Cora’s DIY big Girl Pillow Sham

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I have so many exciting things to share, but I thought I’d start where I left off!  Cora’s room is undergoing a major transformation from toddler/overflow to a real, “big girl” room.  We just celebrated our house-iversary last week and we are so excited to finally be turning our attention to our sweet, little girl’s “big girl” room.  I recently shared about the “big bed” we chose for her as well as the floral “C” we did for over her bed.


Since the girls were born, I’ve dreamt of making them their own quilts for their big girl beds.  They received beautiful baby blankets as gifts, but I want to make them something special “made by mom” and they are both really into the idea.  Since I mentioned it over a year ago, both have brought it up, asking when I will make them their quilts.

Technically, I started on a quilt for Chloe when she was about 8 months old, but I found it overwhelming so the cut-out pieces are still carefully organized and stashed away.  I didn’t want that to happen again, so I picked a much simpler design for Cora’s quilt.  However, I’ve never made a quilt before!  I thought I’d practice on a pillow sham first to try out the techniques I’ve never done before.

Cora picked out her purple sheets, they are Circo brand from Target.  I picked up another set to make her quilt from.  I’m using the flat sheet for the quilt so I decided to use the fitted sheet (minus the elastic, which I cut off) for a practice pillow sham.

I just upgraded my sewing machine and am still learning the ropes, so there is a lot of internet searching and manual reading, but I’m very pleased with how this turned out.  It’s my first-ever project of this type and my first big project on my new, big sewing machine.

I did the appliqués first, before even cutting the fitted sheet into pillow-size.  I just cut the elastic out and gave myself plenty of room so I could make sure that everything was centered.


I started with an appliqué of her name.  This could have been done in my old sewing machine’s 4 x 4 embroidery hoop, one letter at a time, but it was so much easier using a jumbo hoop and not having to re-hoop.  Hooping is by far my least favorite part of embroidery.

After I finished her name, I cut out the pillow.  I measured a standard pillow and added 7 inches to each side to allow for a 1/2″ seam allowance all the way around and 3″ of border.  I marked where the pillow ended and the border began with disappearing ink.  I cut out an extra piece from the lavender fabric to be the back and made it 6 inches wider than the front, then cut it in half.  I hammed each of these pieces on one side and they will overlap to fit the pillow inside later.


Then I appliquéd flowers randomly around her name.  Since I could see where the border went (with the blue stitching in the finished product), I had a visual of where to place the flowers.  The flowers came from 3 different-but-similar appliqué designs that I found for sale online at a bargain.  One of them had a long stem and extra leaves and I stopped the machine when it came to doing those parts.  I rotated, flipped, and resized flowers to make them look different.

All of the fabric used in the appliqués is from a project I did the first year of each girl’s life.  I used a different yard of fabric each week to photograph the girls in a white onsie and made photo books of their first 52 weeks.  It’s really special to have these fabrics re-used in a quilt.


After finishing the appliqué, I quilted a free-flowing design onto the pillow area between the appliqués.  There is no real pattern to this and I found it time-consuming but easy.  I used batting between the purple material and some plain white fabric on the back (actually a re-purposed crib sheet).


I sewed the pillow front to the two pillow back pieces, overlapping them in the center and lining up the edges on the side.  Then I used a decorative stitch built-into my machine in a contrasting aqua-blue to sew the quilted pillow front onto the back pieces to create the 3″ border.  This decorative stitch was one right on the mark I made earlier.


I am by no stretch a sewing expert, but I’m pretty good at reading the manual and looking online for techniques for the things I want to do.  I think that a pillow sham is a great trial project to learn your design and/or sewing machine.  Isn’t this amazing for a first-ever quilting project?


I love it and more importantly, so does Miss Cora!


This is going to turn out to be a beautiful quilt.  I’m hoping it also gives me the confidence to finish Chloe’s more complicated quilt (also using keepsake fabrics!).


1 Comment

  1. Purple Paint for a Purple Loving Princess – remodelicious

    June 26, 2014 at 10:42 am

    […] Summer has been keeping us busy with all things summer… swimming, watching movies, building snowmen named Olaf, general mayhem, be have a little update for Cora’s room. I recently shared how I made her a pillow sham as practice for a quilt that’s on my to-do list.  You can see how you can make your own in a weekend here. […]

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