Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Heart-Shaped Pillow for Your Sweetheart

Level: Easy

Anyone can buy flowers, candy or perfume for a sweetheart on Valentine's Day but it's fun to be more creative and make a lasting gift. All sewers have a stash of fabric that are in small oddball sizes and shapes. If you would like a way to use the scraps and have fun doing it, then follow these step-by-step directions for a strip-quilted, heart-shaped pillow.


1/2 yd. of muslin (washed)
red scraps or 1/8 yds. of 5 or 6 red fabrics
12 in. square of red backing fabric
red thread
laces and ribbon for embellishment (optional)
package of loose Fiberfil for stuffing


1. Cut a brown paper grocery bag into a square approximately 12 in. by 12 in. Fold this square in half and then draw only one side of a heart shape on this folded paper - with the fold lining up with the dip and the point of the heart. Draw the shape until you get something that is filling up most of the paper and is a pleasing round and plump heart shape.

2. When you like the shape, using your paper scissors, cut on the drawn line to make a pattern for your eventual pillow. Cutting both layers at the same time allows you to make a perfectly symmetrical heart without much effort.

3. Tear a piece of muslin approximately 12 in. by 12 in. and lightly draw around your heart shape onto the muslin - don't cut this muslin yet.

4. Sort your red and white scraps trying to find four or five or more, dark and light prints that remind you of Valentine's Day.

5. Cut some of these scraps into strips that vary between 1 in. and 3 in. and are all different lengths.

6. Lay the first piece of fabric strip in the center of the muslin square which will be in the center of the heart shape. Lay the next strip face down on top of the first scrap lining up the raw edges on one side of the scrap. Sew these two pieces to the base muslin by making a seam along that one raw edge. Don't worry if it doesn't cover from one edge of the heart to the other.

7. Add strips of fabric trying to vary light and dark, until you cover the entire heart shape that you drew on the muslin. This method of creating a new piece of unique fabric is called strip quilting and it has many uses.

8. Once all the raw edges have been covered and the piece of muslin is now covered with red fabric, you can use your heart shaped pattern again to actually cut a heart shape from this new piece of fabric.

9. Lace or ribbon can be sewn on top of the strips on the seam lines criss crossing each other to create added embellishment.

10. Before sewing the back on the pillow cut a piece of eyelet trim to fit around the outside edge of the heart shape. Sew this onto the pillow top beginning at the dip between the two parts of the heart shape. The heavy edge of the eyelet will be on the seam line and the decorative part will be toward the center of the pillow top. Baste this in place before sewing it on.

11. Now for the back of the pillow. Cut a 12 in. square from a red fabric. But don't use your heart-shaped pattern this time. A square work well. Lay this square on top of your pillow front, right sides together and using the shape of the heart to guide you, pin these two layers together. Don't cut this backing piece until after you do the final sewing. Start sewing the layers together along the long side of the heart leaving a 4-in. opening for turning. Now you can trim away the backing and clip into the dip between the two lobes of the heart before carefully turning the pillow right side out through the 4 in. opening in the side seam.

12. Lightly press the pillow shape before stuffing with loose Fiberfil. This is better to use for stuffing a shaped pillow but it is necessary to use plenty of it and to carefully poke it into all the point areas as well as the lobes of the heart shape.

13. Using matching thread and a small hand-sewing needle carefully close the 4 in. space in the side of the pillow that was left open for turning.

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