Monday, January 15, 2018

Loves Notes Pillow: a free tutorial

Last weekend I found myself with an empty house and time on my hands! My husband went ice fishing. My two college kids (home on break) were busy with friends. The house was relatively clean and the laundry was done ~ all the ingredients for a day of sewing and movies! 

While I have two quilt tops in the works and other projects I need to prep and cut, I decided to just have some free-form sewing fun with my stash of Fig Tree & Co. reds and creams. I made this sweet little pillow I'm calling "Love Notes," and I've provided a tutorial below.

“Love Notes” is a great project for using a favorite mini charm pack or 2 1/2” squares from your leftover scraps, which is what I did. Just lay out 16 sweet little squares, embellish a few with prairie points or lace trim, and before you know it you will have a set of “envelopes” that give a nod to vintage valentines.

And of course, mismatched mother of pearl buttons add a romantic finishing touch.  I secured my buttons with Aurifil 12 wt thread in light sand (2000).  Aurifil’s 12 wt thread has a pearly sheen just right for tacking down pretty buttons!  

I added simple straight-line quilting to highlight each love note. While I auditioned a few different thread colors, I settled on the same light sand (2000) color, but I used 50 wt for the machine quilting.

What really tickles me about this pillow is how lovely it looks with my orange peel pillow and Sweetly Scalloped quilt.  Confession: sometimes I walk into the guest room just to give myself a smile ~ the little things can bring so much happiness!


I really enjoy a sewing project that is both easy and pushes me to be creative and "artistic."  I think that's good for all of us!  I hope you find yourself with a free Saturday afternoon like I did, where you can get carried away quilting!


Love Notes Pillow
  • (1) 16 inch pillow form
  • (16) 2 1/2" squares
  • Additional 2 1/2" squares for the prairie-point envelope flaps. (Do as many as you like, 1 or all 16!)
  • Scraps of trim, lace, etc. (each 2 1/2" in length)
  • Buttons
  • 1/3 yard neutral for sashing and borders (I used Moda Cross Weave in the color sand.)
  • (1) 20" x 20" piece of batting
  • (1) 20" x 20" piece of scrap muslin or neutral
  • (2) pieces 11" wide by 16 3/4" tall (for envelope back of pillow)
  • 1/4 yard binding


      Note: I’ve used Moda Cross Weave in Sand for my neutral fabric.  It has a linen-like look that I love.  I use a best press product before cutting to give it a bit of stability and avoid fraying.  I do not use spray during or after piecing, as it can shrink the fabric very slightly.  WOF means width of fabric.

      1.    From the neutral fabric, cut (2) strips 1 1/4 x WOF for sashing.
      Subcut (12) 1 1/4” x 2 1/2” strips.
      Subcut (3) 1 1/4” x 10 3/4” strips.
      2.    Also from the neutral fabric, cut (2) strips 3 1/2” x WOF for borders.
      Subcut (2) 3 1/2” x 10 3/4”.
      Subcut (2) 3 1/2” x 16 3/4”.

      Note: My finished pillow shows more embellishments than the tutorial photos below. Once I finished the top for the tutorial, I realized I loved the little flap and trim so much, I wanted more.  I did some surgery on my top to open seams and add a few more flaps and bits of trim. Express your creative side and add as many prairie points, bits of trim and buttons as you’d like.  And above all, HAVE FUN!

      Use a 1/4” seam allowance unless otherwise noted.

      1.         Arrange your (16) 2 1/2” squares in a way that looks pleasing to your eye.

      2.    Create as many prairie points as you’d like for your pillow. (My finished pillow has three prairie points.) To create a prairie point, simply fold a 2 1/2” square twice on the diagonal and press well.

      3.    Position the raw edge of your prairie points to the top edge of select 2 1/2” squares. Also position bits of 2 1/2” trim to the top edge of select 2 1/2” square. 
      4.    Sew the prairie points and bits of trim along the top edge of selected 2 1/2” squares using a 1/8” seam allowance.

      5.    Sew the four vertical rows together. Each row includes (4) 2 1/2” squares and (3) 2 1/2” x 1 1/4” sashing strips.  Press toward the neutral.

      6.    Sew the four vertical rows together with (3) 10 3/4” x 1 1/4” vertical sashing strips. Press toward the neutral.

      7.    Sew the 3 1/2” x 10 3/4” borders to the left and right.  Press toward the neutral.
      8.    Sew the 3 1/2” x 16 3/4” borders to the top and bottom.  Press toward the neutral.

      9.     Layer your pillow top, batting, and muslin (scrap backing) using your preferred method of pinning, thread or spray basting.  Since this is a small project, I found that fabric adhesive was enough to keep my quilt sandwich in place and flat during quilting.  
      10.   I kept my quilting simple and used 1/4" quilter's tape to mark my quilting lines.  When you have finished the quilting, trim the backing and batting.


      11.   Add buttons if desired. The pillow top is now complete.

      12.   Using your two backing pieces, sew a 1/2" seam on the right edge of one piece and a 1/2" seam on the left edge of the other piece.  These two pieces will overlap in the middle and need finished edges.

      13.   Lay the pillow top right side down on your cutting mat. Then lay down the two backing pieces right side up.  Overlap the two backing pieces so that when overlapped, the backing measures 16 3/4" wide.  Adjust the backing pieces slightly to make sure all outside edges line up nicely. Pin around all four sides. Using a 1/8” seam allowance, sew a basting stitch around all four sides. This will keep everything in place for binding.

      14.   Bind your pillow as you would normally bind a small quilt. (I use 2 1/4” strips for quilts, but 2 1/2” strips for pillows.)
      15.   Insert your pillow form, and you are done! 
      Please share your version on Instagram using the hashtag #lovenotespillow and be sure to tag me @taunjalynn so I see your creation!


      1. I've been excitedly waiting for this tutorial, thank you so much, love it!

        1. Hey thanks Teresa! Hope you have a great time with it! It's meant for sewing fun!! :)

      2. So so cute! That's IT! I need to start collecting trims and lacy bits pronto. This would be perfect for leftover squares, too. Love it!!!

        1. Thanks Anna! Yep, perfect for all your saved bits and scraps!

      3. Beautiful pillow! I love the little embellishments. Thanks for sharing the 'how-to' for it. (And I would be looking into the spare room quite often too - the set looks so good together.)

        1. Thanks so much for stopping by and your kind words. Hope you get a chance to make one yourself! :)

      4. Could this be any sweeter?? Just think of all the secrets and whispers those little envelopes could hold. Thank you for the pattern and tutorial...I'm adding it to my ever-growing list!

        1. Hey thanks Kathy!! Thanks for adding it to the list! :)

      5. I am SO in love with this pillow!!! I am most definitely adding it to my must make right away list. Fabulous tutorial as usual :)

        1. Oh great!! I hope you'll keep me posted. I think there are so many possibilities with this one!

      6. I love the pillow! Thanks for sharing this tutorial, I hope to give it a try this weekend.

        1. Great!! I hope you'll keep me posted and let me know what you come up with! :)

      7. Love this idea! I certainly have a ton of scraps that would useful for this project.

        1. So glad to hear that! Hope you get a chance to whip one up!

      8. What a gorgeous pillow!! Your fabrics and notions are just perfect for a love notes pillow, in fig tree fabrics!! Thanks so much for sharing your pattern!! I adore your projects, Taunja !!

        1. Thanks so much for your kind comments Susie! We just can't go wrong with Fig Tree and pretty bits, can we? Happy sewing to you!

      9. Taunja, this is such an adorable pillow.
        I want to make it right now. I can't though bc I have already started so many projects. I need an assistant, and a maid and a cook.
        I will try to cut and paste this into "pages" and print it out so I can make it bc I have some cutie fabric for this pattern

        1. Oh Rosemary, I think you better just put those other projects aside and make this pillow. ha ha ha! Thanks for being such a good egg and checking in now and then as time allows! Happy sewing to you! :)

      10. This is such a sweet pillow! I love the bits of lace and buttons that you added. Thank you for sharing the tutorial!

        1. You are so welcome Julie, and thank you for your kind feedback! :)

      11. Those pillows are so sweet and to die for. Thank you for the tutorial!! One can never have too many pillows!!

      12. Appreciate you sharing, great article.Really looking forward to read more. Really Great.


      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment!