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How to Sew a Quilted Pillow Case with an Ohio Star Quilt Block

Last summer I made some pillow covers for our sofa. They were way too small, looked awkward, and a little too homemade. I loved the fabric and couldn’t bear to throw it away. So I made these quilted pillow covers using the ochre fabric and a bright white linen blend fabric.

If you’ve never quilted before and want to dip your toes in, quilted pillow covers are a great first project! They are much smaller and can easily be completed in a weekend.

Materials

materials

  • main fabric *

  • contrasting fabric *

  • quilt batting

  • matching thread

  • zipper **

*The amount of fabric will depend on your pillow size. Read through the instructions first and try to plan out how much you will need. If you are nervous, you can always purchase more to be safe.

**You want the length of your zipper to be the size of your pillow or bigger. You can always trim them down!

Step 1: Figure out your Design Dimensions

This pillow design has an Ohio star quilt block in the center with a border around it. The border allows you to have a bit more wiggle room to easily size the pillow cover to your pillow.

We are all probably going to make pillow covers for different sized pillows, so let me walk you through how to figure out the cut list for your specific pillow.

guide

I really like this cut guide from Generations Quilt Patterns. This chart tells you exactly what size squares to cut for the size of the Ohio quilt star that you want.

My pillows are 21 inches, so I did the largest 12 inch quilt block, which gave me 9 inches in width to work with the border, 4.5 inches on each side of the quilt block.

Whenever you sew with ¼ inch seam allowances, you lose ½ an inch on each block’s width and height. I made my border out of three 2 inch wide pieces of fabric. When sewn together, each block will be 1.5 inches, making all three blocks be a total width of 4.5 inches.

When cutting the length of your border strips you will also need to figure out how long they need to be. I had extra fabric, so I cut mine from ~16 - 22 inches long, this just gave me some wiggle room when piecing everything together. Just remember to add ½ an inch for seam allowances to the length as well!

It may be a little hard to figure out. If you are stuck, figure out your final measurements and add a ½ inch to each block height and width to figure out the size of your cut block. It really helps to draw it out as well!

Cut your fabric

cutFabric

Based on the chart above and your border calculations, cut your fabric for the quilt pieces.

You will also need a batting and backing fabric for your quilt, and another piece of fabric for the backside of your pillow.

Your quilted front piece, quilt backing, and backside should all be cut to the same size. It is common to trim the quilt batting a little bigger than the size of the pillow and trim it down after you’ve quilted.

Assemble Your QSTs (Quarter Square Triangle) Pieces

You will do these steps twice to make the four different QSTs. Feel free to do them both at once (saves time) or one and then the other if you are feeling a little timid.

firstDiagonal

Take the larger size of your two different fabric squares and place them RST (right sides together). Draw a diagonal line from one corner to another. It is important that you do this with a straightedge. This part of the quilting needs to be precise for the final quilt to look well done.

cutDiagonal

Take it to your sewing machine and sew two lines, each a ¼ inch away from the diagonal line.

firstPress

Cut down your diagonal line mark and press open. If you are using a lighter fabric, like me, always press your fabric towards the darker fabric to prevent the fabric from being seen through the lighter colored fabric.

secondDiagonal

Take these opened pieces and place them right sides together, matching opposite fabrics. (For me the ochre fabric triangle was touching the white fabric triangle.) Be sure to nest the seams together, so the fabric pieces lie as smoothly as possible. To have a professional finish, try to get the seams to lie as tightly as possible together.

Draw another diagonal line again, splitting your new triangles in half. Repeat sewing down ¼ inch away from the marked line. (When you are at your machine, be sure to check the seams before you sew over them!)

trim

Press your quilt blocks open and trim your block so it is the intended block size. This final trim helps square everything up and gets rid of the little triangles on the ends. My final block size was 4.5”, so I placed the dot of 2.25” on my quilting guide in the middle, lined the seam up with the 45 degree angle, and trimmed the sides.

QST

Now you can celebrate! You made a QST. Repeat again so you have a total of four QST blocks.

Piece Together the Rest of your Ohio Star

assemble

Line up your other slightly smaller squares with your QSTs. No two alike fabrics should be touching.

Once you have everything lined up, sew each block together with a ¼ inch seam allowance and press. I like to sew each row together, take everything to my iron to press, then sew the three rows together and press.

Try to minimize the amount of trips you make between your sewing machine and iron! It saves a surprising amount of time.

Add Your Border

firstBorder

You may decide to do one large border around your quilt block. If so, just repeat the following process once. If you are making multiple borders, like I did, you will need to repeat this process.

Remember that your first border pieces will be the smallest in length, so if you have different lengths of border pieces, use your smallest ones first!

Take one of your border pieces and align it with one of the edges of your quilt blocks. (You will notice that my fabric is a little long, this just gave me some wiggle room with the fit.) Place RST and sew with a ¼ inch seam allowance.

borderTrim

Press open and trim off remaining fabric.

startBorderThree

Repeat this process. You will soon complete your first border. If you are adding more than one border, continue to repeat the process until finished. (If the lengths of your border pieces become too small, feel free to piece together some smaller scraps until it’s long enough.

Quilt Your Pillow

pinToQuilt

Now it’s time to actually quilt everything together. First you need to make your quilt sandwich: backing, batting, quilt top. I ran out of white fabric, so I used an old white sheet for my backing. This backing will be on the inside of your pillow and no one will see it.

Pin your sandwich together to make sure the layers don’t shift. Do you best to line up the edges!

Take it to your sewing machine and do some quilting. You can simply stitch in lines across the quilt top. I outlined the border pieces and the white squares in the quilt block. The purpose of these stitches is to hold everything together. It can be as detailed or as simple as you like!

Adding the Zipper

Next we will assemble the quilt and the back of the pillow together with a zipper. You can use an envelope style closure here as well. I think a zippered pillow holds its shape a little better

finishZipperSeams

First you need to finish the edges where you will be inserting the zipper. This prevents the fabric from unraveling, which would ruin your pillow. I used an overcast stitch, feel free to use a zig zag stitch or pinking shears as well.

closeZippers

Before you insert your zipper you need to adjust its size. Lay your closed zipper against your pillow. Line up the zipper pull just slightly before one edge of the fabric and make a mark on your zipper around ⅓ inch before the edge of your pillow. Take your zipper to your sewing machine and slowly stitch over it. This gives the zipper a new end. Cut the end of the zipper off and you can use a lighter to gently melt the end of the zipper fabric so it doesn’t fray. (Do this over a sink, go slowly, and be careful!)

pinZipper

Pin your zipper to just one of your pieces of fabrics, RST, aligning the edges. The zipper should be face down, like in the photo above.

basteZipper

Baste your zipper into place. This stitching is not supposed to be perfect. I even did it in a contrasting thread. Don’t worry about backstitching, It is just supposed to hold your zipper really well for the final sewing of your zipper.

sewZipper

When you sew your zipper in place, I suggest you use a zipper foot. You want your needle to get as close to the zipper teeth as possible (but not touching the teeth, because then your zipper won’t open!)

I like to sew the zipper with it open. I find it is easier to get closer to the teeth. At some point you will have to pause, lift your presser foot, and close the zipper because you can’t sew right next to the zipper pull. If you are having trouble moving the pull, back stitch a few stitches away from the teeth and then move the pull.

secondSideZipper

Next you need to sew the other side of the pillow to the zipper. Place the front and back pieces of the pillow RST. Make sure the side seams are aligned. The top should align with the other side of the zipper. The bottom should be slightly offset.

Repeat the pining, basting, and sewing in the second side of the zipper. You are almost done!

Finishing the Pillow

YOU NEED TO OPEN THE ZIPPER

If you don’t open the zipper and you carry on, you will sew yourself a lovely square, which cannot be used as a pillow cover. Opening the zipper allows you to turn the pillow right side out after you’re done sewing.

pinEdges

Pin the remaining three sides of your pillow together. Note how in the above picture it is very apparent that my zipper is open! When you pin, make sure that the open parts of your zipper align.

Sew around the three sides of your pillow with a ¼ inch seam allowance.

finishOtherEdges

Finally, you want to finish the remaining edges. This is so important. If your fabric begins to fray, your seams can easily come apart and you won’t be able to use your pillow!

Enjoy and Share!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you followed along, please reach out to me on Instagram or comment below!