This pillow quilt is the ultimate stash-buster. It’s made by making a bunch of tiny pillows, then sewing them together. The finished look is similar to that of a puff quilt or biscuit quilt, but requires less sewing and less fabric. Since the backside of the pillows serve as the back of the quilt, there’s no need for a backing and no need to quilt all the layers together. You don’t even have to bind the edge because there are no raw edges to hide.
Use the same fabric on both sides of your pillows, or use different fabrics on each side to create a reversible quilt with two different looks.
You can utilize this simple quilting technique to whip up a quick baby blanket or throw, or go all-in on a bed quilt. Since the edges aren’t bound, you can even start by making someone a baby blanket, then add on to it as they grow – so it becomes a toddler quilt, then eventually a twin quilt.
Keep a pillow quilt going at all times, by immediately sewing your project scraps into pillows; then stashing them, until you have enough to make a quilt. It’ll help you keep your fabric scraps in check, and give you a jump start on gifts.
My youngest daughter and I made this pillow quilt for her to take to college next year. It’s a twin XL, made from a bunch of 4.5″ squares. After sewing and stuffing, they ended up making three-inch pillows.
I had an excess of fabric scraps and stuffing, so this was a great way for me to thin my stash.
She picked out the fabric and cut out the squares. Then, I sewed them into pillows, and handed them off to her for stuffing. Once all the pillows were made (all 768 of them), she arranged them the way she wanted them, and I got busy sewing them into a quilt.
We started her pillow quilt over spring break, but did most of the work over a two month period in the summer.
It was definitely a big time commitment, but we couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out.
She wanted to use it right away, so it’s currently on the twin bed in her room. As you can see from this side view, there’s plenty of
“extra” length and width to cover the twin XL bed that she plans to use it on next year.
Want to try your hand at a pillow quilt? Here’s how to make one.
Pillow Quilt Tutorial
What You’ll Need:
- Fabric (I recommend using 100% cotton)
- Thread (I recommend using 100% cotton)
- Fabric scissors
- Sewing pins or sewing clips
- Fiber fill
- A sewing machine (This is the machine that I have)
Optional (but nice to have):
- A quilting square ruler
- A rotary cutter (This is the one I have)
- A self-healing cutting mat
- A walking foot (it’ll help to compress the pillows a bit while you’re sewing)
What You Do:
Decide how big you want your pillows to be. Then, add 1/2 inch to the width and length to create your 1/4-inch seam allowances. Cut out two fabric squares for each pillow.
We settled on 4-inch pillows, so we cut out 4.5-inch squares. After stuffing the pillows, they measured approximately 3″ x 3″. Since the finished blocks in our quilt were 4 pillows wide by 4 pillows tall, this resulted in 12-inch quilt blocks. But you can make your pillows any size you want. I think it would be fun to make a pillow quilt with big 12-inch squares. I just wouldn’t go any bigger than 12 inches, or you may have a hard time fitting your quilt on your sewing machine.
To speed up the cutting process, we used a rotary cutter and 4.5-inch quilting square.
Once you’ve cut out your pillow squares, place two of them together, right-side facing, and sew a 1/4-inch seam around three sides. Trim the excess fabric from the corners when you’re done.
Then, flip the pillow right-side out …
and repeat the process again and again, until you’ve made as many pillows as you need for your quilt (ours required 768).
Stuff your pillows with fiber fill. Make sure you go light on the stuffing, so your pillows will be easy to sew together, and your quilt won’t get too heavy. You want just enough to slightly puff up the pillows. They don’t need to be supportive, like a throw pillow. My daughter went heavy on the stuffing, and it was a lot harder to sew her pillows together.
Once you’ve got your pillows stuffed, fold the open edge of each pillow in, and top-stitch the seam shut.
Arrange your finished pillows on the floor, in the order you want them to appear in your quilt. To create a neat edge for your quilt, turn the pillows on the outer edge so that the top-stitched seams aren’t facing out.
Now, it’s time to start sewing your quilt together!
Begin by sewing your pillows together into the rows that will eventually make up your quilt blocks.
Our blocks consisted of four rows of four, so I sewed our pillows together in groups of four.
Working from left to right, so the rows build out from your sewing machine, overlap the side of two pillows by 1/4-inch; then, sew them together. I used a twin-stitch needle to sew mine, and outfitted my sewing machine with a walking foot. The foot sticks out a lot further in the front than a normal foot, and has an extra set of feed dogs. This helps to flatten the pillows, and keep them feeding at the proper rate.
Here’s one of our finished rows.
And here’s all of our finished rows.
Now, to turn those rows into blocks!
Overlap two rows by 1/4-inch, and secure them with pins or sewing clips.
Then, run them through your machine to join them. Continue adding rows, until you’ve completed your block.
Here’s how our quilt looked after all the blocks were sewn.
Now, to join those blocks!
To keep your quilt from getting too wide to fit inside the arm of your machine, begin by sewing your blocks together into columns. Overlap the blocks by 1/4 inch, just like you did in the previous steps.
Then, finish out your quilt by sewing all the columns together. Be sure to work, left to right, so the quilt builds out from your machine.
To minimize the fabric bulk inside of the arm of my sewing machine, I folded the right column in half hot dog style (i.e. vertically). This made it much easier to feed through the machine.
More Fabric Scrap Projects
Fabric scrap collection getting out of control? Here are a bunch of things you can make with your scraps.