Quilted Quillow

Quilted Quillow

This next project comes from Lisa who is a teacher, quilter and pattern designer at The Secret Workshop. Lisa made this wonderful Quillow for the store and a upcoming class. The quillow was also made for her eldest son (age 3). The quillow hung in the shop for a short while until Issac asked for his quillow back. Issac now has his quillow and we now have a new shop sample (thanks Issac and Lisa!)


(Finished blanket size approx. 40"X 60", 16" square when folded into pillow)

Just a note about quillows for those who are not familiar with them - a quillow is a quilted or tied blanket with a pocket built into it that the whole blanket can be folded into. This particular pattern makes a really nice size quillow for children and youths - also the perfect car blanket!! My three-year-old likes his to be a pillow at night and a blanket during the day (he likes to tuck his feet into the pocket while he's reading books about his favorite thing - BUGS!). Quillows are easy to personalize with any of the wonderful conversation and novelty prints that are currently available, and they make great gifts.

Sewing supplies:

1.6 m fabric for blanket lining
(I like a flannel here, it 'fulls' up beautifully and makes a cozy blanket)

2 m main fabric for blanket (this will also be the back of the pillow when blanket is folded)

1 fat quarter of conversation or novelty print or 14 ½"unfinished (14"finished) quilt block of choice. If you're using a novelty print, large-scale prints are particularly effective here.

Polyester batt - at least 50" X 80" - you can buy a larger batt and cut it to size (to all you cotton batt fans out there - poly really IS the best choice for this project - cotton folds up into a flat, uncomfy pillow, and these quilts tend to need a lot of washing - well, at my house, anyway!)

Equipment requirements:

Sewing machine (with walking foot, if you have one)
Thread to match your fabric choices
Rotary cutter, mat and ruler - or good scissors
Basting spray or safety pins
Straight pins

Please wash and press all your fabrics before you begin - especially if you use flannel as it has a tendency to shrink more! Take the batting out of the bag and unfold it at least 12 hours before you begin (do this in a cat-free room!!) so that the batting can relax.

Construct the Quillow:

Square both cut ends of lining fabric. This one will have probably shrunk the most, so we will use it as a guide for cutting the other fabrics. Cut selvage edges off lining fabric. Fold in half lengthwise and mark center top and bottom with pin. Unfold. Fold in half widthwise and mark each center side with pin. Measure and record final lining dimensions. Set lining fabric aside.

Square one end of blanket fabric. Refer to your lining fabric measurements and cut your blanket fabric to length. You will have a piece of fabric left over, set aside for now. Return to large blanket fabric. Refer to your lining measurements and cut blanket fabric to width, cutting off both selvages. Fold in both directions, marking center top, bottom, and sides. Set blanket fabric aside.

Using piece that was left over from cutting the blanket, cut one 16 ½" square. This is the back of your pillow. From the remaining blanket fabric cut two strips 1 ½" X 16 ½", and two strips 1 ½" X 14 ½". These strips will frame your novelty print or quilt block. Set square and strips aside.

Cut a 14 ½" square from your fat quarter of fabric. You can choose to center a particular motif, or just cut a square if your fabric has an allover pattern.

Using your lining dimensions as a guideline cut a rectangle from your batting, adding an inch to all sides. (IE: if your lining width is 42", cut your batting 44". If the length is 57", cut length of batting to 59") From remaining batting cut one 17" square. This will line your pillow.

Now to sew!

Gather your novelty print square (or quilt block if you are using one) and the 4 strips that you cut from the blanket fabric. Using a ¼" seam allowance, sew one of the shorter (14 ½") strips to each opposite side of the novelty print square. Press seam allowances toward strips. Sew each of the longer (16 ½") strips to the top and bottom of the novelty print square. Press seam allowances toward strips. The resulting square should measure 16 ½".

Get the 17" square of batting and the 16 ½" pillow backing. Layer novelty print square right side together with pillow backing square. Center these on square of batting so that the back of your novelty print square is on top. Pin around three edges (you can use basting spray to spray the square of batting and stick the sandwich to it -you will still want to pin around the three edges). Using a ¼" seam sew around the three pinned edges. Those of you out there who have sergers - go to it! If you are using your regular sewing machine you will find things easier from here on in if you use a walking foot, if you have one. If not, refer to your sewing machine manual to adjust your machine to feed 'pile' fabrics. This will make life easier as the layers will be less likely to 'crawl'. Trim batting close to your stitching lines.

Turn pillow top right side out - carefully pushing out corners into points. Use safety pins to baste through all layers every 4" or so across the surface. Once you have turned your pillow so that it is as flat as you can get it, it's time to do some quilting. Non-quilters, have no fear! Things at this stage can be as easy or complicated as you want. You should begin with 'stitching in the ditch' - stitching in the seamline around the frame of your novelty print block (in this case on the novelty print side of the seam). If you are a non-quilter, a few simple lines stitched across the pillow center will be enough (by hand or machine). If you are a quilter, well - you know that you can do whatever you like.

Find the center of your pillow top along the raw edge by folding pillow top in half. Mark with a straight pin. Go find your blanket fabric. Layer your pillow top FACE DOWN onto the RIGHT side of one of the SHORT edges of the blanket fabric. - Trust me on this, it goes novelty print side against right side of blanket fabric. (When completed blanket is unfolded, you will not be able to see your lovely pillow top) Pin SIDES of pillow top to blanket fabric, leaving side opposite raw edge OPEN (this is the pocket opening that you will later fold your quilt into). Topstitch pinned edges to blanket fabric as close to pillow top edge as you can (about 1/8"), backtacking at both ends of each stitching line.

Almost done!

Find your lining fabric and batting, a large piece of floor and your straight pins. Layer your blanket fabric right sides together with the lining fabric (the pillow top should be between the two large pieces of fabric), matching all center pins and corners. Center this sandwich on top of your batting - there should be a little batting showing around all edges. Pin the whole works together all the way around the edge, being careful to match all raw edges of the pillow top with the other two fabrics. If you are using basting spray, spray the batting and stick the sandwich to it. Sew around all the pinned edges about ¼" from the edge, leaving about 10" open along one edge for turning. Pay close attention as you stitch through the pillow top edge, this is very thick and you want to ensure that ALL the layers are caught in this seam. (Again, serger owners can use their sergers at this stage).

Trim the batting close to your blanket's edge. Turn your blanket right side out, carefully coaxing the corners into points, and making sure that all the edges are turned out as far as they can go. Double check to make sure that all the layers of the pillow top were caught in the seam before proceeding.

Fold under the open edges ¼" and pin edge closed. Topstitch all the way around your blanket at about 1/8", checking as you go that the edges are all turned out as far as they can go. Return to that large piece of floor with your nearly completed blanket and your safety pins (if you used basting spray skip this step). Lay your blanket out flat, making sure that all the wrinkles are out of it, that it is perfectly flat. Pin through all the layers with safety pins every 6 - 8" working from the center outward. Be careful not to pin your pillow pocket closed!!

Refer to your batting wrapper to find out the maximum distance apart that you can quilt with it. Non - quilters can use this as a guideline as to how to proceed, quilters, you know that you can do whatever you want! If you are looking at keeping things simple and quick, you can channel quilt (non-quilters: this means 'stitch parallel lines' across the whole quilt). Try to get as far as you can into the pillow pocket. This will be a bit difficult, but do your best. On the other side of things, make sure you don't stitch your pocket closed! If you like free-motion quilting, a large, looping meander is effective - do whatever you want. Non - quilters machine quilting for the first time will want to adjust their machines to a longer stitch at this stage, I like a 4mm stitch.

Stand back and admire your handiwork - all that's left is figuring out how to fold it into its pillow!

Folding the Quillow

This part is a little tricky to describe, so try to recruit someone to read the instructions aloud while you are folding.

Lay the blanket on the floor lining side up.
Fold the blanket in thirds, lengthwise.
Lift pocket end of blanket, folding it back over the rest of the blanket.
Turn pillow pocket right side out, so that you can see your novelty print or quilt block, tucking top (still folded) edge of blanket inside.
At this stage it should look like a pillow with a long tail - the visible part of the blanket still folded in thirds.
Fold thirded blanket in quarters, this time from the non-pillow edge toward the pillow edge, the last fold tucking into the pillow. Try to coax the folded blanket into the inside corners of the pillow to make it nice and square - don't expect it to be perfect the first time, but it does get easier!!

Stand back and admire your creation - better yet, get someone to take a picture of you with it. If you are giving it as a gift, make sure you get a picture of the recipient with it!

A final note here about personalization, if you are making one with someone specific in mind - buy fabrics with themes that express that person's interest, i.e.: gardening, dogs, cats, ballet, flowers, horses, bugs… the only limit is your imagination!!

Last modified: 13:55:48 Thu, Aug 9 2007