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Make it Modern Pillows – January 2023 Tutorial

Hi! 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!

My fresh new designs for 2023 are my usual 18″ bold and geometric blocks. I opted for a few more colors per pillow (most have 8), but they are still quick, easy, and scrap friendly!

In case you missed any pillows (or all of them) from 2022, click on the link below to check them out. I think my favorite last year was definitely this one from February!

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.

And now to the new stuff! Here is January’s block with some simple triangles in a nice repeating pattern.

They kind of remind me of elevator buttons.

I know sometimes Flying Geese can be a pain, but I have speedy no waste method to make two at a time that I can’t wait to show you!

These colors are not my normal brights, but they are so soothing together! And I love how they pop on the white solid background.

I decided on 1/2″ grid quilting with Aurifil 50wt. white thread. I love this texture!

This month’s pillow features a new Dapple Dot collection from the RDB Designers. The colors I used (from top to bottom) are Sugar Pink, Frosting, Canyon Rose, Marsala, Silver, and Riley Grey.

There are lots of great colors to choose with Dapple Dot! I made the August pillow last year with blues and greys and that came out great!

Now let’s make a pillow!

January 2023 Pillow Tutorial

Pattern Notes

  • Please read through all instructions before beginning.
  • Seam allowances are 1/4″ unless specified.
  • WOF = Width of Fabric; pattern assumes yardage is a minimum of 42″
  • RST = Right sides together
  • Press all seams open (or in preferred direction) unless specified.

Material Requirements

For the block (pillow top):

This pattern uses (1) background fabric [FABRIC A] and (6) accent fabrics [FABRICS B-G]. 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

NOTE: the FLYING GEESE blocks in this pattern will have bias edges on the bottom. It is recommended that you starch and press all fabric before cutting to help prevent stretch on this edge. Also, be careful when you are pressing that you aren’t ironing the block out of shape.

After starching and pressing, cut the fabric below in the specified order and label each cut with the letter/number in the [bracket].


  • (12) 4″ squares [A1]
  • (3) 2½” × 18½” strips [A2]

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

  • (1) 5¼” squares [B1, C1, D1, E1, F1, G1]

Piecing Directions

1. Before beginning, prepare all (12) A1 BACKGROUND squares by cutting them in half diagonally from one corner to the opposite corner. You will use (2) of these triangles for each FLYING GOOSE unit.

2. Also, prepare all (6) B1, C1, D1, E1, F1, and G1 squares by cutting them in half diagonally from one corner to the opposite corner. You will use (1) of these B1/C1/D1/E1/F1/G1 triangles for each FLYING GOOSE unit.

3. Lay out (2) A1 and (1) E1 triangle as shown below. This is how you will construct each of the FLYING GEESE units.

4. Starting with the left side, pair (1) A1 triangle RST with the left edge of the E1 triangle. Make sure they are aligned at the bottom LEFT corner as shown below. Stitch 1/4″ from the edge, then flip and press.

5. Repeat STEP 4 with the other A1 triangle unit on the right side of the E1 triangle. Make sure they are aligned at the bottom RIGHT corner as shown below. Stitch 1/4″ from the edge, then flip and press.

6. Repeat STEPS 4-5 to create the remaining (11) FLYING GEESE UNITS.

7. Lay out all (12) FLYING GEESE units as shown below.

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

9. Lay out the FOUR rows with (1) B2 strip in between each row. Sew all pieces together and 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 like I did, 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 February with some Texture fabric and some rectangles!

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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