Fat Quarter Pillows DIY Tutorial
I have a bunch of throw pillows but they’re super fancy and we paid good money for them. And right now I have a freaking huge bleached spot on the left side of my sofa so the whole fancy throw pillows with a stained up sofa just doesn’t jive. It turns out that sometimes puppy pee can bleach out the upholstery. Who knew?
You see we have a puppy. Her name is Carly and while I love her she can generally be pretty awful. According to the DNA test we had done (yes, we had a DNA test done) her Boston Terrier and Shih Tzu background means she’s pretty much a stubborn a-hole a lot of the time. Now it didn’t literally say that so I’m paraphrasing here. Words like stubborn and difficult to train popped up more than a few times in her report.
That up there is Carly. I was trying to take pictures of my pillows and I’d look down for two seconds and she’d have knocked them all around and sacked out. Like, I don’t know how she could do it so quickly. Here she’d knocked the other pillow I made on the floor and those eyes were already closed by the time I put my camera back up. She’s lucky she’s so cute!
So when I decided I wanted some Fourth of July throw pillows for my wonky sofa there wasn’t a whole lot of point in spending much money. And I’m starting to embrace this whole bohemian upcycle thing so I decided to mostly use what I’ve already got. All I needed from the store were a few fat quarters and I was ready to rock this business out.
For this project you will need:
- Fat quarter fabric pieces
- Matching thread
- Poly-fil or old bed pillows
- Straight pins
These are my fat quarters. You can purchase them at Walmart for, I think, $0.97 apiece. Since the Fourth of July is upon us I made mine red, white, and blue but we like them so much we’re going to keep them until we get sick of them, in season or not.
If you’re wondering what a fat quarter is it is actually a quarter of a yard of fabric but not like if you went to the fabric counter and asked them to cut you a quarter of a yard of fabric. If you did that you’d get a long, skinny strip of fabric that is the width of the fabric, which is often 45 or 60 inches as it comes off of the bolt. A fat quarter is just like you’re divvying up a rectangular cake into 4 pieces, it’s cut in half and then in half again so that you get the corner.
Hit your fabric with a hot iron to get out the creases and then put the pretty sides together.
Go around the outside edges and use straight pins to keep the fabric in place. One ever 4-5 inches works for me.
Once your fabric is secured using your yardstick to draw a square around the inside of the fabric, giving at least a quarter of an inch of space between your line and the edge of the fabric. Even if you’re new to sewing this line will guide you to an (at least) mostly square pillow in the end!
Now when you’re sewing up your pillow you’ll need to leave a gap in the middle on one of the sides for you to turn the pillowcase right side out and to stuff it. Be sure to backstitch about an inch on each side to reinforce your sewn seam. If you don’t do this you can easily rip the seam out accidentally while stuffing the pillow.
The way I do it is I start about 3 inches from the center on one side and begin with my back stitched area. Then I’ll ’round the corners and when I’m about 5-6 inches from where I started I backstitch again.
To get nice, straight corners sew down the line that you drew until you get to where the line meets the other and the corner forms. Make sure that the needle is IN the fabric and lift the pressure foot.
Turn the fabric so that when you continue stitching you’ll be going right on down the line. Lower the pressure foot and get after it. Now you have a very sharp corner sewn in!
If you backstitch in the corners you’ll reinforce them. It’s not necessary but it’s so little effort I always reinforce my corners. Snip the fabric at an angle along that corner and when you turn your case right side out you’ll keep your sharp corners.
Speaking of which… Begin to turn your pillowcase right side out through the opening you left in the side. Push your fingers or a dowel or something to help shove the fabric of the corners out to form those sharp edges we worked hard on.
Stuff your pillowcase and if you find uncomfortable lumps or a need to shove stuffing into the corners more easily you can use a chopstick. Now, the bags of Polyfil call this a FREE stuffing tool. I swear it’s a freaking chopstick. 🙂
Now I don’t like spending money on stuffing but I do like spending money on good pillows. Once my bed pillows get lumpy, wonky, or otherwise uncomfortable I replace them. The old pillows go in the top of the closet and I use them to stuff any pillows I make. I never pay for Polyfil and the old pillows I have used find a new use besides hanging out at the landfill.
Once stuffed to your desire fold the fabric from your gap inward. Do your best to match up with the existing seam. Use straight pins to help hold this area together.
Using your thread and a sharp needle stitch this sucker closed. Now my thread doesn’t even really match but I was in the spirit of not buying more than I really needed to. And to be honest, you can’t even notice that it doesn’t perfectly match from a distance.
Now you might be concerned that this area looks wonky if you’re not a great seamstress. Guess what? I’m not either and mine is just fine and I have never been called out on my homemade pillows so don’t sweat it!
And there they are! For $4 worth of fabric, I have some new, super comfy throw pillows for my sofa. And they just so happen to be all sorts of red, white and blue and therefore quite patriotic!
I especially like how all four sides are different so I can switch things up and turn things around as I please for a slightly different look.
Carly, however just thinks they’re comfy and that’s okay, too 🙂
Well, they’re comfy if she tosses one on the floor and kicks around the remaining one to her personal level of comfort and satisfaction. So stubborn!
So hang on to those old bed pillows that may not have the perfect fluff for sleeping on and when you want to change up the decor just grab a few fat quarters! While you might be a new sewist, I swear these guys are a great beginner project!