Faux Pleated Pillow Tutorial by V and Co. with Jenny Doan


Jenny: Hi I’m Jenny from the Missouri Star Quilt Company and I’m here with Vanessa Christenson

Vanessa: Hi!

J: and we at the Missouri Star Quilt Company went on the road and we came to Iowa to meet Vanessa. We’re here in her kitchen, this is so much fun! Vanessa has a wonderful blog called V & Co. Is that right?

V: Mmhmm

J: Jacob happened to go on the blog one day and see this awesome pleated pillow and wanted to reproduce that. So tell us about how you came up with this.

V: Well as you know, I have three boys before I have my little girl and it’s really easy to sew ruffles and whatever for little girls. So my boys always feel like they get jipped out of getting things made for them. So, I tried to come up with something that was still along the lines of what I really like, which is texture, and something more manly. So, I figured pleating would probably be the best thing to do.

J: It’s a great idea.

V: and I came up with using this the Silent Film by Kona Solids and it’s just a Jelly Roll. It’s actually not even using a full Jelly Roll. So, you can actually make multiple pillows just from one Jelly Roll.

J: Did you tell me or I read somewhere that you can make three of them?

V: Yes.

J: From a Jelly Roll. That’s awesome! Three pillows!

V: Yes.

J: Let’s show a couple of other ones that we put together. We’ve got down here, we’ve got this cute little one that we did with patterns and some grays and whites. It’s really cute. Then this one is just a kaleidoscope of colors.

V: Yeah, actually on my Flickr group there’s been a lot of people showing, just using all different colors of fabrics. It’s amazing what one idea,

J: Oh that’s so fun!

V: when you use different colorways it turns out really cool.

J: So, what you’re going to need to make this pillow is, you’re going to need a piece of background fabric. I cut mine to 18”x20” but really these pillows can be made any size you want. It’s really a scrap, a fat quarter, any size you want to do. Actually, a fat quarter is the perfect size because that’s about the right size isn’t it.


J:  You’ll need a jelly roll. You’re gonna need a ruler and a pen. We’re using these friXion pens because if you make a mistake with your lines like I did yesterday you can just quickly iron them off. You’ll also need a scissor and a rotary cutter so that you can cut your, well, our strips are cut, but you’ll cut the ends of them and trim up the sides.

So, we’re going to open up this Jelly Roll and I most of you who know me know that color I am not very good at picking colors so I let a designer do that. Hence we got her! She’s good at color so she’s gonna go through this.

This is one of those Bella Solids Warm Jelly Roll it’s called. She’s gonna go through and pick some colors that she likes.

V: I just think that the blue and the green look so beautiful together and if we do maybe the white along with it.

J: Oh gosh, that is gonna be pretty.

V: I think it reminds me of the beach.

J: Yeah, that’s gonna be really pretty.

V: So, I think if we use the blues, greens, and whites in that. If we need more strips then we can always add a little bit of a splash of color as well, but I think.

J: there’s a couple more blues and greens in there too. It’s hiding.

V: Perfect.

J: It doesn’t take really very many.

V: No, you only need three strips for the pillow that I have on my website. You only need three strips of each colorway, and you’ll need five, let’s see. One, two, three, four, five different colors, but if we’re doing, let’s say, three colors then you would just need more strips of each color. So, I think that would look really beautiful.

J: That is going to be really pretty. It’s so nice to have somebody make that choice for me! OK so, we have to get this cloth ready to do it. So what is it we’re going to do here.

V: OK so, I started off with drawing lines. The first one, the  bottom one is going to be 1 ¼” from the bottom edge.

So, draw your line, your first one 1 ¼” up. Now to overlap your pleats and so that it doesn’t show your sewing, your stitch. You’ll want to only go ¾ of aline up from your first.

J: Oh, OK, so the first one is 1 ¼” and from then on we are going to do ¾”.

V: Yeah.

J: OK, let me see here. Get that all nice and straight there we go. I love these FriXion pens I was trying to get one ready to do and I read the 1 ¼” and so I marked the whole thing 1 ¼” and it wasn’t what I was supposed to do but because this pen when you use it you can just, it’s removable with heat, and so  you can just erase that with an iron. So, I was very fortunate with that.

V: Yeah I’m really excited to use that pen! *laughter*

J: I think every two year old should have one of these pens so that when they color on the walls you can just *laughter* iron them off or blow dry them off! The heat takes it off!

V: That’ll be great.

J: It’s very, very fun! OK, so, then what you do is, you just want to do ¾” lines all the way up till you get to the top of  your  fabric. Whatever size it is you  just need those ¾” lines. So, I’ll keep doing that and we’ll get back to you in just a sec. OK, so now I’ve drawn all my lines on here and I’m up to the very last one, and it looks like I have about ¼” left. Is that right?

V: Yes, because when you do your seam then you’ll actually not grab the last pleat

J: Perfect! Alright, so now here’s what this looks like. See, I have my lines drawn on and that is what we’re going to lay these pleats on. Correct.

V: Yes, So, I’ve separated these into five colors. So, and you can’t actually really tell  that there’s to much of a difference but there really is. I think that will be a very beautiful subtle change in color to the very last one. It really reminds me of sea grass. What I’m going to do is I’m going to take scissors.

J: Uh huh.

V: I’m just going to really easily, the line is already there, cut it and each strip will make two pleats.

J: OK, then you want me to?

V: Go ahead and fold it in half lengthwise.

J: OK, and iron it.

V: Uh huh.

J: Alright.

V: And we’ll do that to all of these strips.

J: OK, so will you cut and I will iron. There we go.

V: As a matter of fact, can you just come and hang out with me every so often.

J: I know! I was just thinking that! It’s so nice to have a cutter.

V: It’s really nice to have someone else do the other part of it! So, we’ll just go through each  individual strip. Each individual strip becomes a pleat when you fold it in half and iron it. While she’s ironing I’ll show you, this is your bottom right here. Your bottom is the 1 ¼” and the top is just the ¼”, the leftover on the top.

So, what we’re going to do is, we’re going to start off by placing your first strip, just right up to your drawn on line. We’ve already ironed all of them up and so now we need to decide how we want them to lay on the pillow.

I think a really good way of doing it, kind of like the other one that I had done, is go from the darker on the bottom and go, lead up to the lighter. So, if you can see this, there’s actually just a slight variation in these two greens, and then there’s a slight variation on these two kind of like aqua-y blue. Then we’ll lead up to the white.

J: The cream.

V: The cream sorry

J: *giggles*

V: Cream. I don’t think this is that one I think it goes there. OK, so I’m going to start off first with this kind of bluish aqua, sea glassy looking one, and we’re going to do the five of them.

J: OK, so we’ll have one left?

V: *counting* Yes, we have one left always. Wow, sorry about that. OK so we’re going to do five and then the next group we’re going to do the same color but then we’ll go with the lighter shade. Then what I think would be fun to do is the darker color of the green, right here, and then we’ll go with the lighter green and next. I think that’s going to look really pretty. Then we’ll end with the cream on the top. You think that’s?

J: I think that’s going to be beautiful!

V: I think that’ll be pretty. OK, so let’s go and start with, keep these separated. We’ve cut six but we only need five so if you don’t mind grabbing one from each pile.

J: Oh, I don’t

V: That’ll be great.

J: OK, so we’ll sew these on and we’ll see you back here.

V: Alright, so, we’ve sewn on our first strip. Now for the second strip, we’re going to line it up again to the next line. Again, it’s longer but there is no salvage on this one so it really doesn’t matter where you start on that one. I just want it to kind of butt up against the first.

So, I’ve set it up that we’re going to do the next one and we’re going to do ¼”. I just always guide the strip as I move along. So that I make sure it’s up next to the line.

J: And you use five strips of each color to get this look.

V: Yes

J: That’s so fun. Really you can do anything. It’s up to your…

V: taste.

J: Yeah, your taste and your artistic, leeway.

V: You can do all one solid color. You can do all different patterned fabrics. I tend to be much more on the simplistic side of things. So, I always tend to play more with color than I do with pattern, but pattern is a lot of fun. It’d be a great thing to use a pattern that ties the colors on your front for the back.

J: Oh that’s a great idea.

V: There we have the next one just done. So, that’s your ¼” seam. Versus the just kind of closer to the edge. Really there’s no big difference, I just like to do it closer to the edge. Now we’re going to continue to do all of the rest of the strips. At least these next five ones. We’ll move to the next color after that.

J: OK, so, we’ve finished sewing on all these pleats and it’s beautiful, but I’m just not sure about this right here.

V: Yeah, I’m having a little bit of a hard time with the cream. I don’t really think it flows with the rest of the pillow. So, I think what we’ve decided is that we’re going to not use the white and we’re going to actually end the pillow with the top green. With the light green that we have on the top. So what we’ve already done is we’ve cut off…

J: The rest of the pillow! We’ve just cut it off!

V: We did! We cut off the rest of the pillow. Which is what’s great. There’s no real set dimension on This one that we started. We were just going with the flow and so we’ve decided to cut, what we need to do is cut ¼” above the last line.

J: That’s for your seam.

V: Yes. OK, now what we’re going to do, you can take those.

J: OK, we’ll get rid of that white.

V: So, what we’re going to do is we’re going to use this last green strip which is the fifth one. Because we were doing five along the way. We’re going to do ¼” seam along the edge. Then we’re going to open it  up and press it.

J: And this is going to be like the cap strip.

V: Yes the last one. You don’t want this last edge to be raw. So, we’re going to make it look really nice and solid.

J: Nice and finished.

V: Finished. I see you.

J: *laughter* This is so gorgeous! I love how this looks.

V: I think it’s turned out really nice. OK, so we have a ¼” seam, and now what I need you to do is press it open.

J: OK.

V: Press it like this so that we have a nice little edge there.

J: A little cap. Alright, so you want me to open up this seam then?

V: Yes.

J: Alright.

V: So it will lay flat better.

J: OK, so we’re going to iron this open. Sometimes easier said than done, but our little point of the iron is braving the way. Alright there we go. Keep it in the middle. The reason we’re opening this is just so that it will lay flatter, is that right?

V: Yes so that it will lay flatter and so that it gives you the nice flat seam if that makes sense.

J: It does make sense. My seam’s wanting to wander. Let me see here if I can get this end. There we go. Pull that toward the middle a little bit. Well it’s a good thing this seams going to be hidden. *laughter*

V: It’s OK. So, now we have this right here and we want to make sure that we cover that last seam. You can because we haven’t really been sticking to too much of a measurement with our lines. We’re going to, even though we’re not butting upright against that line, we’re going to just make sure the main thing that we’re focusing on is to cover that seam.

J: Do you want me to draw another line?

V: Yeah that might be good.

J: OK so we can put a line that’s ¼” in.

V: Yeah.

J: because it might have just been that my lines were off. This is what’s cool about these projects. You just make it work and for instance, you may want to make it to fit a certain sized spot you’re putting it in. If you have a chair that you want it to fit in exactly then you could make the pillow fit the area you want it to go.

V: Right, right.

J: So, now we have a line. It’s always easier, I think, to sew with a line. Don’t you?

V: Right, and here, this one I like to do a smaller seam allowance, because it gives it a very nice clean finish when we sew it on. This one will be the scant stitch.

J: So, you’re going to top stitch this basically, right along this edge.

V: Yup.

J: OK, perfect.

V: Here we go top-stitch it. Let’s move this over real quickly there you go. I’m going to top-stitch.

J: And people just love to top-stitch on camera don’t they?!

V: Yeah.

J: *laughter*

V: Yeah, whatever. I’ll figure out where you live!

J: That’s right! Aaah!

V: I like to line it right inside that little dip on my foot.

J: Right it gives you a little guide.

V: That way it gives you a little bit of a line there to follow.

J: And you can match your thread for your color as well.

V: Yes. Actually in my tutorial on my site I do actually change threads throughout the project. So, that the lighter threads go with the lighter fabrics and of course the darker ones have the really dark strips. That way it also will make sure that you don’t see your stitch very easily.

J: You did a very good job! That’s really beautiful!

V: Surprised it turned out that good! *laughter*

J: You just never know.

V: So, there we have the top-stitch

J: A finished top! Look at that! It’s beautiful!

V: But it looks kind of wonky because were still not completely done. So, what we’re gonna do next is we’re going to turn it over and with our rotary cutter, and our ruler, we’re going to cut off the excess.

J: So, we’re just going to line it up with our fabric edge, because from the back you can see that very easily.

V: Yes.

J: Then to finish this because we now have an undetermined size. We can use this as a pattern for the back as well.

V: Perfect.

J: I’m going to move all these threads out here so they all get trimmed off at the same time.

V: Yeah there’s a lot of threads there.

J: That’s how we do it. Alright, so we do those. Lay that down. We’ll have to do a little bit of  trimming. There we go. Alrighty, so let’s just trim that off. Collect these a little bit. Be very careful doing that. There we go.

V: So, when we turn it around you get a really pretty idea of what your pillow is going to be like.

J: So now we have our finished pillow here, and because we trimmed it it’s a different size than our back and we’ve got this yellow piece here so that you can see the contrast all the way around. What we’re going to do then is we’re going to put right sides together, like this. We’re going to go ahead and trim right around this pillow so that they’re exactly the same size. So let’s go ahead and do that. I have this little mat so it’ll just take a minute longer, but basically what I’m doing is on this side is I’m cutting the salvage off and I’m cutting right up to the edge where the pillow is. A piece right there.

Then, I’m going to turn this and I think what I’m going to do is scoot this right down to the edge so that I have one less side to cut because that cut is straight. Then I’ll move this over here and trim this off. So, to attach your top to your back you’re going to go ahead and stitch ¼”  across the top and town the sides and Then you’re going to come right across here and leave what a 6” opening, you think?

V: Right. For the bottom one I just want to make sure that if you don’t want your pleat to be sewn in. It’ll be fine if it is sewn in I just personally left it un-sewn. I wanted it to be free.

J: OK.

V: So, I actually pushed in my pleat just ever so slightly So that when I did do my ¼” seam it did not get caught in it.

J: Oh OK! Perfect. OK, so let’s look at the one you’ve got there. So, we can look at the bottom of that pleat.

V: And then here’s the pleat. So, you can see how…

J: Oh yeah, it’s a little bit on the edge and then in the middle.

V: And then this is free.

J: Then this is her hand-sewing right here where you’re going to put all the fluff.

V: Yes.

J: and fill it out to the size that you want it and then hand-stitch it closed.

V: Yup, hand-stitch it closed.

J: and then finished it looks like this.

V: And I think the green one is going to look really pretty too.

J: Oh, it’s going to be beautiful. I can hardly wait to get it all together and get the back on it. So, this is the final pillow I think this is just gorgeous. The green one is beautiful also so let’s take another look at that. This is how our green one is going to look. I’m just going to go ahead and scoot this out of the way. So this is how our green one is going to look.

So, we hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to make a pleated pillow with Vanessa Christenson from the Missouri Star Quilt Co.

posted: Basic Skills & Techniques, Common Quilting Techniques, Tips and Tricks, Trimming | tagged: , ,
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  • Eileen

    what happened to the Big Star pattern? I saw your tutorial one nite and thought I would get it the next day but to no avail. It simply disappeared.

    • JackieMSQC

      Hello Eileen,

      The pattern is not yet available for the “Big Star”, however it should completed fairly soon!

  • Shery Sullivan

    You showed everything except how to sew the sides. It’s hard to believe you’d sew right over the pleats, they look so beautiful to ruin like that. It was wonderful seeing you, Jenny, today, in Leesburg, Florida.