Bright red embroidery overshadows a heart-felt message that's cleverly disguised in ecru stitching.
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Designer: Alex Anderson


  • 1-1⁄2 yards muslin (embroidery foundation, pillow cover)
  • 1⁄8 yard red print (piping)
  • Embroidery floss: ecru, red
  • 1-5⁄8 yards jumbo-size red rickrack
  • Polyester fiberfill
  • Water- or air-soluble marker

Finished pillow: 12×24"

Quantities are for 44⁄45"-wide, 100% cotton fabrics. All measurements include a 1⁄4" seam allowance. Sew with right sides together unless otherwise stated.

Cut Fabrics

To make the best use of your fabrics, cut pieces in the following order. Click on "Download this Project" above for embroidery patterns.

From muslin, cut:

  • 2--12 -1⁄2×28 -1⁄2" rectangles
  • 2--12 -1⁄2×24 -1⁄2" rectangles
  • 1--10-1⁄2×22- 1⁄2" embroidery foundation
  • 1--8-1⁄2×20 -1⁄2" embroidery lining

From red print, cut:

  • 2--1-1⁄4×42" strips for piping

Embroider Pillow Center

Use two strands of embroidery floss for all stitching.

1.    Using a water- or air-soluble marker, trace "Love Thy Neighbor" from Embroidery Pattern onto the muslin 10-1⁄2×22 -1⁄2" embroidery foundation. Center houses and flowers on foundation, then trace atop words.

2.    Secure the embroidery foundation in an embroidery hoop. With ecru floss, stem-stitch "Love Thy Neighbor." On each letter, add French knots as indicated by circles on the pattern.

To stem-stitch, pull needle up at A (see diagram). Insert needle back into fabric at B, about 1⁄4" away from A. Holding floss out of the way, bring needle back up at C and pull floss through so it lies flat against the fabric. Distances between points A, B, and C should be equal. Pull with equal tautness after each stitch.


To make a French knot, pull needle up at A and wrap floss around tip of needle two or three times (see diagram). Insert floss-wrapped needle back into fabric at B, about 1⁄16" away from A. Gently push wraps down needle to meet fabric, then pull needle and floss through fabric smoothly.


3.    With red floss, stem-stitch the houses and flowers.

4.    Lay embroidered foundation facedown on a terry-cloth towel and press. (The towel prevents the stitches from getting flattened during pressing.) Centering the design, trim embroidered foundation to 8- 1⁄2×20- 1⁄2". Place right side up on top of muslin 8 -1⁄2×20 -1⁄2" embroidery lining; baste edges together to make pillow center.

5.    Starting in center of bottom edge, place rickrack on embroidered side of pillow center, aligning rickrack edge with pillow center raw edges. Straight-stitch through center of rickrack; at each corner, pivot rickrack to continue on next edge. Turn seam allowances under so rickrack points extend beyond pillow center.

Assemble Pillow Top

1.    Layer two muslin 12-1⁄2×24-1⁄2" rectangles wrong sides together and baste around edges to make a double-thick pillow top.

2.    Cut and piece red print 1-1⁄4×42" strips to  make an 80"-long piping strip.

3.    With wrong side inside, fold and press red print strip in half lengthwise. Aligning raw edges and using a 1⁄4" seam, sew folded piping strip to pillow top rectangle. (When turning each corner, ease in a little extra piping so the finished corners will be gently rounded.)

Finish Pillow

1.     With wrong sides inside, fold each muslin 12-1⁄2×28- 1⁄2" rectangle in half to make two 12-1⁄2×14-1⁄4" double-thick pillow back rectangles (Diagram 1).


2.    Overlap folded edges of pillow back rectangles by about 4" to make a 12-1⁄2×24- 1⁄2" pillow back; baste around outer edges.

3.    Right sides together, join pillow back to pillow top, stitching around all edges, to make pillow cover. Turn right side out and press (Diagram 2).


4.    Place pillow cover on a flat work surface, opening side down. Center pillow center on pillow cover; pin in place. Stitch right along edge between pillow center and rickrack though all thicknesses (Diagram 3). Stuff center of pillow cover with fiberfill and hand-stitch opening closed.