In honor of the New Blogger Blog Hop, I’m releasing a pattern (my first!) this week. Read the full version with photos below, or grab the printer-friendly PDF pattern.
This pillow was inspired by a fascinating book I stumbled on while browsing at my local used book store, called Islamic Geometric Patterns by Eric Broug. I had never given much thought to how such designs would have been constructed, and learning about it gave me real admiration for those early artists. As Broug points out, if you have a rope, you can draw a circle (by holding down one end and using the other end to trace it out), and you can draw a straight line (by holding down both ends). Broug shows you how to mimic the construction of those patterns using just a ruler and a compass.
The design of this pillow is based on one of the simpler designs in the book, which appears on the ceiling of the Capella Palatina in Palermo, Sicily. (Actually since I’ve been reading this book, I’ve started to notice this and other Islamic patterns all over the place!)
The techniques used in this pattern are simple, a combination of basic patchwork and raw-edge appliqué. I use a special product called Fuse and Fix that is fusible on one side and sticky (without ironing) on the other. You can pull the sticky side up and reposition it multiple times if needed, which makes positioning the fabric pieces very easy. If you don’t have Fuse and Fix, you can also use double-sided fusible webbing and use an iron to attach the pieces.
25 4.5″ squares cut from background fabrics
16 3″ squares cut from accent fabrics (or use larger pieces if you want to precisely align the pattern on the fabric with the appliqué template)
16 3″ squares cut from Fuse and Fix
2 pieces 20.25″ x 13″ cut from backing fabric
22″ x 22″ batting
22″ x 22″ muslin
20″ x 20″ pillow form
standard quilting supplies
1. Make a patchwork panel by sewing the background fabrics together in rows and then sewing the rows together. Use a 1/4″ seam allowance and press all seams open.
2. Iron the fusible side of the Fuse and Fix to the wrong side of the accent fabrics, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Be careful; the paper gets much hotter than the fabric when ironed!
3. Download the PDF pattern and print the appliqué template at 100% of original size. To make sure it has printed at the right size, check that the shape measures 4 inches exactly. Cut out the template.
4. Trace the template onto the paper side of each piece of fused fabric and cut the shape out along the traced lines.
5. Experiment with the placement of the fabric “stickers” you just created against the patchwork panel. Once you are happy with the arrangement, peel off the paper layer from the back and attach each appliqué piece, aligning it with the seams. (If you are using a double-sided fusible webbing instead of Fuse and Fix, use an iron to attach each piece.)
6. Layer the muslin, batting, and pillow top, and baste the three layers together using your preferred method.
7. Using an appliqué, blanket, or zigzag stitch, sew around each appliqué piece. (See Tips on Raw-Edge Appliqué below.) Trim loose thread tails or use a needle to bury them in between the quilted layers.
8. Square up the quilted top to be 20.25″ x 20.25″.
9. Hem a long edge of one of the backing pieces by turning under 1/2″, pressing, turning under 1/2″, and pressing again. Then topstitch 1/8″ from the folded edge. Repeat with the second backing piece.
10. Place one of the backing pieces on the pillow top, right sides facing. Align the raw edge of the backing piece against the bottom edge of the pillow top and pin. Sew together using a 1/2″ seam allowance. (I used an air-soluble marking pen to mark the seam.)
11. Place the second backing piece, right side down, on top of the two pieces you just sewed. Align the raw edge of the backing piece with the top edge of the pillow top. The two backing pieces will overlap, creating an envelope closure. Pin and sew together with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Trim excess fabric away from each of the four corners.
12. Turn right side out and push out the corners. Insert the pillow form and you’re done!
Tips on Raw-Edge Applique’
If you haven’t tried machine appliqué before, I recommend creating a practice piece first. Follow steps 3-5 using two scraps of fabric. You can create a quilt sandwich with extra batting and muslin if you like, or just practice on the fabric layer.
You will need your zigzag foot. For blanket or appliqué stitch, the straight-line portion should align just outside the fabric you are attaching. For the zigzag stitch, the stitching should line up on the inside of the fabric you’re attaching, with the right-hand side of the zigzag just crossing over into the background fabric.
The trickiest part of doing machine appliqué is pivoting at the corners. If possible, set your machine to stop in the needle down position. It’s also helpful to always stop at the same place in the overall stitch so that you don’t lose track of what direction the machine is going to move in next. For example, the appliqué stitch on my machine follows a stitch pattern that looks like this:
(Stitches 1-3 and 4-5 are actually on top of each other, but I’ve separated them here for illustration.) I recommend always stopping after step 5, that is, right before the first stitch moving down into a new portion of the fabric. Then when you pivot, you can align your fabric so that the next stitch will move down along the edge of the fabric you’re attaching. I also recommend starting along one of the straight edges, rather than at a corner.
When doing machine appliqué with batting and the backing piece of muslin, it’s important that the fabric can move freely, otherwise the stitch-length can end up shorter than usual. If you have excess fabric, roll it up inside the throat of your machine.