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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Pleated Effect Strip Pillows Tutorial

I love making pillow covers to make simple changes to home decor.
I'm happy to share a quick method to make
pleated fabric pillows.

These covers can be made with one fabric or many different fabrics.

Use this technique to make your own shaped pillows too.

Let's get started!

Pleated Effect Strip Pillow tutorial
(Tree pillow instructions in italic)


Fabric - Island Batik Season's Splendor

1 - 16 1/2" square for the pillow front
(for the tree, cut one of tree shape from fabric)

22 - 3" x width of fabric strips for the pleats 
(this is for the 16" square the Tree requires less)

2 - 10" x 16 1/2" rectangles of fabric for the envelope back of the square pillow
(the back of the tree pillow is another tree shape cut out of fabric)

2 - 2 1/4" x Width of Fabric for the binding for the square pillow

1 - 16 1/2" square of batting
(the tree is the tree shape cut from batting)

1 - 16 1/2" square of muslin (won't be seen)
(the tree is the tree shape cut from muslin)

fabric marking pencil 

Fabric basting spray


Iron and ironing surface

14" - 16" pillow form

Sewing Machine and other basic sewing essentials.

(for the tree - freezer paper to draw the pattern and fiberfill for stuffing)


Step 1:  Cut all fabric pieces as listed above.  (For the tree, the pattern needs to be made.  Draw a 16 1/2" square on the paper side freezer paper.  Find the center and draw the tree shape with a stem.  The trunk on this one is about 3 1/2".  With the fabric folded to cut 2 trees, put the shiny side of the freezer paper down on the fabric and press it to stick to the fabric.  Cut out two tree shapes from fabric, one from muslin, and one from batting.)

Step 2:  Spray baste the batting between the muslin and the pillow front fabric.  I like SpraynBond Basting Spray.

Step 3:  With a ruler and fabric marking pencil, mark the pillow front fabric with lines 3/4" apart.  If you end up a little off, it is ok as long as the lines are straight.  Excess can be trimmed off later.

(For the tree, mark with 3/4" spaced lines.  Start at the base of the tree first and work up with the lines and then mark the stem starting at the base of the tree shape. The last line may not be exactly 3/4" from the bottom, but the excess can be trimmed later.)

Step 4:  Fold and press all of the 3" fabric strips lengthwise.  

Step 5:  Starting at one end of the pillow front, place one fabric strip with the raw edges on the drawn line.  Leave a little excess at the beginning and end of the line.  The excess will be trimmed away later.  Stitch 1/4" from the raw edges of the folded strip across the pillow front.  Continue to stitch the strips across the pillow front. 

(Start at the top point of the tree to sew the strips.  The strips will be folded down later.  Be sure to leave excess at the beginning and the end of the strips to cover the pillow front completely once the strip is folded down.  Sew strips across the tree and change colors for the lines across the trunk.)

Step 6:  Once all the strips are stitched onto the pillow front, press each strip in the opposite direction to cover the seam raw edges.

Step 7:  (Optional - if you don't plan to wash the pillows excessively, this step probably isn't necessary.  But, if you want a more professional finish, do this step.)  Encase the raw edges by stitching across the strips again.  Stitch 1/4" from the pressed edge.  Start stitching across the strips with the strip that was sewn onto the pillow front last.  Continue stitching until all the strips are stitched.

Step 8:  Once the strips are stitched there may be a gap at the top.  Simply trim a strip to fit and stitch it to the top.  The square pillow needed 1/4" trimmed from the raw edges and then it was stitched across the top. (The tree had a very small piece added to the top.)  

Next, turn the pillow top over with the right side down on a cutting surface and use the original background to trim the excess fabric away.  Stitch around the pillow top a little less than 1/4" to hold the pleats down during the final construction of the pillow.

Step 9:  To finish the square pillow, hem the 2 backing pieces on one of the 16 1/2" sides.  Place the two backing pieces with the hemmed sides in the center overlapping and pin to the back of the pillow front wrong sides together.  Stitch around the pillow 1/8" to hold the back to the front and then add the binding with your favorite method.  Insert the pillow form.

(For the tree, place the tree shaped back fabric on top of the tree front right sides together and pin.  Stitch 1/4" from the edge around the tree and the sides of the trunk.  Leave the bottom of the trunk open for turning.  After stitching is finished, trim off the corners, turn right side out, and push out the corners.)  

(Stuff the tree pillow with fiberfill and slip stitch the bottom of the tree closed.)

Use creativity to make your own shapes and designs with
this Pleated Effect Strip Pillow technique.


works4me said...

Thank you for this tutorial. For some strange reason, I am thinking it would be fun to make a pumpkin pillow. I certainly have the fabric for it. :)

Jan said...

Such Festive pillows. Love this fabric!

Kathleen said...

I love this idea! The tree is really sweet. Thanks for the tutorial, always good to have a new one up my sleeve.

Cecilia said...

Cute pillows! Thank you for sharing.