HOME DECOR DIY: Modern Golden Rooster Applique Pillow

I made this modern golden rooster applique pillow as a last minute gift for a friend's birthday. Her husband and her have a flock of chickens of different colors. The black, white, and gold fabric is a nod to their flock. This pillow can be made in any color combo. The turquoise base is my friend's favorite color. For this applique, much like my Cactus Wall Hanging and Daisy Pillow, was freehand cut without a pattern. You can certainly make a pattern, which could be helpful for the chicken body and getting the scale correct, but I didn't have time. If you want to bind the fabric applique edges, instead of using thread sketching, see my DIY Abstract Applique with Stick Fusible Interfacing video tutorial.

Fairfield World provided me with their products and paid me to create this tutorial. All instructions, photos, and opinions are my own.

1) I like to easily square your fabric for 2 panels at once. Fold the turquoise fabric in half with selvages together and smooth flat. Find the short edge that is the most squared. Pull one corner of that short edge, down at an angle to meet the perpendicular long edge. The fabric will be in a triangle. You will notice that the folded opposite long edge is perpendicular with the other long edge now. With chalk, mark a line along that folded long edge, onto the fabric below the fold. Use a ruler for the straightest line, if necessary. Open the triangle fold. Cut through both layers along that marked line. Cut the two squares apart along the 1st fold.

2) Cut two pieces of Smooth interfacing slightly bigger than the turquoise fabric squares. At the ironing board, set the iron to cotton and steam on. Iron the fabric squares flat. Lay the Smooth rough side up. Center a fabric square with the back touching the Smooth. Press/fuse the fabric to the Smooth, working from the center outward, holding the iron in place for about 10 seconds at a time. Repeat with the other Smooth and fabric squares. Set one panel aside for the back.

3) Lay out the printed fabrics roughly in a chicken (or other motif) shape on the top of one turquoise panel. This is it figure out how much fabric is needed for the design, before adding the Stick interfacing. This layout technique saves on Stick. Keep the design 1"-2" away from the fabric panel edges, to leave room for seam allowance and keep the design centered. My scale got the best of me, and the poor rooster's feet are a bit hidden when the finished pillow is propped up.

4) Turn the iron's steam off. Rip off a big sheet of parchment paper and fold it in half with short sides together. This is an assembly line step, which is a time saver. Cut a piece of stick the same size as one your printed fabric pieces. Open the folded parchment paper. Lay the fabric piece, back facing up. Lay the Stick onto the fabric. Close the parchment paper. Iron the fabric and Stick together through the parchment paper. The parchment paper prevents the Stick from ruining the iron. If you need a step by step photo tutorial for this, check out my DIY Fabric Valentine Postcards tutorial.

5) Here's where you can either make a pattern, sketch on your fabric with chalk, or be ballsy like me and just cut the chicken shapes freehand. I started by cutting the chicken torso and head The head was tricky, as it has lots of layers and curves. I cut around a gold polka dot for the eye. I had this feather-like fabric print, which was perfect for the wing, so I just cut along the print shape. The feathers are just elongated pointed ovals, which were the easiest to cut. The legs and feet took a while, as I was trying to make them short enough to fit within the 1"-2" bottom margin. Make sure feathers are tucked behind the rooster butt, and the layers are the way you want them. Carefully move the front panel to the ironing board. Turn the iron back to steam. Fuse the rooster to the turquoise fabric with the iron. I pick the iron up to move it, so the pieces don't shift. Set the front panel aside.

6) Load the sewing machine with black thread. Change the sewing machine foot to the free motion embroidery foot. Set the tension to 7 or 8, depending on your machine. I recommend testing the tension on layered scraps before sewing the rooster. My machine has a speed adjustment. I like to keep it at medium, so the stitch length stays even. Put the feed dogs down. Sew around the applique shapes, making 2-3 passes. Make sure to backstitch when needed.

7) Switch the machine back to the normal sewing foot, put the feed dogs back up, and adjust the tension to normal. Load the sewing machine with black or turquoise thread. Quilt the back panel with any design you want. I chose basic diagonal lines. This is just to keep the Smooth attached to the fabric.

8) Switch to turquoise thread. Lay the front and back panels togethers, right sides facing. Straight pin the sides together if needed. Straight stitch around the 4 sides, leaving a 6" gap at the bottom center. Clip the corners at an angle, making sure not to cut the thread. Turn the pillow inside out. Use a dull pointed object (a chopstick is my favorite) to shape the corners.

9) Use Poly-Fil to stuff the top corners 1st, so they are well shaped. Continue filling with stuffing until the desired squishiness is achieved. Make sure to stuff the bottom corners before finishing filling the pillow.

10) Fold in the edges of the pillow opening and secure with straight pins. Thread a hand sewing needle with turquoise thread. Match the ends and double knot. Use an invisible seam to close the pillow. 

11) Give the pillow a hug to distribute the filling and infuse a little love.

I polled the party guests how long they think it took me to make it. Guesses were 2 days to 5 hours. It took me about 2-3 hours, which was mostly fusing Stick to the fabric backs, and fussy cutting the fabrics into the chicken form. Fusing and sewing was about 30 minutes. Please take your time, especially if you want to add more stitching or are new to fusible applique. There's no need to rush. This is a much simpler sewing project than the daisy pillow, and a little more complex cutting than the cactus wall hanging. If a chicken isn't your thing, pick a different animal or object. I will be making more applique designs to spark your imagination. Until then, check out my Patchwork State Pride Pillow, Rocking Rainbow Unicorn Appliqued Jean Jacket, and Zig Zag Modern Fuse Applique Baby Quilt. Whatever you are making, have fun with it. Happy Makery!


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