Pet Applique Pillow

Applique Pillow Tutorial

Turn your favorite four-legged friend into a huggable decorative pillow. No worries, it’s easier than it seems!

Materials to Sew a Pet Appliqué Pillow

Materials

 Prepare the Pillow Background

Pet Applique Pillow-background fabrics

Piece a background that is at least 1″ larger on all sides of your finished pillow size. Our pillow is 18″ square, so we pieced a background that is 20″ x 20″. When selecting fabrics, think about how the appliquéd fabrics will look on the background. You want the appliquéd pieces to stand out more than the background.

Piecing the background

We simply sewed three pieces together using the BERNINA Patchwork Foot #97D and ¼″ seam allowance.  Set aside when complete.

Prepare the Appliqué Pieces

Photo of Pet

Start by selecting your favorite photo of your four-legged friend.

Pet Applique Pillow-printed photo of pet

Enlarge the photo to the size of your pillow and print it out. We had to tape a few pages together to get the image large enough. Visit your local copy shop for help with this if needed.

Select the fabrics that you want to use for the appliqué pieces, matching them to the photo. Use different textures and substrates to make the pillow unique.

Pet Applique Pillow-trace areas

Using your wider tipped black marker, trace around the areas that need to be turned into appliqué pieces. When doing this think through the layers and how they will come together. Look for key features of your pet that will make it recognizable when it turns into a pillow. For example, on Lil’ Keeks the darker patches on her face stand out.

Pet Applique Pillow-trace each area onto the quilter’s freezer paper

Trace each area onto the Quilter’s Freezer Paper using a fine tip black marker. Each piece should be traced separate. Label the parts so you can remember when you cut them out what each piece is.

Trim around each piece leaving a bit of white space. You will precisely trim after you apply the freezer paper to the fabrics.

Pet Applique Pillow-pieces to cut

Press the freezer paper pieces to the right side of the fabrics. Yes—it really sticks, temporarily!

Pet Applique Pillow-cut applique pieces

Grab your pair of small sharp snips and trim the pieces out following your traced lines.

Pet Applique Pillow-assembling the applique pieces

Refer to your finished photo and start assembling the pieces on your background.

Pet Applique Pillow-assembled applique pieces

Take your time and make sure you are satisfied with the result before you begin glue basting.

Pet Applique Pillow-glue baste the applique pieces

Using the Roxanne’s Glue Baste It, start gluing the pieces to the background.

Start with the bottom layer and apply small dots of glue around the edges. Lift up each piece as you glue to keep the arrangement in place. Glue all pieces down and let dry before you stitch.

Appliqué the Assembled Pieces

Spray baste a piece of batting to the back of the pillow front. This added layer will help prevent puckering and put emphasis on the quilted areas.

Thread the machine with your quilting thread to appliqué the pieces down. We used a dark orange red thread to give the pillow a bit more contrast, but you can choose any color you prefer.

Pet Applique Pillow-quilting the pillow with the BERNINA Stitch Regulator

Attach the Clear Sole of the BERNINA Stitch Regulator to the foot. This large, cupped sole will move easily over the layers of fabric.BERNINA Stitch RegulatorAttach the BERNINA Stitch Regulator to your machine and adjust the stitch length to 3.0mm.

Pet Applique Pillow-stitching around all appliqued pieces

Stitch around all of the pieces, about 1/8″ away from the edges. Make sure you bring up your thread before you start stitching and secure at the beginning and end of each piece.

Pet Applique Pillow-quilting using the zig zag stitch

You may decide to use the zig-zag stitch as well as the straight stitch. We used both, giving the pillow more personality and detail.

Pet Applique Pillow-quilting with the BSR

Once all pieces are stitched into place it is time to add some detailing.

Pet Applique Pillow-adding some details

Add stitching to represent whiskers, fur or other details that will give the pet some dimension and detail. For the whiskers, we went over the stitching line about 3 times to get a nice thick line.  TIP: It may be helpful to mark these with a fabric marker before stitching.

Assemble the Pillow

Once you are satisfied with your project—it is time to make it a pillow!

First, trim up the front to the size of the pillow form. Cut the fabric to the actual size of the pillow. This will give you a nicely stuffed pillow. Cut your backing piece the same size.

Pet Applique Pillow-trim the fabric pieces with the cat

Before actually trimming the piece, draw a chalk line to represent the cut line. This will allow you to double-check that your pet is placed where you want it to be.

Pet Applique Pillow-overlock the edges to prevent fraying

After trimmed to size, overlock the edges to prevent fraying.

Pet Applique Pillow-standard 4-thread Overlock stitch on all four sides and the backing

We used a standard 4-thread Overlock stitch on all four sides and the backing. If you do not have an Overlocker, zigzag stitch off the edge of the fabric on your sewing machine.

To finish the pillow and allow the cover to be removed easily, we used an invisible zipper in the bottom of the pillow. This method ensures a hidden closure and makes it easy to clean.

To do so, insert an invisible zipper on the bottom seam using the BERNINA Invisible Zipper Foot #35. Use a ½″ seam allowance on the remaining three sides and sew around corners as you would closing any pillow.

For tips on sewing invisible zippers download this handy BERNINA Just Sew It! eBook – Zipper Applications.

Stuff the pillow form into your newly stitched pillow and you are ready to show off your fur baby!

Sew Purrrfect!

Difficulty level: Beginner
Time to Complete: Weekend
Used Material: batting, fabric, fabric glue, photo of your favorite pet, pillow formuse, quilt basting spray, quilter’s freezer paper sheets, quilting needle 90/14
Projects: home décor, pillow
Seasons: all seasons, fall, spring, summer, winter
Techniques: applique, crafts, sewing

2 thoughts on “Pet Applique Pillow

  1. Andrea! What an absolutely adorable idea – I can’t wait to begin immortalizing my kitty Zorro’s likeness! Count me in as one who misses you in Henderson NV. Wishing you the best – and keep your fantastic ideas coming!

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