Decorating my son’s book nook area has definitely been an on-going process! Today I am excited to share the new floor pillows I added this past week – felt applique pillows featuring Star Wars droids! The pillows were plain red couch pillows that were super comfy but pretty boring. These new pillowcases are much more fun and playful, which is perfect for this bright and colorful space!
My son has yet to see any Star Wars movies, yet he loves the characters! BB8 and R2D2 are favorites and were easy to create. I had already made an R2D2 Halloween costume a couple years ago and R2D2 Treat Boxes, and remembered that although R2D2 can look complicated, he is just a bunch of geometric shapes.
I created the pillow designs by appliquing felt with a blanket stitch and running stitch. I’ve always enjoyed hand sewing, so when I was trying to decide how to create the pillows, I figured this would be fun! I made the pillows reversible and backed the pillows with Star Wars fabric left over from the Star Wars apron I made my nephew this past Christmas.
I created the patterns for these pillows in Photoshop, which is something new for me as I usually draw my patterns by hand first and then move them into Photoshop. Creating them on the computer from the start worked out so well, especially since these characters are made up of so many geometric shapes. I created each shape on a different layer in Photoshop so when I was done, I had all of my pattern pieces ready to go.
The patterns are available at the end of this post! Below are the steps I took to create the pillow designs and quilted borders for the front of each pillow. Once you have the front pillow piece, you can assemble the pillow like I did, with a zipper so it is reversible, or with a simple envelope back. I followed the tutorial Zippered Pillow in the book Handmade Interiors for assembling my pillowcase with a zipper.
Supplies Needed: *The following supplies are based on a 24″ x 24″ pillow.
- Front pillow fabric – orange and light blue fabric that each measure 25″ x 25″ (includes a 1/2″ seam allowance for sewing pillow together)
- Border fabric – 1/2″ yard light grey
- Border fabric – 1/2″ yard royal blue
- Back pillow fabric – Star Wars themed fabric, 2 pieces that each measure 25″ x 25″ (includes a 1/2″ seam allowance for sewing pillow together)
- White felt, four 9″ x 12″ sheets
- Orange felt, one 9″ x 12″ sheet
- Light grey felt, one 9″ x 12″ sheet
- Blue felt, one 9″ x 12″ sheet
- Scraps of black, red, and dark grey
- Embroidery floss in orange, white, black, light grey, dark grey, red, and blue
- Fusible web Wonder Under
- Grey and blue thread
The first step is to transfer all of the pattern pieces to the fusible web. This way you will be able to iron all of the pieces onto the pillow before hand sewing. The method I use for transferring my pattern pieces is to lay the fusible web, paper side up, over the pattern piece and trace it with a pencil. You will need to use the pattern pieces marked “Reversed” for this to work. (the picture above is backwards as I forgot to do this the first time!!)
Once you have the pieces traced, cut them out, leaving space around each piece. Iron these onto the appropriate felt color. It is helpful to use a pressing cloth for this part so you don’t get fusible web on your iron. I use an applique pressing sheet (see Supplies Used at the end of this post) which I love because I can see through it!
Cut the pieces out of the felt on the pencil line.
Peel the paper backing off of each piece and assemble the droid characters. Start by ironing the large felt shapes onto the front fabric piece. It is helpful to first mark where the quilted border will be on the front fabric piece in the bottom left corner. The border is 2″ all around plus 1/2″ for seam allowance, so mark the border at 2.5″ from the fabric edge. Position the droid characters slightly over the pencil lines you just drew. This way the border will overlap the characters.
Trace the lettering for BB8 and R2D2’s name. For BB8 I did this after I ironed the shapes onto the pillow front. For R2D2 I did this beforehand as pictured below.
Applique the Characters
Applique the felt shapes onto the pillow fronts. I used a blanket stitch for most of the shapes. My blanket stitch improved as I went, it looked better when I made it a bit smaller. Sometimes it got a little too big and didn’t look as nice. I used a split stitch for the letters and a running stitch for some of the small pieces. Check out Crafty’s 10 Embroidery Stitches to see how to do a split stitch.
Creating the Quilted Border
Once you have finished the applique, it is time to add the border. The finished border after the pillow has been sewn is 1.5″ blue and 1/2″ grey. Cut strips of fabric that are 4″ wide.
Fold them in half and pin them in place. I pinned the folded edge of the grey fabric at 2.5″ all the way around, overlapping the droid characters. Next, I pinned blue fabric so it lined up with the edge of my pillow leaving 1/2″ of grey fabric showing.
I mitered the corners by folding the fabrics at a 45 degree angle at each corner and pinning in place.
Stitch the borders down with straight machine stitches. It took me a little while to figure this out, but I ended up doing 6 rows of stitching on the blue border, stopping 1/2″ from the edge so I didn’t have stitches in my seam allowance. It is helpful to do your first row of stitching on the blue border about a 1/4″ in from the folded edge. Then go back and add a row right along the folded edge. I did the same thing for the grey fabric and had 3 rows of stitching.
Once the borders are quilted, the front of the pillowcase is finished. Cut a piece of fabric for the backing the same dimensions as your pillow front and then assemble them any way you like. You can make a simple envelope pillowcase (my favorite — you can see how I did that here and here) or create a zippered pillowcase. This was my first time doing a zippered pillowcase, so I followed the tutorial in the book, Handmade Interiors.
I love how the pillows are reversible! They are definitely more colorful and playful than the plain red pillows that were there before! They are also so comfy when we are reading in the book nook. My son already asked me to make matching Yoda and Darth Vader pillows…but I think he is going to have to wait a while for those!
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