Linen and felt pillow

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I’ve been having fun making throw pillows lately. It started when I wanted to add some warmth and color to my living room. Rather than just sew two squares of fabric together, I’ve been layering fabric shapes and stacking pieces to make designs. Then, I attach the layers together with a tight, wide ziz-zag stitch.

The best part is that I haven’t purchased any new fabric for these pillows. I tend to collect fabric and antique towels and linens, so I had plenty on hand. My only rule was to use natural fibers for these–cottons, linens, wools–and have fun playing with texture and color.

I made this particular pillow as a gift. Here’s how I made it:

1. First, I cut two 20″ squares of blueish-gray linen because my pillow insert is 20″ square. I like to cut pillow pieces the same size as the insert so that the finished cover is slightly smaller than the insert. It gives the pillow a plump, overstuffed look.

2. After cutting the 20″ squares, I began playing around with different colors and patterns for the pieces.

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I decided to use a vintage linen tea towel with a botanical and bird print. On one side, I layered the botanical linen on top of a green wool-felt square. On the other side, I layered the linen on top of a yellow wool-felt band down the left side.

3. Next, I choose thread for the zig-zag embroidery. I used a golden yellow for the square design and a lime green for the stripe side. I used a wide, tight zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine. Sewing the zig-zag is not particularly difficult, just very time consuming. Since the tight embroidery requires so very many individual stitches, it takes quite a while to finish this step.

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4. Next, I inserted the zipper. I used an invisible-style zipper in a color that closely matches the blue linen. My zipper was 18″ long. I pinned the zipper upside down along the bottom edge of one of the squares and used the zipper foot on my sewing machine to sew it in place.

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Then, I pinned the other side of the zipper in place along the bottom edge of the other square. At this point, the pillow pieces were facing each other, insides out. The bottom of the zipper was facing up, pinned to the lower piece of fabric along the right side.

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When the zipper was fully in place, the inside of the fabric pieces looked like this:

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5. Then, I opened the zipper halfway and pinned the remaining three edges together. (If you leave the zipper shut all the way, it can be very difficult to get it open to turn the pillow right-side out.)

I sewed the squares together with a simple straight stitch on the sewing machine. I cut off the extra fabric on the corners and ironed the seams open. These are extra little steps but they help the cover lay nicely. Finally,  I turned the cover right side out, went over it quickly with an iron, and inserted the 20″ square down pillow.

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