HOME DECOR DIY: Thread Sketching Applique Daisy Pillow

The daisy pillow is an applique using thread sketching, Fairfield World Stick Double Sided Fusible Interfacing, and fabric strips left over from my Herringbone Quilted Body Pillow. I haven't done any thread sketching aka free motion embroidery, since the Floral Embroidered Floor Poof. Speaking of tuffets, I have another tuffet project in the works, which also uses free motion embroidery, but is way less work. Anywho, back to this pillow. I wanted to use up the extra strips, so after much time spent on Pinterest looking at modern quilts, like you do, I was inspired by floral scrappy quilt paintings. I've been on a monochrome greyscale kick, but added a pop of color with a hot pink striped background and backing fabric. This pillow is for my teen daughter to match her funky floral bedding. She's made a request for a variation of my Fleece Bean Bag Body Pillow for bed lounging, so that should happen eventually while I'm deep in pillowish things sewing mood. Ok enough pillow talk, let's make a pillow already!

I'm a Master Maker for Fairfield World. They provided me with their products for this project. They paid me to create this project. This pillow is my own design. All thoughts, opinions, instructions, and images are my own.

  • 1.5" Wide strips of black, white and grey printed cotton fabrics - Lengths will vary per round, but you'll need a lot of strips
  • 1 6" x 6" Black cotton square
  • 1 Yard pink striped cotton fabric
  • Stick Double Sided Fusible Interfacing
  • Smooth Fusible Interfacing
  • Poly-Fil Premium Fiber Fill
  • Scissors
  • Parchment paper
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Dressmakers pencil or chalk
  • Black thread
  • Pink thread
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle
  • A free motion embroidery/quilting foot that fits the sewing machine - There are different kinds per brand. However, some brands do not have one...(insert sad face)
  • Sewing machine


1) From the pink fabric, cut two 24" x24" squares. On the front of one pink square. With the dressmaker's pencil or chalk, draw 4 concentric circles radiating from the middle, increasing slightly in distance with each circle. These are petal length guidelines. Set aside the other pink square.

2) Rip off a big parchment paper piece and fold it in half. Turn the iron to cotton and set the steam to off. Cut a rectangle of Stick. Lay cotton fabric strips onto the Stick rectangle. Place the strips and Stick in between the folded parchment paper. Iron on the parchment paper, to fuse the strips and Stick together. Stick will not adhere to the parchment paper. The parchment paper protects the iron from getting melted adhesive on it. Let the fabric cool for a minute. Open the parchment paper and peel the fused pieces from the paper. Set them aside. Repeat this fusion process for each strip. I fused several strips at a time. Use scissors to separate the strips edges from each other. Stack the strips together by color or shade. Fuse Stick to the back of the black square too.

Sorry that there is no image for this process, but I was working at night. However, I show this fusing process in my DIY Fabric Valentine Postcards tutorial. I just learned to cut things into shapes AFTER fusing Stick, which is the technique difference between the tutorials.

3) The daisy is created from the outer ring towards the center circle on the pink fabric. Lay a strip on the outer ring section, figuring out how long it needs to be to overlap the outer and next circles. Cut the strip to size. Use it as guide to cut a few more strips to size. Fold a strip in half at the tip. Cut the tip at a curved angle to make a point. Cut points on a few sized strips to start. Lay out the pointed strips along the 1st ring curves, overlapping the edges slightly. Lay the the parchment paper on top of those strips. Use the iron to fuse the strips in half. Except the 1st strip, only fuse the overlapping section. The other section needs to stay free, so it can overlap the last strip of the row. Keep cutting, layering and fusing strips in sections, until the last strip. Lift the 1st strip's loose edge up, and slide the edge of the last strip underneath. Iron fuse those strips together. I found that holding the iron in place for at least 10 seconds, helped the Stick melt enough to fuse.

4) Repeat the fusion applique process for the next round, cutting the strips slightly shorter.

5) Repeat the fusion applique process for the last round, cutting the strips slightly shorter.

6) On the black square, draw a circle as big as possible. Cut out that circle. Fuse it to the center of the daisy.

7) Cut 2 pieces of Smooth slightly bigger than the pink panels. Fuse one Smooth piece to the back of each pink panel. Trim off the excess Smooth.

8) Load the sewing machine with black thread. Drop the feed dogs. Change the machine foot to the free motion embroidery/quilting foot. Set the tension to a high number. I chose 7 for this project, but I've used higher and lower for other projects. My machine has a speed setting too. I set mine to about medium. The faster the speed the closer together the stitches will be. I know that seems weird, but it's the truth. Do a test sew on layered scraps, especially if you're new to free motion embroidery and quilting. Adjust tension and speed as needed. The thread should be smooth on the top and bottom. If it's loopy, the machine needs to be rethreaded and the tension adjusted. If the thread is pulling, loosen the tension. If the thread is too loose on the top and bottom, increase the tension.

9) Start with the outer petals, working one petal at a time, for sanity sake. Back stitch where you start. Following the petal shape, stitching along the curves back and forth at least 3 times. I did 5 passes on the outer and middle ring. I did 3 passes on the small ring, mostly because I was tired of embroidering and my wrist was cramping. 3 will be perfectly fine. The stitch passes should not line up on top of each other, but follow the petal shape and overlap a bit. We're going for a sketchy look, not super precise and neat. Also, you are moving the fabric back and forth, not turning it, unless necessary to move to another petal. Keep stitching petals until the bobbin or spool thread runs out. Reload the bobbin or machine, and keep going, back stitching where you left off.

10) For the center circle, stitch around the circle edge 3 times. Then, stitch in a spiral towards the center and back out, for 4 passes total. Since this design has a lot of curves, I wanted to keep the center circle extra curvy too. Trim any excess threads.

11) On the back panel, stitch scallops. These only get one pass, but are done in rows, continuing from one row to the next. Trim any excess threads.

12)  Change the machine back to normal tension. Change the foot back to standard. Load the machine with pink thread. Raise the feed dogs.

13) Line up the pink panels, right sides facing. Secure the edges with straight pins if desired. I normally do, but have misplaced my favorite pins while rearranging my studio and sewing spaces. Straight stitch around the 4 sides, leaving a 6" center gap on one side.

Ignore those swirl petals. That was my 1st sketching idea which I abandoned for just stitching the edges. Pretend you didn't see it.

14) Trim the fabric edges to match. Clip the corners at an angle, making sure not to cut the thread. Turn the pillow inside out. Shape the corners with something pokey like a chopstick.

15) Generously stuff the pillow with Poly-Fil. I tend to overstuff mine, but not so much that it won't squish. The finished pillow will flatten down over time. I stuff the corners tightly to keep their shape better.

16) Fold in the edges of the gap and secure with straight pins. Thread a hand sewing needle with pink thread. Match the thread ends and double knot. Insert the needle into the gap by where the seam was machine sewn. Close the gap using an invisible stitch. This handy video tutorial shows how to close a pillow by hand using an invisible stitch. It's pretty easy once you get the hang of it. I use the exact same steps to close up pillows.

17) Give your pillow a big squeeze to even out the stuffing.

If you're not a fabric hoarder like me, and don't have a bazillion coordinating fabrics in your stash, you could use a couple coordinating jelly rolls or fat quarter stacks. You could also buy 1/4 yard (or 1/8 yard, if you can) cuts of coordinating fabrics. Though my scheme is grayscale, you'll notice a contrast between which fabrics are in each round. If you want to go monochrome, keep the shades and tones in mind for good contrast. Also if you'd love to see this in a wall hanging or an oversized tote bag, please feel free to adapt this design to your heart's design desire. Speaking of wall hangings, I have a cactus wall hanging coming up tomorrow, using similar thread sketching methods. I also have a mermaid pillow idea coming up too, inspired by the scalloped pillow back. I also have a comfy modern foam floor mat coming up, but that one might be next month. I have a dresser and desk to paint too. So check back for more projects, for sure! Whatever you're making, have fun with it. Happy Makery!


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