General Tutorials

Reverse Appliqué and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial {November Slice & Stitch Challenge}

OLFA and Aurifil teamed up in 2019 to create 6 Slice & Stitch Challenges. For each challenge, one OLFA ambassador and one Aurifil Artisan received the same products to create a project and tips/tutorials to share. This month Cheryl from Meadow Mist Designs and I were both given OLFA’s 5″ Precision Smooth Edge Scissors (SCS-4) and Aurifil’s Cotton 12 weight thread.

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Today I am sharing a full tutorial for my Slice and Stitch challenge contribution, a fun reverse appliqué and hand quilted 18″ pillow.

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

The OLFA 5″ scissors and Aurifil 12wt thread that were supplied for this month’s challenge are perfect for creating projects on the go. In fact, I started my project while my husband and I were on our trip summer. We were camping in Elk Bay, Vancouver Island, when I made my fabric selections and started sewing.

To make an 18″ pillow cover, this project requires:

  • Feature print: (4) pieces of fabric cut to showcase the print (more details on how to cut these to follow)
  • Main background print: (2) 12″ x 12″ squares and (2) 8″ x 8″ squares
  • Frame fabric: (4) 2″ x 9 ½” rectangles and (4) 2″ x 6 ½” rectangles
  • Muslin: (1) 21″ x 21″ square
  • Batting: (1) 20″ x 20″ square
  • *Pillow Backing: (2) 12″ x 18 ½” rectangles
  • 5″ Precision Smooth Edge Scissors (SCS-4)
  • Fabric marking device (fabric marker, pencil, etc.)
  • Glue stick
  • Matching Aurifil 50wt thread (for hand appliqué)
  • Coordinating Aurifil 12wt thread (for hand quilting)

*Note this tutorial is for making an envelope closure. Feel free to adjust to add in a zipper or other closure method as desired.

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

For my feature print, I selected 4 of the whales from the Giants of the Deep print in the Natural History line by Lizzy House for Andover Fabrics. To compliment the whales, I selected Swirly Pearl Girl in the A Shout, A Whisper, A Text line by Sarah Maxwell for Marcus Fabrics as the main background fabric.

Once you have your feature print selected, use your 5″ scissors to fussy cut out the area of the print you want to highlight, making sure to cut such that you have at least 2 inches beyond the area of interest.

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Center your cut out feature print on the back of one of the (4) main background fabric squares. Carefully fold back the feature print to the edge of the area that you want to show and trace the outline of the shape onto the wrong side of the main background fabric square. As you are marking, keep in mind that the edges of the background fabric will be folded back ¼” further than this marked line.

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

After you have traced the outline, use your 5″ scissors to carefully cut along the marked line. I usually start by snipping into the center of the shape (which will be thrown away) and then cutting up to the marked line.

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

After the shape has been cut away, layer the feature print, right side up, underneath the background print to verify that the window allows the print to show. Remember, the background fabric will be folded back an extra ¼”, so keep that in mind if you decide to make any adjustments to the cut-out shape prior to continuing.

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Next, fold back the edge of the background fabric approximately ¼” and secure using a glue stick. To help work around curves and in corners, use your 5″ scissors to carefully snip about ⅛” deep into the edges of the background fabric shape, which will allow the fabric to more easily fold back as you work around the shape.

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Center the feature print under the cutout shape and tack into place using pins or a thin line of glue around the edges of the background fabric. Using your coordinating Aurifl 50wt thread, tie a quilters knot at the end of an 18″ strand of thread. From the back of the feature fabric, bring the threaded needle up to the top passing through the very edge of the folded background fabric. To stitch forward, dip the needle down through the feature fabric and then bring the needle about ⅛” forward through the edge of the folded background fabric. Keep progressing around until the entire shape has been hand stitched into place.

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

After the feature print has been hand appliquéd to the background fabric, use your 5″ scissors to trim a ¼” seam allowance around the hand stitching of the feature print.

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Repeat this process to create (4) hand appliquéd squares. Press the squares well and trim the larger (2) squares to 9 ½” square and the smaller (2) squares to 6 ½” square. Sew a frame fabric 2″ x 6 ½” rectangle to the top and bottom of each 6 ½” square, pressing seams open or toward the rectangle. Sew a frame fabric 2″ x 9 ½” rectangle to the left and right, pressing seams open or toward the rectangles, to create (2) 9 ½” squares. Arrange the (4) squares in an order that pleases you (I placed the framed squares in the upper right and lower left of my pillow top). Sew the blocks into rows, pressing seams toward the framed blocks. Nesting seams, sew the rows together and press the seam open to make your 18 ½” square pillow top. Baste the muslin, batting, and pillow top using your favorite method.

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Now it’s time to have fun adding detail quilting using Aurifil 12wt thread!

I started by straight line quilting around the main seams of the pillow. I set my stitch length to 3.0 mm and used Aurifil 12wt thread on top and Aurifil 50wt thread in my bobbin while I was straight line quilting. If this is your first time quilting using a thicker thread weight, I suggest testing your settings on a small sample quilt sandwich first which will allow you to make any needed tension adjustments.

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

For hand quilting, I used Aurifil 12wt thread in sections about 18″ long. Start by tying a quilters knot at one end of the thread.

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Because the back of the pillow will not be seen, I simply started with my needle at the back of the quilt sandwich and brought my needle to the front, pulling the thread until the knot was resting on the back of the quilt sandwich. Then I began rocking my needle back and forth, loading up 2-3 stitches at a time before pulling my needle all the way through and smoothing out the thread.

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

I let the fabric shapes help dictate the quilting; I outlined the feature print and quilted along inside the swirls of the background print. I also did a lot of echo quilting around the reverse appliqué shapes.

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

I love a lot of quilting on my quilts because of the texture it creates, and hand quilting is no exception! Whatever density of quilting you desire, just be sure to follow your batting’s recommendations for minimum distance between quilting lines so that your quilted pillow will hold up under use for years to come.

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Once your quilting is complete, trim the quilted sandwich to 18 ½” square.

Fold the long edge of a Pillow Backing 12″ x 18 ½” rectangle ¼” and press to set. Fold again ½” and sew the hem flap closed. Repeat to make (2) sewn hem flap pillow backing panels. Pin the quilted pillow cover, right side up and (2) pillow backing hem flap panels, wrong side up, together. The backing hem flap panels will overlap to form a flap.

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial

Reverse Applique and Hand Quilted Pillow

Sew a ¼” seam around all 4 sides of the pillow cover. Clip the corners using your 5″ scissors and turn right side out, making sure to push the corners out. Stuff with a pillow form (the pillow cover is 18″ square so an 18″ pillow form would work well) and enjoy!

7 thoughts on “Reverse Appliqué and Hand Quilted Pillow Tutorial {November Slice & Stitch Challenge}

  1. Cindy says:

    Thanks for the tutorial for your lovely pillow.

  2. Wonderful pillow and so much fun we are still seeing some projects from your trip! It will be fun to see what Cheryl did, too. Did you like the scissors?

  3. Suzanne says:

    Very cute pillow! I’ve not done much reverse applique but it’s something I’d like do more of after getting through the Christmas sewing rush.
    Don’t you love how useful glue sticks are? I use one all the time when I want to baste or hold something in place. I also touch it with a hot iron for a few seconds to make it “permanent” until the item is washed.
    And since my old eyes aren’t what they used to be (even with glasses) I like to slip my thread end between the top of the glue stick and my thumb to stiffen it. It dries in seconds and makes it much easier to thread a needle or a sewing machine that has no auto-threader. It works great!
    Hope you’re doing well.

  4. Laura M says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. Looks like you had fun with the 12 wt threads. Those little olfa scissors are my favorite.

  5. Patty says:

    Such a great pillow! I always wondered how reverse applique worked! Have a great Thanksgiving!

  6. What a perfect location to start a whale pillow! Beautiful work! I love machine-quilting with 12 wt.

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