How to Make a Patchwork Pillow with Fabric Scraps

Creating a patchwork pillow is a delightful way to use up fabric scraps and add a personalized touch to your home decor.

This project is perfect for beginners, offering a straightforward introduction to basic sewing and quilting techniques.

Follow this step-by-step guide to craft your very own patchwork pillow.

Materials Needed

  • Fabric Scraps: Assorted cotton fabrics in various colors and patterns
  • Pillow Form: One 16×16 inch pillow insert
  • Thread: Matching or contrasting colors
  • Sewing Machine: Basic sewing machine
  • Cutting Tools: Rotary cutter, cutting mat, and fabric scissors
  • Measuring Tools: Quilting ruler and measuring tape
  • Pins or Clips: To hold fabric pieces together
  • Iron and Ironing Board: For pressing fabric and seams
  • Optional: Embellishments like buttons or lace

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Preparing the Fabric

  1. Choose Your Fabrics:
    • Select a variety of cotton fabric scraps in coordinating colors and patterns. Aim for a balance of light, medium, and dark shades to create visual interest.
  2. Wash and Iron:
    • Pre-wash, dry, and iron your fabric scraps to prevent shrinking and to remove any wrinkles.
  3. Cut the Fabric Pieces:
    • Using a rotary cutter and quilting ruler, cut the fabric scraps into 4.5×4.5 inch squares. You will need a total of 36 squares to create a 16×16 inch pillow top (six squares by six squares).

Step 2: Arranging and Assembling the Patchwork

  1. Arrange the Squares:
    • Lay out the fabric squares in a 6×6 grid. Play around with the arrangement until you are happy with the layout. Ensure the colors and patterns are evenly distributed.
  2. Sew the Squares Together:
    • Start by sewing the squares together in rows. Place two squares right sides together and sew along one edge using a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Continue adding squares to form a row of six.
    • Repeat this process to create all six rows.
  3. Press the Seams:
    • Press the seams of each row to one side, alternating the direction of the seams in each row. This will help the seams nest together when you sew the rows.
  4. Join the Rows:
    • Pin and sew the rows together, matching the seams carefully. Use a 1/4-inch seam allowance and press the seams open or to one side after sewing each row.

Step 3: Completing the Pillow Top

  1. Check the Size:
    • Measure the completed patchwork top. It should be approximately 16.5×16.5 inches, including seam allowances.
  2. Trim if Necessary:
    • If the patchwork top is slightly larger, trim the edges to ensure it is the correct size.

Step 4: Preparing the Backing

  1. Cut the Backing Fabric:
    • Cut two pieces of fabric for the pillow backing, each measuring 16.5×11 inches. These pieces will create an envelope closure, making it easy to remove the pillow insert for washing.
  2. Hem the Edges:
    • On one long edge of each backing piece, fold the fabric over 1/2 inch and press. Fold over another 1/2 inch and press again. Sew along the folded edge to create a clean hem.

Step 5: Assembling the Pillow

  1. Layer the Pieces:
    • Place the patchwork top right side up on a flat surface. Lay the backing pieces right side down on top of the patchwork top, aligning the raw edges. The hemmed edges should overlap in the center.
  2. Pin and Sew:
    • Pin around the edges to secure the layers. Sew around the entire perimeter using a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Backstitch at the beginning and end to secure the stitches.
  3. Trim the Corners:
    • Trim the corners diagonally to reduce bulk and turn the pillow cover right side out. Use a point turner or the end of a pencil to push out the corners.
  4. Press and Finish:
    • Press the pillow cover flat, paying attention to the seams. Insert the pillow form through the envelope closure.

Optional: Adding Embellishments

  • Buttons or Lace: Add decorative buttons or lace to the front of the pillow for extra flair.
  • Embroidery: Personalize your pillow with embroidered initials or designs.

Tips for Success

  • Consistent Seams: Maintaining a consistent 1/4-inch seam allowance ensures that your patchwork pieces fit together neatly.
  • Ironing: Pressing seams as you go helps keep your fabric flat and makes sewing easier.
  • Fabric Choice: Mixing solids and patterns can create a dynamic and visually appealing design.
  • Practice: If you’re new to sewing, practice sewing straight lines on scrap fabric before starting your patchwork pillow.


Creating a patchwork pillow is a fun and rewarding project that allows you to practice basic sewing and quilting techniques.

This guide provides a clear, step-by-step approach to making a beautiful and personalized pillow.

Whether you’re making it for yourself or as a gift, the finished product is sure to add a touch of handmade charm to any space. Enjoy the process and happy sewing!