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Make it Modern Pillows – June 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.

May’s pillow had some simple piecing gives a fun 3D effect! In case you missed it, click on the link below to check it out.

June’s block has offset square in square blocks.

It looks like the diamonds are bouncing around!

How great would it be to fussy cut some fabrics for this pattern?

I really like the movement!

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

This month’s pillow features Painter’s Watercolor Swirl by J. Wecker Frisch. The colors I used (in order from top to bottom) were Periwinkle, Cotton Candy, Berry, Orange, Gold, Lime, Aqua, and Turquoise.

The pattern has a really neat watercolor paint texture!

Now let’s make a pillow!

June 2023 Pillow Tutorial

Pattern Notes

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


  • (1) 5½” × WOF, subcut:
    • (8) 2″ × 5″ [A2]
    • (16) 2¾” squares [A3]
  • (1) 3½” × WOF, subcut:
    • (8) 2″ × 3½” [A1]
    • (8) 3¼” squares [A4]
  • (8) 3¼” squares [A4]

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

  • (1) 3¾” square [B2, C2, D2, E2, F2, G2, H2, J2]
  • (1) 2½” square [B1, C1, D1, E1, F1, G1, H1, J1]

Piecing Directions

There are two different units in this pattern – BLOCK A and BLOCK B. Block B will be rotated in some rows, so preplan any directional fabrics.

  • NOTE: the colored squares end up at a 45 degree angle when they are pieced, so keep that in mind if using directional fabric or fussy cutting.
  1. To prepare for both blocks, cut all (16) A3 and (16) A4 squares diagonally in half from one corner to the opposite corner.

💡 TIP – Before beginning, hand fold or iron a small crease in the middle of all A3/A4 triangles and FABRIC B-J colored squares as shown below by the red dashed line. This is an easy way to make sure all pieces are centered in the following steps.


For BLOCK A, you will be using (4) A4 triangle pieces and (1) B2 square, to create a SQUARE IN SQUARE BLOCK.

2. Use the center folds to align the long side of (1) triangle piece RST to both the left and right edge of the B2 square. Sew together by stitching ¼” away from the edge. Flip and press triangle pieces open, then trim off the very tips of the triangles so they are even with the top and bottom edges of the square. This helps to reduce unnecessary fabric bulk.

3. Use the center folds to align the long side of (1) triangle piece RST to both the top and bottom edge of the square. Sew together by stitching ¼” away from the edge. Flip and press the triangle pieces open.

4. Trim BLOCK A to 5″ square by positioning the ruler so the points of the green diamond are about ¼” away from the edge (see the red markings on the diagram below). 

5. Repeat the process in STEPS 2-4 with the remaining A4 triangles and the C2, D2, E2, F2, G2, H2, and J2 squares to create a total of (8) BLOCK A units.


For BLOCK B, you will be using (4) A3 triangle pieces and (1) C1 square, to create a SQUARE IN SQUARE BLOCK.

6. Follow STEPS 2-3 above to create the unit, then trim BLOCK B to 3½” square as shown below.

  • Note: for the BLOCK B units, you may end up with a bit more than ¼” on the edges.

7. Repeat the process in STEP 6 with the remaining A3 triangles and the B1, D1, E1, F1, G1, H1, and J1 squares to create a total of (8) BLOCK B units.

8. Lay out all BLOCK A and BLOCK B units as shown below, noting the direction of BLOCK B units. Sew all FOUR units in a row together.

9. Sew all 4 rows together and press seams open.

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 July with some Sparkler Fabric and some quarter square triangles!

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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