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Make it Modern Pillows – April 2023 Tutorial

It’s Jamie again from Sew Brainy Designs! Last year I brought you a bunch of modern pillow patterns that I hope you had fun making. And guess what…I’m back again with more pillows this year! In case you missed 2022 pillow fun, you can click the link below. New this year is a fun Facebook Group so we can all sew along together! The group is brand new and I hope you’ll join and sew along with me.

March’s pillow had a fun confetti design using Half Square Triangles! In case you missed it, click on the link below to check it out.

For April’s block we’re playing with some fun and easy squares!

Rotating the blocks gives them some movement.

I always love scrap friendly patterns that can take all the colors!

I went with a bright tropical palette.

I did a 1/2″ grid quilting with Aurifil 50wt. white thread for this fantastic texture!

This month’s pillow features the RBD Basics collection Texture by Sandy Gervais. The colors I used (in order from top to bottom) were Turtle, Rainforest, Turquoise, Orchid, Hot Pink, Flamingo, Popsicle, and Citron.

I love this collection because it reads as a solid but it gives a nice burlap texture to the fabric.

Now let’s make a pillow!

APRIL 2023 Pillow Tutorial

Pattern Notes

  • Please read through all instructions before beginning.
  • Seam allowances are 1/4″ unless specified.
  • FAT EIGHTH Precut = 9″ × 21″
  • Press all seams open (or in preferred direction) unless specified.
  • To avoid confusion, there is no Fabric I.

Material Requirements

For the block (pillow top):

This pattern uses (1) background fabric [FABRIC A] and (8) accent fabrics [FABRICS B-J]. Below are the requirements to make ONE 18″ block.

For the pillow body:

  • (1) 22-24″ square piece of muslin or other fabric (for quilting the top)
  • (1) 22-24″ square piece of batting (for quilting the top)
  • (2) 13½” × 18½” pieces of backing fabric (for the pillow envelope)
  • (1) 20″ pillow form (my favorite one to use is the FJÄDRAR from IKEA!)

Cutting Directions


  • (8) 2″ × 5″ [A3]
  • (8) 2″ × 3½” [A2]
  • (8) 2″ squares [A1]

From each of the FABRICS B, C, D, E, F, G, H, J cut:

  • (1) ” square [B3, C3, D3, E3, F3, G3 H3, J3]
  • (2) 2″ × 5″ [B2, C2, D2, E2, F2, G2, H2, J2]
  • (2) 2″ squares [B1, C1, D1, E1, F1, G1, H1, J1]

Piecing Directions

1. To create BLOCK A, lay out (1) A2, (1) A3, and (1) B3 as shown below. Sew the A2 to the right side of B3. Press seam.

2. Sew the A3 on the bottom of the B3/A2 unit. Press seam.

3. Repeat STEPS 1 and 2 with the C/D/E/F/G/H/J3 squares using the remaining (7) A2 and (7) A3 pieces for a total of (8) BLOCK A units.

4. To create BLOCK B, lay out (1) A1, (2) B1, and (2) B2 as shown below. Sew (1) B1 to the left and right side of A1. Press seams.

5. Sew (1) B2 to the top and bottom of B1/A1/B1 unit. Press seams.

6. Repeat STEPS 4 and 5 with the remaining (7) A1 squares, (2) C/D/E/F/G/H/J1 pieces, and (2) C/D/E/F/G/H/J2 pieces, for a total of (8) BLOCK B units.

7. Lay out the (8) BLOCK A units and (8) BLOCK B units as shown below, paying close attention the rotated direction of each BLOCK A unit.

8. Sew all 4 blocks in each row together. Press seams.

  • TIP: To help keep the rows straight, sew two pieces together at a time and then join those pairs.

9. Sew all 4 rows together. Press seams.

10. Your block is now complete!

11. Layer the completed block on top of the 22-24″ batting and muslin squares and quilt the pillow top as desired. When you are done, trim the block to 18½”.

Note – if you add dense quilting, your top may shrink a bit in size. Just trim it to the largest square that you can. You can trim the width of envelope backing fabric a bit in the next step if needed in order to match your actual top size.

12. Create a finished edge on the long side of each of the (2) 13½″ × 18½” pieces of envelope backing by folding 1/2″ of fabric over the wrong side TWICE. Stitch a seam near the edge to secure it.

13. With the square top facing up, layer the envelope pieces RST on top of it as shown below and sew a 3/8″ seam around the edge of the pillow top.

14. Trim the edges of the corners a bit to reduce bulk. Turn the pillow case inside out and insert your pillow form. Your pillow is now done! Enjoy your fun modern make!

I can’t wait to see all the beautiful pillows everyone makes! They can be very addicting! Be sure to share them on social media! #makeitmodernpillows #iloverileyblake #sewbrainydesigns.

If you check out my blog, I have some more color mockups and some freebie coloring pages you can download. Plus a sneak peek of a companion quilt pattern for this block that’s coming soon!

I’ll see you in May with some Dainty Daisy fabric and a retro waterfall!

Don’t forget to join us in the Facebook Group!

Until later, happy quilting!


Jamie is the creative brain behind Sew Brainy Designs. This self-proclaimed science nerd loves bright colors, big blocks, Mid-century modern design, and using as few seams as possible. Find all of her Make It Modern Pillows on the Riley Blake Designs blog!

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