Floral Pillow

April showers bring May flowers, but with this project you don’t have to wait until next month to enjoy the blooms.

Fresh flowers abound with this embroidered floral pillow which features a field of delightful, 3-dimensional petals.

Blog flower pillow open

The unique aspect of this project centers around its fringed flower edges.

Throughout this post, I’ll walk you through how I made the flowers and share a few tips on finishing off a perfect pillowcase.

Blog flower pillow wide2

First, allow me to back up a bit and share my inspiration for this project.

Of course, inspiration comes from just about anywhere and in this case it came in the form of seed packs that my kids found in our garage.

I love Zinnias and the packaging here reminded me of an embroidery disc in my collection.

Blog flower pillow seeds3

Actually, I’m not sure whether these embroidered flowers are Zinnias or Chrysanthemums but I was inspired nonetheless.

As you can see in the photo below, a reference box stitches out first.  This is really helpful because it allows me to see the boundaries of the design and to see how the dimensions of each flower will line up, in relation to what has already been stitched out.

Blog flower pillow machine

The use of vellum templates also help to line up exactly where to position each flower set as you’re moving across the fabric.

Reminder: Always use a water soluble marker when drawing guide lines and marking your reference points. The markings are easily removed with a damp cloth.

Blog flower pillow template2

Continue to stitch out the design across the fabric until  you have the desired number of flower sets in place.

As you can see in the photo below, the embroidery is flat and all the threads are still intact.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with design placement.  I staggered the flower sets here to add more visual interest to the overall design.

Blog flower pillow canvas

Once the flowers are all stitched out, now comes the fun part, albeit a little scary.  The fringe is created by cutting the threads on the back of the design.

Initially, I was a tad nervous about cutting into all this great stitching.  However, as long as you cut slowly and carefully along the outside of each circle there’s little risk of messing this up.

Note: The white material you see around the design is called “stabilizer”.  It’s used to help hold the fabric firmly in the embroidery hoop so it doesn’t slip around during the stitching process.  It’s easily cut and peels away from the back of the finished embroidery.

Blog flower pillow cuts2

Once the flower threads have been cut from the back, return to the front and use the tip of the scissors to carefully pull the cut-threads through the fabric.  This creates the fringe.

The main threads are held in place thanks to reinforced areas that are stitched into the design during the embroidery process.

Blog flower pillow fringe

Here’s a closer look at how the fringed flowers look compared to the flat, uncut ones.

While I love the loose flower edges, you could also mix up this layout by including some fringed flowers and leaving others uncut in a different project.

Blog flower pillow side3

Before attaching the back pillowcase panel to the front, I decided to add another embroidered element.

Even though most people will never see the back of the pillow unless they pick it up, you can still add a splash of color to an otherwise plain, off-white backside.

Blog flower pillow duo3

Use the same thread colors for the back element that are in the front pattern to maintain a coordinated overall appearance.

Blog flower pillow back2

Small, extra touches and details can give a project a much bigger WOW factor.

For example, take a close look at this finished pillowcase in the photo below.  Looks fine, right?

Blog flower pillow wide5

Now, take another look at the same pillowcase with the addition of leaf-green piping.

The piping is such a simple element but it packs a big punch by framing the pillow with a thin border of pretty green.

Blog flower pillow piping

Not only does the green piping help the pillow “pop”, it also gives the pillowcase a more formal appearance.

I actually like both versions but I think the pillowcase sans piping definitely has a more casual feel to it.

Which version do you like better?

For a long time, I skipped using piping on projects because I could never get it to look as neat as I wanted.

After much practice, here’s my bit of advice (and alliteration) on piping.    

Practice, pacing,  plus plenty of pinning and piles of patience make perfect piping possible.

Now, try saying that six times fast.

I use a lot of pins to hold the piping in place between the two pieces of fabric while stitching.  This really makes a difference by helping to prevent any puckering.

Blog flower pillow piping3

A zipper foot attachment is also essential to perfectly-fitted piping because it allows the sewing machine needle to get as close as possible to the piping as you stitch the seam.

A zipper foot is a standard attachment and should be included with most sewing machines.

However, if you’ve lost yours along the way, you can always order one on-line to fit your machine.  You may also be able to order one through your local sewing machine shop.

Blog flower pillow zipperfoot

I know of two ways to connect the two loose ends of binding within a seam.

The first involves overlapping the two ends and sewing them into the seam as you can see in the photo below.

Blog flower pillows overlap

Technique #2 (below photo) involves fitting one end of the piping inside the other and stitching it into the seam.

I personally think this second technique provides a more seamless-looking appearance and since that’s the technique I used for these pillows, that’s the technique I’ll illustrate for you here.

Blog flower pillow connection

Start by pinning the piping into place all the way around the pillow.

Make sure that the two ends come together at the bottom of the pillow because it will be less visible and won’t take away from the clean, more visible edges of the pillow.

Cut one end of the piping @1/2 inch longer than the other end.

Blog flower pillow piping8

Use a seam ripper to gently open piping seam on one end (right side here).

Stretch the piping on the other end (left side here) so that it extends about 1/2 inch beyond the end of the piping on the opposite side.

Blog flower pillow piping7

Fold over the piping end with the opened seam about 1/4 inch.  Trim the cording inside the opened-seam to the point where the other end of the cording naturally meets it.

Look at the photo below and you can see how the intact-cording and the trimmed-cording will come together.

Blog flower pillow piping5

Make sure both ends of cording meet each other and then fold the opened-seam back to its original position and pin in place.

Make sure the piping with the opened-seam is pulled tightly in position between the two pieces of pillowcase fabric.

Blog flower pillow piping6

As you stitch along the outside, you’ll be able to see and feel the piping under the fabric.

Gently push the piping toward the zipper foot and needle with your fingers on one side of the piping at the same time stitching as close to the piping as possible on the other side.

This will give you a nice, close piping fit.

Blog flower pillow zipper foot

Whether you use the insert or the overlap technique, remember to always connect your two loose piping ends at the bottom of the pillow.

That way, when the pillow is displayed upright, the piping connection will be obscured and nearly invisible along the bottom of the pillow edge.

Blog flower pillow bottom

If you decide to use the same design on a pair of pillows, it’s a good idea to arrange the design so that the finished embroidery creates a mirror image when propped up side by side.

I think this makes for a less cookie-cutter look if using them as book-ends on a sofa.

Blog flower pillow duo4

Meanwhile, when it comes to this particular embroidery design, it looks wonderful on just about anything.

I added a stem to one of Cameron’s old denim vests to give the garment new life and she loved the tweak.

Blog flower pillow vest4

While the threads in these embroidered flowers seem secure, I suggest always spot cleaning embroidered projects gently and by hand as opposed to machine washing.

Blog flower pillow vest3

Whether you’re adorning a garment or embellishing pillows for your home or gifts, fresh flowers like this look great no matter where you place them.

Blog flower pillows close

Considering the long, harsh winter most of us have had, it certainly is a pleasant sight to finally spot a few flowers in full bloom. 


  • Jennifer

    Just “pinterested” upon your blog and it’s great! I’m a novice sewer but this particular blog post really helped to make piping a little less confusing for me. You are VERY talented. Oh my. Thanks for the tips!

  • akro mills

    These pillows are just so fabulous. This is lovely pillow project you have made. It design and colour combination is awesome. I appreciate the piping tutorial.

  • Anonymous

    I just found your site from the book “blogging for Bliss”. These pillows just so awesome! Thank you for sharing it.

  • Anonymous

    Nice work on those pillows and they achieve just what you were after: a fresh new look without spending a fortune. Nice tutorial, as usual. Thanks.

  • AllieMakes

    Those pillows are FANTASTIC! You do amazing work! I found your blog looking for how to do fringe embroidery. I am stuck. I would love to pick your brain on how to do this if you are inclined and/or have a moment to help a girl out!

  • Sangheetha

    These are very pretty and very thanks for the wonderful step by step tutorial.

  • Linda Stahl

    i know i’m late, but i had to pipe in (ha ha funny), but YES, piping, piping, piping! it makes the pillows look SO crisp and nice. the one thing i have a problem with are the corners, it’s hard to get them right. also, i find that joanns have a VERY small selection of already made piping, so i tend to always have to make my own (which does look best), but it would be nice to just have some ready made piping laying around for those off the cuff projects. GORGEOUS GORGEOUS pillows! and you kind of owe it to the pillow to do piping since they are so pretty!:)

  • Laura

    Just beautiful… the finished pillows look stunning on your couch. 🙂
    It just might be time to upgrade my ol’ sewing machine to an embroidery one! Love what you’ve done. Such a professional finished look with the element on the back as well!

  • Anonymous

    This is the most creative pillow case I’ve ever seen. This is another delicious creation. I just love the pattern and color of your work.

  • Made With Bliss

    Hi Lisa,
    I just found your website from Blogging For Bliss book. These pillows are just so gorgeous!! Thank you for sharing it..
    Made With Bliss

  • Serendipity Handamde

    I haven’t stopped by your blog in quite a while but I just had to tell you that those pillows are stunning! I wish my machine had that capability. I just love them.

  • Tita Carré

    Hi, I like your blog soo much,
    I am from Brazil, I love craft…

  • Baby registry

    I am truly impressed. I’m very impressed with this lovely work. Good job!

  • [email protected]

    Cute! Thanks for the tutorial. I always wondered how to do fringe!

  • Cee

    How do you have time to create such BEAUTIFUL work?! It’s more than a notion for me to leave the house clean/lookin’ presentable and out to door on time for work.
    Beautiful work!!! Would you PLEASE open an Etsy shop? PULEEZE?!

  • D'Anna

    Just beautiful! Now, I wish I had a machine that would embroidery!

  • lorraine

    Thank you for sharing this fabulous tutorial. The pillows have a real spring feel!

  • Erin Rippy

    Beautiful pillows! So fresh and fun. I really love the casual whimsy you added by clipping the threads. Was that your idea or an idea that came with the embroidery pattern? I appreciate the piping tutorial. You always have such great visuals and explain things so it’s easy to understand!

  • Nikki Brey

    The pillows are FANTASTIC!!! I want to get a machine so I can do that! I love it!

  • Vicki B

    Lisa, What a breath of fresh air! I love the piping on the pillows! Formal – yes, but oh so finished! Piping however scares me to death! I will try and take your suggestions on my next project!
    Great re-make on the jacket as well!

  • flower Philippine

    Cool floral design! I like it. I also want to make something like that. Anyway, thanks for sharing this post. I’ve got an idea.

  • Angela

    Wow! I’m speechless… those pillows are amazing!

  • Pam Brown

    after a long snow filled winter my garden is in bloom. And your pillows remind me of it. Thanks for sharing the step by step instructions. They are beautiful on you couch. QP

  • Bobbi

    beautiful pillows and great detailed tutorial! I love zinnias:)

  • Kaja

    Absolutely gorgeous! I was wishing for new pillows for our sofas and these would look PERFECT, but I think it perhaps require a little bit to much patience…
    But I will definitely add piping on the next pillows. Always thought it looked so hard to make, even though it certainly add that extra feature on pillows! Thanks for the tute!

  • Sarah Sarniak

    This is so cool! I love how it turned out. If only I had an embroidery machine! 🙂

  • Beth

    Beautiful pillows – love the piping! Have you ever tried the wash-away thread in the bobbin? It eliminates the picking and cutting, but still gives you the 3D effect. It’s pretty cool!!! (you just have to make sure you change it before you do the centers!)

  • Berta

    Lisa, those pillows and vest are beautiful!! Such a nice textural addition to an already beautiful design! And those colors are my favorites!! Give me anything orange, red, pink and yellow and I am happy! And the piping adds the perfect finish. Just how I add piping!

  • Kate/Massachusetts

    Wow!!! Those pillows are stunning!! I really like the pillow with the piping…I love piping on just about anything! I’ve never understood how to apply it though, so thank you for the lesson!
    Happy Easter!

  • Sheri D. Maple

    What a wonderful project. I bet the same technique can be done on a felted bag.

  • Robin Clevenger

    Lisa,Your sewing skills are amazing. I adore the pillows. I can only imagine what they would cost if you purchased them.Please tell Cameron that she rocks that vest. Keep inspiring us! Robin

  • Judith Norman

    Wow…wow…wow! Those pillows are divine.

  • Laurel Harper

    Incredibly creative; who but you would have thought to cut into their embroidered flowers? 🙂 Beautiful.

  • Allie

    What a gorgeous project! I have some designs like that – it’s always so fun to cut the threads and see the flowers really pop. I love the piping, you’re right, it does add great zing to the pillow. I’ve never tried it but now I’ll have to! Cameron’s vest is DARLING!

  • Carolyn

    I just love your blog! Would you share the pattern for the flowers and where that came from? The pillows are fabulous! I love them! I don’t have an embroidery machine. Can you recommend a good brand?

  • summer

    WOW! Those are beautiful! Are they for sale? I’d buy them in a second!!! 😉

  • Thimbleanna

    Those pillows are adorable Lisa!!! I actually have the flower design from the front of the pillow (I used it on some quilts for girls several years ago and they turned out great!), but can you tell me where that cute little flower pot from the back came from? Thanks, as always for the inspiration!!!

  • Vanessa S.

    Wow! I definitely like the pillows with cording better. Thanks for the demo on joining cording and for the idea to use a zipper foot when attaching(now why didn’t I think of that?). It has always been a conundrum; kind of hit or miss whether it looks good or not. I literally just got a machine that embroiders so I am very excited to adorn things with it! Now I’ve decided that I must have new pillows for my couch! I was going to answer with an an alliteration…but it’s sooooo early in the morning…zzzzzzz

  • Terri

    What a lovely pillow project! Makes me wish I had an embroidery machine like that. I love seeing the seed packet that inspired you. And I love how you translated it onto the denim vest too – very cute. I have definitely been enjoying working with piping more these days, and I love the green you used to frame these pillows.

  • Kisha

    Lisa, yet again you have done a beautiful beautiful job. Thanks for sharing your techniques. I love the piping on the pillows. I was soo excited when I saw you made pillows, that’s my first love when it comes to sewing. Now you have me wanting an embroidery machine:) The look of your pillows are so refreshing (especially being that I dreamed we received snow last night..lol). And I love Cameron’s vest. She is too cute.

  • Adrienne

    Lisa, just STUNNING!!!!

  • Stephanie

    Gorgeous. You are always so generous with your projects/techiniques and the photos are so helpful. Loving the embellished denim. Happy Spring.

  • Jackie

    Lisa, These pillows are just beautiful!! The technique adds another whole dimension to the embroidery. I like the piping too. But you are right if you are going for a more casual feel, definitely leave the piping off. And how cute is that on Cameron’s vest?

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