Customize your congratulations to graduates and other remarkable achievers with a favorite snapshot, a printable fabric sheet, and a fabric-covered pillow.
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Designer: Karen Montgomery

Materials for Graduate Photo Pillow

  • Inkjet printable sew-on fabric sheet (pillow top center)
  • 9" square mottled navy (inner border)
  • 3⁄4 yard blue tone-on-tone (outer border, pillow back)
  • 12" square mottled yellow (appliqués)
  • 19×16" piece white flannel (pillow top lining)
  • Fusible web
  • 6--3⁄4"-wide assorted balloon-shape buttons
  • 12×16" pillow form

Finished pillow: 16×12"

Quantities are for 44/45"-wide, 100% cotton fabrics. Measurements include 1⁄4" seam allowances. Sew with right sides together unless otherwise stated.

Cut Fabrics

Cut pieces in the following order. Click on "Download this Project" for pattern pieces.

To use fusible web for appliquéing, complete the following steps.

1.    Lay fusible web, paper side up, over patterns. Use a pencil to trace each pattern once, leaving 1⁄2" between tracings. Cut out fusible-web shapes roughly 1⁄4" outside traced lines.

2.    Following manufacturer's instructions, press fusible-web shapes onto wrong side of mottled yellow; let cool.

3.    Cut out fabric shapes on drawn lines and peel off paper backings.

From mottled navy, cut:

  • 4--1-1⁄2×7" inner border strips

From blue tone-on-tone, cut:

  • 2--12-1⁄2×19-1⁄2" rectangles
  • 2--5×15" outer border strips
  • 1--5-1⁄2×9" outer border strip
  • 1--3-1⁄2×9" outer border strip

From mottled yellow, cut:

  • 1 each of patterns C, O, N, G, R, A, T, S, and !

Prepare and Print Photo

1.    On your computer, adjust photo to print at 5×7" (two images will fit on an 8-1⁄2×11" sheet). Following manufacturer's instructions, print photo onto fabric sheet; let ink dry.

2.    Remove paper backing and trim photo to 5×7" including seam allowances to make pillow top center.

Assemble Pillow Top

1.    Sew mottled navy 1-1⁄2×7" inner border strips to top and bottom edges of pillow top center. Join mottled navy 1-1⁄2×7" inner border strips to remaining edges (Diagram 1). Finger-press seams toward inner border. When adding borders, avoid touching photo transfer with hot iron.


2.    Sew blue tone-on-tone 3-1⁄2×9" outer border strip to top edge and blue tone-on-tone 5-1⁄2×9" outer border strip to bottom edge of pillow top center (Diagram 2). Press seams toward outer border. Sew blue tone-on-tone 5×15" outer border strips to remaining edges to make pillow top. Press seams toward outer border. The pillow top should be 18×15" including seam allowances.


Appliqué Pillow Top

1.    Referring to Appliqué Placement Diagram, position mottled yellow appliqués on pillow top. Fuse in place.


2.    Layer completed pillow top face up on white flannel 19×16" lining rectangle; baste (the flannel adds body and acts as a stabilizer for the appliqués). With matching thread, machine-blanket-stitch around each appliqué.

3.    Trim pillow top to 16-1⁄2×12-1⁄2" including seam allowances.

4.    Referring to photo for placement, hand- or machine-stitch balloon strings onto pillow top. Sew balloon-shape buttons onto pillow top.

Finish Pillow

1.    With wrong side inside, fold each blue tone-on-tone 12-1⁄2×19-1⁄2" rectangle in half to make two 12-1⁄2×9-3⁄4" double-thick pillow back rectangles. Overlap folded edges by 3" to make 16-1⁄2×12-1⁄2" pillow back (Diagram 3). Baste along all edges to secure pieces.


2.    With right sides together, layer pillow top and pillow back; pin or baste edges. Sew together through all layers. Turn right side out through opening in pillow back and insert pillow form to complete pillow.