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Woven Braid Patchwork Pillow

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Words are wonderful, aren't they? I especially love it when one word has lots of different uses. Take "weave" for example. In general, it simply means to go in and out. But it can be a verb or a noun or even an adjective. You weave a tale of mystery and intrigue; you can weave dangerously through speeding traffic; you can weave fibers into fabric. Today, we've put the word to work to describe the intricate woven braid pattern on our patchwork pillow.

We give you the complete step-by-step instructions for our own woven braid design. We came up with two additional blocks, and show all three below: (left to right) Woven Wreath, Woven Braid, Woven Pretzel. The more experienced quilters in our audience will be able to simply glance at all the designs and understand the steps needed. If you are new to piecing, start with the tutorial below, and soon, you too will be "quilting in your head." And... just so you know, these are names we made up. If you wish to give them more traditional quilt block names, you certainly can (but our favorite word, "weave" will be sad if you leave him out).

If you are brand new to patchwork, check out our Quilting Basics: A Five-Part Series for Beginners.

 

Our pillow was created in Pirouette by Verna Mosquera for FreeSpirit Fabrics, an older collection that is no longer readily available. We selected some new options from our friends at Fat Quarter Shop. The pattern works best in a collection than has a variety of smaller motifs in distinct colors in order to achieve the pretty braided effect. Click on a collection sample below to see the full range.

The pillow finishes at approximately 16" x 16" excluding the piping.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Our patchwork pattern uses FOUR different fabrics. We have letter-coded the cuts on the layout diagram below. These same letters are used within the supplies list. The diagram is also "exploded" so you can easily see the nine blocks which make up the pillow front. As with all our tutorials, we recommend reading through all the instructions at least once before you dive in.


The yardages shown below include enough extra for precise fussy cutting.

  • ¼ yard of 44-45" wide cotton fabric for pieces A, B and C
  • ¼ yard of 44-45" wide cotton fabric for pieces D, E and F
  • 1 yard of 44-45" wide cotton fabric for pieces G, H and I plus the two back panels
  • ¼ yard of 44-45" wide cotton fabric for the piping
    NOTE: We used straight-cut strips for our piping. If you'd prefer to cut bias strips, you will need a ½ yard. Check out our Bias Binding Tutorial for more information on this technique. 
  • ½ yard of lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Shir-Tailor® by Pellon
  • 3 yards of ⅜" piping cord
  • ONE 16" x 16" pillow form; we used a Poly-fil® Home Elegance™ pillow form 
  • All purpose thread to match fabrics
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge 
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

NOTE: When you need to cut multiple pieces that are the same depth but different widths, it is easier, faster and more accurate to first cut width of fabric strips (WOF) at the proper depth (in this case 2½" or 4½") then cut these strips to each size needed. 

  1. From the fabric for the A , B and C pieces, cut the following:
    SEVEN 2½" x 2½" - A
    THREE 4½ x 2½" - B
    ONE 6½ x 2½" - C
  2. From the fabric for the D, E and F pieces, cut the following:
    SIX 2½" x 2½" - D
    TWO 4½ x 2½" - E
    TWO 6½ x 2½" - F
  3. From the fabric for the G, H and I plus the two back panels, fussy cut the following:
  4. FOUR 8½" x 4½" - G
    ONE 4½" x 4½" - H
    FOUR 2½" x 2½" - I
    ONE 13" x 16½" rectangle
    ONE 8" x 16½" rectangle
  5. From the fabric for the piping, cut TWO 2¼" x WOF strips.
    NOTE: We used straight-cut strips for our piping. If you'd prefer to cut bias strips, check out our bias binding tutorial for measuring and cutting notes.
  6. From the interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 13" x 16½" rectangle
    ONE 8" x 16½" rectangle
    ONE 16½" x 16½" square
  7. Arrange all the cut pieces to match the diagram above. This will allow you to pick up the pieces in the correct order as you sew them together. 
  8. To assemble the pillow front we are going to first make NINE squares. We will then sew these squares together to make THREE rows. And to finish, will sew those three rows together. We will begin in the upper RIGHT hand corner and work from right to left, row by row, as shown in the diagram above.
    NOTE: Paying special attention to seam allowances is important in every project, but is essential in quilting, because your seams need to match up perfectly (quilters call this ‘perfect points'). Therefore, you need to be very careful to make sure all allowances are consistent. For this project ALL our seam allowances are ¼". If you are new to patchwork, remember to check out our tutorial on quilting basics. We used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot to keep our seaming precise throughout.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Row 1 - Block 1

  1. You need three pieces: I, D and B
  2. Pin I and D right sides together. Stitch together. 
  3. Pin the completed I/D unit right sides together with B along its right 4½" side. 
  4. Press the completed block flat, pressing the seam allowance together and towards the darkest fabric.

Row 1 - Block 2

  1. You need three pieces: G and two D pieces.
  2. Place G right side up on your work surface. 
  3. Place a D square, right sides together, in each BOTTOM corner of G, aligning the raw edges of the two layers.
  4. Using a clear ruler, draw a diagonal line from side to bottom through the middle of each D square.
  5. Stitch along the the drawn diagonal line in each square.
  6. Trim away the inside excess triangle and press the sewn corner triangle flat, pressing the seam allowance toward the darkest fabric. 

Row 1 - Block 3

  1. You need three pieces: I, A and E. It is pieced in the same manner as Row 1 - Block 1 above.
  2. Pin I and A right sides together. Stitch together. 
  3. Pin the completed I/A unit right sides together with E along its top 4½" side. 
  4. Press the completed block flat, pressing the seam allowance together and towards the darkest fabric.

Row 2 - Blocks 4 and 6

  1. Both these blocks are created in the same manner as Row 1 - Block 2 above. The only trick is to make sure your triangle corners are formed in the correct positions. 
  2. For Row 2 - Block 4, place the A squares in the upper left and bottom left corners.
  3. For Row 2 - Block 6, place the A squares in the upper right and bottom right corners.

Row 2 - Block 5 - the CENTER block 

  1. You need SIX pieces: two F pieces, C, B, A and H. This block is similar to a classic Log Cabin block.
  2. Pin B and H right sides together along the bottom edge of H. Stitch in place.
  3. Pin F right sides together with the sewn B/H unit along the left edge of B/H. Stitch in place.
  4. Pin C right sides together with the sewn B/H/F unit along the top edge of B/H/F. Stitch in place.
  5. Pin the remaining F and A pieces right sides together (bottom of F to top of A). Stitch in place.
  6. Pin the F/A unit right sides together with the B/H/F/C unit along the right edge of the B/H/F/C unit. 
  7. Remember to fold one seam up and one seam down so they sandwich together and match perfectly.

    NOTE: This alternating seam pattern is a standard piecing technique. When seams intersect, in order for your seams to 'nest together' and create perfect points on the front (a perfect intersection of the corners), you need to alternate the direction of the seam allowances you are matching up. In other words, fold one up and one down or one left and the other right so, as mentioned above, they sandwich together and lay flat.

Row 3 - Blocks 7, 8 and 9

  1. Blocks 7 and 9 are pieced in the same fashion as Blocks 1 and 3. Block 7 is simply a mirror image of Block 3 and Block 9 is a mirror image of Block 1.
  2. Block 8 is formed is pieced in the same fashion as Block 2 above. This only difference is the corner squares are placed in the two upper corners rather than the two bottom corners. 

Assembling the blocks into rows

  1. Pin Block 1 to the right edge of Block 2. Stitch together. Pin Block 3 to the left edge of Block 2. Stitch together. This forms the completed Row 1. 
  2. Pin Block 4 to the right edge of Center Block 5. Stitch together. Pin Block 6 to the left edge of Center Block 5. Stitch together. 
  3. This forms the completed Row 2.
  4. Pin Block 7 to the right edge of Block 8. Stitch together. Pin Block 9 to the left edge of Block 8. Stitch together. This forms the completed Row 3.

Assembling the rows

  1. Pin Row 3 to the bottom of Row 2, matching seams and alternating seam allowance direction (as noted above) to nest everything together. Stitch together.
  2. Pin Row 1 to the top of Row 2, again matching and nesting all the seam allowances.
  3. Press well from both the front and back to complete the pillow front. 
  4. Trim the finished pillow front to exactly 16½" x 16½".
  5. Find the 16½" x 16½" piece of interfacing. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the pillow front. This provides smooth stabilization for the finished patchwork, allowing it to lay super flat when the pillow form is inserted.
  6. Find the fabric back panels and the interfacing back panels. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of each fabric panel. Set aside.

Piping

  1. If this is your first time making piping, see our tutorial, How To Make And Attach Your Own Piping
  2. Attach a Zipper foot.
  3. Stitch together your binding strips to create a finished length of approximately 95". Cut a length of cording just slightly longer.
  4. Wrap the fabric, right side facing out, around the cord. Pin close to the cording to hold it in place.
  5. Stitch close to the cording to create your fabric covered piping. 

    NOTE: If your sewing machine allows, move the needle all the way to the left. 
  6. You want the flange (this is the fabric portion that is flat) on the cording to be a ½" seam allowance. Trim if necessary.
  7. Cut the finished piping into two lengths. One 75" length for the front and one 20" length for the back opening.
  8. Pin the 75" length of piping to the pillow front, matching the piping flange with the raw edges of the pillow front all around. Overlap the ends at the bottom of the pillow. 
  9. Machine or hand baste the piping onto the right side of the pillow front, aligning the raw edges and easing around the corners. 
    NOTE: If you cut your strips on the bias, it should bend nicely, if not, you can also cut a few slits into the flange to help it around the corner angles. However, be sure not to cut into your stitching.
  10. To join, cut back the piping cord ends so they are flush with one another.
  11. Overlap and finish your machine basting seam.  
  12. Again, if you're new to attaching piping, check out our tutorial for additional tips on making, joining and finishing.

Make the pillow back

  1. Find the two interfaced back panels.
  2. Switch back to a regular presser foot.
  3. On the 13" x 16½" panel. Make a ½" double fold hem along the inside 16½ edge. To do this, turn under the raw edge ½" and press. Turn under another ½" and press again. Edgestitch in place along the inside folded edge to finish. 
  4. Find the remaining 20" length of piping. Place it along the inside 16½" raw edge of the 8" x 16½" panel. Pin in place on the right side of the panel.
  5. Switch back to a Zipper foot.
  6. Stitch the piping in place, running your seam as close as possible to the original piping seam line. 
  7. Fold back the raw edges to the wrong side of the panel so the piping itself forms a neat line along the edge of the panel. On the wrong side, fold under the raw edge to create a clean finished edge and pin in place.
     
  8. Whip stitch this folded edge in place by hand. 
  9. Flip the panel to the right side. Switch to a Quarter Inch Seam foot (or a regular presser foot). Topstitch ¼" from the piping. 
  10. You now have a finished back envelope overlap panel with a pretty piped edge.

Sew front and back together

  1. Layer front and back right sides together, sandwiching the piping in between the layers. 
  2. Match up the sides and overlap the back panels until they lay flat against the front. The piped panel should be on the bottom so it will be on the top when turned right side out. The opening should be centered along the back of the pillow. Pin well all around. 
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance and your Zipper foot (so you can stitch tight up against the piping), sew around all four sides of the pillow. Clip the corners.
  4. Turn the pillow cover right side out through the back opening.
  5. Gently push out and round the corners with a long, blunt-end tool, such as a knitting needle or chopstick.
  6. Press well and insert the pillow form through the back opening. 

     

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

Section: 

Comments (2)

Di L said:
Di L's picture

Would this pattern work to make several panels and put together for a quilt vs a pillow?

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

@ Di L -- if you want to try it... why not?!  You could consider the pillow top to be a block. At about 17" x 17" prior to stitching, it would be larger than some, but you get to make the rules when you put together your quilt design. It would be best to plot it out on paper first. You could even make one "block" then photo it or copy it so you can get an idea of what the repetition would look like to make sure it's what you want prior to investing in all the fabric.

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