We interrupt your normal “Sewing Better” quilting tips blogs to provide a short and sweet tutorial for a 16″ pillow that you can whip up in an evening for a quick gift. Which I know, because I did! It’s charm square friendly, and if you have a 60-degree triangle ruler, it’ll go even quicker.
To make the friendly snowman, you’ll need these materials:
- 6 – 5″ white or cream squares
- 30 – 5″ background charm squares (I went with a mix of blues for mine)
- 2 fat quarters for the back of the pillow
- 18 x 18″ square of cotton fabric (will not show on outside of pillow)
- 18 x 18″ square of batting
- Scrap of orange felt or cotton (if using cotton, back with a fusible web per the manufacturer’s directions)
- 60-degree ruler, at least 6″ tall. I like the Clearview Triangle 10″ 60-degree ruler (optional)
- If not using the 60′ degree ruler, get a marking pen/pencil
- 2 black buttons; mine are 5/8″ buttons
- Matching thread for the background fabrics
- 16″ pillow form
To cut the triangles:
- Trim off 3/4″ from the top of all the cream/white and background charm squares. They should now measure 4 1/4″ x 5″.
- If using the 60-degree ruler, center the top tip of the ruler on the top long edge, so that 4 1/4″ line on the ruler rests along the bottom long edge. Trim. The equilateral triangle should measure 5″ wide by 4 1/4″ tall.
- If not using the 60-degree ruler, make a mark at the center of the top 5″ wide edge. Align your regular quilting ruler to connect the top center mark and one of the bottom corners, and trim. Repeat for the line between top center and other bottom corner. You should have an equilateral triangle that measures 5″ wide by 4 1/4″ tall.
Make the Pillow Front
Arrange the triangles per the layout in the picture. You’ll notice a couple of my edge triangles are off-cuts with straight sides; these will get trimmed later on and it’s what I had to work with in my scraps!
Sew the triangles together to make four rows. Use a 1/4″ seam. I pressed my rows in alternate directions so the 1st row was pressed to the right, and the 2nd row was pressed all to the left. This allowed my rows to nest together.
In the picture above, the first two rows have been sewn together and pressed open.
Keep stitching until all the rows are attached and pressed well.
Trim the left and right edges into straight lines just at the “V” where the two middle rows meet. It should measure 16 1/2″ wide, and about 15″ tall.
From each the 2 fat quarters for the back of the pillow, trim a 2″ strip off the length of grain (parallel to the selvage). These pieces should measure 2″ x 18″; trim them down to 2 x 16 1/2″. Sew one to the top and one to the bottom, and press to the strips. Set the FQs aside until a later step.
Layer this top with with the batting and 18″ cotton square, and quilt as desire. I opted to use a navy thread to meander in the background, but straight line quilting would look great to play up the angles of all the triangles! I did some big stitch hand-stitching to outline the snowman face (Sarah Fielke has a great tutorial for this).
Trim your orange scrap to a triangle that measures about 1 1/2″ by 4″, and attach it at a jaunty angle. I used felt, and just pinned it in place and used a walking foot to stitch it down through all 4 layers (felt, top, batting and backing) to count as quilting in the snowman face. If you’re using a cotton scrap, you may want to use a narrow zig-zag stitch to reduce fraying.
I attached by hand the two black buttons at this time to finish the face.
Once quilted, trim the top to 16 1/2″ square, centering the snowman face.
Assemble the Pillow
Pull the 2 fat quarters back out, and trim both to 16 1/2″ x 11″. Take one piece, and on one long edge. fold over 1/4″ and press. Fold again, and press. The piece should now measure 16 1/2″ x 10 1/2″. Topstitch along the folded edge with a 1/8″ seam. Repeat for the other piece of backing fabric.
Lay the quilted pillow front face up. Lay one backing piece right sides together, aligning the raw 16 1/2″ edge with the bottom of the quilted front. Lay the other backing piece right down, aligning the raw 16 1/2″ edge with the top of the quilted front. The two backing pieces should have the stitched edges overlapped by about 4″. Pin the backing pieces in place and stitch all the way around with a 1/4″ seam. Trim the corners, and turn the pillow front right side out through the overlapped opening.
Press well! I did a finishing topstitch 1/8″ away from the edge to make the pillow a little more crisp, and then inserted the 16″ pillow form through the envelope opening in the back.
If you like this tutorial, check out our other patterns at our digital pattern shop!