The Night Before Christmas Embroidered Pillow Tutorial!

Night Before Christmas Embroidery Pattern!

As I mentioned the other day, the Little Dorrit & Co. Team (ahem, me and Mom) have been thinking about how we can put our embroideries to use. We like things to be used, not hidden away and hoarded! Honestly, nothing makes me happier than to see something I made all beat up and ratty. It means it was loved! So this time, we’ve turned our new Night Before Christmas embroidery pattern into a snuggly holiday pillow cover and here’s how you can make one, too!

(Note: you may need to shield your eyes from the psychotic reds in this tutorial. I can usually wait for a nice day with natural light, but it’s November in the UK and I couldn’t wait any longer. It will be dark and gray until next April and editing can only do so much. Whattya gonna do?!)

Just like we did for our Dracula Trick-or-Treat Tote, we’ll start by trimming our embroidery down to 15″ square. If you haven’t done your embroidery yet, make sure to stitch on a piece at least 16″ square so that you can neaten it up after for sewing. Go back to that Dracula post for tips on getting your embroidery centered nicely, but the best tip is always measure twice, cut once and double-check it about 30 times in between!


Finished size: 19″ square (to fit a 20″ pillow)
1/2″ seams throughout
Press seams outward (away from embroidery)
Click through to make any photo bigger if needed!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Night Before Christmas Embroidered Holiday Pillow - Tutorial!

– Finished embroidery, trimmed to 15″ square.
– 3 coordinating fat quarters: one will be used for the front and a touch of contrast binding on the back, the other two together make up the back.
– A piece of batting about 20″ square.
– A piece of fabric about 20″ square to back the quilted front of pillow – this will not be visible in the end, so it’s a perfect use for that odd stashed bit that you don’t really like but don’t want to just throw out (not shown, I forgot we needed this when I started!).
– Standard (machine) sewing tools: thread, scissors, rotary cutter, etc.
– Curved basting pins (optional).
– A 20″ pillow form – I use this size because IKEA sells 20″-ers for just a couple of pounds (not shown).

Here’s what to cut:

Night Before Christmas Embroidered Holiday Pillow - Tutorial!

Chose one fat quarter to be on the front and the back binding (you can see a photo of the finished back at the end of this tutorial). From that, cut along longer edge:

– 2 strips 15″ x 3″ for front
– 2 strips 20″ x 3″ for front
– 1 strip 20″ x 2″ for binding*

From each of the other two fat quarters, cut:

– 1 piece 20″ x 14″*

(*Note: This project can easily be a mini-quilt rather than a pillow, but in that case, don’t cut these pieces! Read ahead and I’ll explain where to make the switch.)

Put together the pillow front:

Night Before Christmas Embroidered Holiday Pillow - Tutorial!

We’re going to put together the front of the pillow exactly the same as we did the Retro Christmas Tree Mug Rug top the other day. First sew the shorter 15″ x 3″ strips to the top and bottom of your embroidery, press seams away from embroidery, then sew the longer 20″ strips to each side and press in the same way. Your embroidery will now be framed by cute fabric, as shown above.

Night Before Christmas Embroidered Holiday Pillow - Tutorial!

Now make a quilt sandwich with your backing piece right side down, batting, and embroidery face up. Make sure all the layers are nice and smooth and secure with basting pins (or baste by hand) and quilt as desired. I only quilted simple lines around either side of the patchwork seam. And, huzzah, your pillow front is completed! Set this aside while we make the back.

(Note: If you’d like to turn your embroidery into a cozy wall hanging instead, stop here and go to my Little Elves Wall Hanging Tutorial! Scroll to the same point in the process and I will show you how to bind and hang your little mini-quilt!)

For the back:

One of your back pieces will be on the bottom and tuck under the upper piece, like an envelope. First, hem whichever piece you want to be on the bottom with a simple folded over 1/4″-ish hem (i.e., fold and press fabric over twice so that no raw edges are exposed and sew):

Night Before Christmas Embroidered Holiday Pillow - Tutorial!

Don’t fuss too hard about making it exactly 1/4″, it’s more important that it’s neat and straight. For the other back piece, we are going to bind it rather than hem it, to give it a nice decorative touch. Take the long 2″ strip that you cut earlier and fold both long ends inward to meet in the middle (wrong sides together), press, then fold entire length in half again:

Night Before Christmas Embroidered Holiday Pillow - Tutorial!

Now tuck your backing piece edge into the binding you just made:

Night Before Christmas Embroidered Holiday Pillow - Tutorial!

Secure with pins, and sew in place close to the fold where the two fabrics meet.

Assembling the pieces:

You need to make a new sandwich with your three pieces now and they need to be in a very specific order:

Night Before Christmas Embroidered Holiday Pillow - Tutorial!

First lay your quilted front with the embroidery face up, then the bound back piece right side down (aligned at the top and binding across the middle of the pillow), then the hemmed back piece right side down (aligned at bottom and hem across middle of the pillow). Secure well with pins, including a few across the middle just to keep things flat.

Sew all around your square with a 1/2″ seam and a regular stitch. I don’t know if other people finish their inside raw edges more ‘properly’ but this is what I like to do: using a zig-zag-y stitch, go around the whole pillow edge again, keeping your zig-zag-ing outside the straight line you just sewed:

Night Before Christmas Embroidered Holiday Pillow - Tutorial!

I like to use that one that’s like a zig-zag-in-a-ladder, I have no idea if it has an actual name! And that’s it, just turn everything right side out, poke the corners out neatly, and then pop your pillow in! Here’s what your finished pillow will look like:

Night Before Christmas Embroidery Pattern!
Night Before Christmas Embroidered Holiday Pillow - Tutorial!

Now curl up with your pillow and a quilt and dream of sugarplums and, of course, stacks of fabric under the tree!

1 Comment on The Night Before Christmas Embroidered Pillow Tutorial!

  1. Silvia
    November 25, 2013 at 08:36 (4 years ago)

    Very nice pillow! Thanks for this tutorial!


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