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How to Add a Custom Pattern to a Pillow

Creative Team | May 8, 2017

Get ready to customize a pillow with iron-on ribbon.  In this tutorial, Chicago-based seamstress, Christine Diedric shows you the step-by-step technique so you can iron-on any design you desire to a pillow, with ease.



1.jpgSupplies Used: 

  • 16" pillow or pillow form*
  • 1 yard cotton fabric (will be cut into 1 17" piece & 2 10"x17" pieces)
  • Paper (for pattern-making)
  • Coordinating thread
  • Sewing pins
  • Fabric scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Hot Ribbon (Orange & Honey used here)
  • Mini-iron and regular iron


Step 1: Measurements first

2.jpgI’m using a 16” pillow form for this project, but any size will work, including any pillow you already have in your home that you’d like to recover. If you use a pillow you already have at home, the first step is to measure the length and width, then add a ½" to each side to allow for seam allowances. As my pillow is 16”, I made a 17” square pattern.*

An envelope pillow cover is a zipperless cover with folded fabric on the backside, allowing you to pop your pillow in and out so you can change and wash it easily.


Using paper (I just tape together 8"x11” printer paper to get a big sheet), measure and mark out a 17” square (or ½” added to your pillow’s size), as well as a second piece of paper that is 17"x11.5" (or, your longest pillow side divided in half, plus 3 inches for the overlap).

Once you are done, double-check your pattern to ensure it’s the right size.

Step 2: Pin it together


Iron out any wrinkles from your fabric, lay your paper patterns over it, pin it together, and cut out your pieces.

Remember to cut two of the smaller pieces, these will be your “back” fabric. The 17" piece will be your “front”.

Viola! You now have your canvas for your Hot Ribbon art. The front of the pillow cover is ready to decorate.


Step 3: Sketch your pattern

In this image you can see the sketched pattern to the left of the ribbon that is being ironed on.


I am a big fan of Lotta Jansdotter’s prints—they are simple and organic—and a print from the book Lotta Prints inspired the pattern used for these pillows (although the 70s lounge vibe came out pretty strong in my rendition!).
My technique was to lightly freehand sketch the pattern right onto the fabric, but, depending on your design, you may choose to first heat your ribbon onto tempered glass as described in the 101 section.


Step 4: Iron on your ribbon pattern

Once my pattern was sketched, I used the mini iron to carefully attach the ribbon to the fabric over my lines. Because I attached the ribbon directly to the fabric, I found it best to periodically use the regular iron to seal my previous work before moving on.

Do not pull the fabric or ribbon as you work to keep it straight; make sure you place and iron on the ribbon with the fabric resting naturally.


Step 5: Sew it together

You are now ready to sew the pillow together! First, sew the hem on one of the 17" sides of each of the back pieces. Fold the raw edge over 1/2", iron flat, and then fold over 1/2" again, pinning as you go.


Once both pieces are hemmed, prepare to sew the seams of your pillow by placing the piece with your design facing up. Next, align the raw corners of one of the back pieces with the bottom two corners of your front piece so the hem is horizontally in the middle of your square with the hemmed seams facing you.

Repeat this with the other smaller piece, to align the top two corners and have the seam facing you, overlapping with the bottom piece. Make sure that the finished, or “pretty” sides of the fabric are all facing each other, so that the decorated pillow front is facing the nice hemmed sides you created for the pillow “envelope” back.


Pin and sew all the way around! Remember, use a 1/2" seam allowance, as 1/2" was added to the pattern for this reason. Don’t forget to backstitch to finish your seam. Snip the triangle corners and trim the raw edges and threads.


Step 6: Final touches

Turn it right-side out (use your scissor to poke out those corners) and iron your seams flat. Insert your pillow form and throw on your couch!

03_diy_hot_ribbon_pillow_pattern_iron_on_tutorial.jpg 02_diy_hot_ribbon_pillow_pattern_iron_on_tutorial.jpg 01_diy_hot_ribbon_pillow_pattern_iron_on_tutorial.jpg

Insert your pillow form and throw on your couch!

Get Hot Ribbon


Topics: DIY

Creative Team
Creative Team on May 8, 2017

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