Sparkles Pillow Tutorial

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Today I pulled out the two pillow tops that I made with leftover pieces from my Sparkles quilt so I could make a Sparkles quilted pillow without doing any free-motion quilting.

Lately, I have been getting emails from some of you asking if there is another way to quilt something if you’re not comfortable free-motion quilting. Well, I’m going to show you how to quickly straight-stitch a pillow!

Sparkles quilted pillow made with straight stitching

Purchase an ad-free printable version of this Sparkles pillow tutorial here.

The first thing you want to do is iron your pillow top. I find it easiest to do the back first and then flip it over and iron the front.

Notice my iron? I love it! We found it a couple of years ago in Goodwill. Not too long ago I noticed the cord was very hot and was a little frayed so I asked Builder Bob if he could put a new cord on it.

Ironing the back of the Sparkles pillow

Safety and old irons

Never leave an old iron on as they are very, very hot. When Builder Bob replaced the cord he opened up the iron and there was a large wad of lint inside that had probably accumulated there over years. He said I was very lucky it never caught on fire.

I asked him to put a longer cord on the iron and he happened to have some of this bright orange cord. It will work for me!

What I like about old irons is the weight

This one is a little smaller than a normal vintage iron and probably weighs about 3 pounds. I prefer not to use steam and this iron doesn’t even have a reservoir for water. I always keep a spray bottle of water next to my ironing pad. Notice how smooth the bottom plate is, this is really nice when I am doing applique.

Cutting using scraps leftover from the Sparkles quilt:

Sew with a ¼” seam allowance.

How to make the Sparkles Pillow

Fabric: Scraps for bright colors, ¾ yard white for front and back.

Cutting using scraps leftover from the Sparkles quilt:

  • Cut 12 – 3″ x 4½” rectangles of the bright colors
  • Cut 8 – 2″ x 3″ rectangles of the white batik
  • Cut 5 – 2″ x 15½” strips of the white batik for the sashing
  • Cut 2 – 2″ x 18″ strips for border
Sparkles quilt pillow row

Use the following diagram to layout and sew your Sparkles pillow.

Layout for Sparkles pillow

The pillow is 18″ x 18″ and I pulled out a scrap of Hobbs 80/20 batting for the pillow top. Sometimes I will also add a piece of muslin behind the batting especially if I am doing a lot of free-motion quilting.

Since I was just doing a quick straight stitch quilting I didn’t feel it was necessary to do.

I am using my vintage 15-91 Singer sewing machine to quilt and finish the Sparkles pillow. I used white 50w Aurifil thread and an 80/12 Schmetz needle. I set my stitch length fairly long and just used my regular foot.

Straight Stitch Quilting

This would be a good time to use a walking foot. I have several including one made specifically for vintage Singers but it was just as easy to work with the foot I had on the machine already.

First I stitched along the seams of the blocks similar to doing stitch in the ditch, then I did another row in the center of the blocks and one more down the white sashing. You could mark a line but I just eyeballed it.

straight stitch quilting on my vintage Singer sewing machine

This is what the back of the pillow looks like.

Back of quilted pillow

Next, I cut two pieces of fabric for the pillow back. I didn’t have enough of the white batik fabric so I use a teal batik that had been used in the Sparkles blocks.



For this pillow, I decided to do an envelope-style pillow back as I had plenty of the background fabric.

Each backside piece will be the same width as the front side and ½ of the length plus 4 inches.

This will account for seams and create an overlap which is the envelope part. If you make the pieces too short, you will have a gap when you insert the pillow form.

For example, my pillow is 18 inches so 1/2 of that is 9 inches + 4= 13 inches.

Cut two pieces of the print 18″ x 13″ for the pillow back. On each piece fold the one side under ¼” and press.

On one piece fold under another 1” and topstitch it. On the other piece fold under ¼″ and topstitch.

Place the 1″ top stitched piece face down on the pillow top, then place the ¼” top stitched piece face down on top of it. Pin the pieces to the front of the pillow.

Stitch around the pillow with a ¼” seam allowance. Double stitch over the area where the back pieces overlap. This will make the stitches stronger.

Turn the pillow right side out and press. Normally I would be finished if I had used the same fabric for the back as I did for the front. Since I used the teal fabric I didn’t want it to show on the front so I carefully rolled the seam to the backside and then top-stitched around the pillow top. Now all you have to do is add a pillow insert like this Hobbs 18″ x 18″ poly-down insert.

Finished Sparkles pillow

You now have a beautiful pillow that will match the Sparkles quilt. Mr. Mickey was lying on the couch and didn’t move as I laid out the Sparkles quilt and the pillow. He is such a cutie!

Purchase an ad-free printable version of this Sparkles pillow tutorial here.

I have quite a few pillow tutorials on my blog, here are a couple you might like.

I just had to show you another picture of Mr. Mickey, he is the funniest dog! He always, always uses a pillow, I’ve never had a dog that does that. When I designed the Musical pillow for AccuQuilt, I made a couple of extra ones that Mr. Mickey has claimed as his own.

Sparkles quilted pillow on couch

I hope you like this tutorial and if you make the pillow I would love it if you would send me a photo! One more photo…I always get a kick out of a photo like this. With nothing else in the photo, you don’t really know the size of the pillow…is it 6 inches or 24 inches?

Sparkles pillow by a tree outside

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Connie with her dogs

About Connie

Hi, I’m Connie Kresin Campbell, the quilter, writer, and photographer behind Freemotion By the River. I enjoy inspiring others with my quilt tutorials and patterns. You’ll also see my sweet adopted dogs from time to time.

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  1. Love your blog posts, Connie. Mr. Mickey is a real trooper and hope his tests on Friday show promise for more happy years with you and Builder Bob! The quilt and pillow are very nice, and a good hint for quilting with simple lines. I have an old flat iron that is a treasure to me, and it has had its cord replaced with a longer safer cord, too. Sometimes older is better! LOL ;o)

  2. Thank you for this pattern! It will look great with one of my latest quilts! Your patterns are wonderful. I’ve made several of the table toppers and they made great Christmas presents!
    I’m so sorry Mr. Mickey has more issues. Praying for a good visit to the dr on Friday.
    Thank you for all you do to assist and encourage quilters.

  3. Hello there from Georgia it’s a little cooler here today and we still have on the AC my poor cold feet but anyway I love the quilt pillow it’s very beautiful. I am glad that your husband will do just about anything to help you out even if it is to put you an ugly orange electrical drop cord it’s wonderful to hear all about your great stories you send. I’m not working on anything this weekend my client has her daughter and son in law from Alabama down here so hopefully I’ll start something new next weekend. Thanks again for your email and I almost forgot to say hello to Mr. Mickey.

  4. Ronnie Marks says:

    Connie, hello!
    I love the bright fabrics with the white. It looks so fresh & happy, (and summery) Thank you for sharing. Shout out to Mr. Mickey. So happy he is living his best life with you.

  5. Thanks Connie. I’m 78 ex South African and get so excited when your blogs comes thru. Thanks to Robyn Lidstone for asking about another quilting method other than motion quilting.
    Thanks for sharing and I love seeing Mr Mickey. He’s like a baby ❤️.
    Love seeing you and Mr Mickey together yes your hair looks lovely. Always immaculate.
    Many thanks again .
    Much appreciated and take care.
    Elaine Stanley.

    Oops happy your iron is fixed and safe to use…

  6. Hello Connie Dear. I love your new photo with Mr. Mickey. You look radiant. Great Pillow and excellent tutorial as always my friend. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and skills. Spring is near and I am grateful for a new month beginning and for the longer days of sunlight.

  7. I love the new cord. It definitely looks like something my dad, who was an electrician for 43 years, would have done:) Makes me smile to see it. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Doreen Sherk says:

    I liked your pillow and nice easy construction, thank you, and also love the photos of Mr. Mickey, he is the cutest dog!!!!

  9. I love Mr. Mickey and his beige pillow. He is one sweet dog.

  10. Love the colors of your pillow, thanks for sharing your pattern, I’ll have to make one one of these days. I have an iron similar to yours, my Dad was an electrician and sold large and small appliances for over 60 years, and of course he collected a few things over the years, some antique irons that were heated on a wood stove and some electric irons and as well as old radios, that he used to take apart and repair, I have 3 irons that he had collected a couple of them were ones that my Mom used through the years, I don’t use them because the cords are old and a little worn and I’m afraid of a fire or getting electrocuted, so I just have them sitting in my sewing room for now, I want my hubby to put a shelf up for me so I can display them, along with a couple of old jars that came from my parents, one is filled with thread just cause it looks pretty and the other is filled with old buttons, that my Mom and probably my Grama had saved off old clothes.
    Mr. Mickey looks pretty comfy all snuggled up on his pillow, we all need a little pillow to lay our heads on when resting. 🙂

  11. Robyn Lidstone says:

    Beautiful pillow that will be easy to make. In Australia we call them cushions.
    Connie – your instructions are always so clear and precise. As a non free motion quilter, I can easily manage the straight stitch quilting on this “pillow”.
    Thanks also to Patricia Evans for the tip about using painter’s tape as a line guide. I’m learning a lot because Connie’s followers share their quilting experiences.
    As for using a walking foot, mine fell apart on the last ditch of my first quilt. There were bits and pieces everywhere. Even my machine mechanic couldn’t fix it, so I’m glad I can use a normal machine foot for straight stitch and ditch stitch quilting.

  12. Hi Connie,
    I have my mom’s vintage 15-91, it was manufactured two years before I was born so I guess that makes me vintage as well! Can you share more information about the walking foot for this machine? I have all of the feet that came with the machine. Of the many machines that I have it is the one that I love to sew with the most.

    1. Hi Gail, my 15-91 was built the same year I was born! It is 70 years old. Honestly, I have never had good luck using a walking foot with my machine. I have tried several including one purchased specifically for this sewing machine. I tend to use the basic foot that came with the machine. I would love to know how it works for you!

  13. Thank you so much for the tutorial. A smaller project just fits in my schedule! I so appreciate your thoughtfulness, thank you. Love your hair!

  14. Hello Connie
    Very pretty pillow. You are so good to all of us.
    Instructions very clear. Thank You for sharing.
    Love You Barb😊 ♥️

  15. Love your new hair cut.

  16. Love your new hair cut. ;

  17. Love the pillow and Mr.Micky.What breed is he?

  18. Jacqueline Laslocky says:

    I just read your message regarding the yet another tutorial that never was written in today’s email. I would LOVE to have a tutorial on the pillow that was never written. The SPARKLES pillow is stupendous! I love it, and I also LOVE the one that was never written! Thank you for all that you are doing! I really appreciate it a LOT! I am 72 years old, and I love your tutorials!

  19. Great tutorial, Connie. That looks like a good pattern for charm packs, too. I might have to give that a whirl. And another cute picture of Mr. Mickey, He is a sweetie. The only pillow my girl uses is ME!! But I’ve had other dogs used pillows.

  20. Oh how very sweet to see Mr. Mickey with his pillow! Sparkles pillow is lovely and your tutorials are always excellent. On to December…XO

  21. Priscilla says:

    Love envelope pillow covers because they can be laundered and have been hoping to find directions for a quilted one!

  22. Susan the Farm Quilter says:

    Have a blessed Thanksgiving, Connie. Thank you for the great tutorial for such a pretty pillow. Mickey looks totally content with his pillow!!

  23. Patricia Evans says:

    Good, clear tutorial. I’d just add a hint for those not comfortable with eyeballing the straight line quilting. You can mark a line to follow with blue painters tape. You can reuse the piece a number of times before it doesn’t stick any more. I also sometimes use a hera marker and my long ruler to impress a line into the fabric to follow.
    Hope you are having a calm Thanksgiving. I’m not sure what kind of weather you are receiving today.

  24. shirley pendergraft says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you
    and yours also. Love the pillow.

  25. Sara Fridley says:

    How cute that Mr Mickey loves pillows! He looks like a cuddler! I love the simplicity of this pillow – and the colors you chose. Our taste in colors must be very similar.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  26. Love your posts and tutorials, gets me inspired. To try something new.