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
- Photo of your favorite pet
- Pillow Form—use any size you want, we used 18″
- Assorted fabrics in a range of textures and colors
- C&T Publishing’s Quilter’s Freezer Paper Sheets
- Roxanne’s Glue Baste It
- Your favorite small pair of snips to cut small pieces
- Fine Tip Black Marker
- Thick Tip Black Marker
- Pressing Board and Iron
- Rotary Cutter and Cutting Mat
- Assorted threads
- Quilting Needle 90/14
- Piece of batting large enough for pillow
- Temporary Quilt Basting Spray
- Your Sewing Machine, we sew on a BERNINA 770 QE
- BERNINA Patchwork Foot #97D
- BERNINA Stitch Regulator (BSR)
- BERNINA Invisible Zipper Foot #35 (optional)
- BERNINA L 450 Overlocker (optional)
Prepare the Pillow Background
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.
We simply sewed three pieces together using the BERNINA Patchwork Foot #97D and ¼″ seam allowance. Set aside when complete.
Prepare the Appliqué Pieces
Start by selecting your favorite photo of your four-legged friend.
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.
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.
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.
Press the freezer paper pieces to the right side of the fabrics. Yes—it really sticks, temporarily!
Grab your pair of small sharp snips and trim the pieces out following your traced lines.
Refer to your finished photo and start assembling the pieces on your background.
Take your time and make sure you are satisfied with the result before you begin glue basting.
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.
Attach the Clear Sole of the BERNINA Stitch Regulator to the foot. This large, cupped sole will move easily over the layers of fabric.Attach the BERNINA Stitch Regulator to your machine and adjust the stitch length to 3.0mm.
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.
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.
Once all pieces are stitched into place it is time to add some detailing.
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.
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.
After trimmed to size, overlock the edges to prevent fraying.
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!