A Spring Pillow Free Motion Embroidery Applique

Winter is s l o w l y leaving the North. After a week of -20C or lower temps and a wicked wind chill, the snow is finally softening up and there is water dripping from the roof. Yay! Time to spruce up the house with some springy things!  I was in dire need of fresh throw pillows but honestly, they are getting SO expensive to buy new. The last one I bought was $50! I shouldn’t even have bought it – that’s too much for a seasonal pillow. So. I went scrounging around the house and I found a few that were no longer fitting our decor and decided to make them over. The only thing I bought for this project was a stack of quilting fabric for $12.95 and I have lots left over so it will go far.

The first thing I did was plan out a rough layout of how I wanted my design to appear on the pillow. In addition to the quilting fabric I also used some inexpensive muslin that I had on hand. I decided that I wanted a little bunny and a flower so I made up a template. I’ll share those with you at the bottom of this post but they’re nothing fancy – just a bunny shape and a tear drop shape.

I traced my templates onto the fabric with a fabric marker and cut them out. I needed to use two squares to make up the bunny and I sewed them together with a 1/4″ seam allowance on the wrong side and ironed it flat. Then the fun began. I made a simple envelope pillow case with the muslin (you can find a tutorial on how to do that here) and started sewing my applique pieces in place.

If you’re the type of person that needs everything neatly just so then maybe free motion machine embroidery applique isn’t for you. Or maybe it’s just the thing for you to relax and have fun! This was my first time attempting the technique and I have to say that I adore the flexibility of it. It lends itself to a fun, rustic feel and the need for perfection is one I’m happy to shed. Let the creativity flow!

Free motion embroidery is something you can do on any sewing machine as long as you have the ability to lower your feed dogs (those little ridged bits under your presser foot that feed the material along) Once the feed dogs are lowered you can move the fabric this way and that, essentially drawing with your thread!

Were I to do this again (and I absolutely will!) I think I might do a better job of securing the applique pieces to the background fabric with some heat and bond or some spray adhesive. I did end up with a few puckered pieces but they don’t hurt the look of the pillow at all. I think it turned out super cute.

Here is how the pillows look on the back. The other pillow was made from a vintage table cloth that I picked up at the thrift shop with no idea on how I would use it. That was $7 so I suppose you could include it into the costs for this project even though I didn’t specifically buy it for this. You can see here that they are simple envelopes, although, the one with the button has a button because I made the case a little too large. No fear, I just pleated it in and added a button to make up for it. I really like the effect. Honestly you guys, I am learning as I go along with pretty much everything I do. Don’t be afraid to jump in and try things. Most mistakes can be fixed and then you’ll do things differently the next time you try. Fear of ‘not knowing how to do things’ shouldn’t hold you back. It’s just fabric right?

Both pillows will only get better as they’re used and the fabrics wrinkle up – especially the table cloth linen pillow. Wrinkly linens are the best linens. There is a third pillow peeking out from back there but it wasn’t jiving so I didn’t focus on it for photos – I ended up using it out in the living room. It was made using a scrap left over from the bench makeover and some canvas.  Maybe I’ll showcase it on Instagram.

So there you go! I made three pillows with very little money spent (under $20!) and my bedroom is looking ready for spring. YAY SPRING! Here are the downloads for the templates should you want to give it a go too.




  1. Oh my goodness, I just love your little pillow, it’s the cutest thing ever! What a fantastic idea getting some quilting squares and having some fun. I think I’ll have to try this with my sewing machine!

  2. That is so adorable! I love free motion applique and wonder why everyone doesn’t do it?! Thanks for sharing your tutorial and template…think I need me a new bunny pillow now 🙂

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