I posted a pic of a lovely big embroidered pillow a little while back and offered the instructions if anyone wanted them. I have had a few requests so here they are:



  • 1m (39 inches) 100% cotton fabric in a plain colour such as ecru or beige or VERY subtle print/tone-on-tone. Please no obvious prints as this will detract from the embroidery.  Pre-wash fabric and press flat if preferred. Cut one 24 inch square and reserve the rest for the back of the pillow.  Some will remain for a future project.
  • 24 inch square of FUSIBLE batting. Suggestion: Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 Fusible or similar. Regular batting may be used but a can of Adhesive spray is then required so it can become messy.  High loft poly batting is not suitable.
  • Double frill: Use satin as the sample if desired or 100% cotton fabric: we used a slight contrast colour to the pillow fabric.  You will need approx 4,5 – 5m x 20cm strip for the frill. If the fabric is 150cm wide, 1m should be plenty. If fabric is narrower, more will be required to make a luxurious frill.  Scraps of this satin will also be used for the appliqués (4 x 5 inch squares)
  • 100% cotton sewing thread in colour to match the pillow fabric
  • Bobbins wound with same thread OR white cotton bobbin thread OR Janome white pre-wound bobbins
  • 2 different Rayon embroidery threads. I used subtle tones of gold & beige. 
  • Stabilizer for the embroidery hoopings: We used self-adhesive tearaway and highly recommend this. As an alternative, regular tearaway (medium to heavy weight) may be used which then must be sprayed with adhesive spray to hold the fabric & batting “sandwich”. This spraying will probably have to be done outdoors so as not to get glue on machines, fabric and due to some people being allergic to the spray. It is not as easy or effective as the Sticky stabilizer.
  • Optional: 5 or 6 inch strip of Velcro for pillow closure. (button & buttonhole would also work).


  • Basic sewing kit including the following: rotary cutting equipment, thread snippers, scissors, pins, blue wash away marker, spare needles.
  • Iron and pressing mat or ironing board.
  • Janome Embroidery machine with allcords and accessories.
  • HOOP required for this project: 5 x 7 inch hoop minimum size. Please note that some of these designs cannot be stitched in hoops smaller than the 5 x 7 inch hoop.
  • Janome Ultimate Ruffler attachment for the frill.



  • 17 ½ INCH BLOCK MARKER made by the Sewing Revolution in Australia. This tool will be very useful for many quilted and embroidered projects. 
  • Janome Clothsetter – for use with Janome embroidery machines only. – this piece of equipment makes the accurate placement of multiple hoopings a “walk in the park”.
  • Optional Spool stand.  Many spools, especially ones larger than 1000m, need to stand on a spool stand for successful use. This greatly reduces thread breakage.                      
  • Open Toe appliqué foot 
  • Regular sewing foot  for pillow construction.
  • A Janome serger for neatening seams is highly recommended.


  • Ensure that the designs required for the embroidery are loaded onto the Janome Embroidery machine.  I customized a couple of Stitchitize designs + used another heart applique design I had downloaded from the internet. I also made editing chnages to this design too. These changes were done in Janome Digitizer MB version 3.
  • Make sure you have cut, spray starched and pressed the 22 inch square of fabric.
  • Cut the 22 inch square of fusible batting and press these together ensuring that there are NO wrinkles and that the 2 squares are centered evenly.
  • Use the Block marker to mark vertical, horizontal & diagonal lines on the fabric. Use a “fresh” (not tired & dried-up) blue washaway marker and mark 2 lines across the center of the block: one vertically & one horizontally. Now mark two 45 degree diagonal lines across the block making sure that your angles are accurate and that all the lines intersect in the center of the block.  Please also mark all around the outside of the block marker to define the working area of the block.
  • Hoop up the 5×7 inch with self-adhesive stabilizer as demonstrated. You may use regular tearaway stabilizer sprayed with a can of fabric adhesive but please ensure this is done well away from any people who may be sensitive to the spray and from the machines!!
  • Take the templates printed from the Janome Digitizing software decide where you intend to embroider your designs by laying the templates on the fabric.  Using the eyelet punch or awl, punch 5 holes in each cross hair on the templates: center & 4 lines.
  • Once you are 100% satisfied with the layout of your designs, mark the 5 dots through each cross hair. Please do NOT use a marker which will not wash out easily.
  • Use a ruler to draw 2 cross hair lines accurately lining up the dots and making sure you mark the direction of the arrow. This is VERY important as that is the direction of stitching & hooping. Arrow always points to top of the hoop. The template marker is a very handy tool which makes this so much easier.
  • Calibrate a Janome clothsetter and how to use this for perfect placement (see recent blog on how to use a Janome Clothsetter)
  • Attach the hoop with sticky stabilizer to the Clothsetter and position the fabric & batting “sandwich” over the sticky making sure the red cross hairs on the cltohsetter line up exactly with the cross hairs you have marked on the fabric. Gently press the fabric onto the sticky stabilizer when the positioning is correct. You are NOT hooping the fabric – you are laying it on top of the stabilizer.  This is best for machines which have a Baste function for attaching fabric to the hoop before embroidery. If your machine does not have this baste function, you might be better hooping all layers at this point to prevent any shifting.
  • Remove the hoop from the clothsetter and attach to the Janome embroidery machine.

Starting the Embroidery:

  • Optional: Select the trace/baste function on the Janome MC11000 and baste a stitch all the way around the design to be stitched. This helps to keeps the fabric in place and so shifting will not be a problem at all.
  • Start with the embroideries in the middle of the pillow and work outwards – as you do with quilting. Open the design on the screen of the embroidery machine.  You may use a 100% cotton bobbin thread but a polyester pre-wound bobbin is also acceptable. Choose white or cream. The embroidery threads may be rayon or polyester. We used soft beiges & golds for our pillow.
  • If your embroidery machine has jog keys to re-position the needle to the exact center of the cross hairs, use this feature now if necessary. This, together with accurate hooping, is the only way to ensure perfect placement of multiple hoopings in one block.
  • Embroider the design from start to finish changing colours as required.
  • Remove the hoop from the machine, gently tear the fabric from the sticky. You may now merely patch the hole on the stabilizer with another piece of sticky. It is not necessary to re-hoop the stabilizer unless you are not gentle and it becomes wrinkled & loose.
  • Repeat the embroidery for all the other designs on your pillow.



  • Press the pillow top if necessary and spritz the blue markings with water to remove.
  • Cut 2 back sections for the pillow taking care that they are overlapping sufficiently. Suggestion: cut 2 pieces 22 x 16 inches. Neaten one 16 inch side of each piece. You may serge & flip over with a straight stitch seam or fold over twice & stitch down.  This sewing is best done with a matching thread colour in 100% cotton thread in both the top and bobbin.
  • Cut strips of satin or cotton fabric approx 20cm/6 inches wide by width of fabric. Join together to form one very long strip with ¼ inch seam using a ¼ inch foot. You will need approximately 4-5 strips (approx 190inches long) to make a nice full ruffle. Press seams open & flat.  Fold strip in half lengthwise with WRONG sides together. Press neatly. 2 raw edges should meet along the long edge.
  • Attach the ruffler to the sewing machine and set the ruffler to take a tuck at every 6th stitch.
  • Stitch a gathering line through both layers of the ruffle about ¼ inch from raw edge all the way along the ruffle. There are other ways of gathering a ruffle but the Janome Ultimate Ruffler does the job SO much more easily and neatly. No more pulling up uneven gathers and broken gathering threads. When you are making such a long ruffle, it really is the best method to use.
  • Now lay out your pillow top and trim it to the size you require with a rotary cutter and ruler. Make sure you allow at least ½ inch for the seam allowance. My suggestion would be approx. 20-22 inches square. Trim the 2 back sections as well so that they match the sizing of the front of the pillow.
  • Pin the ruffle all the way around the pillow top with the raw edges facing outwards and the ruffle laying on top of the edges of your embroidery. Pin vertically with the points of the pins facing the middle of the pillow. This reduces the risk of pricking yourself with pins pointing outwards.
  • When you get to the spot where the ruffle needs to be joined, stop and measure before cutting. You may need to open the gathering stitch a little as you will need to make a join the same as you did earlier. Unpin some of the ruffle in order to get to the seam to stitch it. Finger press open & pin in place on the pillow top. Take a few extra little tucks if necessary to ensure gathers are even.
  • How to deal with the corners: I like to round off the corners slightly as it is so much easier: trim each corner in a smooth rounded shape. When pinning the ruffle down, ease a little extra fullness in at the corners and pin the ruffle down making sure the extra fullness is not in the way of the stitching. I usually pin the ruffle out of the way with extra pins.
  • Using a straight stitch and the regular sewing foot OR walking foot, stitch the ruffle down at no more than ¼ inch from the raw edge. Please ensure you have caught all layers in your stitching.
  • Remove all pins except the ones holding the corners in place.
  • Pin the 2 back sections RIGHT sides together with the pillow top & ruffle.
  • Stitch through ALL layers but this time make the seam bigger than ¼ inch  (suggestion: ½ – 5/8 inch) as you do not want to see the stitching line for the ruffle. If you find it easier, turn the fabric over & stitch alongside the previous row of stitching.
  • Remove all pins & turn pillow out to right side to ensure all has been caught in the stitching.
  • If it is all fine, turn back to the wrong side/inside of pillow and serge or overcast the seam to prevent fraying and ugly unravelling of your multiple layers of fabric.
  • Turn back to the right side and gently poke out the corners.
  • Insert a suitable size pillow form. I find using a 20 inch pillow insert for a 20 inch pillow cover gives a nice tight fit without drooping corners and wrinkles on the cover.

 PLEASE SEND US PICS OF THIS PROJECT IF YOU DO IT AT HOME.  We’d love to see your version of this project.

About lizafrica

I am the National Education Manager for Janome & Elna Canada (including Artistic Creative products) and I LOVE to sew! I have been employed full time in the sewing and quilting industry for almost 30 years so I bring a wealth of sewing knowledge & expertise to this blog. I enjoy all forms of sewing from quilting to sewing garments to machine embroidery and software. Pretty much everything in my life is seen through the eyes of a passionate sewer! I am constantly on the look out for fun, innovative and inspiring ideas to share with you all on this blog. I also love to read, knit , travel and spend time with my family and friends.
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