Cross Stitch Finish: Pillow Making Tutorial

Before I get to today’s post, just a reminder that the Red Bird Stitch Along starts today.


A note to those who are new to stitching with silk:
If you’re stitching with silk please note: Silk has 12 strands. If you stitch on 28, 30, or 32 you will still need 2 strands of floss over two stitches if you are stitching on linen. If you are stitching on 36 or 40-count linen, one strand works great. So many of you have been asking for a tutorial on finishing your Blessed Stitch Along piece.

I’ve had another bunch asking about using both Poly-fil and Crushed Walnuts for stuffing pillows.  Today I’m going to tackle both questions at once.

Now to today’s post:

Here is my “Blessed” piece.  It’s a Waxing Moon Design.  I stitched mine on Picture This Plus in 40 count linen.

As I write this, if I provide measurements, PLEASE NOTE:  If you stitched on any other count than 40 count, the measurements won’t work for you.

First off, I always start by auditioning some possible finishing ideas.  This green ribbon matches the green in the vines and leaves perfectly.  I’ll keep this one in mind.


This trim, not bad but a little over powering for this design.


I had this Sair Silk.  I could use this to make a bow.

…or I could gather it up for an edging.  Hmm.

The rick-rack seemed …to big.

This one was smaller but it still wasn’t catching my eye.


Now this…I liked.

I had :
green reproduction fabric I bought at the thrift store
light brown velvet I bought at the thrift store
a scrap of orange reproduction fabric for the bow
Gourd Pin- Find it HERE.
Leaf charm- Find it HERE.


I trimmed my stitched piece down making sure to have it squared up.


I left about 3/4″ on all of the sides.

I cut pieces for each side of the design.


Below there is a ruler on the piece to give you an idea of how wide I cut the pieces.  NOTE:  If you stitched on fabric different from 40 count, you will likely want to adjust your measurements.


At the sewing machine I sewed the green pieces to the stitched piece.

I cut a piece of velvet the same size as the top.


I cut and fused a piece of iron-on interfacing to the stitched piece back.


I sewed with a quarter inch seam around the piece.  BUT…

Not a quarter-inch seam at the corners.  Notice I bow the seam and make the corner a few stitches bowed in.  ALSO, leave an opening to turn the piece right side out.

I clipped the corners and turned it right side out.
I had some Poly-fil I bought at the thrift store for 50 cents (I buy all of my poly-fil at the thrift store.  Being I just opened this bag, I’ll start looking for a second bag.)


I stuffed poly-fil into all of the ends making sure to get it poked into the corners.  In the picture below, I have about two inches of stuffing crammed into each end.


Next up I get the Crushed Walnut Pet Bedding.  You can find it HERE.  My bag broke so I keep it in an ice cream bucket with a lid.  I have a mini funnel too.


I start filling it up.


I regularly stop and manifulate the piece, poking the shells to the corners.


When I get about as full as the picture above, I get my needle and thread and put in about three stitches.  Then I take poly-fil and stuff it some more.  This makes the whole thing easier to work with as the poly-fil holds the walnut shells and prevents them from falling out.


I added a few more crushed walnuts and then poly-fil on top of them.

I take a few more stitches and add a bit more poly-fil.  I keep doing that until I am happy with it and then finish stitching it shut.


Here is my closure.  Not perfect but it won’t really be seen… that means good enough for me!!


There it is…I am pleased with it but it does need something else.


I added the embellishments.  I ended up finding an old button and added that too.


I’m a little sad that I had to pack it away.  What you see below is really more of the real colors of my piece.  The lighting in the sewing room washes everything out.


While I was finishing things I also finished the Joy pillow and the Merry Winter pillow.  I stitched those in February and March I believe.


The Joy pillow is a Freebie chart from The Nebby Needle.  It’s also in the Nashville Needlework Cookbook.  You can find it HERE.  I changed the pattern a bit.  On the bottom left of the wreath making the “O”, there was no charted leaves.  I just winged it and added some.  I also added a vintage button in the center of the wreath.


I stitched it on a 40 count leftover linen.  I used Belle Soie Silk in Cranberry and Collard Greens.


Merry Winter is a pattern from Country Rustic Primitives.  You can find them HERE on Etsy.  This is also on a mystery leftover linen.  The piece had a date on it but I left that off.


On the back of each of the pieces, I added my 2022 charms to commemorate the year I stitch them.  You can find the charms HERE.


I am guessing someone wants to ask the question why do I use a combo of walnut shells and poly-fil.  I like the weight of walnut shells.  I feel like I have better control of how densely I stuff something when using those.  BUT…I like how poly-fill fills in the corners and it’s WONDERFUL to stuff in as I’m sewing up the closure as it keeps the walnut shells from falling out.

Someone else likely wants to know why I don’t maintain the quarter-inch seam at the corners when I’m sewing the pillow front and back together.  Have you ever seen someone’s pillow with super pointy corners?  That isn’t my preference.  I like them less pointy.  By making the seam allowance in the corners slightly larger, I can avoid those super pointy corners that are hard to stuff.

As always, my way of making a pillow isn’t “the way”…it’s just the way I do it.

I haven’t used velvet when making pillows before.  I loved using it.  I have seen others use it so when I saw the velvet at the thrift store, I grabbed it.  I am so glad I did.  I will be keeping my eye open at the thrift store for other colors.

Yahoo to me!!  I not only did the tutorial on the pillow finishing but I even did it sooner than you all expected it.  I can check that off as a finish!  Now I’m ready to start the next Stitch Along as it is…June 1st!!  Let the stitching begin!!

18 thoughts on “Cross Stitch Finish: Pillow Making Tutorial

  1. Toni Wood

    thanks so much Jo. I have several projects that need to be finished and now I know how to do it!

    Reply
  2. Connie Dvorscak

    Hello Jo, thank you for your tutorial! I need to get “Blessed” finished. The Red Bird sampler start for today….well, I was anxious to start as I have never stitched using silk. The cranberry Belle Soie, chosen for the kit is beyond awesome! I couldn’t stop stitching and finished yesterday, 5/31!

    Reply
  3. Carla

    Great instructions! I may have to redo a couple of pillows I did last winter. I’ll be starting the SAL project tonight once the grands are gone. I’m really looking forward to it!

    Reply
  4. Gail L Piper

    Excellent! Thanks for sharing how you use the walnut shells – I have a bag but haven’t used it in anything yet. Love your finished pieces!
    Thanks to you, I found my cross-stitch ‘mojo’ again and just finished a small sampler from a pattern I’ve had for years. I’ll be doing more – will move cross-stitching from the back burner to the front.

    Reply
  5. Kate

    Thank you for this tutorial. I think I will pick out what I need to finish mine. I’ve had it stitched for quite awhile waiting to see how you finished yours. I like the idea of the bowed ends. You knew I was going to ask why, but actually I figured it out when I saw your finished pillow. I really like the JOY stitching too.

    Reply
  6. Glenda Fletcher

    Jo, Thank you for answering my question about the poly fill/crushed walnuts. Now I understand how you
    work them. Was wondering about the antique bronze charms, pins, year that you put on Blessed. I am doing my
    Blessed in blue, turquoise, and cream plus doing a little adjusting on some of the stitches. I looked the charms up on Amazon as you suggested. I was thinking maybe the silver instead of the antique bronze as I like the blue, turq. , green color schemes. But silver tarnishes. Any one, would the Antique bronze work even tho my colors are cool colors? Really like cross stitching again. Thank you again for starting this.

    Reply
      1. Glenda Fletcher

        Hi Jo, I received from The Stitchery Nook Zwiegart natural linen to
        Use with Blessed. Didn’t think about the color of the linen. So, yes, I
        Think the bronze charms, etc. would look better . So will get some of
        Them. Want to find a dough bowl so wish me luck as I like what you
        Are doing with yours. Thank you very much for your help.

        Reply
  7. Betty Stogner

    Hello Jo. I read and enjoy your posts. Just a note to tell you that the link for the charms won’t come up.

    Reply
  8. LeAnne Pugliese

    Thanks for the cool tip about the corners….I always wished my pillows would be more square. Makes sense (had that “duh” moment!)! Anyway, I don’t see any details about the stitch along and I am READY TO START! Got all my supplies ready, just finished my last project and am looking forward to stitching with some new thread! What do we do first? Just start stitching?

    Reply
    1. Jo Post author

      Hi LeAnne…You can jump in however you like with the stitch along. We picked this as we thought it could easily be stitched over the time period of two months meaning half one month and half the next month. I am doing everything from the “e” to the left in June. I’ll stitch the rest in July. I started and it’s a fun stitch!!

      Reply
  9. Sandi

    Great tutorial!! I do mine about the same as you do. I’m going to try your corners on my next piece, I like that. I also use poly fil and the walnut shells, I like the weight it gives and softness of the other. I’ve got my Redbird kit but I’m not starting for a couple of weeks. I’m trying to finish up the Blessed one. Hugs,

    Reply

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