Joy - A Christmas Pillow Tutorial

Feb 2023

Welcome to this quick and easy Christmas pillow tutorial.

This pillow has been on my heart to make for a long time.

I have a dear friend named 'Joy' and have wanted to make her a pillow with her name on it, as she is Joy by name, and spreads joy by nature. She is truly a special friend!

My version is made from natural essex linen, a script print, a neutral spot, and some lovely Betsy Liberty.

While I am giving measurements to make an 18" pillow, you can truly personalise it to be any size you want.

The graphic can be printed out full size, or shrunk to fit a smaller pillow.

You can use raw edge applique for a faster result, and quilt in any pattern that you desire.

I highly recommend reading this tutorial right through before starting, so you know exactly what you're doing.

Measurements and supplies to make an 18" Pillow:

  • Linen 2 x 7" x 22" strips
  • Script fabric 1 x 4.5" x 22" strip
  • Low volume coordinate 2 x 1.5" x 22" strips
  • 2 x 3/4" x 22" strips Liberty Betsy S (any Christmas coloured one will work)
  • 'Joy' graphic (free graphic available here or click on the image above)
  • 12" square piece of red Christmas print
  • 12" square piece wonder under or vliesofix
  • 2 x 20" pieces of cotton batting
  • 20" x 33" backing fabric
  • 2.5" x 82" Liberty fabric for binding
  • 20" cushion insert
  • Matching thread
  • General sewing supplies

Step 1

Sew your 3/4" strips to either side of your 4.5" script print. Press seams open.


Step 2

Sew your 1.5" strips to either side of the Liberty fabric strips. Press seams open.


Step 3

Sew your 7" linen strips to either side of the last strips, press seams open. The front base of the pillow is now done.This is where I trimmed 3" from the side of the pillow, to use later as a feature strip that I attached later onto the back of the pillow. (See step 9)


Step 4

Download and print the script graphic above that is available as a free download.

This will print out in reverse, and need to be cut and joined along the dashed lines.

Lay your Wonder Under over the graphic, and trace carefully using a lead pencil.

Fuse this to the reverse of the red piece of fabric. Cut out using small pointy scissors. These help you get into the corners nice and neatly.

Step 5

Play around with the placement of your graphic before fusing it onto your cushion front.

I like to slightly warp the lettering as it's quite stretchy, and add even more character to the script.

I didn't line the dot on my 'i' up properly either, giving it a more hand scrawled effect.

When you're happy with your placement, fuse graphic onto cushion front using hot iron, checking that's it's all firmly adhered.

Step 6

Place two layers of batting together, and baste (I spray baste) and place pillow front on the top.

Baste to make sure it's nice and smooth. I like to use two layers of batting, as it makes the quilting and lettering really stand out.


Step 7

Applique the script onto the pillow.

I used a satin stitch, setting my machine to 2.4 width and 0.35 length, and lowering the tension.

You can choose to raw edge applique for a faster result as well.


I then like to outline my script even further with one or two lines of straight stitch in black to make it really stand out.

Stitch as close as you can to the edge of the satin stitch.

This creates really interesting highlights. You can even make a 3D effect if you selectively outline.


Step 8

Now you can decide how you would like to quilt this pillow.

I used an echo quilting style, choosing to make the centre of the lines start with the 'i' dot as the focal point.

You can really have a lot of fun with this. My quilting has a lot of symbolism for this pillow, being a special gift.

I wanted it to resemble the ripples that joy makes in the lives of everyone my friend touches.

And is certainly a grace I would like to work on far more in my own life :).

Make sure you are using the correct foot for quilting, and set the stitch length a little longer.

I used a length of 3.

I then trimmed up the pillow front to 18", and checked that it was square.


Step 9

I choose to back this in the same fabric that I used for the script, and went for a simple envelope closure for this one.

Cut one piece 12.5" x 18" and a second piece 14" x 18".

I also added the strip I cut off earlier in step 3.


Take the 14" wide piece, and turn under a 0.25" hem, and then fold over a further 0.25" hem. Press well.


Taking your 3" strip, fold it in half lengthways, and press. Then fold and press under a 0.25" hem along one long side.


Step 10

Hem the long edge on your 14" piece.

Onto the 12.5" piece, attach the trimmed 3" piece, matching the long edges as shown, sewing the right side of the narrower strip, to the wrong side of the red strip.


Step 11

As I am going to bind my pillow afterwards, I'm sewing on the back right way around.

If you would like to skip this part, you can just sew this right sides together.

Place the wider piece down first, matching corners, and then layer the narrower piece with the feature strip so it overlaps.

Pin around, then sew a scant 0.25" seam all the way around the edge, making sure to back stitch at the end.


I also thought I'd show you just for fun how cool the back actually looks as well! Love those echo ripples...


Step 12

Cut out 2.5" strips from your liberty fabric, and join together until you have roughly 82".

Press in half, and sew onto the outside of your cushion using 0.25" seam allowance.


Step 13

Now you can bind by hand if you like, and I'm a big fan of slow stitching, but 'aint no one got time for that when pumping out Christmas presents...

I'm going to show you how I glue baste, and then machine stitch, saving a lot of time.

I pour a small amount of craft glue onto a scrap piece of card, and using a toothpick, I carefully work my way around the edge of the cushion, just smearing on enough glue onto the seam allowance to make it stick down, but not ooze out from under the binding.

I find craft glue sets really quickly, and you can then press and take the whole to the machine, flip it over to the right side and stitch in the ditch and you'll catch the binding on the back beautifully.


Your pillow is now ready for its insert, and to enjoy in all its plump glory! Well done if you've made it this far!


As always I'd love to know if you've made one, so tag me on instagram!Have a great Christmas, and Happy New Year!

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Meet Ali Phillips

So glad you stopped by for a read! I'm a sewist with a passion for family, creativity, & organisation.