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Create A Photo Pillow

A few years ago I made a photo pillow for my soon-to-be sister-in-law.  It was silly photos of my brother I’d taken that year.  The idea behind the pillow was that she would always have him with her, as she was headed to the opposite side of the country for some specialized training.  Rachel contacted me the other day and asked if I would make one for her to gift to my brother.  She and my brother are both Air Force, and after the holidays he will be headed overseas for a 6 month tour. Shortly after he returns she will head out for 6 months.  With so much time apart these last two years and more to come in the next few, these pillows are meant to provide a sense of comfort and home.

In my last post I talked about printing on inkjet fabric sheets.  It’s very simple to do and can be used in so many projects.  For this project you will need various fabric scraps for the front of your pillow, a fat quarter for your backing, photos printed on inkjet fabric sheets, a scrap piece of batting and a travel size pillow (12×16″).

1. Begin by arranging your photos in Photoshop (or photo editing program of choice).  No matter the number of photos you are using, you want the total width of the photos to fit within about 7.5″.  Each of my three photos was 2.5″ square.  I left 1/8″ space between each of them.  After printing and prepping the fabric as needed, trim around the outside edges of the three photo collage, leaving 1/4″ of white fabric.

2.  Select your first fabric that will border the photo collage and cut into 1″ strips.  Begin by sewing a strip to the top and bottom of the photo piece.  Press seams towards photos.  Sew strips to the sides of the photo piece and press seam allowances towards the photo piece.  Square up your piece if desired.

3.  Select your second fabric border and cut into 3″ strips.  Again, sew to the top and bottom, press towards the photo piece and sew to each side, also pressing towards photo piece.  Square up the edges if desired.

4.  Select your third fabric border and cut into 2.5″ strips.  Sew to the top and bottom and then sides, pressing towards photo piece.  Don’t be afraid to add in different pieces of fabric to add interest, as I did here with the orange solid piece.

5.  Lay your pillow top onto the batting and quilt as desired.  For this pillow I quilted around the outside edge of the first and second border.  After you are finished quilting, trim your piece to 12″ x 16″ (the same size as your pillow).

6.  At this point you can either cut a piece 12″ x 16″ for your backing and sew in an invisible zipper, or you can create an envelope backing.  To create an envelope back you will need to cut two pieces of fabric – 12×8″ and 12×12″.  On the 12×8″ piece, on the 8″ side fold in your fabric 1/2″ and press.  Fold in another 1/2″ to encase the raw edge and press.  Edge stitch along the fold.  Repeat this on one of the 12″ sides for the 12×12″ piece.

7. With right sides together, lay your backing pieces on to the pillow top, matching up the raw edges.  The backing pieces will overlap.  Pin in place and stitch around the entire outside edge.  Trim the corners of the piece and turn right side out.  Press and insert pillow form. (To see a visual tutorial for creating an envelope back on a pillow see this tutorial).

Don’t get caught up on your strip sizes, do whatever feels right and gets you to the end size you need.  If you want to try this with another pillow, simply adjust the photo collage to fit well within the center of the pillow and make sure your front and back pieces are the size of your pillow (usually found on the tag connected to the pillow).  Making the pieces the same size of the pillow makes for a nicely stuffed pillow once inserted inside the cover.

1 Comment
   Beverly said on December 15, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Great tutorial. Anxious to try it.

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MasteringPhoto, powered by bestselling Routledge authors and industry experts, features tips, advice, articles, video tutorials, interviews, and other resources for hobbyist photographers through pro image makers. No matter what your passion is—from people and landscapes to postproduction and business practices—MasteringPhoto offers advice and images that will inform and inspire you. You’ll learn from professionals at the forefront of photography, allowing you to take your skills to the next level.