Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pleat Party Pillow Tutorial

Hi y'all!  I finally finished the tutorial I've been mentioning for a week or so ... ready?  I recently shared my "Pleat Party Pillow" here and wanted to show you how to make the pleated blocks as well as a little pleated border.  The layout of the pillow in this tutorial is a little different, but the block and sashing measurements are the same.  So let's get started!

I am making 4.5-inch blocks that will finish to 4" square.  So you'll need to start with a strip that is 5 x 9.  You want a little wiggle room on the width and about twice the length of your finished block size.  I am using some Summer House - love this big floral print!

Lay the strip on your ironing board and fold up a section like shown. 

Press well to create a crease. 

And continue the process until the strip looks like the one below. Leave about a half to and inch on each end that is not pleated for your seam allowance.

Next you'll need a foundation square.  I used 5" squares of Bella White Bleached.  You can use whatever you like as this will not show, but as you can see the pleats make the strip kind of bendy (or easy to fan out), so we want to reduce that shifting later in the piecing process. 

Carefully line up the pleated strip on top of the foundation square.  Its ok if the length is a little short since we are going to trim this down. 

Bring the piece to your machine and stitch along each edge.  I used about a 3/8" seam since I will be trimming it down but don't want to trim my stitching off.  

You want to stitch over and WITH the pleats - notice the folds are pointing away from the foot of the machine.  Slide the block over to do the opposite side and hold the pleats in place with your hand as you feed it through the machine.

It should look like this ...

Next, press everything in place and then trim your block down to 4.5" square. Don't trim your stitching off!

Stitch down the opposites - about 1/8" from the edge. 

Repeat until you have all the blocks you need.  In this example, I have four.  Arrange them how you want - mine alternate the direction of the pleats. 

Cut some sashing strips - mine are 1.5" Bella White Bleached and will finish to 1".  

Piece the blocks and sashing together. 

Next, you will need a 1.5" wide strip of a coordinating print that is about 1.5 times wider than your pieced blocks.  I am using Essential Dots in Bubblegum. Fold and press the strip in half lengthwise. 

Then center it over one edge and pin the center in place. 

Move it to your machine, leaving some wiggle room between the end and the pin in the middle.  Stitch about 1/8" from the edge.  

As you go, keep the needle down and lift the presser foot to fold the fabric under making a pleat. You'll take the center pin out as you go - just used this to help make sure we have enough fabric to get to the end. 

Alternate the direction of your folds as you go and you'll end up with something that looks like this.  Cute right?

Add the pleated strip to the opposite side.  And then trim both edges.

Press the pleats down and add a border strip, stitching 1/4" from the edge.  

Repeat on the opposite side.  Press toward the sashing so that your pleat will pop up. 

Trim the edges. 

At this point, it should look like this ...

Now, take another 1.5" strip folded lengthwise.  Fold one edge in about 0.5 inches.  

Line up the folded edge of the strip with the edge of the perpendicular/neighboring ruffle strip.  

Stitch the strip in place as you did before, folding to create pleats as you go.  When you get near the end, stop, back stitch, and remove from the machine.  

Trim if needed and fold the end in so it is in line with the neighboring strip.  Stitch in place. 

Repeat on the opposite side.  

Add borders to the two remaining sides as you did before. 

And admire your work!  

Quilt the top and add a backing as desired.  (Another pillow tutorial here for instructions on that.)

I haven't finished this pillow yet, but it will be 17" and I will squeeze an 18" form in it so its a little overstuffed.  I just didn't want to make y'all wait any longer for the tutorial!  :-)  When I do finish, I will show you.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  If you have any questions, please email or ask in the comments.  Of course, if you make some pleated block or borders, I'd love for you to link the tutorial and share your project with me!

Happy Sewing!  :-)


  1. Very pretty! Thanks for the tutorial. Looks great with that fabric!

  2. That is such a cute little pillow top! I love how you did the pleats. Thanks for the tutorial!


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