When I made DIY “Fortuny” fabric pillows a few months ago, I went on a CRAZY stenciling spree and made a bunch of samples. I ordered fabric swatches in different colors to see what looked best in our living room. I painted different colors on the fabrics to see what paint+fabric combo I liked best. All this testing helped to make faux Fortuny pillows that I LOVE. And I also loved the crazy mix of all the test patterns! They all kind of coordinated together:
They reminded me of Turkish overdyed patchwork rugs, like this one for sale from SukhiRugs Etsy store:
So, I sewed all the sample pieces together to make a long slim bolster pillow:
The pillow will go to India! Yes, I stuff stuff like this in our suitcases. It will likely be on a bed, surrounded by other patterns. Like here, you see some pattern from the beige and white silk saree I will hang as bedroom curtains, and the Moroccan star pattern I am painting on the wall as a “headboard:”
So here’s how to make a pillow like this …
First, wait for a silly cat high on catnip to clear out of the staging and sewing area:
Then lay out your fabrics. You can use fabric that’s already printed with patterns. Like quilting fabrics. Or you can paint your own patterns on fabric with stencils. Cut them into rectangles. Mine were about 4″ by 8″. Lay them out in the order you want them. Here was my first layout:
Then I rearranged a few pieces to make the look less chaotic. I did this by keeping the orange pieces of fabric together and the neutral pieces of fabric together:
You might want to pick the the most prominent visual piece of fabric as a “focal point.” In my layout, the darkest piece of fabric draws the eye and that’s my focal point. Try to put the focal point a little off-center or toward the edge, not smack in the middle.
Next, sew the pieces together along the horizontal seams like the stitching diagram shows here:
Sew with a 3/8″ seam.
Now, you don’t want a final piece with jagged, uneven edges like this. So, cut off the pieces that are sticking out and sew them on so you get a nice rectangular block of patchwork:
After you sew, press the seams open. I know it can be a pain to iron! But this makes the final result look MUCH better. It flattens the seams and makes the final result look professional. There’s a saying that you might spend more time with the iron than the sewing machine when you sew. This is sometimes true. But it’s worth it.
Next is an optional step. I think it’s a small touch that adds visual interest. Because the Turkish patchwork rugs have visible decorative stitching, I sewed over the top of the seams with a decorative stitch:
Now, stitch the vertical seams together. Sew with 3/8″ seams:
Iron the seams open.
Stitch with a decorative stitch over the top of the seams.
Now it’s time to sew up the sides and install either a zipper or overlapped opening on the back. I chose to install a zipper.
After installing a zipper in the bottom of the pillow, I stitched up the sides and top, and added two long tassels found in the souks of Marrakech:
It’s truly a global, nomadic decorating pillow:
- Painted with patterns from around the world
- Sewn in the style of a Turkish patchwork rug
- Decorated with Moroccan tassels
- Now lives in India with saree curtains and Chinese chest nightstands
Here it is in our apartment in India, a place which is still obviously a work in progress! There’s water damage on the wall behind the bed now, so that needs to be fixed before I can stencil on the wall:
Finally, you know how there may be no more truly unique ideas in this world? You could get an idea you’ve never seen anywhere before, and at the same exact moment, someone else on the other side of the planet is doing the same thing. The day I intended to sew this pillow together, I opened email and found the latest products from CRAFT by World Market. And THERE was a patchwork long slim bolster pillow!
So if you don’t want to sew this, see if you can buy it from global decor stores like World Market! This also shows a good idea: you can use saree fabric remnants to sew a patchwork pillow.