How to Make a Cross Stitch Pillow
It's lovely seeing your finished cross stitches, framed and hanging on the walls, but what if you've run out of wall space? Or what if you want something a little less formal?
A cross stitch pillow, paired with beautiful patchwork fabric matching the design, is a great idea for a gift for children, or for sending a cross stitch overseas.
- Take the finished cross stitch with you when you shop for patchwork fabric.
- This also works well for embroidered fabrics, other needlework, or for small by somewhat flexible tapestries and long stitch pieces.
- If using a piece with cut-outs or lace sections, choose a cotton to sit under the design that doesn't distract (a natural color or white may be best).
- Match the zip color to either the backing fabric, or the patchwork fabric frame.
- Double-sided fusible interfacing or webbing is often used in applique projects, and is usually available in quilting or dressmaking stores.
- pins and safety pins
- ruler and/or a quilting ruler
- scissors or rotary blade for cutting the patchwork fabric
- sewing machine
- normal sewing foot
- walking quilter's foot
- zipper 'ski' foot
- iron and ironing board
- clean white towel
- a finished cross stitch.
- optional - 4 x 5cm / 2 in strips of calico or white cotton fabric, to 'seal' the edges of the cross stitch.
- patchwork fabric in colors to complement or match your cross stitch, to form the 'frame' around the cross stitch design. I like to use three different framing fabrics.
- 2 large pieces of calico or white cotton fabric, sized to fit your cross stitch plus the patchwork fabric frame.
- 1 large piece of quilt batting, the same size as the large pieces of calico.
- a large piece of patchwork fabric for the back of the pillow, the same size as the large pieces of calico.
- a zip, somewhat shorter than the size of the large calico pieces.
- optional - double-sided iron-on fusible interfacing, cut in long strips.
- thread the same color as the cross stitch fabric.
- thread to match the color of the patchwork frame and backing fabric.
Summary of steps
- Cut the framing, backing and batting fabrics and over-lock or zig-zag stitch all edges to prevent fraying.
- Sew the patchwork fabric frame around the cross stitch, ironing after each step.
- Assemble the quilt-sandwich - the front of the cross stitch pillow.
- Quilt the layers together.
- With the right sides together, sew the back to the front of the pillow, leaving one edge open.
- Turn inside out, fit and sew in the zip. Hand-sew the remaining gaps together.
Wash all material, dry thoroughly and iron everything on a high steam setting before beginning.
Use a very gentle soap that doesn't leave any residue, such as an orvus soap by a quilting or needlework company.
Make sure both the patchwork material and the cross stitch threads are colorfast, so the colors won't run and stain.
When ironing over the cross stitch design, place the design side down on a fluffy white towel, and cover with a white cloth, piece of calico or a white tea-towel.
1. Prepare your cross stitch
Find the center of your design. Mark the center with a pin.
Measure to the inside edge of your fabric frame on the cross stitch fabric, with the cross stitch design in the center. Using two rulers helps here.
Triple check your measurements to make sure the design is centered and the sides are the correct lengths.
Trim the excess cross stitch fabric so that it is about 2.5cm / 1 in larger on all sides than the inner fabric of the patchwork frame.
Overlock the edges of the cross stitch fabric with a zig-zag stitch.
Alternatively, wrap a calico or white cotton binding over each edge and sew with a white or natural thread. This provides a stable solid edge to the cross stitch and prevents it from fraying.
1. Make the fabric frame
Measure and evenly cut strips of the patchwork fabric for the frame - 4 strips of each color in the frame.
You might like to use extra of the backing fabric for the outer frame strip. Each color may be a different width.
For the hedgehog pillows I cut 4 long strips of each of the following:
- 2 cm green and 2cm red - inner frame of the two completed cross stitches
- 3 cm brown
- 5 cm orange/red
For the dinosaur pillow, I used differently sized strips as the material was from left-overs.
Overlock or sew all the raw edges with a zig-zag stitch so they don't fray.
Sewing the first frame of the dinosaur pillowClick thumbnail to view full-size
Sew the four inner frame patchwork strips to the cross stitch fabric, and iron the seams each time, so they lay as flat as possible.
For more detailed instructions on how to measure and sew the strips, please see the photos above and below.
Do the sides first, then the top/bottom strips. After sewing each strip of fabric, iron it flat before you start the next one.
Repeat with the next set of patchwork strips, making sure to sew through all layers. Continue until the all the colors in the fabric frame have been attached and ironed.
Sewing the second and third frames of the dinosaur pillowClick thumbnail to view full-size
2. Assemble the quilt sandwich
2a Optional - With the cross stitch design facing down, iron strips of double-sided fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the patchwork frame fabric. Add a short extra piece in each corner.
You don't have to use the iron-on interfacing, but it makes the design slip less when quilting.
With fusable interfacingClick thumbnail to view full-size
Peel the upper protection layer from the quilters tape, and lay one of the large calico pieces smoothly onto the back of the cross stitch.
Iron thoroughly to stick everything together. Set aside for the next step.
2b Lay the second large calico piece on the ironing board, then smooth the patchwork batting to lay flat on the calico fabric.
2c Trim the batting so it's a little smaller than the calico - it's easier to work with.
2d Lay the cross stitch sandwich on the patchwork batting, with the design facing up.
2e Pin all layers together with safety pins, starting from the middle and working towards each edge.
With the hedgehogs, I avoided pinning the cross stitch fabric, as I didn't want the aida cloth to be distorted with pin holes.
Making the dinosaur sandwich and quilting through the layersClick thumbnail to view full-size
How do you prefer your needlework?
3. Quilt the front of the pillow
Use the walking foot and quilt with the thread matching the cross stitch fabric on the inside of the inner patchwork frame.
If you want, you can quilt an extra row or two to secure the cross stitch design to all of the layers.
Change to the thread matching the patchwork fabric, and quilt along each seam, removing the safety pins as you sew.
I chose to run an extra quilting line in the middle of the outer fabric frame.
4. Sew the front to the back
With the design facing up, lay the right side of the backing patchwork fabric onto the cross stitch. The wrong side of the backing fabric should be facing you.
Pin and sew all of the layers together, along 3 sides with the walking foot. Leave the fourth side open for the zip. Overlock all edges with a zigzag stitch to prevent fraying.
Finishing the dinosaur pillowClick thumbnail to view full-size
5. Fit the zip and finish the edges
Turn inside out, so that the design is on the outside.
Follow the instructions for fitting and sewing your zip. I used an invisible zip, which is much easier to sew with a zipper foot, but has a slightly different sewing method.
Hand sew the remaining open seams together.
Fill your finished cushion with a pillow, or package up to give as a gift!
I have a couple of 10-year-old completed cross stitch projects that have not yet been displayed!
How long does it take you to frame or display your finished cross stitch projects?
Let us know in the comments below!