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Janome Week: Decorative Stitch Pillow Power

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I still remember the first sewing machine I bought with a full compliment of decorative stitches. I was in seventh heaven. It felt like the same unbridled choice as when you open a fresh box of 64 crayons. Variety unleashed! But we often get so busy with the construction process, we forget about all those great stitches. Not today! It's Janome Week on Sew4Home, and all Janome machines have at least some decorative stitches, many of them have hundreds! Today's pillow project gives you three different decorative stitching options to try, and we've included three free template downloads to re-create our exact designs. There are random intersecting lines, which allow you to mix and match a variety of stitches. Our starburst showcases the option to program stitches, creating what appears to be individual dots. And finally, we give you the steps to stitch a spiral, using a padded satin stitch in variegated thread. It's all to encourage you to take advantage of your patiently-waiting decorative stitches... or maybe it's time to look for a new model with even more selection.

When you're shopping for a new machine, test out the stitches so you can not only see the patterns but also how/if they can be adjusted. On some models, such as the Janome Horizon Memory Craft QCP we are using today, you can build your own unique stitch patterns, then memorize them to the machine's memory bank. The top-of-the-line Janome Horizon Memory Craft 12000 even lets you design, build upon and save your own custom individual stitches.

Depending on the level of machine you buy, decorative stitches are usually adjustable in width and/or length; they can sometimes even be flipped. Janome's newest models, the MC8200 QC, MC8900 QCP, MC9900 and MC12000 are all adjustable up to a 9mm stitch width (for the majority of the decorative options), which makes a beautifully dramatic accent for all types of projects – it's what we used on our intersecting lines pillow.

Ingredient notes

  • Our pillow samples are made for a 12" x 12" pillow form. The construction itself is standard to other piped pillows we've done. At the end of the article are links to previous tutorials you might find helpful. We've included links to similar projects as well as tutorials on piping, bias binding and covered buttons. 
  • We used an off-white cotton for all three pillow fronts: Bella Solids by Moda in Porcelain. The pillow backs and binding are Cotton Dots from Riley Blake Designs. We chose four coordinating dot colors: orange, lime and brown for the pillow backs and aqua for all the piping. A half yard of each fabric is appropriate. 
  • For each pillow you will also need a 12" x 12" pillow form, 1½ yards of ¼" cotton piping cord, two 1⅝" cover button kits, and tearaway stabilizer. Tearaway comes in sheets as well as rolls. You need a 15" x 15" square for each pillow.
  • We used all-purpose thread for construction, 40wt embroidery thread for the decorative stitching on the starburst and intersecting lines, and 30wt variegated cotton thread for the spiral plus a pearl cotton for the padding. Appropriate bobbin thread was in the bobbin for all the decorative work.

Machine notes


Construction notes

NOTE: As mentioned above, links are provided below for similar projects and helpful tutorials. 

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the pillow back, cut one 13" x 13" square for each pillow.
  2. From the fabric for the pillow front, cut one 14" x 14" square for each pillow.
  3. From the tearaway stabilizer, cut one 15" x 15" square for each pillow.
  4. Print out the template of your choice. Each template consists of FOUR 8½" x 11" sheets. You must print the PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a ruler on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
    Starburst Pillow: Starburst Template 1Starburst Template 2Starburst Template 3Starburst Template 4
    Intersecting Lines Pillow: Lines Template 1Lines Template 2Lines Template 3Lines Template 4
    Spiral Pillow: Spiral Template 1,  Spiral Template 2Spiral Template 3Spiral Template 4
  5. Cut out each piece along the solid line. 
  6. Line up the numbered arrows and tape the four pieces together to make one complete pattern piece.
  7. On a flat surface, place the tearaway stabilizer over the pattern. Trace the lines for decorative stitching onto the stabilizer with a pencil or chalk marker.
  8. Remove the paper pattern. Place the square of front fabric (the Bella Solids Porcelain in our sample) over the stabilizer with its drawn lines, centering the fabric. Pin in each corner. The lines on the stabilizer should be visible through the fabric.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. At the machine, select the desired decorative stitch. Sew along the marked lines, using a foot that is easy to see through so you can follow along your drawn lines. We used Janome Satin Stitch foot F
  2. When the stitching is complete, place the paper pattern over the stitched front square and trim the fabric to match the back square (13" x 13").
  3. Assemble the pillow, adding the piping and the covered buttons. See the link suggestions below if you are new to these techniques.


  1. The dotted decorative stitch is created using Stitch 147 on the Janome Memory Craft 8900 QCP. We adjusted the stitch to 0.25 in length and 9.0 in width. We added this adjusted stitch to the machine's memory by pressing the "M" key. Next, we selected bridging stitch #165, adjusting its length to 3.0. We added this adjusted stitch to the memory by again pressing M. You've created your own stitch pattern! Starting ½" from the center, sew this unique stitch pattern out towards the edge of the fabric, following along each drawn line.
  2. When finished, clip away the bridging stitch to isolate the "dots."

Intersecting Lines

  1. The following stitches from the Heirloom collection on the MC8900 QCP were used: 60, 63, 71, 80 and 86.
  2. Simply follow along each drawn line. We worked from bottom to top.


  1. To give the spiral design a slightly raised texture and dimension, it was sewn as a padded satin stitch, using the Janome clear Appliqué foot, variegated cotton thread and pearl cotton.
  2. Select a zig zag stitch. Adjust it to 3.0 in width and 0.30 in length. 
  3. As with the other designs, you should have already traced the spiral onto the stabilizer and layered it with the front fabric square.
  4. Place the stabilized fabric under the needle and use the Needle Up/Down button to bring the bobbin thread up to the top of the fabric. 
  5. Place the end of the pearl cotton under the channel at the front of the Appliqué foot
  6. Pull the pearl cotton, bobbin thread and variegated cotton to the back. Hold onto these three tails as the stitches are starting. You can let go as soon as as the pearl cottom is secured with the first ¼" or so of stitching. Follow along the drawn spiral line; the channel in the foot will guide the pearl cotton under the zig zag stitches. 
  7. When the stitching is complete, trim the thread tails and the pearl cotton. 
  8. At the pillow's center, use a hand sewing needle with a large eye to take the threads to the wrong side of the fabric. 
  9. Knot on the back.

Hints & Tips

Below are links to similar piped pillow projects (saw that three times fast!):

Alchemy Piped Pillow 

Appliqué Animal Piped Pillow

Outdoor Piped Pillows

Octagonal Piped Pillow

These tutorials may also be helpful:

Bias Binding

Making & Attaching Piping

Covered Buttons

And, here are a few other decorative stitching articles:

Decorative Stitches: Love Them! Use Them!

Apron with Decorative Stitching

Decorative Stitched Napkins


Project Concept: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation and Technique Notes: Michele Mishler



Comments (14)

Julie Kindleyside said:
Julie Kindleyside's picture

Hello, could you please help me with my Janome settings. I want to program the memory for when the walking foot and straight stitch plate are attached. I would like to have the stitch length set at 1.0 for starting the seam and 3.5 for the seam itself. I cannot figure out how to use the memory for this setting. Do you know how?


Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Julie Kindleyside - we don't have the expertise with each and every Janome machine to help with specific technical questions. We would recommend going to Janome directly at custrel@janome-america.com or to your local Janome detaler. Then you can explain the exact model you are working with. 

lhutchens said:
lhutchens's picture

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Janome, I need  an upgrade

the repairman and I agree, it has to be you.

So many improvements in machines since I started,

on my mother's old singer....it's high time we parted.

Reverse stitching was its only feature,

but you, my sweet Magnolia, can be my new teacher.

Banderson said:
Banderson's picture

AH! I LOVE these!!  Look at how beautiful your machine it, too!  When I saw the pillows, I had to take a peek at this tutorial as I have been shopping for new ones to update our living space (easy transformation for spring!).  I couldn't bring myself to buy the pillow covers for the price they were listed at, so I put that idea aside.  I thnk that these look BETTER than the ones that I was looking at - thanks again for all of your great tutorials.  I'm not sure that my machine will allow me to make these stitches, but I plan on saving this link for my "someday!" 

damaw57 said:
damaw57's picture

 Could you please tell me what pearl cotton is for the spiral pillow ? Also I would like to  thank everyone that takes the time to give such detailed tutorials  as well as creative ideals  



dsyshdwsct said:
dsyshdwsct's picture


Janome also has an adjustable zipper foot along with the narrow zipper foot. My favorite foot for zippers is the Z foot, specially designed for invisible zippers. These work great for decorator pillows. For sewing cording or making piping there are additional feet that make the job easy--a cording foot set and a piping foot that lets you work to the left or right when stitching.

Shaena said:
Shaena's picture

Does anyone have difficulty with the zipper foot on the Janome when sewing zippers or making their own cording?  I can't seem to get it to ride over the zipper or cording to get close enough with the foot being so wide at the base.

Alison said:
Alison's picture

Hi....Did you try moving your needle to the left so it is closer to the zipper?  It makes a big difference.

Hope that helps :)

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ MarciaFlorida - We have tested all the PDF download files on our end and everything is working fine - including linking directly from your comment. Please try again. Perhaps there was a connection issue on your end. 

MarciaFlorida said:
MarciaFlorida's picture

I cannot believe the timing on this article and tutorial.  Today I am working on a pillow with decorative stitches / embroidery. Unfortunately, I am not with sewing a Janome that has all these wonderful options on sizing of stitches, etc.

Thanks for the information and the templates.

JoyceLM said:
JoyceLM's picture

Thanks for another great tutorial & for sharing the stitching templates.

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