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Make it Modern Pillows – March 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.

February’s pillow was a modern take on a log cabin block. In case you missed it, click on the link below to check it out.

March’s block has a fun confetti design using Half Square Triangles!

I love the movement here…it’s like you can feel some confetti falling!

This pattern would be awesome in any colors! Plus it’s definitely scrap friendly!

And of course I love me some polka dots!

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

This month’s pillow features the Swiss Dots collection from the RBD Designers. The colors I used (from top to bottom) were Lavender, Coral, Hot Pink, Red, Orange, Yellow, Lime, Peacock, and Denim.

Such bright and happy colors! This basic is an oldie but a goodie!

Now let’s make a pillow!

March 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
  • HST = Half Square Triangles
  • 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


Cut (1) 4″× WOF Strip, subcut:

  • (8) 4″ squares [A1]
  • (4) 2″ × 3½” [A2]

Cut (3) 2″× WOF Strips, subcut:

  • (4) 2″ × 18½” [A3]
  • (12) 2″ × 3½” [A2]

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

  • (1) 4″ square [B1, C1, D1, E1, F1, G1, H1, J1]

Piecing Directions

1. Using your preferred marking tool, prepare all (16) A1 squares by marking a diagonal line on the wrong side from one corner to the opposite corner.

2. Pair (1) A1 and (1) B1 square RST to create HSTs using the two at a time method. Stitch a seam 1/4″ away from the center line on each side. Cut along the diagonal line to create TWO HSTs. Press the seam and trim to 3½″ square.

3. Lay out all (16) HSTs and (16) A2 rectangles as shown below, paying close attention to the direction of the HSTs.

4. Sew the EIGHT fabric pieces in each column together and press seams.

  • TIP: To help keep each column straight, sew two pieces together at a time and then sew two sections together at a time until the column is fully assembled. Be sure to press seams in between steps.

5. Sew one A3 strip in between each of the four columns of fabric. Press seams.

  • TIP: To help keep each column straight, sew two pieces together at a time and then sew two sections together at a time until the column is fully assembled.

Ta da! Easy peasy!

6. Your block is now complete!

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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 April with some texture fabric and some funky squares!

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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