Stitch a subtle love note using a shadow redwork technique of ecru thread on a soft white foundation.
I Love You Pillow
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Designer: Alex Anderson


  • 2-1⁄8 yards of muslin for embroidery foundation and pillow cover
  • 1⁄8 yard of red cherry print for piping
  • Embroidery floss: red and ecru
  • 18"-square pillow form
  • Air- or water-soluble marking pen
  • 23"-square of tracing paper

Finished pillow: 23" square

Quantities are for 44⁄45"-wide, 100% cotton fabrics.

Measurements include a 1⁄4" seam allowance. Sew with right sides together unless otherwise stated.

Cut the Fabrics

To make the best use of your fabrics, cut the pieces in the order that follows.

From muslin, cut:

  • 1--23-1⁄2×56" rectangle
  • 1--19-1⁄2"-square embroidery foundation

From red cherry print, cut:

  • 2--1×42" strips for piping

Embroider the Pillow Top

All embroidery is done with two strands of embroidery floss. Click on "Download this Project" above for embroidery patterns. To make a full-size tracing guide, lay the tracing paper over the pattern and trace. Referring to the Embroidery Placement Diagram, rotate the tracing paper over the cherry wreath portion of the design to complete the full-size embroidery tracing guide.


1. Fold the muslin 19-1⁄2"-square embroidery foundation in half vertically and horizontally. Lightly finger-press after each fold to create embroidery placement guides; unfold.

2. Place the embroidery tracing guide on a light table. Lay the embroidery foundation atop the embroidery tracing guide, aligning placement guides. Using an air- or water-soluble marking pen, trace the I Love You Embroidery Pattern onto the embroidery foundation.

3. Secure the embroidery foundation in an embroidery hoop. With red floss, stem-stitch the wreath. To stem-stitch, pull your needle up at A (Stem Stitch Diagram). Insert your needle back into the fabric at B, about 1⁄4" away from A. Then, holding the floss out of the way, bring your needle back up at C and pull the floss through so it lies flat against the fabric. The distances between points A, B, and C should be equal. Pull with equal tautness after each stitch.


4. With ecru floss, stem-stitch the lettering "I Love You."

5. With ecru floss, add French knots to the lettering as shown on the pattern. To make a French knot, pull your needle up at A (French Knot Diagram), the point where the knot is desired. Wrap the floss around your needle one time without twisting it. Insert the tip of your needle into the fabric at B, 1⁄16" away from A. Gently push the wrap down the needle to meet the fabric. Pull your needle and trailing floss through the fabric slowly and smoothly.


6. Lay the embroidered foundation facedown on a terrycloth towel and press. (The towel prevents the stitches from getting flattened during pressing.) Trim the embroidered foundation to 18-1⁄2" square to make the embroidered pillow top.

Complete the Pillow

1. Cut and piece the red cherry print 1×42" strips to make an 84"-long piping strip.

2. With the wrong side inside, fold and press the red cherry print strip in half lengthwise to make a 1⁄2"-wide piping strip. Aligning raw edges and using a 1⁄4" seam, sew the piping strip to the pillow top, mitering the corners. Turn under and press the seam allowances toward the pillow top wrong side.

3. Fold the short edges of the muslin 23-1⁄2×56" rectangle under 1⁄2". Turn the same edges under 1⁄2"; press. Using a 3⁄8" seam allowance, stitch along the short edges to hem.

4. With the right sides inside, fold the hemmed edges to the center, overlapping them by 4", to make a 23" square (Pillow Cover Diagram).


5. Sew together the raw edges to make the pillow cover; turn right side out.

6. Place the pillow cover with the opening side down. Center the embroidered and piped pillow top on the pillow cover. Pin in place.

7. Sew in the ditch between the pillow top and the piping to create a flange edge. Insert the pillow form through the back opening to complete the pillow.