Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tutorial: autumn acorn pillow

I went on a wild pillow-making binge recently.  I made so many pillows, too many pillows, but that didn't stop me!  Because I HAD to make an acorn pillow. . . .

So I wrote a little tutorial while I was making this one, just in case you get all crazy and want to make one, too.

You'll need some sturdy fabric for this project.  I used a men's shirt sleeve and some home dec-weight fabric.  Heavier fabrics are preferable, as pillows around here take quite a beating from the little boys running around, and I just don't think typical quilter weight fabrics would fare very well.  They *might* work, if you interfaced and/or lined them with another fabric.

The whole process is fairly simple.  The hardest part is stuffing the thing, and that's only hard because it takes a LOT of stuffing, and you want to take your time doing it so it's not all lumpy.  More on that later. . . but for now, let's get started!

YOU'LL NEED. . . .

  • my pattern (it's 2 pages long.)  You can print it free HERE or HERE.
  • 1 fat quarter (18" x 22" piece) of sturdy fabric for the acorn
  • 1 fat quarter (18 x 22" piece) of sturdy fabric scrap for the acorn top
  • 2" x 7" piece (scrap) of sturdy fabric for the acorn stem
  • pen, pencil, or water soluble pen (like this)
  • scissors, pins, needle and thread
  • sewing machine
  • iron
  • 1 bag of polyfil
  • stick (like a chopstick, or the one that comes inside the bag of polyfil)
** Seam allowance is 1/4" unless otherwise specified. **
** I'm using contrasting thread in the tutorial so it will be easier to see my stitches, but you'll probably want to choose one that blends in better with your fabrics. ** ;)

PRINT. . . .

Print your pattern out from HERE or HERE.  Do NOT resize your pattern in any way; print as-is.
Cut out your pattern.

CUT. . . .

** Beginners, don't balk at the "place on fold" part on the pattern.  All that means is to fold your fabric in half,  place the pattern piece on the fabric while lining up that "place on fold" line along the fold in your fabric. Then, cut around the pattern, except for where the fold is (leaving the fold intact.)  (Here's a quick illustration if you need one!)

fold fabric in half, place pattern piece on the fold, then cut out.
I used thrifted home dec fabric for the main acorn section.

** Cut out your fabric pieces, following the instructions printed on the pattern piece.

You all know I like using reclaimed fabrics in my projects, and this men's shirt sleeve was the perfect size and material for the acorn top!

re-fold; cut the acorn top pieces out on the fold.

SEW. . . .

The stem:

** Fold the stem strip in half lengthwise, right sides together, and sew along the long edge (1/4" seam allowance.)

** Turn it inside out; press.  
** Fold it in half, short ends together, and stitch 1/4" away from the raw edges, making a loop.

** Set aside.

The pillow:

** Place one acorn top piece on top of an acorn piece, right sides together, matching the long side's raw edges.  Pin in place.

** Sew 1/2" seam along the long pinned edge.

** Open up the acorn and iron the seam on the wrong side, pressing the seam allowance toward the acorn top. . . .

. . . then flip it over and press the front, too.

** Next, top stitch along the seam you just made, on the acorn top piece.  You can do a straight stitch about 1/8" above the seam, or a decorative stitch like I did.  You can use a contrasting color of thread, or even hand-embroider a design if you'd like.

I used a decorative stitch on my machine in orange thread. . . .

(That step is not just for decoration. . . it will reinforce this seam and make it stronger because the decorative stitching catches the seam allowance on the under side, holding the two pieces together even better.)

** Repeat the above steps for the other side of the pillow.


** Now place the two sewn pillow pieces together, right sides together, matching all the edges.

** Place the stem at the top of the acorn, between the two pillow pieces, with the loop inside the pillow pieces.  Leave about 1/2" of the acorn stem sticking up above the pillow edge.  Pin stem in place.

** Pin the two pillow pieces together.  Referring to the start/stop dots on paper acorn pattern piece, mark (like with a pencil, or some different colored pins) where the opening will be on your pillow.  I used two red pins to mark this opening. . . .


** Starting at one side of the opening you just marked, make a back-and-forth stitch as you begin (reinforcement stitch) and then sew around the entire acorn (1/4" seam allowance). . . .

** make a reinforcement stitch (several) as you sew over the stem. . . .

** and stop at the other opening mark you made, finishing with another reinforcement stitch.

** WAIT!  Now, we're going to stitch over that seam again, just like you did a moment ago.  Make your pillow extra-strong!  Plus, it gives you (me) a chance to even out any errant stitching.

CLIP. . . .

** Next, clip the curves close to the stitching.  Be careful not to snip the seam.  (Don't skip this step!  This makes for a smooth curve on the outside of the pillow.)  You can notch them like this. . . .

But pinking shears work better and are much faster. . . .

TURN. . . .

** Turn your pillow right side out, carefully, through the opening you left in the seam.

** Use your stick to press out and along the seams on the inside of your pillow.  This helps make the curves smoother, too.

** Press. . . .

** At the opening, tuck the seam allowance in, to be even with the rest of the seam. . . .

** Press it well. . . .

STUFF. . . .

** You're going to use A LOT of polyfil.  Probably the whole bag.

** Pull out a handful of polyfil and pull it apart, like this. . . .

This step is necessary to prevent big lumpy clumps in your pillow, and it makes it easier to sculpt your pillow later.  Trust me on this!  ;)

** Start stuffing your separated, fluffed polyfil, using smallish bunches at a time.  It's easiest (to me) to fill it out around the edges first, and then fill the center. . . .

Think you're finished?  NO WAY!  Keep stuffing. . . .

 ** Once you get your pillow pretty firmly stuffed, use your fingers to press the polyfil around the edges of the pillow, firmly filling and rounding out the edges and curves. . . .

** Then stuff even more polyfil in to fill in any gaps or holes in your stuffing.


** Once you have your pillow stuffed as firmly as you'd like, and you're semi-satisfied with its shape (it doesn't have to be perfect; you'll be able to sculpt it more later,) then pinch the sides of the opening together and pin it closed. . . .

** With thread matching your acorn pillow, hand-stitch the opening closed.  You can this excellent photo tutorial for a blind/ladder stitch, or any other nice invisible-ish stitch you prefer, for closure.


** Sculpt your pillow to get it into its perfect acorn shape.  Punch, mash, pull, whatever, to shift the stuffing around to achieve the shape you want.  (The more you shaped it in the above steps, the less you'll have to do now.)  :)


I got to enjoy my acorn pillow for about a week, before the eldest daughter came home to celebrate her birthday, at which time she declared the pillow to be hers, and I haven't seen it since.  I'm guessing it's lazing about on her sofa far away.  :)  I'm OK with that.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below in the comment section!  I love hearing from you.

Enjoy, and good luck!


  1. How lovely it is !!
    I'll try to make one, and let you know (i just need your email address) ...
    Thanks for sharing this tutorial, which took you some time to make !! ;)

    Maybe the hardest is to find the right fabrics ! ;)

    Hélène xox

    1. Hi, Hélène! Thank you so much for your kind words, and for stopping by! I'd love to see your finished creation! You can send me a pic via email (click on the Contact Me tab above) or you can post it on my facebook page! We'd all love to see it. :) Have a lovely day!

  2. Awesome! thank you for sharing! and you have a smart daughter, I would have snatched the pillow too, heehee :-)

    1. You're so welcome, Robin! Thank you for dropping by! :)

  3. This is fab and your instructions are great! Making one for my daughter for Christmas. Thanks!

    1. Have fun! I hope she loves it! Thank you for stopping by. :)

  4. This is super cute! And I love that you did it with old clothes.

    1. Thank you, Sara! It was fun to make! :) So glad you dropped by!


I love hearing from you!

Popular Posts