Good morning! I have been slowly working on projects for Bugaboo’s big boy room; specifically, his book nook area! One of his favorite things to do is read, so we wanted to create a nice, comfy area for reading in his room. I want to make a bunch of floor pillows to fill in this corner of the room. Of course, I have ambitious ideas about these pillows, the first of which was a solar system pillow! I just finished this project up a couple weeks ago and love how the pillow turned out!
I love the solar system bedding quilts I have seen at Land of Nod and Pottery Barn Kids and wanted to do something similar with a body pillow we weren’t using. I have had yards of this beautiful midnight blue corduroy in my fabric storage since my mom gave it to me a few years ago. She picked it up back in the ’90s from a Florence Eiseman sale – and it is gorgeous! My pictures really don’t do it justice because it has such a rich color and it is so soft. My mom purchased several yards, so even after making this large pillow, I still have enough to make other things – I’m thinking it would make a beautiful jumper for Jellybean in a couple of years!
For this solar system pillow, the corduroy was a perfect backdrop for all of my planets and stars. Bugaboo is really into space and likes reading about the different planets. He had fun helping me pick out the fabrics for the planets at Joann Fabrics. We took a couple of his space books with us and used them to help us choose the fabrics. I also used the books to help determine the size of the planets. Luckily for me, my husband, who reads these space books to Bugaboo every night, was able to point out some things I should include – like the Great Red Spot of Jupiter. He also made sure my comets were rotating the sun in a more accurate path than I had originally chosen. :)
I chose to do all of the applique and embroidery by hand. I love hand sewing so this was the easiest for me. I tried to include some fun elements that the kids would like looking at – the martian and Plutonian as well a the rocket ship and UFO. I tried to be somewhat accurate. I included the astroid belt in between Mars and Jupiter and I included some of the planets’ moons. I included four of Jupiter’s largest moons (including Ganymede, which is actually larger than Mercury!), our moon, Titan (Saturn’s moon) and Triton (Neptune’s biggest moon). It is not to scale and doesn’t include everything, but Bugaboo has fun pointing and naming things!
Below is the tutorial for how I created the pillow along with a free pattern for the planets, spaceship and comets. I am excited to make the other pillows I have planned to help fill in his book nook area! It’s coming along slowly but surely!!
- Free printable pattern: Solar System Space Pillow Pattern
- Dark blue or black background fabric (I used midnight blue corduroy)
- Cotton fabric for planets
- Felt scraps for comets, spaceship, UFO, moons and astroid belt. (I used felt in the following colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, light grey and dark grey.
- Wonder Under Fusible Web – heat transfer paper
- Embroidery thread that matches planet fabrics
- Light grey, silver or white embroidery thread for orbit lines
- Dark blue or black 20″-22″ Invisible zipper and thread
- Alien iron-ons (optional)
- Sewing notions: fabric scissors, ruler, pins, needles
Step One: Trace the pattern pieces, found under “Supplies Needed”, onto the Wonder Under. Cut each piece out leaving space around them.
Step Two: Press each piece onto the wrong side of the corresponding fabric. I have started using an applique pressing sheet for this step and it has been so nice! It helps prevent my iron from touching any of the fusible web which would always require me to clean my iron. Once the pieces have been ironed cut them out along the pattern line.
Step Three: Cut the background fabric. You will need two pieces for the pillow that measure 48.5″ x 18″, not including seam allowance. I left about 2″ seam allowance all around. On the top piece, that would have the solar system applique I needed to see the seam lines on the right side of the fabric. This way, as I stitched my design, I could keep all of the applique inside the seam lines and also make sure to extend my orbit lines past the seam lines. I marked the rectangle seam lines on the back of the fabric with pencil and then I thread-traced the seam lines using a running stitch with white thread. I could see the white running stitch from the front of the fabric and remove these lines later. (You can see my thread-tracing in the third picture below).
Step Four: Start the solar system design by placing the sun on the right side of the background fabric. I placed my sun about 5.25″ from the left and 5.25″ from the top. I ironed this in place. I marked all the way around the sun with pins so I could see where my sun was placed from the backside of the fabric.
Step Five: I added nine orbit rings, spaced 3.5″ apart, around the sun. I know Pluto is not a real planet anymore, but I included it to represent the dwarf planets :) Start from the sun by marking 3.5″ all the way around. This will be the first orbit line for Mercury. Continue drawing orbit lines until you have nine.
Embroider the orbit lines using the white, light grey or silver embroidery floss. I used a light grey and it showed up really nicely on my corduroy. I used a small running stitch.
Step Five: Place the planets and other space items. I laid out all of the planets, comets, spaceships, etc. that I had until I liked the layout. Then I ironed each piece in place.
Step Six: Applique. I chose to hand applique everything on. I enjoy hand sewing and decided the blanket stitch would look nicer on the corduroy than if I used the machine. I used embroidery thread that matched each planet and made the stitches small, especially around the smaller planets. For the felt moons, asteroid belt, and Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, I used a small backstitch.
I added stars in a slightly metallic embroidery thread. I randomly placed the asteroid belt using small uneven pieces of light and dark grey felt. I ironed on the alien monster patches, choosing to place one on Mars and one on Pluto. One of the ways my son identifies Mars is by the fact there may be life on this planet, so I thought it would be fun to add a little Martian to Mars!
Step Seven: Finish the pillow case! I decided to flat line, or back, the front piece with a layer of quilting flannel. I think this makes the pillow softer and also helps keep the front smooth by making it thicker. You can stitch the two layers together in the seam allowance or just hold them together with pins.
I inserted an invisible zipper along the short end near Pluto. I used a 20″-22″ zipper in navy blue. I tend to not do too many invisible zippers in theater since they aren’t the strongest, so whenever I do one I need to reference my sewing book. I’ve been using a used copy of the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing since before grad school and love the clear pictures.
Once the zipper was inserted, I put right sides together and stitched around the pillow along the seam lines. Make sure to open your zipper before doing this so you can then flip the pillow right side out through the zipper hole.
The pillow is finished!! Yay! I love the way it turned out and it fills up the space under Bugaboo’s book shelf perfectly! Since I already had a body pillow hanging around and the corduroy fabric, this was an inexpensive project. I raided my stash for the felt scraps, embroidery thread and Wonder Under and then just purchased what I was lacking. I have quite a bit of fabric from the planets left over so I plan to use it in another pillow for the book nook area.
Thanks for visiting. Have a great week!