This is exactly the project you've been waiting for: the Zero Calorie box of Valentine's chocolate! Our plump little heart pillows have a pleated chiffon sash across the center to give them the look of the classic heart-shaped boxes of assorted chocolates. Secret Tip: hidden inside are layers of batting and muslin to keep our hearts smooth and round. They are fast and easy to make and take just small cuts of fabric; use used Fat Quarters. They'll make a perfect gift for everyone you love, because just like Forrest said, "Life is like a box o' chocolates!"
Our pillows were made using fat quarters from the Hoopla collection by Moda Fabrics. Though not a traditional "hearts & flowers" motif, we love the bright, happy colors and playful patterns. Stay with this candy-color theme or switch out to elegant neutals or even velvets and satins.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome HD3000)
Fabric and Other Supplies
Supply list is for ONE pillow
- ½ yard of 44-45" wide fabric for pillow front or ONE Fat Quarter
- ½ yard of 44-45" wide fabric for pillow back or ONE Fat Quarter
- ½ yard of 44-45" wide chiffon for pillow sash: we suggest a bright white, such as White Mirror Organza (CX-589) from Fabric.com
- ½ yard of 44-45" wide muslin for interior pillow construction, such as Meadowlark Premium Muslin in Natural (EL-255) from Fabric.com
- ½ yard of 44-45" wide lightweight batting for interior pillow construction: such as Warm & Natural Cotton Blend Batting in a Craft Size (CBR-001) from Fabric.com
- One small bag of polyester fiberfill for pillow stuffing: we used Fairfield's Poly-Fil® Premium Polyester Fiberfill
NOTE: The quality of the stuffing really makes a difference in the outside appearance. Find out more here.
- All purpose thread to match all fabrics
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
- Download and print our TWO 8½" x 11" pattern sheets: Heart Pillow Top and Heart Pillow Bottom.
IMPORTANT: Each pattern is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
- Cut out the pattern pieces along the solid lines.
- Following the diagram on the printouts, butt the two pattern pieces together and tape in place. Do NOT overlap. You now have one Heart Pillow Template that resembles half a heart shape.
- From the chiffon fabric for the pillow sash, cut the following:
ONE 8" high x 22" wide rectangle - this will be the Upper Pillow Sash
ONE 8" high x 23" wide rectangle - this will be the Lower Pillow Sash
- From the fabric for each pillow front, cut ONE 13" high x 16" wide rectangle - this will be the Front Pillow Panel
- From the fabric for each pillow back, cut ONE 13" high x 16" wide rectangle - this will be the Back Pillow Panel
- From the cotton muslin, cut TWO 13" high x 16" wide rectangles for each pillow - these will be the Muslin Panels
- From the batting, cut TWO 13" high x 16" wide rectangles for each pillow - these will be the Batting Panels
- You should now have SIX matching rectangles for each pillow.
- Fold one rectangle in half widthwise, so you now have a 13" high x 8" wide rectangle.
- Pin the Heart Pillow Template through both layers of fabric, lining up the 'place on fold' edge of the template on the fold line of the fabric.
- Cut out around heart template, remove pins, and set aside.
- Repeat to cut a heart from the remaining five rectangles. Then repeat for each additional pillow you are making.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Prepare the front and back panels
- From the six hearts you just cut, we are going to create two 'fabric sandwiches.' This technique is thanks to our friend and home décor expert, Donna Babylon. Donna's tip for a smooth, specialty-shaped pillow – especially when using lightweight cotton, is to add a layer of batting and muslin to the main decorator fabric. These additional layers smooth and stabilize the surface of the pillow.
- Place the Front Pillow Panel right side down on your work surface. Place a Batting Panel on top of the Front Pillow Panel, then place a Muslin Panel on top of the Batting Panel. Align all three layers around the outside edges.
- Pin around the entire outside edge through all 3 layers.
- Sew the layers together, using a ¼" seam allowance.
- Repeat these steps to create the three-layer Back Pillow Panel.
- Set both the assembled panels aside.
Create the sashes
- On each Pillow Sash, make a narrow hem along each long edge.
- If you have a serger, you could also simply serge the sides, which is what we chose to do.
- Flip over the Front Pillow Panel so the right side is facing up.
- Using your tape measurer, measure 5" from the apex of the heart up and along the top edge of the heart's right curve.
- Pin the left edge of the Upper Pillow Sash to the Front Pillow Panel at this 5" point.
- Measure 1¾" from the sash edge, and place another pin.
- At this second pin, pinch the sash fabric over the pin to make a ½" pleat, then fold the pleat down and pin it to the Front Pillow Panel.
- Measure 2¼" from the edge of this first folded pleat, and place another pin.
- At this second pin, just as you did above, pinch the sash fabric over the pin to make a ½" pleat, fold the pleat down and pin it to the Front Pillow Panel.
- Finally, pin the right edge of the sash to the Front Pillow Panel.
- Stitch the Upper Pillow Sash to the Front Pillow Panel with a ¼" topstitch, and remove the pins.
- Repeat these steps to attach the Lower Pillow Sash, but start the right edge of the lower sash 2½" from the bottom center of the heart along the left edge.
- Gather the Upper Pillow Sash and the Lower Pillow Sash into the center of the Front Pillow Panel. You can pin the sash tails in place to insure they stay out of the seam.
Finish the pillow
- Place the pillow front and pillow back right sides together, lining up all edges. Pin the panels together. Make sure those sash tails won't be caught in the seam.
- Sew front and back together, using a ½" seam allowance all around, leaving a 4"- 5" opening along the lower right side of the pillow for turning right side out. Remember to lock the stitches at the beginning and end of the seam as well as on either side of the opening.
- Trim the outer seam allowance to ¼" EXCEPT at the opening. Leave the seam allowance ½" at the opening.
- Turn the pillow right side out through the opening.
- Press the pillow cover flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- Stuff the pillow with polyester fiberfill. The pillow should be stuffed so it's pleasingly plump. Take a handful of loose fiberfill and fluff the fibers with your fingers to remove any clumps. To do this, gently separate the fibers as if teasing hair. Insert these small handfuls of fiberfill, starting with the curves of the heart and working toward the center. We have a tutorial that covers more pillow stuffing tips and techniques.
- Using your hand sewing needle and thread, slip stitch the pillow opening closed. Keep your stitches small so the fiberfill won't poke out.
- Tie a bow with the sashes on the front of the pillow. The bow should be towards the top of the heart, not in the very middle. This looks more like the traditional box o' chocolates ribbon.
NOTE: The sash measurements above will result in a full and flouncy bow like ours. If you'd prefer a tighter bow, cut your sashes shorter. If you'd prefer a floppier bow or longer tails, cut your sashes longer.
Project Concept: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Gregory Dickson