Kymberly loves to dive into many hobbies: productive gardening, crafting, sewing, reading, and everything Japanese.
A Thoughtful and Unique Cross Stitch Gift
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.
- Two large pieces of calico or white cotton fabric sized to fit your cross stitch, plus the patchwork fabric frame.
- One 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.
How to Make a Cross Stitch Pillow
Here is a summary of the steps you'll take.
- 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.
Read on for detailed instructions, tips, and photos to help you.
- 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 it 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 2.5 cm/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.
2. Make the Fabric Frame
Measure and evenly cut strips of the patchwork fabric for the frame—four strips of each color in the frame.
You might like to use extra backing fabric for the outer frame strip. Each color may be a different width.
For the hedgehog pillows, I cut four long strips of each of the following:
- 2 cm green and 2 cm red - inner frame of the two completed cross stitches
- 3 cm brown
- 5 cm orange/red
For the dinosaur pillow, I used different-sized strips as the material was from leftovers.
Overlock or sew all the raw edges with a zig-zag stitch, so they don't fray.
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 all the colors in the fabric frame have been attached and ironed.
3. 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.
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.
4. 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.
5. 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 three sides with the walking foot. Leave the fourth side open for the zip. Overlock all edges with a zigzag stitch to prevent fraying.
6. 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 it 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!
Catherine on October 26, 2016:
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!
Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on November 25, 2012:
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!
Nell Rose from England on November 25, 2012:
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
Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on September 25, 2012:
Ruth - it's a great craft, and I'm happy to see it becoming fashionable again! Thanks for dropping by and commenting!
Ruth Pieterse on September 23, 2012:
Hi. Enjoyed your hub. I am a cross stitch addict and am fascinated by how much one can do with the stitch.
Kymberly Fergusson (author) from Germany on July 10, 2012:
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!)
RTalloni on June 28, 2012:
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!