Holiday Decorating: How to Make Pillows

by Kim on December 6, 2009

I love to make pillow projects! Why? Probably because they are so fast and easy to do — plus it dresses up a room in no time at all!   Personalized name pillows are my absolute favorite, but I also love creating fun and whimsical ones for the holidays, too.

I’m going to show you the easiest way to create a pillow from any design. The pillows shown here were done by using applique designs from and, but whichever design you choose for the center, the final steps for making it into a cute pillow are the same. 

I love to use these small pillows on a bench, a shelf next to a photograph, or even stuff them into my Christmas tree as if they were ornaments! It’s also the perfect little gift to say, “I’m thinking of you.”

Materials Needed:

  • Design of your choosing
  • Rick-Rack (optional)
  • Buttons for embellishing (optional)
  • Four, 2.5″ strips of fabric (borders)
  • Polyfil stuffing
  • Back panel of fabric

 Step 1:  After you have appliqued or hand-embroidered your design, cut your background fabric 1″ beyond all sides of the finished design.

Step 2: (optional)  One side at a time, add rick-rack along the edge of pillow panel. Sew rick-rack onto panel with a straight stitch.


Step 3:  Now is the time to embellish with buttons or ribbon if you’d like.


Step 4: Take one of your 2.5″ strips and place “right sides together” (RST) along the top of the tree. Using a 1/4″ seam, sew the first border strip to the top of the pillow.  Press seam with iron.

Step 5:  Repeat previous step for the right side of the pillow.  Sew and press.

Step 6:  Continue adding strips until all 4 sides have a sewn border.  The diagram below will help you better visualize what is happening.

Step 7: Measure the length and width of your new pillow top.  Cut a back panel of fabric the same length and width.  Right sides together, sew a 1/4″ seam allowance around all 4 sides of the pillow.  Be sure to leave an opening so that you can turn the pillow right side out.

Step 8:  Turn right side out. Stuff pillow with batting and close with a needle and thread. Now how easy was that?!



1 happy 12.07.09 at 12:06 am

I never made a pillow before. But now I think I’ll make them for gifts.

2 happy 12.07.09 at 12:07 am

I will make the pillow for my friends and my families.

3 valarie lewis 12.07.09 at 3:18 am

not just gifts, I would make one for my home. I think I would quilt the front of it, but those are adorable.

4 Dina 12.07.09 at 5:25 am

I have made the personalized name pillows for birthday gifts

5 Star 12.07.09 at 6:07 am

I have made a pillow! About 20 years ago in Home Ec class! These pillows are very fun…I would love a few for myself or even little teacher gifts!

6 kimber 12.07.09 at 6:07 am

Never made one before but they are sure cute!

7 Cara 12.07.09 at 6:28 am

I love to make pillows. I have made tons of the personalized pillows as gifts for my nephews and nieces. These Christmas pillows are adorable…one more thing I would like to make before Christmas. :)

8 Dana 12.07.09 at 6:42 am

I’ve made lots of pillows! Back when counted cross stitch was really popular, I had a little business (of sorts) making very nice pillows out of cross stitch pieces others had made. You can be so creative with pillows and they’re fast to make! (Wish I’d had a ruffler foot back then though. I love making ruffles for my pillows but HATE to do traditional gathering.)


9 Rachel 12.07.09 at 7:19 am

Thank you for this tutorial! I have eyed the pillows on here but was unsure if I wanted to attempt making up my own pattern or not. This is great! :D I would make one for myself, my family, and my friends! :D I have made a couple pillows before, but not since I was little and just learning how to sew. ;) HeHe!

Merry Christmas!

10 DannielleGriffin 12.07.09 at 7:44 am

I have made several pillows using this exact method! It works great and is a great last minute gift! :)

11 Carolyn Hutchinson 12.07.09 at 8:05 am

Yes, I’ve made pillows but none as cute as yours. I love the idea of making small ones for the tree.

12 Christina Zacny 12.07.09 at 8:20 am

I am making a personalized name pillow right now for a girl on my daughter’s cheerleading squad. She drew her name in the Christmas exchange and I thought it would be a great gift for her. These are very cute! I’m still looking for one to make for the head coach…maybe one with a megaphone that says “Coach Julie”????? That way she has a memento from the season. Thanks so much for the pics, they are really helpful.

13 Jennifer C 12.07.09 at 8:27 am

Yes, I’ve made pillows and actually I have four I need to go back right now for my mom’s Christmas present.

Those pillows are really cute. I need to start crafting earlier next year and make some Christmas pillows for my house.

14 Shelli 12.07.09 at 12:12 pm

Well….I’ve made a pillow or two in my day. lol! They are some of my favorite things to create! They can transform a room for any holiday, add a splash of color, or display a meaningful sentiment. I currently have 3 tucked in the branches of my tree. Yours are darling as always!

15 Sarah in MO 12.07.09 at 12:46 pm

Yes, I’ve made pillows before – they can be so fun and you can get so creative with them.

16 Abbie 12.07.09 at 1:28 pm

I’ve made a pillow before but it wasn’t a pretty sight! That was before I started really sewing. I think I could do this and would love to make one for my home…when I have time.

17 Dawn G 12.07.09 at 2:28 pm

I made a pillow door hanger last year using directions similar to this. I love the wreath and Christmas tree pillows!

18 Kemi 12.07.09 at 2:52 pm

I am working on an elf embroidery pattern for my 9-year-old daughter, which I will finish into a pillow for Christmas. (Hopefully.) Your instructions couldn’t have come at a better time! :)

19 Ricki 12.07.09 at 3:32 pm

I’ve made a lot of hand embroidered pillows with sayings. I’m making one for our neighbors gift this year that says “special friends become our chosen family”, since they have no family and have sort of adopted us :)

20 Bethany 12.07.09 at 4:23 pm

Oh, I love making pillows of all sorts! :) My first sewing project of my very own when I was about 6 years old was a set of tiny little sachet pillows with scented powder in them for my older sisters as Christmas gifts.

21 Becky 12.07.09 at 5:11 pm

I love making pillows. You are right, they are really quick and great for decorating.

22 Beth Buster 12.07.09 at 5:55 pm

I love making these pillows! I have a so many in the last six months! The name pillows are definitely my favorite too!

23 Sheila C 12.07.09 at 6:25 pm

I have made pillows before, and I gave them all as gifts!! They are fun to make and easy.

Thanks for the tutorial

24 amanda 12.07.09 at 7:30 pm

I think my mom would like one of these. I have never tried to make a pillow before. Maybe it’s time?

25 Margaret 12.07.09 at 8:00 pm

I’ve never done my own pillow, but have great ambitions to do one soon!

26 Margaret 12.07.09 at 8:00 pm

I think they’d be cool teacher gifts!

27 Elizabeth 12.07.09 at 9:41 pm

Yes, I have made a pillow before, but it’s been a while. These would make great gifts!

28 Melissa 12.07.09 at 10:27 pm

I actually have made many pillows, but nothing as cool as the applique name pillow I made over the weekend (thanks to the packaged I downloaded from SWAK). It is for a friend’s baby and the first time I’ve ever used polyfill stuffing. It turned out so cute, I hope my friend likes it as much as I do.

29 Debbie 12.08.09 at 5:55 am

I really like the Believe one. They’d make a great gift for my pastor’s family’s new house.

30 Mindy 12.08.09 at 6:34 am

Very cute! I have only made 2 small pillows, but plan to make some personalized name pillows for my niece and nephews this year!!! I just love these!

31 Jen 12.08.09 at 6:35 am

I’ve never made a pillow but I have plans to make my daughter a personalized appliqued pillow since I can find nothing with her name on it. But the pillows are a great idea for gifts. I will have to remember those for next year.

32 Marilyn2222 12.08.09 at 9:37 am

I’ve never made a pillow before. Don’t know why. I always say that I will with leftover quilt blocks, but I haven’t yet. I guess I should make some for myself.

33 Rachel 12.08.09 at 11:45 am

Hand sewing a pillow for my doll when I was a kid (6-8?) is the first sewing project I remember doing. I remember that the stuffing didn’t quite stay because of my too large stitches, but I was so proud that I made it. Itotally want to make some christmas throw pillows for the couch this year and I love the way you make the borders on your pillows.

34 Mama Lusco 12.08.09 at 12:04 pm

Love the ric-rac trim idea! I have made pillows for my living room, but not as cute as these :)

35 Deborah K 12.08.09 at 4:25 pm

No, but would be great for teacher gifts

36 Katrina H 12.08.09 at 5:20 pm

I just made a pillow with the free home for the holidays design. Thank you!

37 Ginger 12.08.09 at 7:16 pm

Yes I’ve made a lot of pillows before. I usually use the pillow forms from the fabric store. I’ll have to try your instructions next time I make a pillow. And the personalized name pillow is next on my to do list.

38 Pam Pike 12.08.09 at 8:04 pm

Yes, I love to make pillows.

39 Jaime B. 12.08.09 at 9:02 pm

I love making pillows. They are quick, easy, and you can use your stash.

40 Connie T 12.09.09 at 1:12 am

Yes I have made pillows before! These would be great Teacher’s gifts!!

41 Carrie S. 12.09.09 at 1:58 am

I have made pillowcases but never a Pillow.
I am presently working with a neighbor who is from Germany, sew pillow cases for her European sized down pillows. (The european size pillowcases have proven to be impossible to find) She purchased a second holiday print flannel sheet set to use for fabric. (Target $14.99) We will have lots of extra fabric to make some extra items! YEAH! Stay tuned at my blog for the finished projects!!

42 Tiffani 12.09.09 at 2:26 pm

I love making pillows. Thank you for showing me how easy it is to put a boarder on them.

43 Karen 12.09.09 at 5:27 pm

I’ve made lots of pillows, in many styles … they’re a fun project. I really like your “joy” pillow!

44 Vicki Arnold 12.10.09 at 2:43 pm

My first pillow was made when I was a preteen. My Grandma still has it, I made it for my Grandpa and it was a golf pattern.

45 Ng Lay Yen 12.10.09 at 5:46 pm

No, I have never made a pillow. I could try now because your instructionals made them look so pretty and simple. Thanks.

46 crystal 12.11.09 at 12:41 am

My first sewing project was a pillow in Home Ec. class during 9th grade. I have not made one since but i am going to.

47 Hayley 12.11.09 at 1:11 pm

I have made pillows out of placemats before and have also done a few envelope style slip covers for pillow forms, but never a strip work one. I love the ric rack trim and all the fabrics. This would be a great way to clear out some of my scraps stash. Thanks!

48 Jenn @ FFP 12.11.09 at 5:35 pm

I’ve made the personalized name pillow for my daughter. It’s so easy and fun!

49 Melanie 12.11.09 at 6:41 pm

I made 14 name/initial pillows using the ycmt pattern for christmas gifts last year! This year I chose words like ‘brrr’ and ‘welcome’, ‘winter’ for gifts for aunts and uncles.

50 Andrea McMann 12.12.09 at 6:44 am

I’ve made pillows, but they’ve been much more simple than these adorable ones. You know… all out of one fabric. I will have to try making something like this soon!

51 Peggy 12.13.09 at 4:58 pm

I’ve made lots of pillows in the past but nothing as cute as these! I can’t wait to start on some next week while my children are at school. I see new throw pillows under our Christmas tree plus now I have a use for those scraps leftover from long ago pajamas.


52 taced 12.14.09 at 12:53 am

Very very nice this pillow!

53 Lynn Gray 12.14.09 at 10:13 am

I have made a personalized pillow

54 Coodas Corner 12.14.09 at 12:15 pm

I want to make the name pillows for my kids but me and applique dont get along all that well yet. I do better with the embroidery file LOL. I will keep trying though… :)

55 Kristen 12.14.09 at 2:33 pm

I have made a pillow- just basic zip ones, but they are nice because I can switch them out when I need to.

56 Carolyn VanOstran 12.15.09 at 5:20 am

I have made a few pillows, but never made one as cute and personable as these are. I’m thinking that I need to get my creative self busy making some adorable gifts for Christmas.

57 Kelly O. 12.15.09 at 6:20 am

yes, and when I went to stuff it I realized I had forgotten to leave a whole and had sewn it shut!

58 Jane 12.15.09 at 8:18 am

I love the Believe pillow. Knitpurlgurl sent me here.!!!

59 Wanda Smith 12.15.09 at 7:56 pm

I love all of the pillows. My grand daughters would love these. I know I want one.

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