The 18” quilted pillow semi-failure

I rarely make something for the first time and end up with perfect results, and this 18-inch quilted pillow is certainly no exception. I have a ton of vintage fabric and decided to make a large quilted pillow for my couch because you can never have too many throw pillows. I am a largely self-taught sewist, so if any of you pros out there have some suggestions, leave me a comment!


To make the pattern, I cut a flap off the top of a box of beer and found it was four inches wide. I cut it into a four-inch square and decided that if I made the pillow five squares tall and five square wide, I would end up with dimensions of 20 inches by 20 inches before any seam allowance.


I randomly picked 25 different patterns of polyester knit fabric and tried to cut the 25 squares with expert precision.




After arranging the squares just how I wanted them, I sewed them together in strips of five with a ¼ inch seam allowance.



To join the strips together, I pushed the seams in opposite directions and sewed the strips together.


I decided to use some fusible interfacing to back the both sides of the pillow. This is where it all went wrong. Instead of putting the interfacing on the back of the quilted piece after I sewed it all together, I should have bonded the interfacing to each individual square. Since I was working with polyester knit, it stretched in different directions and all my squares looked crooked. So much for my super-duper straight squares.

I decided to try and straighten the mess by top-stitching on either side of the seam and pulling the squares back into position as I went. It helped a bit, but black thread was probably not the best choice. Next time, I’ll go with something that blends a bit better. Still, it’s not a complete throw-away.


After the top stitch. Meh.

For the backing, I chose some vintage bark cloth and backed it with the interfacing as well. I dug up an 18-inch zipper to install along the bottom. I basically stink at installing zippers. I’m more of a snap and button person. I cannot figure out the zipper foot that came with my machine to save my life, so I winged it with the regular foot.  However, for my skill level, I think it turned out OK.


After the zipper was in place, I sewed the backing to the front and trimmed the inside corners so that when the pillow is right side out, they will be pointy instead of the fabric bunching up in the inside of the corner. Here is the end result:



Did it turn out to be 18 inches? No. It’s about 17 ½, but when I stuffed an 18-inch pillow insert into the cover, it plumped out nicely. So the first run was not terrible, and I would definitely make more of these in different sizes.


5 thoughts on “The 18” quilted pillow semi-failure

  1. First of all, I have never known you to fail at anything!! Give yourself some grace, my dear!!
    Not bad for your first shot of looking at something and just going for it!! Couple of suggestions for your next run, make your pillow cover a bit smaller like 16″ and still insert an 18″ form. Your pillow will be fuller and won’t flatten down as quickly and fitting snugger will allow you to do away with the interfacing, you can just French seam the patched seams and use an old pillowcase to line it as a single large square since you are working with so many different fabric heat tolerances. Since you are not a fan of zippers (me neither), make the back of your pillow two 10″ pieces and let them over flap one another in the middle 3-4″ to insert your pillow form. You can also sew a peplum (square border a coule of inches from the edge) on your cover as well to snug it up to your form if you want to use a smaller form 10-12″. And PLEASE call yourself a seamstress, as that is what you are with the outstanding work that you do!!


  2. It looks nice! I have been sewing for many years; I made a jacket about 4 years ago and it turned out so badly that I haven’t even worn it! Love your mom’s support!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the nice comment Rebecca! I think we are all critical of our own work becasue we know exactly where the defects are, but we always learn from our mistakes, no? I’m sewing more stuff soon!


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