What does a throw pillow want to be when it grows up? Probably a super soft body pillow that offers four and a half feet of huggability. These tall pillows are popular for crashing on the family room floor, relaxing (I mean studying) in a dorm room, and are well known for providing sleep support for pregnant moms. We loved the blanket style fleece patterns we found at Fabric.com from Windham fabrics, which have the look of the famous Pendleton® wool blankets... but for a fraction of the price.
The WinterFleece collection from Windham includes a broad selection of lodge styles with Native American inspired motifs we've not seen before. And, the colors are beautifully rich. We chose Canyon in Turquoise. You might also like Cody in Copper and Windrunner in Tan, which is particularly similar in color and design to a classic Pendleton® stadium blanket.
Our body pillow is designed to be fast and easy to make, so we skipped the zipper and stitched the form inside the cover. Fleece is very easy to spot clean so most spills would be simple to remove with a damp cloth.
However, if you think your body pillow is likely to involved in some extreme lounging, you could easily add a zipper in the long side seam. If you're new to the technique, we have step-by-step tutorials on both Conventional Zipper Installation and Invisible Zipper Installation.
Since this pillow is quite large, it was a challenge to capture the construction process within the camera's frame. Instead, we made a tiny version of the pillow to better show the process throughout the instructions. Maybe we should donate it to a Barbie® Ski Lodge when done!
Our Lodge Style Fleece Body Pillow finishes at approximately 54" x 20" with 7" of fringe on either end.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Skyline S5)
- Quarter Inch Seam foot (optional but helpful to make quick, accurate work of the topstitched seams)
- Walking foot (optional but helpful for the thick layers)
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1½ yards of 60" patterned fleece for the main center panel; we used WinterFleece Canyon in Turquoise (#0305174) from the WinterFleece collection by Windham Fabrics from Fabric.com
- ⅔ yards of 60" wide coordinating solid fleece for the end panels and fringe; we used Apparel Fleece in Solid Cream (#0387851) from Fabric.com
- 20" x 54" body pillow insert(all the body pillow inserts we found were this same 20" x 54" size - the link here is to Amazon; they can also be found at big box stores, such as Walmart and Target)
- All purpose thread to match fabrics; we also used a contrasting gold thread in a heavy weight for our topstitching - this is optional
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat (we recommend a rotary cutter)
- Pinking blade for rotary cutter or pinking shears (optional)
- Straight pins
- From the patterned fleece for the main panel, fussy cut ONE 41" x 41" square.
NOTE: To get the best look, it's important to center your motif. We found a center point motif on our fleece, measuring 20½" to the left and right from this center point and 20½" to the top and bottom from this center point. Drawing our cut lines at these measurements gave us a perfectly centered 41" x 41" square. If you motif is different, you could also measure to center your designs within each half of the panel: 41" wide x 20½" high.
- From the coordinating solid fleece, cut the following:
TWO 7½" x 41" rectangles
NOTE: For our same "blanket look" cut one 41" side with a straight edge and the other with a pinked edge.
TWO 7½" x 20" rectangles
At Your Sewing Machine
NOTE: Remember, we made a mini pillow for our photography to better show the steps.
- Place the center panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Along each 41" side (the sides that will be attached to the end panels), measure ½" in from the cut edge.
NOTE: We measured with our see-through ruler and marked with pins. You could also draw a line with a fabric pen or pencil. If you do, make sure it is one that will easily wipe away or vanish with exposure to the air since you are working on the right side of the fabric.
- Find one of the end panels. Place the pinked side of the panel, right side up, over one marked side of the center panel, aligning the pinked edge with the marked ½" line.
- Pin the end panel in place through both layers. The two pieces are layered – not right sides together like a traditional seam. This allows a decorative touch with the pinked edge and a flatter finish.
- If desired, thread the machine with the contrasting heavy thread in the top and bobbin. Lengthen your stitch.
- Topstitch the layers together, using a ¼" seam allowance. We used our Walking foot.
- You could also use a Quarter Inch Seam foot.
- Repeat to attach the remaining end panel to the opposite side.
- Trim off just a tiny bit along the straight edge of each end panel to create a pinked edge. Carefully align your ruler to make sure the trimmed edge is perfectly straight.
- Fold the completed panel in half, right sides together, making sure to carefully align the seams of the end panels. Pin together along the 54" edge.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the long seam.
NOTE: We took the time to rethread from cream thread to turquoise thread to best match the end panels and center panels. This is optional, but is a nicer look should the seam ever pull slightly to reveal any threads.
- Turn the pillowcase right side out. Fold it in half and finger press. There should be one long folded edge and one long seamed edge.
- Turn so you are working with one end.
- Find the two 7½" x 20" solid rectangles. Using a clear ruler and rotary cutter if possible, cut ½" fringe across each rectangle. To do this draw a horizontal line ½" in from one 20" edge. Then, use the ruler to measure a ½" vertical strip. Cut from the bottom up, stopping at the drawn horizontal line. If you are having trouble getting close enough with the rotary cutter, stop a bit below the ½" drawn line and use scissors to snip the last little bit. Repeat, cutting identical ½" strips across the panel.
- You should end up with two 20" fringed panels, each with a ½" top insertion strip. The photo below shows you the actual-size version.
- And now back to the mini version to insert the fringe into the case.
- Slip the fringe between the two pinked layers of the end panels. It should slip into place with just the ½" of the insertion tape. Pin the fringe in place against the bottom layer.
- Lay the top layer down into position so the pinked edges of the layers are aligned and the fringe is sandwiched between the layers. Pin in place. It's okay to use lots of pins. You could also hand baste the layers together.
- As above, if desired, thread the machine with the contrasting heavy thread in the top and bobbin. Lengthen your stitch.
- Topstitch the layers together, using a ¼" seam allowance. We are still using our Walking foot.
- We stitched across again for added security.
- Insert the body pillow into place through the open end.
- Push the pillow form down into the case to allow the free end of the case to flatten (we found the form very soft to manipulate - it was easy to push it down and keep it out of the way of our final stitching).
- Attach the remaining fringe panel to this end as above.
- As mentioned above, if you want your case to be machine washable, you could insert a zipper into the long bottom seam.
Project Concept: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild