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How to Make a Cross Stitch Pillow

Updated on April 28, 2016
nifwlseirff profile image

Kymberly loves to dive into many hobbies - productive gardening, crafting, sewing, reading, everything Japanese. And she loves blue hair!

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.

Tips

  • 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.

Source

Reusable equipment

  • 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

Materials

  • 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

  1. Cut the framing, backing and batting fabrics and over-lock or zig-zag stitch all edges to prevent fraying.
  2. Sew the patchwork fabric frame around the cross stitch, ironing after each step.
  3. Assemble the quilt-sandwich - the front of the cross stitch pillow.
  4. Quilt the layers together.
  5. With the right sides together, sew the back to the front of the pillow, leaving one edge open.
  6. Turn inside out, fit and sew in the zip. Hand-sew the remaining gaps together.

Before starting

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Mark the center of your design with a pin.Measure the first strips from the center point, equal distance apart with two rulers.Overlock or zig-zag sew the raw edges of cross stitch fabric to prevent fraying.The dinosaur cross stitch sewn onto the calico backing fabric.
Mark the center of your design with a pin.
Mark the center of your design with a pin. | Source
Measure the first strips from the center point, equal distance apart with two rulers.
Measure the first strips from the center point, equal distance apart with two rulers. | Source
Overlock or zig-zag sew the raw edges of cross stitch fabric to prevent fraying.
Overlock or zig-zag sew the raw edges of cross stitch fabric to prevent fraying. | Source
The dinosaur cross stitch sewn onto the calico backing fabric.
The dinosaur cross stitch sewn onto the calico backing fabric. | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Frame measured and pinned, and the edge of the hedgehog cross stitch protected with a calico binding.Assembling the fabric frame around the cross stitch, one layer at a time.The finished patchwork frame around the cross stitch.
Frame measured and pinned, and the edge of the hedgehog cross stitch protected with a calico binding.
Frame measured and pinned, and the edge of the hedgehog cross stitch protected with a calico binding. | Source
Assembling the fabric frame around the cross stitch, one layer at a time.
Assembling the fabric frame around the cross stitch, one layer at a time. | Source
The finished patchwork frame around the cross stitch.
The finished patchwork frame around the cross stitch. | Source

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 pillow

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Cut framing strips - make sure the strips are straight and an even width.Overlock raw edges to prevent fraying.Using center pin in the design, align the side strips with a ruler, wrong side up, and pin.Sew the first two strips, following the line of the outer edge.Fold back the first two strips, and iron to make a crisp edge.Using the center pin and the first two sewn strips, place and pin the top and bottom strips of the first frame. Sew in the same way, fold back and iron.
Cut framing strips - make sure the strips are straight and an even width.
Cut framing strips - make sure the strips are straight and an even width. | Source
Overlock raw edges to prevent fraying.
Overlock raw edges to prevent fraying. | Source
Using center pin in the design, align the side strips with a ruler, wrong side up, and pin.
Using center pin in the design, align the side strips with a ruler, wrong side up, and pin. | Source
Sew the first two strips, following the line of the outer edge.
Sew the first two strips, following the line of the outer edge. | Source
Fold back the first two strips, and iron to make a crisp edge.
Fold back the first two strips, and iron to make a crisp edge. | Source
Using the center pin and the first two sewn strips, place and pin the top and bottom strips of the first frame. Sew in the same way, fold back and iron.
Using the center pin and the first two sewn strips, place and pin the top and bottom strips of the first frame. Sew in the same way, fold back and iron. | Source

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 pillow

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Cut and overlock the remaining frame strips.Using the sewn and ironed inside edge of the first strips as a guide, measure out the width of the inner frame and pin along the ruler's edge. Sew the second frame in the same order you did the first four strips - in my case, sides first.Pin the strip to the line where the ruler was, wrong side facing up, with the strip on the design side of the pinned line. Sew the strip, following the line of the outer edge of the strip.Fold back the sewn strip and iron.Repeat the process with the top and bottom strips.Second frame is complete.Measure the 'frame line' and mark with pins for the third frame. Pin the third strip.Sew the third strip, fold back and iron.Repeat until all strips are sewn, folded back and ironed. Frames are now complete!
Cut and overlock the remaining frame strips.
Cut and overlock the remaining frame strips. | Source
Using the sewn and ironed inside edge of the first strips as a guide, measure out the width of the inner frame and pin along the ruler's edge. Sew the second frame in the same order you did the first four strips - in my case, sides first.
Using the sewn and ironed inside edge of the first strips as a guide, measure out the width of the inner frame and pin along the ruler's edge. Sew the second frame in the same order you did the first four strips - in my case, sides first. | Source
Pin the strip to the line where the ruler was, wrong side facing up, with the strip on the design side of the pinned line.
Pin the strip to the line where the ruler was, wrong side facing up, with the strip on the design side of the pinned line. | Source
Sew the strip, following the line of the outer edge of the strip.
Sew the strip, following the line of the outer edge of the strip. | Source
Fold back the sewn strip and iron.
Fold back the sewn strip and iron. | Source
Repeat the process with the top and bottom strips.
Repeat the process with the top and bottom strips. | Source
Second frame is complete.
Second frame is complete. | Source
Measure the 'frame line' and mark with pins for the third frame. Pin the third strip.
Measure the 'frame line' and mark with pins for the third frame. Pin the third strip. | Source
Sew the third strip, fold back and iron.
Sew the third strip, fold back and iron. | Source
Repeat until all strips are sewn, folded back and ironed. Frames are now complete!
Repeat until all strips are sewn, folded back and ironed. Frames are now complete! | Source

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 interfacing

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ironing quilters tape to the wrong side of the frame.Laying the protective layer of calico on the back of the frame.Assembling the layers - first calico, then batting, finally the cross stitch on top, design facing up.Pinning the cross stitch patchwork sandwich together.Pinned, ready to quilt.
Ironing quilters tape to the wrong side of the frame.
Ironing quilters tape to the wrong side of the frame. | Source
Laying the protective layer of calico on the back of the frame.
Laying the protective layer of calico on the back of the frame. | Source
Assembling the layers - first calico, then batting, finally the cross stitch on top, design facing up.
Assembling the layers - first calico, then batting, finally the cross stitch on top, design facing up. | Source
Pinning the cross stitch patchwork sandwich together.
Pinning the cross stitch patchwork sandwich together. | Source
Pinned, ready to quilt.
Pinned, ready to quilt. | Source

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 layers

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Trim the pillow front to an even width, leaving a little for the final seam.The back of the pillow front - you can see the lines where the frame strips were sewn.Cut quilt padding to match the size of the pillow front.Add another calico layer, the same size as the pillow front.Turn over, and pin through all layers, starting from the inside of the design.Pin thoroughly - you don't want the layers to move against each other.Make sure you pin all the way through.Sew 'in the ditch' with a walking foot, following the lines of the framing fabrics.Add an extra quilting line for stability in the final framing fabric.Quilt with a thread color that matches the cross stitch fabric, in the ditch of the inner frame line.Add an extra quilted line for stability, somewhat in from the first frame.A walking foot makes it less likely that the layers of the quilt sandwich will slip.The front, quilted.The back of the front of the pillow - you can see the quilting lines in two different color threads.
Trim the pillow front to an even width, leaving a little for the final seam.
Trim the pillow front to an even width, leaving a little for the final seam. | Source
The back of the pillow front - you can see the lines where the frame strips were sewn.
The back of the pillow front - you can see the lines where the frame strips were sewn. | Source
Cut quilt padding to match the size of the pillow front.
Cut quilt padding to match the size of the pillow front. | Source
Add another calico layer, the same size as the pillow front.
Add another calico layer, the same size as the pillow front. | Source
Turn over, and pin through all layers, starting from the inside of the design.
Turn over, and pin through all layers, starting from the inside of the design. | Source
Pin thoroughly - you don't want the layers to move against each other.
Pin thoroughly - you don't want the layers to move against each other. | Source
Make sure you pin all the way through.
Make sure you pin all the way through. | Source
Sew 'in the ditch' with a walking foot, following the lines of the framing fabrics.
Sew 'in the ditch' with a walking foot, following the lines of the framing fabrics. | Source
Add an extra quilting line for stability in the final framing fabric.
Add an extra quilting line for stability in the final framing fabric. | Source
Quilt with a thread color that matches the cross stitch fabric, in the ditch of the inner frame line.
Quilt with a thread color that matches the cross stitch fabric, in the ditch of the inner frame line. | Source
Add an extra quilted line for stability, somewhat in from the first frame.
Add an extra quilted line for stability, somewhat in from the first frame. | Source
A walking foot makes it less likely that the layers of the quilt sandwich will slip.
A walking foot makes it less likely that the layers of the quilt sandwich will slip. | Source
The front, quilted.
The front, quilted. | Source
The back of the front of the pillow - you can see the quilting lines in two different color threads.
The back of the front of the pillow - you can see the quilting lines in two different color threads. | Source

How do you prefer your needlework?

See results

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 pillow

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Lay the backing fabric on the front of the design.Pin the quilted sandwich to the backing fabric on three sides. leave one side open for the zip. SewSew three sides, then trim all the layers. I choose to sew all the layers together with a zig-zag at this point, so they don't fray.Pin the zip in the open side, making sure the tongue of the zip is on the right side of the design (the inside in this photo).Sew the zip with a ski foot.Turn the pillow inside out. You can see the seams are still open at the ends of the zip.Hand sew the open seams either side of the ends of the zip. Finished!
Lay the backing fabric on the front of the design.
Lay the backing fabric on the front of the design. | Source
Pin the quilted sandwich to the backing fabric on three sides. leave one side open for the zip. Sew
Pin the quilted sandwich to the backing fabric on three sides. leave one side open for the zip. Sew | Source
Sew three sides, then trim all the layers. I choose to sew all the layers together with a zig-zag at this point, so they don't fray.
Sew three sides, then trim all the layers. I choose to sew all the layers together with a zig-zag at this point, so they don't fray. | Source
Pin the zip in the open side, making sure the tongue of the zip is on the right side of the design (the inside in this photo).
Pin the zip in the open side, making sure the tongue of the zip is on the right side of the design (the inside in this photo). | Source
Sew the zip with a ski foot.
Sew the zip with a ski foot. | Source
Turn the pillow inside out. You can see the seams are still open at the ends of the zip.
Turn the pillow inside out. You can see the seams are still open at the ends of the zip. | Source
Hand sew the open seams either side of the ends of the zip. Finished!
Hand sew the open seams either side of the ends of the zip. Finished! | Source

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.

Finished cross stitch pillows.
Finished cross stitch pillows. | Source

Finished!

Fill your finished cushion with a pillow, or package up to give as a gift!

How long?

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!

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    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Simply a great idea here, and your tutorial is excellent. I learned some helpful tips for putting project hubs together--thanks!

      I voted that my favorite way to display needlework is "in a pillow cover" because after your tutorial it now is. Getting them framed right has kept me from doing more needlework, but this will be a great solution to that hindrance.

      You will enjoy your pretty pillow set for a long time--thanks again!

    • nifwlseirff profile image
      Author

      Kymberly Fergusson 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      RT - Thank you! I'm so glad you love this option! Although I do love seeing needlework on the wall, it's less than practical for sending overseas, or if landlords stop you from making picture hanging holes in the walls.

      I have a series black and white cat cross-stitches that I'm considering turning into a larger quilt. But it will be a while off (too many unfinished projects!)

    • profile image

      Ruth Pieterse 4 years ago

      Hi. Enjoyed your hub. I am a cross stitch addict and am fascinated by how much one can do with the stitch.

    • nifwlseirff profile image
      Author

      Kymberly Fergusson 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      Ruth - it's a great craft, and I'm happy to see it becoming fashionable again! Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      So clever, and it brought back many memories for me. And yes I have about three in a drawer in my bedroom that I never got around to finishing let alone frame! lol! wonderful hub, and really useful if I get around to tackling them again! nell

    • nifwlseirff profile image
      Author

      Kymberly Fergusson 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      I still have an unfinished cross stitch from about 18 years ago! I've been thinking about pulling it out again recently. Have fun if you find the time to get back into it!

    • profile image

      Catherine 7 months ago

      Hi! Thank you for your insight! I was actually looking for an article that could help me make a pillow using my cross stitch. This seems incredibly involved, but maybe I can use the first few steps you did, and the last step of putting everything together (I have never quilted). But the article is still the best/closest I have found, so thanks!

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