Make An Orphan Block Pillow

Start by deciding what size and shape pillow you want; or start with the block you want to use and decide what size/shape pillow form to buy.

Once you have that pillow form home, measure from seam to seam to be sure it’s the size you think it is.  Add 1/2 inch to each dimension for seam allowances and you have the size to cut (or assemble) the front and back pieces.  For example:  Pillow form here is 16 x 16, so I’ll make the (unfinished) front and back pieces 16-1/2 x 16-1/2 inches.

I stated with an improvisationally pieced log cabin block and added logs to 2 sides to make it big enough.  While I was at it, I added pieces wider than I needed to allow for shrinkage during quilting and squaring up the final top.

I spray-basted and quilted the top with a thin batting and muslin backing.  However, a block will make a perfectly good pillow top without being quilted, like these:

To make the pillow cover easy to remove, I make an overlapping closure in the back.  It’s also fine to add a zipper to one of the edge seams IF you’ve got a zipper, and of course if you know how to put one in.  I do that sometimes, but there are lots of places on the web that show you how to put in a zipper, so I’m not doing it here.

To make the overlapping back:  Divide back width by 2 (16-1/2 divided by 2 = 8-1/4 in my case) and then add enough to each piece for overlap and hem.  “Enough” should be proportional to the size of the pillow, but in this case I added (8-1/4″ for back and one seam allowance + 1-1/4″ for hem + 2″ for overlap = 11-1/2″, which I rounded up to 12″).  So I cut two back pieces 12″ x 16-1/2″, then finished one of the long sides on each piece with a hem of 1/4″ first turn + 1″ second turn.

Next, I layed out the backing pieces with hemmed edges overlapping to make a square 16-1/2″ x 16-1/2″, and basted the overlapped edges together.  Put the front and back pieces right sides together, sew all around the edges with 1/4″ seam, turn right side out and insert the pillow.  Voila!

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