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July 19, 2011

A Tufted Tute – How To Make Tufted Pillows!

By Andrea

This week, I am bringing you a tutorial for tufted pillows, with shirred sides. I am making mine round, however, you can also use this same technique for a square pillow as well.

Since this post ending up being so huge, I am going to show you how to put together your pillow this week, and in two weeks, come back to see how to add the button tufting!


Things you’ll need:

  • Fabric – amount you’ll need is dependent upon what size of pillow you want to make, but if in doubt a yard should give you a lot to play with. The fabric I am using is Dumb Dot in Avocado by Michael Miller.
  • Scissors, and if you have a rotary cutter and mat, that can be useful here as well.
  • Buttons to cover kit
  • Pins
  • String (not pictured)
  • Fibrefill (not pictured)
  • Marker (not pictured)


To start, you are going to figure out the size of pillow you want to make. Mine is 43 cm in diameter (sorry Americans, as I am Canadian, I work in metric! This won’t affect your project, though). Divide your diameter in two, for the radius of the circle, and add your seam allowance to it. This measurement is the distance you will need to have between the centre pin and your marker. A note on the marker – yes, I am using a Sharpie. Yes, it is permanent. However, in the case of this project, all marks that I am making will not be visible on the finished project, so it’s OK. You definitely want to use a marker over a pencil or the like for this, as you need something that will make a smooth line.

Because my fabric is folded in half, I am cutting out both the front and the back of the pillow at the same time.


Front and back stacked on top of each other.


Now, you are going to fold your front and your back into quarters, and mark the centre of the circle. Do this on the right side of the fabric for both the front and the back.


You will need to cut strips for the shirred sides. Decide what width you want your shirred sides (Mine are 8 cm), and add both your top and bottom seam allowance. To figure out how many strips you need, will depend a bit on the size of your pillow. If you’re doing a circular pillow, you will want at least double the circumference of your pillow total strip length. I like to cut out enough strips to have triple, just so I know I have enough. Trim off the selvage edges and you’re ready to join your strips together into one long strip.


This is a ruffler foot. If you have one of these for your machine, it will make this process a lot easier! Many older machines came with these – even my 1915 Singer treadle came with one. However, many of today’s machines don’t, so it can be hit or miss. If you don’t have one, all you will need to do is to run a long gathering stitch on both edges of your ruffle strip, and pull to gather to the desired fullness. Just make sure your strip finished off the same length on both sides.

However, if you do have a gathering foot, now’s the time to use it! Bust it out, and let it do the work for you!


The ruffler will evenly gather your strip for you. Just make sure you let the ruffler do the work, and don’t pull on the fabric.


Side one complete!


Repeat the process and feed the fabric through the ruffler again on the other side. You shirred strip is complete!


I serged the edges of my strip, simply because the edges can get a little frayed after going through the ruffler, and I prefer to do it. However, you can certainly skip that step. Leave a seam allowance at the end of the strip, and start pinning all around the edge of the first side of your pillow. Once you get around to the beginning again, you will need to leave another seam allowance, and trim the excess.


Stitch the ends together so you have a continuous loop of shirred strip.


Sew all around the edge of the pillow to attach the shirring to the first side.


Repeat the same for the second side, however, you need to make sure you leave an opening to turn the pillow inside out and stuff it.

Pillow turned inside out and ready to stuff!

Start stuffing! You want it to be filled fairly firm, but not super tight, as the tufting is going to displace some of the stuffing. Stitch your opening closed by hand.


And here is the stuffed pillow! 

I hope this was clear to everyone, feel free to ask any questions in the comments. And, stay tuned for Part II of this Tufted Tute – Adding Your Buttons And The Tufting! Coming soon!

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7 Responses to A Tufted Tute – How To Make Tufted Pillows!

  1. RetroRuth Reply

    July 19, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Andrea – This is sooooo great! I love the shirred sides, what a great idea. I am totally going to have to try my hand at making one of these. It looks so easy, even I may be able to do it!

  2. Pingback: Retro Tufted Pillow Tutorial! — Sew What?

  3. Sara in AZ Reply

    July 19, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I really love this kind of pillow, they definitely have that retro feel. I can’t wait to see it with the button in place!

  4. Andrea Reply

    July 19, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Ruth – It really is easy! if you make one up, I definitely want to see a pic!

    Sara – they really deifnitely do, don’t they? After making that one up, I am now debating on tufting a few of the pillows I already have in my living room.

  5. Eartha Kitsch Reply

    July 22, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Beautiful job! I’m going to have to learn to sew one of these days. The tutorials get me itchin’ to try.

  6. Andrea Reply

    July 22, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Eartha – thanks! I hope the tutes do inspire you to give it a go! 🙂

  7. Pingback: A Tufted Tute Part II – How To Put the Tuft in Your Tufted Pillow! | No Pattern Required

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