This week’s Fat Quarter February project comes from Diane Gilleland of CraftyPod, who shows us how to make pretty pieced kaleidoscope pillows from just two quarter-yard pieces of fabric. 

Diane: I’ve been a little obsessed with the idea of kaleidoscopes lately. It’s so intriguing how you can take a wedge shape, multiply it by six, and create endless new patterns. So I thought it might be fun to replicate this idea in fabrics. I might be cheating on this month’s fat quarter theme just a little by using two fat quarters, but I really love the result, and using these large scale prints give it a very graphic look. I’m using four Holli Zollinger fabrics here: Chevrons Red and Chevrons Burlap on one pillow, and Mint Arrow and Arrow Marine on the other.

Materials (per pillow):

  • Two coordinating Petal Signature Cotton® fat quarters with matching print
  • 18” x 18” (45.72 cm x 45.72 cm) backing fabric
  • Kaleidoscope pillow pattern PDF
  • Low-tack painters tape or pattern weights
  • Ruler and mechanical pencil
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Fiberfill
  • 1” (2.54 cm) covered button kit
  • Nylon upholstery thread

All seam allowances in this project are 1/4″ (0.64 cm).

1. Begin by downloading and printing the PDF pattern.

I recommend tracing it onto tissue paper, which will make it much easier to place the pattern precisely on your fabric before cutting. Iron all wrinkles out of both fabrics.

2. Now, align the tissue pattern where you want it on your fabric.

You’ll want to choose a section that will form a nice pattern when it’s repeated six times. It’s also wise to take a moment and make sure you can get three identical pieces from your fabric. Here, I’ve taped the pattern to the fabric and traced the main outlines of the design. This will help me align the pattern exactly the same way when I cut the next two pieces.

3. Pin the pattern to the fabric and cut it out.

(I’ve already added a 1/4″ (0.64 cm) seam allowance to the pattern for you, so cut around the outer
edge.) If it helps you to label sections of your tracing like I’ve done here, go right ahead.

4. Repeat step 3. 

Repeat this process to cut three identical triangles from each of your fat quarters.


Sewing the pillow:

5. Pin one triangle of each fabric together with right sides facing.

When you pin, pay close attention to matching up all the elements in the fabric design—here, I’m matching the edges of the stripes.

In fact, you may notice that by matching the designs, you end up with little gaps in the edges of the pinned fabrics, as seen above. Don’t worry! You can gently stretch the fabrics so they’re flat as you sew. Just keep those designs aligned.



6. Sew each pair of triangles together along one side, creating three units.

Press their seam allowances in the same direction. As you sew, pay special attention to where you end your seams at the tip of the triangle. They should end 1/4″ (0.64 cm) away from the edge of the fabric, as
shown above. This will make it easier to match all these points at the center of the pillow.

7. Now, sew the three triangle units together, making sure the two fabrics alternate.

Do your best to make sure the tips of the triangles align in the center. If you have a mismatch, like you see
above, you can remove some of the seam and stretch the fabric gently as you re-sew to get a closer alignment
. But that said, getting six points of fabric to line up perfectly is tricky! So please don’t make yourself too crazy over this. We’ll be covering the center of the pillow with a button, so perfection is
not a requirement here!


8. Check the back of the pillow.

When you’re done assembling the pillow front, check the back of
your work to make sure all the seam allowances are laying in the same
direction. That will allow you to neatly press the center flat as you
see here. Go ahead and reorient and press any seam allowances.


9. Cut your backing fabric to match your finished pillow front.

Pin them together with right sides facing and sew around all six sides, leaving about a 4” (10.16 cm) gap in one side for stuffing. Trim away the fabric at each corner and press the seam allowance open. Fold and
press the edges of the fabric at the opening so they match the seam line.


10. Turn pillow right side out.

Turn the pillow right side out, poking all the corners out so they’re nice and sharp. Press the pillow flat before you stuff it.


11. Stuff, then sew.

Stuff the pillow firmly and then sew the opening closed with a ladder stitch.

Tufting the Pillow:


12. Follow the instructions in your covered button kit to make a 1” (2.54 cm) covered button from a leftover scrap of pillow fabric.

Thread a hand-sewing needle with about 20” of upholstery thread, which is strong enough to withstand the pulling we’re about to do. Regular sewing thread isn’t a good choice for this step.

Pass the needle straight down through the center of the pillow, bringing it out at the back. You can compress the pillow so the needle reaches through.Take a little stitch on the back, and then bring the needle back out through the front of the pillow.

13. Thread your covered button on now, and then remove your needle.

Tie the two ends of the thread into an overhand knot.

14. Pull the threads to tighten this knot, which will also compress the pillow center a bit.

When you have the center compressed as much as you like, tie a second knot to lock the thread in place. It’s very helpful to have a friend hold the button down as you tie this second knot. Cut the ends of the thread short enough that they can hide under the button.


About Our Guest Blogger


Diane Gilleland blogs, podcasts, publishes, teaches, and makes videos about all things crafty over at CraftyPod.com. When she’s not doing those things, she’s doing whatever her cat tells her to do. And what’s wrong with that?