DIYdiy projects

DIY Spring Applique Pillow by Anna Joyce

by Grace Bonney

Sometimes I have to sit back and marvel at the sheer amount of incredibly talented artists and designers working in Portland, Oregon. From fashion designers and crafters to photographers, stylists, chefs and woodworkers, it feels like everyone is making something fantastic. And today I’m thrilled to have three of those incredible people contributing a great spring DIY project. Textile designer and applique artist Anna Joyce created this beautiful pillow project using gorgeous Liberty of London patterns and was helped by stylist Chelsea Fuss and photographer Lisa Warninger for the final photos. I love how light and fresh this feels- and those Liberty prints are so beautiful. Thanks so much to Anna for sharing this project with us! xo, grace

About Anna: Anna Joyce is an appliqué artist and textile designer living and working in Portland, OR. Her line of hand printed textiles, housewares and accessories are sold in boutiques across the country and online in her Etsy shop. She teaches appliqué and surface design at Modern Domestic in Portland and Purl Soho in New York City. Anna’s work has been featured in Lucky, Real Simple and Anthology magazines, and been spotted on IFC’s Portlandia and the Nate Burkus show. Anna works in collaboration with the iconic fabric house Liberty of London on sewing and design tutorials and was a finalist in the Martha Stewart American Made Awards. You can find more of her work at www.annajoycedesign.com

Styling by Chelsea Fuss, All photos by Lisa Warninger

The full project instructions continue after the jump…


-1 yard Trans-Web fusible webbing
-1 and 1/4 yard linen, or medium weight cotton in a solid color (for your pillow background)
-1/4 yard of each of your appliqué fabrics – select at least 4, I used a combination of Liberty of London floral cottons for my design.
-100% cotton thread to match your appliqué fabrics, 1 spool for each color of fabric you   choose
-18×18 Pillow Insert
-Sharp scissors
-A Pencil
-Sewing Machine
-Chevron Template Pieces (Download here)
-Chevron Placement Guide (Download here)


1. First begin by cutting the fabrics you are using to construct your pillow-

2. Cut one 18 x 18” square from the linen or solid fabric of your choice- this will be the front of your pillow.

3. Cut two 18 x 14” rectangles of your cotton solid, these will form the envelope closure (back) of your pillow.

4. Set aside the 18 x 18” pillow front and two 18 x 14” rectangles for now.

5. Begin preparing the fabric for your appliqué-

6. Trace the appropriate number of chevron pattern pieces from the template provided in your pattern onto the paper side of your fusible webbing and cut them out.

7. One side of the webbing is a very thin web of heat sensitive glue, the other side is a paper that can be drawn on easily- it is transparent enough to see through and trace your pattern pieces with a pencil or pen.

8. When you are done tracing the pattern pieces onto the fusible webbing cut out all of your chevron shapes and use a hot steamy iron to adhere them, glue side DOWN to the WRONG SIDE (back) of your appliqué fabrics.

9. Have your iron set to the “cotton / linen” setting and make sure that there is plenty of steam.

**TIP: Do not peel the paper backing from the appliqué pieces until you are done fusing them onto your fabric and cutting them out. It is much easier to handle the appliqué pattern pieces when they still have the paper backing in place.

10. Next, following the guidelines on your pattern image, place your cut out pattern pieces onto your 18x 18” pillow front.

11. When you have everything where it should be, use your iron to slowly set everything in place onto front of your pillow.

12. The heat from the iron will fuse your appliqué pieces to your pillow front and eliminates the need for pins.

13. To prevent the edges of your appliqué pieces from fraying, sew around each individual appliqué piece with a tight zigzag stitch.

14. Each sewing machine is different so you will have to adjust your machine’s stitch settings, varying the width and length of your zigzag stitch.

15. Adjust your machine until you have a zigzag that is the width you like, with a short stitch length so that the stitching is nice and tight and will keep your fabric from fraying.

16. Center the stitch over the outer edge of your appliqués, and simply sew around the perimeter of each piece.

I strongly suggest using a thread that is the same color as the appliqué fabric. It will hide flaws and make your finished pillow look much cleaner and more professional.

**TIP: Since this way of sewing may be new to you, cut out an extra chevron and iron it onto a scrap of fabric to practice your zigzag stitching before you begin working on your finished pillow- you will be very happy that you did!

17. When you have finished zigzag stitching around the perimeter of all of your appliqué pieces give your finished pillow front a good pressing with the iron and set it aside.

18. Now begin work on the two 18 x 14” rectangles of the fabric that will make up the envelope closure (BACK) of your pillow.

19. On each of the rectangles, fold over and press a 1/2” seam, and then fold over and press again, pinning into place.

20. Run a straight stitch with your sewing machine through the center of the fold creating a finished edge.

21. Repeat on both pieces of fabric.

22. When you have sewn finished edges onto both 18 x 14” rectangles that make up the back of your pillow, place them RIGHT side down on top of your finished appliqué pillow FRONT so that all right sides are squared up and the seams of the envelope closure overlap.

23. Pin all sides of your project together and sew around the edge of your pillow using a straight stitch and 1/2” seam allowance.

24. When you are done sewing all sides of your pillow together, remove all of the pins, turn your pillow right side out and give it a good pressing so that it is flat and crisp.

25. You can now open the “envelope” that was formed at the back of your pillow by the overlapping rectangles and place your pillow form inside.

Congratulations! You have just made an appliqué pillow that will add a pop of color and pattern to your home, enjoy!

— Anna Joyce

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  • I bought one of her zip up hoodies for my mother for Christmas and she says she gets compliments all the time. Love her work!

  • Wonderful project, and so (sew?) straightforward. Do you make your own labels, or have them produced? So lovely, and a wonderful finish. (Could you share the supplier if you have them done?)

  • I love this idea!

    I’ve never done this type of crafting before so I was wondering, why do you use the extra step of Trans-Web fusible webbing when it will be sewed onto the pillow anyways?


  • This is so cute! I am so going to make a couple of these for my boyfriend’s house! Bookmarking this page!

  • Thank you so much for posting my DIY! I will be teaching a workshop at Purl Soho in NYC, April 20th if you would like to learn in person! oxox Anna

  • Lise- I use the Trans-Web because it eliminates the need for pins, keeps everything in place and gives the delicate Liberty fabric a little bit more body, so it does not wrinkle or crease when you are finishing the edges with a zig-zag stitch. It works wonders for machine applique!
    xo Anna

  • Lovely pillow and excellent tutorial. ( I teach sewing and I give you an A+!) Any suggestions on where to find well priced Liberty of London fabrics? Thanks!

  • Thank you Phyllis! One of the reasons I love applique so much is that you can get a whole lot of bang for your buck, you can do a lot with very little fabric. Purl Soho has the best selection of Liberty prints hands down. It is pricy, but worth it!

  • This is beautiful, and a brilliant way to show off a taste of those super gorgeous (but somewhat pricy) Liberty prints. I’m so happy to see that she’s been featured here. She’s one of my favorites on Etsy!

  • The pillow looks amazing and the process is so well explained. I don’t think that i will manage to create something that beautiful but I will give it a try. Thanks!

  • What an incredible project! So simple and so beautiful. Genius! I also have several pillows and a hoodie from Anna Joyce and get endless compliments. She’s terrific.

  • Anna is amazing!!! She made our incredible wedding chuppah based on our family tree. (Lots of photos of the chuppah are halfway down on this blog post.) http://bit.ly/Y0TVjK

  • That is just gorgeous. Personally, I’d leave the dark blue out and replace it with a lighter color but I can see how this idea, in different colors, could work for all four seasons. LOVE LOVE LOVE calico, so cute.

  • ANNA. love your work. I have almost bought one of your hoodies a million times. Next time I get some extra $, I’m spending at your shop. Great stuff! And LOVE LoL. Beautiful store!

  • Hi Anna! I just bought a new sewing machine and was looking for a project to give it a test run. I made this pillow for my daughter’s bedroom and it was so easy and so fun to make! Thank you for the tutorial! My pillow turned out great :)

  • Ce billet m’a éclairé sur ce sujet. Je n’avais pas du tout cette
    façon de faire les choses, j’ai la sensation que je vais gagner en autonomie.
    J’ai adoré!

  • What an easy and beautiful design! And a great tutorial!
    I am going to make my own right now. Thanks

  • This is beautiful, and a brilliant way to show off a taste of those super gorgeous (but somewhat pricy) Liberty prints. I’m so happy to see that she’s been featured here.