Today I will show you how to make handmade applique pillow covers with monograms or words.
I started this specific project years ago for a young family member.
Unfortunately, life was super busy, working full time, caring for family, and raising a teenager, so I needed to tuck it away.
Now, this girl is a middle-schooler and not so young anymore! I hope she still likes it because this time I finished it! 😁
DIY Pillow Projects
This sewing project creates a lovely home decor accent pillow to keep or give for a meaningful and heartfelt gift.
Create a custom message, choose a favorite word, a first or last name, initials, hometown, lake name, zip code, or song lyric. You get the idea.😃
It’s fun to personalize your space with a decorative pillow! Check etsy.com for monogram inspiration.
Below is a list of the supplies you will need for the project. I have also listed a few buying sources.
DIY Pillow Supplies
Fabric for pillow case/cushion cover & appliqué letters
Fusible Web Adhesive HERE affiliate link
Sewing Scissors HERE affiliate link
Letter Template for applique pillows, subscribe to download
Stabilizer not pictured, optional HERE affiliate link
Sewing Machine not pictured
Pillow Insert down or foam
Fabric Ties optional
How to Applique
Below is a step-by-step guide for creating appliqués.
I will also walk you through a technique for sewing the appliqué onto a piece of fabric using a regular sewing machine.
It could also be hand stitched or embroidered instead.
Preparing the Appliqué
1 Trace your appliqué pieces onto the paper side of the fusible web adhesive. Leave approximately a 1/2 inch between the appliqué pieces.
I am using HeatnBond Lite (affiliate link). It’s easy to use and works great! HeatnBond comes in many varieties.
Be sure to buy the “Fusible Web Adhesive,” read the package closely, and choose the right type for your fabric.
Important! Before you trace, letters must be reversed or mirrored to read correctly in the final position. Art and drawings typically work in either direction, so it’s usually not a big deal if they are backward.
If you would like the letter template I used, just subscribe to get access to my download library.
After you subscribe, you will be sent a welcome e-mail with a password to log in and get access. A PDF of the alphabet that I used is there to download. The letters are already reversed.
2 Cut out each letter or piece of your artwork. Leave a 1/4 – 1/2 inch margin of web paper around your tracing outlines.
3 Place the fusible web pieces on the wrong side of your fabric.
Follow the instructions on the fusible web adhesive package to fuse. Typically you use a dry iron (no steam) to fuse the web paper and fabric. It only takes a few seconds.
4 Next, cut out each applique piece carefully using the tracing lines.
Applying the Appliqué
5 Gently peel apart the fabric from the paper backing.
6 Position all appliqué pieces onto the pillow with the adhesive side down. Read the directions on the package before you begin.
When you are satisfied with the layout, place a pressing cloth over the letters and fuse them with a dry iron.
The cloth will help prevent burning the applique or the fabric. Fusing time will vary depending on the fabric and fusible web you use.
Detailing the Letters
It’s nice to add a little extra detail to your appliqué letters. One way is to stitch around the edges with a tight zigzag stitch.
If you decide to add stitching around the letters or appliqué art, you will definitely want to add stability behind the fabric to add integrity.
For this, you need to purchase a stabilizer. (affiliate link) The Sulky brand makes many good ones.
Stabilizers are used to hold fabric flat and inflexible, so it is more easily stitched.
Cut-away stabilizers are used for permanent support. They are best used on knits and loosely woven fabrics.
They are available in several weights and are not removed from under the stitching, but you can cut the excess stabilizer away from around the letter if desired.
To use a stabilizer, cut out a piece for each letter or cut one piece for the entire design.
The stabilizer should be about an inch or so larger than the appliqué art. Position the stabilizer directly behind the letter on the wrong side of your fabric, underneath the applique.
Stitching Around the Letters
To stitch around each letter, you don’t need a special machine. Any sewing machine that can do a zigzag stitch will work!
You can use standard polyester thread for the zig-zag stitch. You can also use “bobbin fill thread” in your bobbin. It is a fine, shiny, lightweight, strong polyester thread.
Consider changing the color of your thread to match or contrast your appliqué pieces.
Use a clear presser foot so you can see everything as you stitch. Stitch around the edge of each letter using a tight zigzag stitch.
Experiment with your machine to find your project’s right width and stitch length.
Be sure to practice on fabric scraps to test the stitch and the tension until you get it just right.
The upper thread should be flat on the right side of your fabric, but the bobbin thread should not show.
You might need to adjust the bobbin tension slightly to get it right.
When sewing around the curves and corners, set your needle down into the fabric on the opposite side of the stitch to the way that you want to turn. Lift the presser foot and rotate the fabric as you go.
Making a Pillow Cover
Next, we’ll make a simple throw pillow cover to incorporate your beautiful appliques.
Cut Out the Pillow Fabric
To create a pillow, first cut two pieces the same size out of your preferred fabric for the top and bottom of your pillow.
Creating a Cut-out Window
To use the cut-out window method that I used in my project, cut a window opening in the top fabric piece. Next, snip each corner on a diagonal approximately 1/4 inch.
Turn each side of the window to the back and press with a steam iron.
After your window is complete, lay the top fabric with the window over the appliquéd fabric and when you are happy with the placement, topstitch around the perimeter of the frame.
Finishing the Pillow
Stitch the top and bottom of the pillow together on all three sides, with the right sides together, leaving one end open.
On the open end of the pillow, fold the edges towards the inside of the pillow twice to enclose the raw fabric edges. First press well, then pin.
Tuck the end of each finished tie under the hem. Stitch all the way around the end of the pillow, catching the ties within the stitch.
Fold each tie back on itself, so it is extending outward from the pillow. Stitch again to secure it. Press well.
Voila … Finished!
I hope you try making a handmade applique pillow cover project too.
Take your time and enjoy the process. I am certain that you will enjoy it as much as I did!
Thanks for stopping by,
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