African-Print Applique Pillow

Learn how to turn pillow-making into an art form with this African-print applique pillow project.

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Here's a project that uses a pillow as a frame for a beautiful piece of art.

Materials and Tools:

three 4-inch strips of 3 coordinating print fabrics
small bag of scrap fabrics
12-inch-wide khaki fabric (medium/heavy weight)
8½-by-11-inch sheet of white paper
permanent marker
scissors
glue stick
straight pins
ruler
rotary cutter
cutting mat with measurements
threaded sewing machine
polyester stuffing
needle and thread
bright lamp

Steps:

1. Measure and cut two 12-inch squares of khaki fabric using a rotary cutter and a cutting mat.

2. Cut three strips of 4-by-12-inch coordinating fabrics.

3. Place the strips right sides up on the 12-inch khaki square, overlapping each other by about a quarter-inch.

4. Secure the pieces of fabric to the background fabric with a glue stick. Run the glue down the center back of each strip. Avoid applying glue too close to the edge where the fabric will be sewn.

5. Regulate the sewing machine to the zigzag-stitch setting, with stitch width set at medium (or 3) and a very tight stitch length of 0 or 1. Stitch along the edge of each strip with white thread. The strips will provide the background for the front of the pillow.

6. Draw a design of a woman wearing a long, flowing dress and playing a saxophone. The drawing can be freehand or traced from a book. Cut out the individual pieces of the design: the three parts of the dress, the saxophone, the hair, the face, and the arm.

7. Place the cut-out paper pattern pieces on scraps of fabrics, selecting appropriate designs to suit the patterns. Cut out the fabric pieces following the paper patterns. Here are some fabric suggestions:

  • African-print fabric for the dress pieces
  • Flesh-tone fabric for the face and arm
  • Dark brown fabric for the hair
  • Gold-print fabric for the saxophone


8. Place the applique fabric pieces right sides up on the front of the pillow, layering the fabric to create a three-dimensional effect. Secure the center back of the pieces with a glue stick while sewing.

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