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How to Turn a Quilt Block into a Pillow – Zig Zag Seam


Hey lovelies!  We are talking about turning blocks into pillows today.  I’ve got directions and a video below, but first let’s talk about when and what.

There will be three of these posts, because there are three methods I use often enough and it’s all about that seam.  There is reasoning for each of them though.

Seam Methods

  • Zig Zag Seam – This method is the quickest, and you can use it for any type of pillow and for any reason.  Think of it as the go-to method.  It’s meant to be similar to a serged edge when you don’t have a serger.
  • French Seam – This is my favorite method and the one I use the most.  It’s beautiful, easy, and makes you feel fancy, but you only want to use this method when you don’t have any points along the edge of your block.  For example, if I’ve got triangles smack on the edge of my block, a french seam will cause you to lose your points on those triangles.  You need space, like a border that goes around your block or nothing but negative space on the edge of it.  Make sense?
  • Binding – Just like a quilt!  You can bind your pillow just like you do a quilt.  It takes more time and more fabric than the other methods, but works just fine and you probably already know how to do this method.  It also adds a lovely touch!

There will be a post about each of the above methods, but today our focus is for the zig zag seam and I’m going to show you how to do it below.


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In this post, I’m using the Juniper block that we quilted together here.  If you are looking for the pattern for this block, you’ll find it available here.

The Details

Pillows are made up of 5 layers:  The top, batting, and bottom (this bottom is inside the pillow and you can’t see it from the outside), and lastly your two pieces of backing.  Plus, an insert or cushion to go inside of it.


  • For the bottom, I usually try to use a fabric that doesn’t matter, old, ugly, old sheets.  Basically, anything.  That fabric you bought four years ago that you see in your stash and you wonder what in heaven’s name you were thinking when you bought it.  It’s a good time to use up stuff you might throw away since you won’t see it.
  • You can buy the cushion inserts at any craft store, on Amazon, or you can make your own.  Whatever finished size your block is, that’s the size cushion you want, nevermind that your pillow could end up a bit smaller depending which method you use.  For example:  the above block measures 18.5″, but I’d want an 18″ pillow insert for it.  Unless you are planning on making your own insert, it’s best to make a block into a pillow the size that pillow inserts tend to be.  Think 15″, 16″, 18″, or 20″.  It’s hard to find a 17″ pillow insert.
  • You can buy your own fluff if you make your own insert, BUT, here is something I prefer to fluff.  Okay, let me be completely honest.  I don’t prefer this to fluff, but I like to reuse and repurpose when I can, it makes me feel all good and helpful inside.  And I create a LOT of fabric waste and I can fill a trash can full of this stuff or I can keep it in a bag in my closet and use it to fill my pillows.  I’m not talking about your fabrics scraps, I’m talking about all those little bits of fabric that are unusable.  Think selvedges, or that smidgen you cut off the edge of your fabric before you actually start cutting what you need.  I even save the batting from squaring up my quilts after quilting.  All of this can be your “fluff”.  A word of advise, a little goes a long way.  You don’t have to pack your pillows until they drop with a loud thump.  A pretty major disadvantage to doing this is you end up with lumpy pillows.  I would not do this for any pillow I planned on laying on or sleeping with, but for throw pillows, what the heck!




Small bit:  When I was creating the video tutorial, I forgot to change my thread.  I should have chosen a 40 weight or 50 weight.  Instead, I just started with what was already in my machine.  The result was thread that was too thin.  This would look a lot better and be more secure with a thicker thread.  My bad!

The Tutorial

  1. Make your block.
  2. Cut your batting and bottom 2-4″ bigger.
  3. Layer bottom, batting, and quilt block.  Baste and quilt.
  4. Square up the block.  Trim away all extra batting and backing.
  5. I know your pattern will tell you the size of the finished block, but it’s best to measure it anyway and write those measurements down.  Width x Height.
  6. Time to cut the backing.  You need two pieces.  Take the height of your block and cut a strip of fabric with the same measurement.  In my case, it’s 18.5″.
  7. Now you want to subcut that strip by the width minus 3″.  In my case, my width is also 18.5″, so I’ll subcut my first piece 15.5″.  Your second piece is always 12″.  So I’ll have one piece that is 15.5×18.5″ and another that is 12×18.5″.
  8. On both pieces, find the 18.5″ side (just one of the sides) and fold and press it 1/4″.  Repeat this one more time.
  9. Sew along just beside the fold and press it again.
  10. With your pillow top right side up, you’ll layer first the bigger backing piece and then the smaller, right sides down.  Make all edges flush with each other and pin.
  11. Sew 1/4″ along edge.
  12. You can go ahead and cut a bit of the corners off if you want, so that your pillow turns easier.  Change your stitch to a zig zag stitch on your sewing machine and make it the widest width it will go.  Don’t change the height.  Sew along the edge of your pillow.  On the right side, your needle will fall off the edge and not actually land on the pillow.  This will incase the raw edge, so that when you wash the pillow it won’t fray.
  13. Turn pillow right side out and stuff it with your insert.
  14. Do happy dance!




The other pillow tutorials that I mentioned above are coming soon!  I’ll try to add a different one each time I add a new block pattern.

Thanks for reading!




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