Hand & heart warming pillow

(Makes one 4 1/2” x 4 1/2” pillow)


Leave No Scrap Behind
When sewing our aprons and other projects, we always save our fabric scraps since the linen is so pretty that we can't stand to waste it.  Here is a perfect use for those little fabric scraps.  Whether you are experienced or fairly new to sewing, this simple project is a fun one. 

1 - 6” x 12” piece of linen or woven cotton fabric
1 - 6” x 6” contrasting linen or woven cotton fabric
A bunch of small fabric scraps (in bright colors and/or prints, such as quilters cotton)*
thread to match (or slightly contrast) the 6” x 12” fabric
1 cup rice
10 drops essential oil (optional)

*use natural fibers so they don’t melt in the microwave when heating the pillow

sewing machine
fabric chalk or erasable fabric pen
seam ripper
pointed tip fabric scissors
drafting triangle or other right angle
hand sewing needle

This project employs a fabric manipulation technique called slashing, where fabrics are sewn on top of each other, then the top layers are cut to reveal the fabric beneath.  

Gather your fabric. Lay the 6”x 12” piece out on your work surface wrong side up. Layer your fabric scraps right side up over half of it. They should overlap each other. The random sizes, patterns and colors will make a nice slashing effect. 

Layer as many fabrics as you want, with at least three layers recommended. If you use multiple scrap pieces that are the full 6” x 6”, that is fine too. After layering the scraps, fold the other half of the 6”x 12” piece over them, closing it like a book. Iron the layers flat and pin in a few places to keep the bits in place.

Quilt the pinned fabrics together with a sewing machine by straight stitching lines through all the layers, removing pins as you come to them.  When you get to the fabric edge, turn around and go back the other direction until the whole piece is quilted.  

To make the design on the quilted pillow top, cut the heart out of the paper pattern and trace the square and heart onto the fabric with chalk or erasable fabric marker (click the print button below for pattern).  Follow the heart line to machine stitch it, starting at the bottom point of the heart. This will make a border for your slashing.

To slash the heart, use a seam ripper or small pointed-tip scissors to poke through the top layer of fabric and slash away from yourself down the center of each quilted channel from one end to the other.  For better control, cut one layer at a time and look at your result before moving forward.  Be careful that you don’t cut through the bottom layer of fabric.  Once you have made the initial slashes with the seam ripper, you can switch to pointed scissors to cut the rest, especially when getting close to the perimeter seams. 

Next, rake your fingers back and forth vigorously over the cut layers, to reveal your heart in the different colors and fabrics. You might be happy with them as they are, but if you want to really ravel them, put the quilted piece through the washer and dryer.  (If you do, make sure that the edges of the square are trimmed up or zigzagged, so they don’t ravel too.) After washing and drying, iron the edges flat (not the heart), retrace the square pattern in chalk, and then proceed to the next step.

Cut the quilted fabric along the square pattern line and then pin it to your contrasting 6"x6" fabric piece, right sides together.  The contrasting fabric is bigger, and you will trim it after sewing. Mark a 3” section below the heart (see pins).  Straight stitch the two squares together, leaving 1/4” seam allowance on the quilted piece, and leaving the 3” section unstitched for turning.  Then, trim up the contrasting fabric to the same size as the quilted fabric and snip the corners. 

Turn the pillow right side out and press the edges flat, turning in the raw edges.  

In a small bowl, squirt ten drops of your preferred fragrance of essential oil onto the rice, and mix together with a spoon. Using a funnel or a piece of paper taped into a funnel shape, fill your pillow with the scented rice.  Pin the open edges together and hand stitch closed, using a simple whip stitch.  Your pillow is complete.

Warm the pillow in 30 second increments in the microwave until just heated (not too long or the rice will burn).  It will stay warm and smell great for a good amount of time. Let's hope you warm the heart (and hands) of your Valentine with this beautiful handmade gift.

Now that you’ve mastered this technique, you can make pillows of different sizes and shapes, and decorate them with a your own creative slashing design. If you find slashing fun (we find it addictive), head over to our Pinterest board "Scrap it" to view different ways of slashing fabrics, as well as other ideas to use up random fabric scraps. 

view related blog post:  A Heart Warmer