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Make it Modern Pillows – January Tutorial

Happy 2022! It’s Jamie from Sew Brainy Designs and I have a fantastic series for this year that I’m super excited to share with you! I’ve created a set of 18″ modern quilt blocks for you that are designed specifically to be modern pillows. They are quick and easy, plus they’re a good way to bust your scrap stash or show off that designer RBD fabric that you love!

January’s block uses 6″ Half Square Triangles to create a modern geometric design!

I’m a big fan of a crisp white background to make the colors pop!

I absolutely love these calming cool colors with a splash of violet!

I also decided on some matchstick quilting to continue the modern vibe!

This month’s pillow features the RBD Basics collection Texture by Sandy Gervais. I love this collection because it reads as a solid but it gives a nice burlap texture to the fabric. The colors I used (in order from left to right) were Aqua, Navy, Violet, Rainforest, and Caribbean.

And there are so many great colors of the Texture line to choose from…plus a few new ones are coming out this year!

Now let’s make a pillow!

January Pillow Tutorial

Pattern Notes

  • Please read through all instructions before beginning.
  • Seam allowances are 1/4″ unless specified.
  • WOF = Width of Fabric; pattern assumes a minimum of 42″
  • RST = Right Sides Together
  • HST = Half Square Triangle
  • Fat Eighth (F8) Precut = 9″ × 21″
  • Fat Quarter (FQ) Precut = 18″ × 21″
  • To reduce bulk, 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 (5) accent fabrics [FABRICS B-F] 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) 13″ × 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 the fabric below and label each cut with the letter/number in the [bracket].

From FABRIC A, cut:

  • (3) 6½” squares [A1]

From FABRICS B and C, cut:

  • (2) 7″ squares from each [B1, C1]

From FABRICS D, E, and F, cut:

  • (1) 7″ squares from each [D1, E1, F1]

Piecing Directions

1. Cut (1) C1 square in half diagonally from the top right to the bottom left to yield (2) C1 triangles – one top triangle and one bottom triangle.

💡 TIP: All angles in the block run in the same direction. If using patterned fabric, be sure to have the fabric in the correct upright orientation before cutting so the top and bottom triangles are where you want them. If using solid fabric, the top and bottom triangles are interchangeable.

2. Repeat STEP 1 with the (6) remaining B1, C1, D1, E1, and F1 squares.

3. Discard (1) B1 top triangle and (1) C1 bottom triangle as these will not be needed.

4. Layout the (3) A1 squares and all the triangle pieces according to the diagram below.

5. Using a SCANT 1/4″ seam, sew (1) top C1 triangle and (1) bottom B1 triangle as shown below to form a HST. Press seams open and trim to 6½” square.

6. Repeat STEP 5 to create the other FIVE HSTs in the combinations shown below.

7.  Once all the HSTs are completed, lay them out as shown below. Sew the THREE blocks in each row together. Press seams on each row as directed so the blocks nest together in the next step.

8.  Sew the THREE rows together and press seams open.

9. Your block is now complete!

10. 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 to match your actual top size.

11. Create a finished edge on the long side of each of the (2) 13″ × 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.

12. 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.

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

I can’t wait to see all the beautiful pillows everyone makes! Be sure to share them on social media! I’m also working on a 5-color version of all my blocks to make a sampler quilt. You can check out that post here on my blog.

I’ll see you in Feburuary with some festive Valentine’s day colors and some Quarter Square Triangles!

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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