the Family Kit Patterns to create an applique pillow for her dad for father’s day. As I was helping her through the process and showing her how to use the patterns I started making my own applique work.
The more I worked on it the more it turned into the image of one of my grandfathers. It really made me stop and reflect. I got all emotional. I carry my family so close to me that even people that have passed tend to pop up through my sewing.
That night I told my kids some funny stories about my grandfather and we all had a laugh 🙂 This is me in my studio teaching online and my own work that came from it 🙂
I invite you to work through your own story, memories and emotions by getting started with making the following applique pillow by embroidering appliques on your favorite fabric scraps.
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How to make an applique pillow tutorial
Materials and equipment
- Fabric for pillow cover. I used a beautiful 100% cotton embroidery fabric
- Fabric scraps for appliques and embellishments. I used a combination of wool fabric, corduroy and cottons scraps that I had from previous projects
- Embroidery sewing threads
- Hand sewing needles
- Sewing machine
- DAD Applique template from the Applique Sewing Binder
How to applique fabric
Let me show you how to applique fabric by sewing applique onto a base cloth which will become the pillow cover. Applique sewing is super fun, lets get started!
Print out your applique templates. For this tutorial I am using one of the templates from the Applique Sewing Binder . These embroidery and applique templates come in an A4 size printable format.
Gather all your embroidery threads and fabric scraps.
Decide which color fabric you will use as the background fabric. This will be the pillow cover. I have used a beautiful 100% cotton embroidery fabric as my base fabric to start the applique work.
Cut the pillow cover 13 1/2 inches by 16 inches.
Cut around the applique templates and place them on top of your chosen fabrics. Pin them in place.
I love choosing the different fabrics for the clothes, its like being a mini fashion designer 🙂
Using fabric scissors cut around the templates.
Place all the different components of your fabric person on top of your working surface. This is to make sure that you have all the applique pieces before you start embroidering them on the base fabric.
Place your fabric pieces on top of the base fabric.
Start embroidering as you go. this means that you simply sew with an embroidery stitch piece by piece in order to create your desired person.
This applique technique is super simple because you can use very easy embroidery stitches such as running stitches, back stitches or whipstitches.
After you finish embroidering the applique pieces you can carry on adding some more embellishments to the pillow cover.
I wanted to create a vintage look and I wanted to use fabrics that reminded me of my grandfather so I used wool tweeds and corduroy fabrics to frame my person.
I also added little felt circles and embroidered french knots in the middle so that they looked like flowers. Since I was thinking of my grandfather I had to add a walking stick!
Making the applique pillow – Envelope pillow tutorial
Once you are happy with the cover of your pillow, its time to make the pillow. I transformed this beautiful applique embroidered collage into a fabulous looking pillow by following this envelope pillow tutorial. You will need to adapt the measurements to this pillow.
Follow the instructions and your pillow will look something like this 🙂
You can follow this same process to create many different applique pillows that tell many different stories. The pillow below is my representation of me and my daughter exploring a park together.
I used the applique templates from the Applique Sewing Binder and followed the same process as described in the tutorial above.
This is how my pillows turned out. They are now part of my home decor and we love having these little family stories around us 🙂
More creative sewing tutorials from La Creative Mama:
- How to turn fabric collage into a fabric journal
- How to make handmade gifts (with simple patterns)
- How to make fabric collage using Applique