Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Applique Nursery Pillow Tutorial

A couple of weeks ago I guest posted over at Lemon Tree Creations.  If you missed that post, you can read it below or you can go here to see the original listing...

For those of you who don't know, my sister had a baby a little over a month ago.  I was so excited when my nephew came, as it gave me my first "biological" nephew and it gave me a reason to practice honing my skills at making baby bedding.  I've been feverishly working hard to get his nursery ready for him.

Pictures of the baby bedding, which inspired my nursery project

After making the bedding, I decided that I wanted to add some decorative touches to the room.  I decided that I was going to take the animals that were in some of the fabric and make an applique pillow.  There were all of these cute safari animals on one of the patterns of the fabric (the fabric I used to make the bumpers) and so I chose the lion as the inspiration for my pillow.  

Materials Needed:
-Inspiration for applique design (I used fabric from his bedding)
-Material for pillow (1/4 yard - I used basic brown fabric)
-Material for the background of the lion applique (1/8 yard - I used muslin)
-Fat quarter packs from Joanns in the colors you need (I got a yellow, orange, green and teal set because those were the colors in my lion inspiration)
-Floss and needle for appliqueing (I used brown floss)
-Ric-Rac for a decorative edge to the pillow (this is optional; I used leftover teal ric-rac from the blanket)
-Fusible interfacing
-Tissue Paper
-12"x15" Pillow Form

What I did:
the logistics...
1. I took tissue paper and I traced the animal off of the fabric that I wanted to applique, in this case it was the lion.
2. I scanned the image into my computer and resized it to the size I wanted that would be big enough for the pillow.
3. I printed off the resized lion image and set it aside.
4. For my pillow cover I went on ahead and cut the three pieces of fabric I needed to make it (I made an envelope cover instead of one that zips on).  My pieces were 13"x16" (for the front piece) and then two back pieces, 13"x8" and 13"x14".  (for a step-by-step guide to making an envelope pillow cover, click here).
5. I took the 2 smaller back pieces of the pillow (13"x8 piece and the 13"x14" piece) and I ironed down a half inch down the 13" side of both pieces.  I then sewed it down to make a finished edge.

6. I used my printed out lion to decide how big of a piece of muslin I wanted to put as the background to my applique, in this case it was 9"x12".
7 I took my rectangle piece of muslin and ironed down about a 1/4" seam all the way around.  
8. I pinned my rectangular muslin piece to the center of the 13"x16" piece of fabric that would be the front of my pillow.  

9. I sewed the muslin piece onto the front of the pillow, being sure that I sewed close to the edges to catch the folded part underneath.

getting to the applique....
10. I took my fabric and figured out what pieces of the lion would be what colors (i.e. the body and face were yellow, the tail and mane were orange, etc).  I then ironed on the interfacing to the back of the colored fabric I would be using.
11.  I took my computer print-out of the lion and began to cut each piece - going off of color - (i.e. I cut out the body and worked with it; then I cut out the circle around the mane, then I cut out the mane, etc) and then proceeded to trace and cut it out of the coordinating fabric (with interfacing already ironed on).

12. As i finished one part of the lion, I cut out another part and continued to use that as a pattern to cut out the pieces from the coordinating color fabric for the whole lion design.

13.  I laid my cut out fabric out on the muslin and arranged it to look like the lion.  I then ironed it to the center of the muslin rectangle.

14.  Using floss and a needle, I hand-stitched a simple stitch all the way around the perimeter of each piece of fabric that made up the lion's body.

it all comes together...

15.  After the applique was hand-stitched, I took my ric-rac and pinned it all the way around the perimeter of the piece of fabric that would make up the front of my pillow, on the right side of the fabric.  I made sure that the ric-rac was "hanging off" the edge of the fabric.

16. I sewed on the ric-rac.
17. I then proceeded to take my two smaller back of the pillow pieces and pinned them, right sides facing in, to the front piece of the pillow.
18. After pinning, I sewed all the pieces together, following the sewn line that I had just made when sewing on my ric-rac.

19. I turned my pillow right side out and fell in love with it right away!

I couldn't be happier with the result and I can't wait to see this pillow in action as it livens up the baby's room!  Pillows are a wonderful way to liven up any room, and an applique pillow is great for a beginning sewer.  If you have any questions when following this tutorial, don't hesitate to ask; I'd LOVE to help you!
Whenever I get a chance and a break from life (hahahaha!) I'm going to do this exact same project, only with the giraffe instead.  Come and check out my blog and see how it turns out!  


  1. thank you so very much for taking the time to link up to my party! It was my first one and I'm just honored that people actually joined up. I'd be just tickled pink to see you join up again today! Have a lovely day, Maria

  2. I tried to comment on your classroom post....something was up and it wouldn't let me....What a lot of work you have done to make your room look so inviting. Now I want to do a post on my library media feels like a whole other "home" I am responsible for cleaning and decorating. What grade do you teach? I am doing a series of back to school done more to come. Would you ever be interested in collaborating on this with me? Stay in touch!


I love to hear your thoughts - leave me some loving!