Geek Crafts: Science Pillow Sewing Project


I love coming up with fun, creative, nerdy projects to make gifts for close friends whenever I get the chance. A couple months ago I threw together this microscope pillow from some old sewing scraps I found in my sewing basket. I was very happy with the way it turned out, and the recipient loved it!

Making your own microscope pillow is easy, fun, and suitable for sewing beginners.

My finished microscope pillow.
My finished microscope pillow. | Source

What You'll Need

  1. Two different types of fabric. One for the pillow and one for the microscope applique.
  2. Pillow stuffing.
  3. Sewing thread.
  4. Sewing machine.
  5. Fabric pins.
  6. One large button for the focus knob.
  7. A printer and printer paper.
  8. Scissors.
  9. Microscope clip art template.
  10. Sewing tape or measuring tape to measure fabric (optional).

Materials you'll need.
Materials you'll need. | Source
Here is the clip art file I used as a template. Resize as needed.
Here is the clip art file I used as a template. Resize as needed. | Source


You can make this pillow in any size you want, so the measurements are up to you.

1. Choose your fabrics.

  • This design looks much better with one patterned fabric and one solid color fabric. It doesn't matter which is which. For mine, I chose to use a plaid pattern on the background and a solid color on the applique.
  • Make sure you have enough fabric to make whatever size pillow you want.

2. Print your template.

  • Save the microscope clip art template on the right to your computer. Resize the image to the dimensions you want and print it out.
  • Cut out the design carefully and neatly.

3. Cut out your applique.

  • Pin your cut-out microscope paper to the fabric you want to use for your applique. Make sure the paper sits perfectly flat against the fabric and that there are no wrinkles when they're pinned together.
  • Carefully cut out your applique following the paper pattern as closely as possible.
  • Set the finished applique aside while you work on the pillow background.

Carefully pin your microscope pattern to the fabric and make sure there are no wrinkles.
Carefully pin your microscope pattern to the fabric and make sure there are no wrinkles. | Source

4. Cut your pillow fabric.

  • You can make your pillow rectangular or square, it's up to you. Measure the fabric to the size you want your pillow.
  • Cut two equal-sized panels; one for the front and one for the back.

5. Pin your applique to the front panel.

  • Choose one panel for the front of your pillow. It doesn't matter which one.
  • Remove the pins and pattern from your fabric applique cut-out and center it on the design side of your fabric. (Some fabric only has a design or pattern printed on one side. You want your applique to be sewn to the pretty side, not the back of the fabric. If your fabric looks the same on both sides, it doesn't matter which one you use.)
  • Pin your applique carefully to the panel of pillow fabric. Make sure it is perfectly flat with no wrinkles.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Here are what the settings look like on my sewing machine. Select the zig-zag stitch and a length of about 1.Select a width of about 4 or 5.
Here are what the settings look like on my sewing machine. Select the zig-zag stitch and a length of about 1.
Here are what the settings look like on my sewing machine. Select the zig-zag stitch and a length of about 1. | Source
Select a width of about 4 or 5.
Select a width of about 4 or 5. | Source
Your stitches should look like this.
Your stitches should look like this. | Source

6. Sew your applique to the front panel.

  • Once your microscope applique is pinned firmly in place on the front panel, it's time to turn your sewing machine on.
  • Set your sewing machine to the zig-zag stitch.
  • You want your stitch width to be as wide as possible and your stitch length to be very short. I set my sewing machine width to about 4 or 5 and my stitch length to 1. Your stitches should form a solid-looking, thick line.
  • Use a piece of scrap fabric to test your settings and make sure the stitches are exactly how you want them before attempting to sew your applique in place.
  • Sew the applique in place so that the fabric edge is hidden by the stitches. Follow the lines of the microscope as closely and carefully as possible to keep its shape perfect.

7. Sew the button on your microscope.

  • Hand-sew your button into place on the fabric applique where the focus knob is supposed to be.

8. Sew the panels of your pillow together.

  • Place your two panels one on top of the other with the fronts of the fabric facing inward. (Your applique and button on the front panel should be facing the design side of the back panel.)
  • Sew the top and side edges together using a normal stitch. No need to use the heavy duty zig-zag here. Your pillow should look like an inside-out pocket at this point.
  • Start from the corners and sew the bottom edge together, leaving a hand-sized opening in the middle.

9. Stuff your pillow.

  • Reach into the hand-sized opening and turn the pillow inside out. The microscope and fabric pattern should be facing outward.
  • Use the hand-sized hole to stuff the pillow with stuffing. Pack as much stuffing in as you can. Remember that the pillow will flatten somewhat with use. You want it to stay as plush as possible.

10. Sew the opening closed.

  • You can stitch the hand-sized opening together with your sewing machine or by hand. Personally, I prefer to do it by hand because it's easier to make the stitches less noticeable, but it should look fine either way.

And you're done! Use your new pillow to decorate your flat or give it as a gift to a geeky loved one. They'll be totally impressed!

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Comments 4 comments

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

This is a great idea and of course can be used with other designs besides a microscope. There are a few of us who haven't used our sewing machines in a while, but this could top the list when we do.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Christy Kirwan profile image

Christy Kirwan 3 years ago from San Francisco Author

That is a great point, tillsontitan! It works great with just about any single-color design. :)

peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 20 months ago from Home Sweet Home

awesome sewing, your bf must be very happy with your gift, voted up

Alexis Cogwell profile image

Alexis Cogwell 8 months ago from Indiana/Chicagoland

That's adorable. thank you for the directions! :)

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