HOME DECOR DIY: Patchwork State Pride Pillow

This patchwork pillow shows off my Virginia state pride using Fairfield World Smooth Fusible Interfacing, Stick Double Sided Fusible Interfacing, a Soft Touch pillow insert, and P & B Textiles fabric in Urban Scandinavian Black and White. I had an extra long pre-made patchwork strip left over from my Zig Zag Modern Fuse Applique Baby Quilt, and was pondering what to make with them. Being from the South, quilting is a huge part of our maker heritage. I decided to sew the strip into a patchwork pillow. Since I don't like making things people have seen before, I added a more obvious heritage element, by using a silhouette of my home state Virginia. You can subsitute my home state with the state, province, or country of your choosing.

Fairfield World and P & B Textiles provided me with the supplies for this project. Fairfield World paid me to create this project and tutorial.


    1) Let's start back at square one, I used a long leftover patchwork strip from this modern baby quilt. However, I'll recap how I made that very long strip here, for simplicity.

    On the back of the fat quarters, mark out strips 3″ wide. For this pillow, you’ll probably need 2-3 strips per fabric. I cut more than that, for multiple projects. Cut the strips up into rectangles 2″-2.5″ long. I found it was fastest to stack matching strips together, fold them in half, and cut 4 even pieces…making 8 even rectangles per fabric strip. Separate the fabrics into stacks.

    2) At the sewing machine, load it with black thread. Decide on an order for the fabrics to appear. I chose dark and light alternating. Straight sew the rectangles together 1/4″ from the edge, making a long strip.

    I did chain piecing, to save thread. Chain piecing it when you sew two fabrics right sides together, make a space of fabricless stitching, and sew two more fabrics together, continuing this sewing pattern until all of the fabric pairs are sewn in one chain. Snip the chains, and sew the pairs together at one end. Continue sewing the pieces together, until a long strip is formed. Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of each fabric stitching line.

    3) Measure and cut the long strip into 25″ lengths. I used 10 strips for each side, for a total of 20.

    4) Turn the iron on to cotton (highest setting). Iron all the seams in the same direction.

    5) Load the sewing machine with black thread. Sew two strips together, right sides facing, 1/4" from the edge, backstitching at the seam beginning and end. Open the strips. Sew another strip onto a previous strip. Repeat this sewing method until all the front panel strips are sewn together. Repeat again for the back panel. Clip all excess thread.

    I did not pin my strips before sewing, as I'm comfortable sewing straight edges without pins.

    6) Iron the panels, so all the long seam edges are going in the same direction.

    7) Back to the sewing machine. Increase your stitch length, for topstitching. Topstitch about 1/8" from each seam, securing the seam fabric on the back.

    8) Back to the iron. Cut a piece of Smooth Fusible Interfacing about 1" bigger on each side, than the one panel. Repeat for the other panel. Lay the Smooth glue side up. Center a panel onto the Smooth, with the right side up. Starting in the center, iron slowly outwards, pressing hard. It will take a few passes for the Smooth to fuse. However, the next sewing step will make sure it's in place forever.

    9) Back to the sewing machine. Topstitch the strips, in the same direction as the previous topstitching. This is basic quilting, meant for stability and decoration, not puffiness. The lines of stitching are about 1/4"-1/2" from each other. Quilt both panels. This photo shows the patchwork folded.

    10) Using the a marking pencil or marker and the quilting ruler square off the panel sides. Cut along those squared lines, removing the uneven excess fabric. My panels ended up being about 24"x24". You might think "Well that's too small for a 24"x24" pillow!". Nope, I found making the finished casing a little smaller than the pillow insert made for a squishier and fuller looking pillow that doesn't go flat as fast.

    11) Time for the state decoration. I Googled my state as an outline. I laid a piece of computer paper against my computer screen and gently traced the state shape. Virginia is long, so I needed two pieces of paper to get the full shape. I used masking tape to attach the two pieces. Use small scissors to carefully cut along the state outline.

    12) At the ironing board, cut out a piece of black cotton a few inches bigger than your state. Cut a piece of Stick interfacing slightly smaller than the black cotton. Rip a piece of parchment paper bigger than the cotton. Lay the black cotton down on the ironing board. Center the Stick on the cotton. Lay the parchment paper over the layers. Turn the iron steam off. Press the layers together, until the stick fuses to both the cotton and the parchment paper. Peal the paper off.

    13) Flip the cotton over, right side up. Pin the state pattern to the cotton. Using a white marking pencil, trace the state outline onto the cotton. Using small scissors, cut out the state. Virginia has two pieces. Virginia is a more intricate state, so this step proved tricky.

    14) Center your state on one patchwork panel. Lay the parchment paper back over the state. Iron the state securely to the patchwork panel.

    15) At the sewing machine, carefully sew around the state, about 1/8" from the state edge. If your state is intricate, you might find using a free motion embroidery foot helpful.

    16) Sew across the state, following your previous topstitching rows. This will better secure the state to the patchwork.

    17) Put the two panels right sides together. Stitch around the sides and top about 1/2" from the edge, leaving the bottom open.

    18) Clip the two sewn corners, making sure not to cut the stitching. Turn the pillowcase inside out. Shape the two corners.

    19) Remove the pillow insert from its packing. Cut the big tag off the pillow. Trust me, that's legal once you own the pillow! Insert the pillow into the case, with the pillow zipper at the case opening.

    20) Turn the opening edges in about 1/2" each. Straight pin in place.

    21) Thread the hand sewing needle with an arm's length of black thread. Match up the thread ends and double knot them together. Using a hidden stitch, hand sew the opening closed. If you do this stitch correctly, the hand stitches won't show, and will blend into the seam, like the machine stitched sides.

    To finish, I double knot the thread into the fabric seam. Then, run the threaded needle back under the previous stitching, a few inches. Cut the excess thread. This method makes the knot stronger and thread end look neater.

    22) Give your new pillow a big hug, because you're all done!

    I used the fabrics I had on hand, but you could use any cotton fabrics prints and solids. I used 15 prints for my pillow. I know that seems like a lot, but they were fat quarters, and probably only 1/3 of that fabric was used. You could buy 1/8" pieces of cotton fabrics, for this particular pillow. I do suggest using a solid color for the state silhouette, so it really pops out from the patchwork. If you don't need another dang pillow, change the scale for an awesome quilt, or tote bag. Whatever you choose to make, have fun with it! Happy Makery!


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