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DIY Tutorial: Gathered Circular Pillow

Now that spring is here, I'm in the mood for home improvements. I haven't been doing a lot of sewing, but had an itch to do a quick project. I wanted to make a project that I could get done in two hours and feel a sense of accomplishment. I also did not want to buy any materials, so I used things I had. The fabric I used was scrap, the fiber fill I had sitting around, and the button I had stashed in a jar of buttons. 

My original intent was to make a circular pillow from the book, One-Yard Wonders by Patricia Hoskins and Rebecca Yaker. But when I realized that it wanted you to do smocking, I knew it would take MUCH longer than I wanted to spend. Don't get me wrong, I really want to try smocking, but not at this moment. I still wanted to make a circular pillow, so I decided I would figure it out myself. I'm the kind of sewer that likes to figure things out as they go, so I will be sharing my experiences along the way. 


This pillow will be approximately 15" in diameter when finished. It will include a gathered face and a covered shank button in the middle. 

Supplies you will need:

- 1 yard of any medium weight fabric. 
- Thread to match
- Upholstery needle or long needle
- Scissors
- Marking chalk/ pencil
- Button thread
- Large shank button
- Sewing machine
- Fiber-fill and stuffing tool

1) Select your fabric. I always think it's important to select a sturdy fabric. You don't always need to use home decor or upholstery fabric though. I selected a brocade-type of fabric that could be used for fashion as well. Here are a few suggestions of fabric you could use: 

Brocade Fabrics          Jacquard Fabrics         Boucle Fabrics         


2) Sketch out a 16" diameter circle on the back of the fabric. (You can use a compass or trace around a large round tin or basket.) I did not have either of these items, so I free-handed a circle on the fabric. After sketching it, I cut it out roughly. Then I fold it in half, and half again. I do this to clean up the edges. (And hope and pray that it is going to turn out ok!) 

Left: This is the sketched out circle. Middle: Fabric folded in quarters. Right: Finished circle -- not too bad!!

3) Now that you have a nice circle, cut a second one out using the first as a template. 

4) Cut out a 50" by 9" wide strip. This strip will be used to create the gather on the front of the pillow. If you are using a fabric shorter than 50" wide, just cut another 9" strip the length you need and sew it to the other strip. 

5) Machine baste one of the long sides of the strip, keeping thread tails long. Carefully gather the entire 50" strip. 

6) Take one of the circles and fold it in quarters. Insert a pin on the folded corner. This allows you to find the middle of your circle. Open up the circle and lay flat.

Step 6 and 7
7) Now it's time to make the gathers on the face of pillow. Place the gathered section of the 50" long strip in the middle of the circle with the pin.. Pin the strip along the edges of the pillow making sure you evenly distribute the gathers. Note: If the gathered section ends up being larger than your circle, don't worry! It's better for it to be bigger than smaller. You can trim off the excess after step 8. 

8) Machine baste around the outside of the circle. You now have the circle and 50" strip sewn together! 

9) Cut out a 50" by 4" strip. This will be creating the "walls" of the pillow. Lay the strip along the outside of the circle with the gathers and pin. Make sure the strip overlaps the beginning at least one inch. Trim off excess if necessary. Sew in place. (I did not sew the strip together at the ends because that was my stuffing hole. 



10) Pin the second circle to the 4" strip and sew all the way around. (You could also leave an opening for stuffing here.) Turn pillow right side out. 


11) Stuff the pillow to desired fullness. I really like pillows to have a smooth, crisp finish so I stuffed it a lot! I probably used one bag worth of fiber fill. Hand sew the opening closed. 

Stuffed Pillow 

12) In the photo above, you can see that the gathers are on the "loose" side. I pulled on the basting threads to make it tighter again. Then I hand sewed the middle gathers to the pillow. See step 14 for image of what it should look like. 

13) Now it is time to create the covered button! Take a scrap of the same fabric (or a coordinating fabric) and cut it twice the size of the button you've chosen. Cut into a circular shape. Hand-baste around the circle and gather around the shank button. Tie off the thread so the fabric does not fall off.  On the far right you can see I put a round accessory around the button. This was something I found in my button jar and it just so happen to fit around the button. I hand sewed that to the covered button. 



14) Get out the upholstery needle or a very long, heavy-duty needle. Using button thread, attach the button to the pillow. I pushed the needle all the way through to the other side of the pillow so that I would have a nice pucker on both sides. I went through a couple times till I felt it was secure enough. 



Finished! Now I have a cute circular pillow for my bedroom. Now it makes me want to do a total bedroom makeover!!


Have you made an out of the ordinary pillow? Share it with us! Just put a link in the comments section to share your creations.

~Julie

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