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Skeleton Toile Pillows with Jumbo Poms

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This happens. You're minding your own business, browsing with a particular project in mind, when a completely surprising fabric grabs your hand and yanks you over to the side, whispering, "You must have me; I'm so cool." That's exactly what happened with this wonderful pillow pair. The skeleton toile in a bright chartreuse with rich royal blue accents simply reached out and pulled us in. 

The fabric is The Romantics, from the creative minds at Alexander Henry Fabrics, a manufacturer known for clever and innovative designs. 

We loved how the scenes depicted were faithful recreations of classic toile patterns. It's not until you look closely that you notice the love birds enjoying the pastoral pleasures are skeletons.

It's a blend of eclectic elegance we found simply irresistible. In addition to the chartreuse and royal blue we selected, The Romantics is also available in Pink and Grey, Black and White, and Light Blue and Natural.  

To emphasize the whimsy of the design, we elected to ring the pillows with jumbo pom poms in a coordinating royal blue. 

The square pillow features twelve poms around the perimeter. The rectangular pillow has corner poms plus royal blue accent bands along each side. 

Add a little ghoulish glamour to your décor.

Our pillows finish at approximately 18" x 18" and 16" x 20" with 2½" poms.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

18" x 18" Pillow

16" x 20" Pillow

Additional supplies for either pillow

  • THREE 1" decorative buttons
  • ONE Large Clover Pom-Pom Maker
  • All purpose thread to match fabric
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors 
  • Rotary cutter and mat
  • Tape measure
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

18" x 18" Pillow

Front panel cutting

  1. From the feature fabric, fussy cut the following:
    ONE 19" x 19" square for the front, centering a number of the motifs
    TWO 13¼" wide x 19" high rectangles for the back panels (see below for detail)

Fussy cutting the back panels

  1. We cut a strip 19" high x width of fabric (WOF), centering a selection of the motifs. Your overlap panel (the panel into which the buttonholes are cut) finishes after hemming, but prior to seaming, at 10½" wide. Towards one end of the WOF strip, find an area with several good motifs within that 10½" width and cut the overlap piece: 13¼" wide x 19" high, figuring the extra 2¾" along the left side of the panel.
  2. Along that left 19" side, fold back the raw edge ½" and press. Then fold back an additional 2¼" and press again. This simulates the hemmed edge.
  3. Place this hemmed edge on top of the remaining 19" WOF strip. Slide the folded edge along the strip until it matches up with the remaining motif. 
  4. Draw a line onto the base fabric with a fabric pen or pencil or create a line of pins, running this guide line along the folded edge of the cut piece.
  5. Pick up the cut piece. Measure 2¾" to the right of the line (a 2" overlap plus a ¾" hem) and 10½" to the left of the line. Create parallel vertical lines as each point. 
  6. Cut along these parallel lines. You now have a 13¼ x 19" high underlap piece with a matching motif.

Additional cutting

  1. From the interfacing, cut the following
    ONE 19" x 19" square for the front
    ONE 10½" x 19" rectangle for the overlap
    ONE 12½" x 19" rectangle for the underlap
  2. From the batting, cut ONE 19" x 19" square.

16" x 20" Pillow

NOTE: We always measure our pillow forms to check sizing. We found this pillow was narrower side to side. To account for this, we added a traditional ½" seam allowance top and bottom as above with the 18" x 18" pillow form. But for the side-to-side cut width, we used 20" rather than 21". You may want to measure and adjust your cuts to best match your pillow form and your desired "pillow plumpness." 

Front panel cutting

  1. From the feature fabric, fussy cut the following:
    ONE 18" wide x 17" high rectangle for the front, centering a number of the motifs
    TWO 13" x 17" rectangles for the back panels (see below for detail)

Fussy cutting the back panels

  1. Similarly to above, we cut a strip 17" high x width of fabric (WOF). Your overlap panel (the panel into which the buttonholes are cut) finishes after hemming but prior to seaming, at 11¾" wide. Towards one end of the WOF strip, find an area with several good motifs within that 11¾" width and cut the overlap piece: 13" wide x 17" high, figuring the extra 1¼" along the left side of the panel.
  2. Along the left 17" side, fold back the raw edge ¼" and press. Then fold back an additional 2" and press again. This simulates the hemmed edge.
  3. Place this hemmed edge on top of the remaining 17" WOF strip. Slide the folded edge along the strip until it matches up with the remaining motif. Draw a line onto the base fabric with a fabric pen or pencil or create a line of pins, running this guide line along the folded edge of the cut piece.
  4. Pick up the cut piece. Measure 2¾" to the right of the line (a 2" overlap plus a ¾" hem) and 10¼" to the left of the line. Create parallel vertical lines at each point. 
  5. Cut along these parallel lines. You now have a 13" wide x 17" high underlap piece with a matching motif.

Additional cutting

  1. From the coordinating solid fabric, cut TWO 2" x 17"rectangles.
  2. From the interfacing, cut the following
    ONE 20" x 17" rectangle for the front
    ONE 11¾" x 17" rectangle for the overlap
    ONE 13¼" x 17" rectangle for the underlap
  3. From the batting, cut ONE 20" x 17" rectangle.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

18" x 18" Pillow

Create the poms

  1. Make TWELVE 2½" poms. 
  2. We made our fluffy pom-poms, using the Large Clover Pom-Pom Maker. You can do this too with help from our easy, step-by-step tutorial
  3. We also used a little twisted cord technique for the pom hangers because we felt we needed a stronger hanger to sew the poms into our seams. If you are a knitter, you'll recognize this easy technique right away. If not, it's really simply twisting two strands together, and there are lots of instructions online, including this video from Knitting at KNoon.

Attach poms to the pillow front

  1. Find the front 19" x 19" fabric square and the 19" x 19" interfacing square. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing the wrong side of the fabric. 
  2. Find the 19" x 19" batting square. Place it flat on your work surface. Place the interfaced front panel right side up on top of the batting. All four sides of the two layers should be flush. 
  3. Place one pom in each corner. 
  4. With the corner poms in place, center two additional poms along each side. These poms are each 6" in from the corner.
  5. The top of each pom should be 1" in from the raw edge of the fabric panel. There should be enough twisted pom tie to extend beyond the fabric panel. It will be trimmed flush after basting in place.
  6. Machine or hand baste all 12 poms in place through all the layers: fabric/interfacing/batting. 
  7. Side aside the front panel.

Back panels

  1. Find the two carefully fussy cut back panels. 
  2. The overlap panel should already have its hem pressed in place from the fussy-cutting exercise above. If need be, re-press. To do this, fold in the left 19" edge of the overlap panel ½" and press, then fold back an additional 2¼" and press again. 
  3. Lift up the hem and slip the 10½" x 19" interfacing panel into place. The inner edge of the interfacing should be flush up against the fold of the hem. The top, bottom and outer edges of the interfacing should be flush with the raw edges of the overlap panel. 
  4. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing in place against the wrong side of the fabric. 
  5. Refold the hem back down into position and pin in place.
  6. Stitch the hem in place, running the seam ¼" from the inner folded edge. 
  7. Find the back underlap panel. Fold back the right 19" raw edge ¼" and press. 
  8. Fold back an additional ½" and press again.
  9. As above, slip the 12½" x 19" interfacing panel into position against the inner fold. 
  10. Fuse the interfacing panel in place. Re-fold and pin the hem. 
  11. Edgestitch the hem in place.

Buttonholes and buttons

  1. Find the hemmed overlap panel. Measure for three evenly spaced, vertical buttonholes. 
  2. Mark the first buttonhole at the exact center top to bottom. Center the buttonhole vertically within the hem (between the line of the stitching and the folded edge). 
  3. Following the instructions for your machine, create a buttonhole to fit your button. 
    NOTE: We also have a general article on machine buttonholes
  4. Create two additional vertical buttonholes, one 5" above the center buttonhole and one 5" below the center buttonhole. 
  5. Cut open each buttonhole, carefully clipping from the center out to each end. 
  6. Overlap the two back panels so the motifs align along the hemmed edges and the width equals 19" across.
  7. Insert a pin through the center of each buttonhole to mark a position on the underlap panel for the three buttons.
  8. Hand stitch each button in place.
  9. With the buttons in place, overlap the panels again so the motifs align and the width equals 19", but do not button the panels together. Instead, lightly pin in place along the top and bottom to hold the two panels together. 
  10. Across the very top and the very bottom, make a small seam just across the overlap. Stitch as close to the raw edges as possible. These short seams simply anchor the two pieces together, allowing you to work with the back as one piece rather than two when finishing the front-to-back seam.

Sew front to back to finish

  1. Place the front and back panels right sides together, aligning all four sides and carefully sandwiching the poms between the layers. Pin in place. Make sure the back panels are still unbuttoned. 
  2. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around all four sides, carefully pivoting at each corner.
  3. Trim the corners at a diagonal, but don't trim away the pom tails. Leaving the tails long gives them some additional stability.
  4. Carefully turn the pillow cover right side out through the unbuttoned back opening. 
  5. Using a long, blunt-end tool, such as a knitting needle or chopstick, gently push out the corners. 
  6. Press the cover flat. 
  7. Insert your pillow form through the opening and fluff it out into the corners.

16" x 20" Pillow

  1. This pillow is constructed in the same manner as the square pillow with just minor changes. 
  2. Pin a solid band to both outside 17" sides of the front panel. 
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch each band in place. Press each seam allowance towards the band. 
  4. With the bands in place, flip over the front panel and fuse the 20" x 17" interfacing panel in place against the wrong side of the panel. 
  5. This rectangular pillow only has poms in each corner. Create FOUR 2½" poms. 
  6. As above, baste each in place at each corner.
  7. For the back panels, stitch a band to the outer edge of each panel first, using a ½" seam allowance.
  8. Then, as above, pre-press the hems, fuse the interfacing panels in place, then stitch the hems in place. 
  9. Complete the pillow following the same steps as for the square version. 
  10. The only additional difference is to remember that the rectangle overlap panel hem is slightly narrower. As noted in the fussy cutting section above, first fold in the raw edge ¼" then an additional 2".

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas 
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

Section: 

Comments (2)

Christi295 said:
Christi295's picture

Too funny! Love them - just perfect for curling up with to read "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies"!!!

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

@ Christi295 - Isn't it wonderful?! How can you not love these sweet and sophisticated skeletons?!

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