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Designer Pillow Knock-Off: Nautical Stripes & Grommets

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What's the project everyone suggests when you start sewing? "Make a pillow!" What's the number one way to quickly freshen your home décor? "Make a pillow!!" And, what's the best way to get chic designer style for a fraction of the price? "Make a pillow!!!" We put together a series awhile back with our friends from Fairfield Processing to show how easy it is to create the top pillow looks for less. They do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and when you can imitate for less plus add your own special spin... all the better. We searched the web to find trend-setting luxury pillows from a range of high-end outlets, such as Anthropologie®, Neiman Marcus® and Horchow Home®. The options ran from $150 to $2000! And not a single one of them couldn't have been made by you! The cool grommets and bold stripes of this nautical style pillow was one of our favorites. 

As with anything, you need to start with a good foundation. Our foundation is a Fairfield's Home Elegance™ pillow form, their most luxurious choice for lounging. This pillow cover is based on a trio of designs we came across at Horchow Home®. To create our knock-off, we used the best quality, brand new components (no stash stealing) and still came in well under $50, saving nearly $180 over retail. 

Our pillow features Dritz Home Grommets as the main focal point. Other interesting "hardware" to consider would be buckles, rings, chain trim, zippers, large decorative buttons or toggles. We've used an invisible zipper along the side as our pillow's closure, which allows the cover to be easily removed for laundering. It also means we could re-use the pillow form when we make yet another great pillow cover. 

We were able to find a nearly identical selection of fabrics to the designer pillows we spotted. And, we purchased all the fabric at a local chain retailer, proving you needn't be an interior designer or shop in Paris to find great fabric for your pillow knockoffs. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • ¾ yard of 45"+ medium to heavy weight fabric for the outer front panels and the back; we used a 45" 100% cotton navy and white wide nautical stripe purchased locally
  • ¼ yard of 45" + medium to heavy weight fabric for the center panel; we used a navy gabardine purchased locally
  • ⅓ yard of 44-45" quilting weight cotton for the center panel flanges and the center panel background highlight panel; we used a solid cotton in avocado green purchased locally
  • ¾ yard of 20" + lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Shir-Tailor®
  • FIVE 1" grommets; we used Dritz Home Grommets in Satin Nickel
  • One 20" x 20" Fairfield Home Elegance™ pillow form, available at the Fairfield World Factory Store as well as from Amazon
  • ONE 12-14" invisible zipper - optional; we use a Coats invisible zipper in navy
  • All-purpose thread to match fabrics
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Small sharp scissors or a small razor blade to cut circles for grommets
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the outer front panels and the back (navy/white stripe in our sample), fussy cut the following:
    ONE 16" x 20" rectangle for the front panels. Fold this rectangle in half (16" x 10"), then cut this folded piece in half to create two 8" x 20" panels that exactly match.

    Using the front panels as your guide, fussy cut ONE 20" x 20" square, exactly matching the stripes so your sides seams will perfectly align.
  2. From the fabric for the center panel (navy gabardine in our sample), cut ONE 6" x 20" rectangle.
  3. From the fabric for the center panel flanges and the center panel background highlight panel (avocado cotton in our sample), cut the following:
    ONE 6" x 20" rectangle
    TWO 1" x 20" strips
  4. From the fusible interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 20" x 20" square
    ONE 6" x 20 rectangle

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Center grommet panel

  1. Find all the center panel pieces (navy grommet panel, green highlight panel and the two green flange strips), the 6" x 9" interfacing panel, and the five grommets.
  2. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the main grommet panel (the navy panel in our sample).
  3. Find one of the two outer front panels. Line up the outer panel next to the center panel so you can use the outer panel's stripes as a guide for grommet placement. We spaced our grommets so one fell within each white stripe. 
  4. Following manufacturer's instructions, or our own handy Sew4Home grommet tutorial, mark, cut...
  5. ... and insert the five grommets. 
  6. Find the two flange strips. Fold each strip in half wrong sides together. Press well.
  7. Find the 6" x 20" highlight panel. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface. Place the center grommet panel on top of the highlight panel - also right side up. Align all the raw edges.
  8. Place one folded flange along each long side, making sure the raw edges of the flange are flush with the raw edges of the center and highlight panels. Pin the flanges in place through all the layers.
  9. For extra security, since you are working with four layers, we recommend machine basting the flanges in place, using a ¼" seam allowance. We switched to thread to match the flange in the top and bobbin. You can now work with this as one piece (that doesn't shift) for the final construction.

Assemble the three front panels

  1. Find the two outer panels.
  2. Place one panel along each side of the center panel. Pin in place.
  3. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch both side panels in place.
  4. Fold the side panels out into position and press flat, pressing the seam allowances toward the side panels. If necessary, remove any basting stitches that show.
  5. Re-thread with thread to match the main fabric in the top and bobbin (navy in our sample). 
  6. Run a line of topstitching parallel to each center panel seam. The topstitching should be ¼" from the seam within the side panels. We lengthened our stitch.
  7. Find the 20" x 20" interfacing. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse to interfacing to the wrong side of the completed front panel. This adds a bit of extra stability and will give the pillow a very smooth finish.

Optional zipper and finishing

  1. If you would like to insert an invisible zipper, now is the time to do it. It should be centered within what will be the bottom seam of the pillow.
  2. If you are new to invisible zippers, check out our great step-by-step tutorial
    NOTE: If you prefer to not insert a zipper, you will simply leave an 14" opening within the bottom seam for turning, and then handstitch the opening closed when done. This means your finished pillow will need to be spot cleaned as the cover will not be able to be removed without ripping out the seam.
  3. Unzip the zipper half way. 
  4. Place the front and back panels right sides together. Make sure you carefully align the stripes front to back along the sides. 
  5. Pin along the top, both sides and the remainder of the bottom seam to either end of where you ended your invisible zipper seam.
  6. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the sides and bottom. Clip the corners.
    NOTE: Remember, if you are not using a zipper, leave an 14" opening in the bottom seam. 
  7. Turn right side out through the open zipper. 
  8. Using a long, blunt-end tool, gently push out the corners so they are nice and square. A chopstick or long knitting needle works well. 
  9. Insert the Home Elegance™ 20" x 20" pillow form and zip closed.
  10. Again, if you opted not to insert a zipper, carefully slip stitch/ladder stitch your opening closed instead.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Aimee McGaffey

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Comments (1)

Good Old Granny said:
Good Old Granny's picture

Thanks for the step by step!!  I'm going to use this to make curtains too -  white curtains with the blue and green as you have done. I will use a little smaller grommets and weave a "line" through them. I saw them on a website for a whole lot of moola! As usual I will make it myself for a lot less. But then I will make bed pillows as you have done to continue the theme! Thanks so much for putting htis up - it gave me some great ideas.

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