Kind of like a good hair cut, throw pillows can really transform a look. They add a unique and fresh something-new without a lot of fuss. Personally, I’ve had the same tired pillows on my bed for at least four years, and I was ready for a change!

These Quilted Throw Pillows, with their crisp, graphic simplicity, are really giving my bedroom the new life it needed.  Normally I don’t much like machine quilting, but for this project I decided to explore the more creative side to this usually tedious (for me at least!) process. With a creamy soft muslin as my canvas, I let the quilting itself be the point, creating grids of snappy red for a clean, breath-of-fresh-air look!

I discovered that I actually like machine quilting on a small scale. It makes the steps that I usually struggle with, like laying out the quilt sandwich and basting, no sweat! It’s also a real joy to start with such basic materials (muslin, cotton batting, thread) and to end with something so pretty. In fact the whole process turned out to be about transformations: of the materials, of my attitude about machine quilting, and of my bedroom! –Molly


To make a set of three square pillows, one 17-inches and two 13-inches:



For the 17-inch pillow cut:

  • One 17-inch square from the muslin (top piece)
  • One 20-inch square from the muslin (backing piece)
  • Two 17 X 12-inch rectangles from the muslin (flap pieces)
  • One 20-inch square from the batting

For each 13-inch pillow cut:

  • One 13-inch square from the muslin (top piece)
  • One 16-inch square from the muslin (backing piece)
  • Two 13X 10-inch rectangles from the muslin (flap pieces)
  • One 16-inch square from the batting

Marking and Basting

For the larger pillow mark every 2 and 2 1/2-inches vertically starting at the center and then moving outward. Then mark it every 2 and 2 1/2-inches horizontally, again starting in the center, to create a plaid pattern as shown above.

To baste: Tape down the backing piece smoothly to a flat surface. Lay the batting piece on top of the taped backing and then lay the top piece marked side up in the center on top of that.

Using the bent arm safety pins pin the three layers together every few inches. Try not to pin over any of the marked lines if possible.

Untape the backing and you’re ready to quilt.

For the first smaller pillow mark every 1-inch vertically and then every 1-inch horizontally to create a grid. Baste it in the same manner as described for the larger pillow.

For the second smaller pillow mark the top every 1/2-inch vertically to create stripes. Baste it in the same manner as described for the larger pillow.


For each pillow, using your walking foot and the brightly colored thread quilt over the markings. Remove the safety pins as you come to them.

Trim the batting and backing pieces to match the top piece. This is your pillow top, make sure it’s nice and square.


Press a doubled 1/2-inch fold along one of the long sides of each flap piece. Edge stitch this fold down using the neutral colored thread. The folded side is the wrong side.

Pin the raw sides of the two flap pieces to the quilted front, wrong sides facing down. The hemmed sides of the flap pieces will overlap in the middle as shown above.

Using the neutral thread sew the flaps to the front with a 1/8-inch seam allowance.

Starting with a 3-inch tail pin the bias tape around the raw edges leaving a 2-inch gap unpinned and leaving a tail at the end as well.

When you get to the corners unfold the bias tape open and finger press a 45-degree angle above the corner as shown above.

Then refold the bias tape closed, keeping the 45-degree angle intact to create a mitered corner, and continue pinning down the bias tape.

Sew the pinned bias tape on around all four sides using the neutral thread, making sure you’re catching both sides at every point. Backstitch at the beginning and end of this seam. Leave the gap unsewn.

Diagonally cut one of the tails to 1 1/2-inches. Lay it down over the raw edge of gap. Cut the second tail to 1 1/2-inches and finger press the end over on itself towards the wrong side of the tape as shown above.

Pin the second tail on top of the first tail as shown above.

Sew down the pinned gap of the bias tape backstitching at the beginning and end of the seam and you’re all done!