Plethora of Pillows Kick-Off!

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Plethora of Pillows

Today we begin a really fun ongoing series in which CT staff members will share a pillow project they did. Some may be custom designs, while others are from favorite books or blog posts around the web. Since basic pillows are so quick and easy to sew up, the sky is the limit with how a more embellished pillow can turn out!


To start things out, I want to give you all a taste of my pillow project. I initially went a very different direction, with plans to use these lovely vintage dresden plates my mother in law found at a shop and mailed me.

vintage dresden plates

I wanted to put them onto pillows with embroidery in the middle and mail them back to her! I asked her what some of her favorite animals were and made two of the animals into redwork pieces.

But, alas, after I finished designing my two sweet redwork designs; I realized they needed a much bigger space than the mere 2 inches the diameter of the inner circles allowed.

I decided I still wanted to do two pillows and very much wanted to gift them to my mother in law, who has a modest nursery and farm down in Fort Bragg, CA. She’s quite feminine, but also extremely practical; which lends itself perfectly to redwork on burlap pillows with dainty white crochet accents.


Cutting Burlap

Have you ever ironed burlap? I feel like my rancher and farmer ancestors had a good laugh at me while I was slowly pressing the creases out of it all, being so dainty to not re-crease it. Cutting through it was extra satisfying though, it has a delightful crunch as the blade rolls through the layers.

Pinning Burlap

I cut scant 13-1/2″ squares to ensure I could really show off the embroidery I had planned.


burlap pillow

After quickly sewing three and a half (I left hand-sized openings for the fill) of the wrong sides together, trimming the corners, and smoothing right-side out; I was ready to stuff!

polyester stuffing

burlap pillow

Using our Hobbs Polyester Fiberfill, one package perfectly filled my two 13″ pillows!

There aren’t photos of this step, but I just did a whip stitch to secure the openings.

At this point, I realized something silly: it would have been a LITTLE BIT easier to have done the redwork before turning them into pillows, but I like to see progress!

burlap pillow

Sewn pillows look like progress to me!

Regardless of sewing on a flat or poofed up piece of burlap, I knew I was going to be sewing straight through my printed designs onto the burlap. I had no interest in fussing with the inconsistencies of the fibers with any sort of marking pens.

burlap pillow

I opted to tape the design on with extra-sticky gaffer’s tape, to prevent the paper from warping like it would if I had pinned it in place. Three strands of embroidery floss proved to be just right¬† for a basic back stitch to really make this and the other design really pop against the burlap.

burlap pillow

I had to sneak a peek at the little feet while I was stitching!

That’s all for Part One of my burlap mixed-craft pillow project, in Part Two you will see the finished designs with the crochet work, plus photos of them “in action” down at my mother in law’s house… And! Design downloads for my redwork owl and a second animal you will have to check back to see!


We really hope you find inspiration from Plethora of Pillows, we have all had a ton of fun sewing pillows. Check in on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for new pillow posts!


29 responses to “Plethora of Pillows Kick-Off!”

  1. JENNI Says:
    08/05/2014 11:41 am

    This series is SO up my alley! I like both pillow concepts! I can’t wait to see the dresden ones and super excited to see the embroidered owl! Nice job!!

    • Dawn Says:
      08/05/2014 11:46 am

      Yeah, this is really right up your alley! The dresden pillows got kicked back to the concept backburner, but they do need to happen! Maybe I can come up with something much… simpler for their centers. :-)

      Thanks, the pieces really turned out nicely, it’s been difficult to not show them off all over the internet!

      • MaryAgnes Says:
        08/05/2014 3:11 pm

        You could simply embroider your MIL’s initials in the center of the Dresden Plates.

        • Dawn Says:
          08/05/2014 3:29 pm

          That’s a good idea! Though, she’s already getting two pillows now, so I think whatever I do with the dresden plates will end up going to someone else. :-)

  2. Ann Says:
    08/05/2014 12:51 pm

    Dawn, I am so impressed with your adorable owls! Using burlap and embroidery is a clever use of practical and pretty. Can’t wait to see them finished!

    • Dawn Says:
      08/05/2014 1:25 pm

      Thank you Ann! I had a lot of fun making the owl and the other animal I’ll show for the second pillow in my Part Two. I think I might just need to do a whole serious of animals!

      • Dawn Says:
        08/06/2014 1:13 pm

        Haha, whole “series”, I mean!

  3. Mary Agnes Mativi Says:
    08/05/2014 1:45 pm

    Can imagine bold colors with flowers with this technique! Need to see Dresdan plates done…love it! Thsnks

    • Dawn Says:
      08/05/2014 3:31 pm

      Yes! It seems anything bright looks quite striking on burlap, I see too many neutrals on burlap as it stands.

  4. Joy Says:
    08/06/2014 11:57 am

    Very Cute Dawn :)

  5. Jan Says:
    08/06/2014 12:07 pm

    Really cute idea. Can we get the pattern for the owl? I love owls … always have and I’m 81!

    • Dawn Says:
      08/06/2014 1:08 pm

      Hi Jan! Owls are precious, aren’t they? I definitely plan on sharing the design for the owl as well as another redwork design when I post Part Two of my pillows.

      • Jan Says:
        08/06/2014 2:15 pm

        Thanks, Dawn. People are so awesome to share their talents, especially quilters and sewers. Again, my thanks.

  6. Karenn Voorhees Says:
    08/06/2014 1:00 pm

    I would like to unsubscribe from the emails. I am getting too many emails from a variety of sources everyday. Thank you, Karenn Voorhees

    • Dawn Says:
      08/06/2014 1:06 pm

      Hi Karenn! Unfortunately we cannot do that from our blog, but there should be an unsubscribe link at the bottom of any of the emails you receive from Connecting Threads. Just click that link and you will be able to unsubscribe there. Hopefully that works for you!

  7. Kathleen Says:
    08/06/2014 1:40 pm

    These are gonna be cute, but how is it that the polyfil doesn’t beard through the burlap? It doesn’t seem that you lined the burlap before sewing them together.

    • Dawn Says:
      08/06/2014 3:30 pm

      Good eye Kathleen! I did opt out of lining the burlap, since it’s mostly opaque. I didn’t have any issues with the polyfil coming through while embroidering on either of the pillows, but I was pretty careful to not catch it too much with my needle. Luck could have had something to do with it too!

  8. Anna Schmidt Says:
    08/06/2014 1:56 pm

    Loving this! Can’t wait to see more ideas!

  9. Pauline Says:
    08/06/2014 3:36 pm

    Hi! Love the Owl you are using. Can’t wait to see the
    finished pillow!
    WOW! You said Fort Bragg, Ca. I live in Eureka, Ca. which
    is on the coast also. About 5 hrs. from FB.

    • Dawn Says:
      08/06/2014 3:40 pm

      Thanks for the kind words Pauline! I can’t wait to show you guys the finished pillows, they’re so cute! Eureka is lovely, the times I have been, I know it’s got to be absolutely GORGEOUS down there right now.

  10. Karin Peters Says:
    08/06/2014 7:13 pm

    Just happened on your site. My daughter has me making 22 pillows for her sofas and a bench seat that goes across a 18 foot wall in her dining room. Working with burlap is a nightmare, it itches in all the wrong places and can come unraveled with the least little stress. I’m looking forward to watching for your posts. Great work.

    • Dawn Says:
      08/07/2014 9:32 am

      Oh dear, you are brave for taking that project on, Karin! I can imagine you may be doubling up the burlap for your pillows. I’ve seen a lot of people on blogs who do that for burlap pillows they plan to use more than decoratively. Thanks for finding us and dropping us a note!

  11. Katrina Says:
    08/06/2014 7:51 pm

    Cute idea! Looking forward to seeing ALL of the pillows!

    • Dawn Says:
      08/07/2014 9:33 am

      Yay! There’s some great pillows in store, from the list I’ve seen. :-)

  12. Lois Jones Says:
    08/08/2014 6:48 pm

    What about using yo-yos for the centers of the Dresden plates, finishing with a button or other desired decoration?

  13. Leslie Says:
    08/11/2014 8:55 am

    unsubscribe please

  14. Jenna Says:
    08/11/2014 9:02 am

    Love these! Great job!

  15. Gail Says:
    08/14/2014 7:55 am

    Can’t wait to see the finished product-I’m anxious to download the cute owl.

    • Dawn Says:
      08/18/2014 10:01 am

      Thank you, Gail! I’m anxious to get that owl download up for you all. :-)


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