Learn How to Make Cross Stitch Pillows

Kate Miller-Wilson
Cross-stitch pillow on bed

If you have a cross stitch pattern you love, it's very easy to make that design into a pillow you can use to grace your living room sofa, your bed, or any other room in your home. There's lots of room for creativity, from fabric selection to pillow size and shape, but the basic process is very simple. It's a great way to showcase that awesome project in a way everyone can enjoy.

Basic Supplies for Making Cross Stitch Pillows

You can make a pillow to show off your completed cross stitch design, or you can create the design with the pillow in mind. Either way, you'll need the cross stitch project you plan to display, as well as a few other supplies:

  • Pillow form - Available at any fabric store, pillow forms come in many sizes. Choose one a bit larger than the design you plan to display.
  • Extra fabric - Select upholstery weight fabric in a color or pattern that complements your cross stitch design. You'll need about one yard.
  • Sewing tools - You'll need a sewing machine, scissors, measuring tape, needle, pins, and thread. An iron is helpful too.
  • Piping or trim, if desired - If you like, you can add piping or decorative trim around the edge of your pillow. You'll need a length of trim that will go all the way around the pillow form you've chosen with a few extra inches to spare.

How to Make the Pillow

After you've finished your cross stitch design, making the pillow will take a couple of hours. A little previous sewing experience is good, but this is a great project for a beginner as well.

1. Prepare Your Finished Cross Stitch Panel

Before you get started, you need to make sure your panel is flat and has straight edges. Iron your cross stitch panel to make sure it's totally flat. Then make sure the corners are square and the edges are straight, trimming as needed.

2. Cut Side Pieces for the Fabric Frame

First, you'll cut two rectangle pieces for the left and right sides of the panel. The length of these rectangles will be the same as the length of the left and right sides of the panel. You can find the width of the rectangles by taking the difference in width between the panel and the pillow form, adding one inch for seam allowances and dividing by two. For example, if the panel is 12 inches wide and the pillow form is 16 inches wide, the rectangles would be 2.5 inches wide (16-12=4, 4+1=5, 5/2=2.5). Cut two rectangles with the dimensions you need.

3. Sew the Side Pieces to the Panel

Once you've cut the side pieces, pin them to the sides of the panel. Using your sewing machine and a basic running stitch, sew the side pieces on to the panel with a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Use an iron to press the seams open.

4. Cut Top and Bottom Pieces for the Frame

Measure the length of the top and bottom edges of the panel with the side pieces attached. This will be the length of your top and bottom fabric pieces. Then measure the panel the other way, from the top edge to the bottom edge. Subtract this measurement from the top-to-bottom measurement of the pillow form, add one inch for seams, and divide by two. For example, if the panel is 10 inches tall and the pillow form is 16 inches tall, the rectangles will be 3.5 inches wide (16-10=6, 6+1=7, 7/2=3.5). Cut two rectangles with the appropriate dimensions.

5. Sew the Top and Bottom Pieces to the Panel

Pin the top and bottom pieces to the panel. Sew them on, using a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Press the seams open. You now have the top of your pillow.

6. Cut the Back Panel of the Pillow

Cutting the back panel is simple. Just take the dimensions of your pillow form and add 1/2 inch to each dimension. Cut a piece of fabric accordingly. This should be the same size and shape as the pillow top you made. Stack the two together and trim to make sure the edges are straight.

7. Add Piping or Trim, if Desired

If you want piping or trim for your pillow, this is the time to add it. Line up the raw edge of the trim with the raw edge of the back panel and baste it in place, using a long stitch on your sewing machine.

8. Sew the Top and Bottom Together

Place the top panel on top of the bottom panel with the right sides together. Pin around all four sides. Starting at one corner, begin sewing with a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Sew three sides and then cut the thread. Remove the pins. Turn the pillow right side out and iron it.

9. Finish the Pillow

Slide the pillow form into the pillow through the open end. Tucking the raw edges under, pin the open end closed. Hand sew the open end to finish the pillow. Trim any loose threads and enjoy your work!

Tips and Customization Ideas

There are lots of ways to adjust this basic design to meet your needs or personal style. Try the following:

  • No matter what size of cross stitch panel you have, this process will help you show it off on any size of pillow. Try displaying a tiny cross stitch design, such as a simple Celtic knot, surrounded by a large fabric frame.
  • Have fun with trim. Ball fringe, lace, piping, and ruffles will give your pillow even more style and complement your cross stitch design.
  • Choose fabric that plays with scale. A panel with a strong, large pattern can look lovely surrounded by fabric in a very small pattern with the same colors.
  • Convert old samplers and other wall-mounted cross stitch pieces to pillows. You may not love the look of these items on your wall, but they can feel much more modern and stylish in pillow form.

Enjoy Your Creative Work

Making a cross stitch panel can be fun, but it can also be difficult to know what to do with your finished panel. A pillow is a great way to show it off, and it's a simple project that allows you to get maximum enjoyment out of your creative work.

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Learn How to Make Cross Stitch Pillows