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DIY Pillow Project Sun Bonnet Sue

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Free Form Sun Bonnet Sue Pillow

In addition to managing Dove Originals Trims, I am also a sewer and a quilter. I love stitching up pillows since they are quick and easy to make, provide instant decorating bling, and afford a marvelous canvas upon which to express my creativity. I use pillows everywhere: in bedrooms, outdoors, scattered in the family room, on sofas and chairs, and even on the floor. I change them out seasonally, thus creating an instant new look. And I make them in sizes ranging from extra large to very small.

All of my pillows are what I call “free form”; that is, I don’t use a pattern. Instead, I begin with the center section and add to it until I’m satisfied with the design and size. I use standard construction methods with a back overlap closure which is easy and affords me the ability to have the reverse of my pillow be as decorative as the front. I don’t purchase pre-made pillow forms. Instead, I measure my pillow when it’s completed and stitch up an appropriate size form using white muslin and polyester fiberfill stuffing. And of course, I use the trims that we sell here at Dove Originals Trims.

I began the Sun Bonnet Sue pillow by machine embroidering a redwork 5 X 7 inch design onto a piece of white cotton fabric. I used two strands of thread through the needle to more clearly define the design. If you don’t have an embroidery sewing machine you can hand embroider a design of your choice, use embroidery paint to create a design, or use a section of a damaged vintage towel or linen with an appropriate design. See detail below.

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I cut the embroidered piece to my desired size of 8.5 inches by 7 inches, but you should use whatever you think is appealing. (Note: My dimensions allow for ¼ inch seams.) Next I stitched a 1.5 inch wide border of bright red cotton to the top, bottom, and sides of the center design. Finally I added a second 3 ¼ inch border of blue gingham check overlaid with a bright floral design.

I decided a white ruffle would enhance the overall design and country look, so I used a strip of white fabric 2-3 times the distance around my pillow top and about 6 inches wide. I folded the fabric in half lengthwise, pressed it, and used the ruffling attachment for my sewing machine to gather. Check that you have sufficient ruffle to go around your pillow. If not, add another length of fabric and continue gathering. If you don’t have a ruffling attachment, you can gather by hand. If you prefer, you could also use ruffled white eyelet trim for your ruffle.

Once the top and ruffle were completed, I started on the back of the pillow. I cut two pieces of white pre-quilted fabric, allowing for a 6 inch center overlap. I hemmed the bottom piece by folding over a half inch, then folding over another inch and stitching. As you can see from the photo below. I added a border of the blue gingham fabric to the top section. To hide the hem seam, I added a piece of white looped braid. Don’t worry if your pieces don’t quite line up. You can adjust them so that you have about a 3-4 inch center overlap and trim off any excess at the top and bottom. See the photo below.


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Finish the back of your pillow so that you can have another look simply by reversing sides. I added a red double face satin bow. You could also use buttons, lace, or any time that appeals to you and that you have on hand. Assemble your pillow using standard construction techniques (right sides together with the ruffle sandwiched between.) Most of all, just have fun and give your creativity free reign!


By Florence Dove Google

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