Combine light blue and pink prints for an updated take on nautical style. An embroidered underwater scene adds whimsy to this pillow. Fabrics are from the Out to Sea collection by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller Fabrics.
Under-the-Sea Pillow
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Designer: Sarah Jane of Sarah Jane Studios


  • 10" square solid white (pillow center)
  • 9x21" pieces (fat eighths) pink-and-white stripe, blue-and-white chevron, and blue whale print (borders)
  • 3⁄4 yard backing fabric
  • 22" square batting
  • 20" square pillow form
  • Water-soluble marking pen
  • Embroidery floss: gray, yellow, red, pink, magenta, light blue, blue, light gray, and tan

Finished pillow: 20" square

Yardages and cutting instructions are based on 42" of usable fabric width.

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

Cut Fabrics

Cut pieces in the following order.

If you're using directional fabric as designer Sarah Jane did for the outer border on her pillow, refer to pillow photo and diagrams 2 and 3 on next page for guidance on which direction to cut your pieces.

From pink-and-white stripe, cut:

  • 2--2-1⁄2x14" inner border strips
  • 2--2-1⁄2x10" inner border strips

From blue-and-white chevron, cut:

  • 2--4x12-1⁄2" outer border strips
  • 2--4x7-1⁄4" outer border strips

From blue whale print, cut:

  • 2--4x9" outer border strips
  • 2--4x7-1⁄4" outer border strips

From backing fabric, cut:

  • 2--21x25" rectangles with 25" measurement running lengthwise (parallel to selvages)

Mark Embroidery Foundation

1. Click on "Download this Project" above for the embroidery pattern. Tape Embroidery Pattern to a light box or sunny window.

2. Center solid white 10" square atop Embroidery Pattern; tape in place. Using water-soluble marking pen, trace pattern onto solid white square.

3. Center marked solid white square right side up atop batting 22" square; baste.

Assemble Pillow Top

1. Sew pink-and-white stripe 2-1⁄2x10" strips to opposite edges of marked solid white square, sewing through all layers (Diagram 1). Press strips open, pressing seams away from center square. Add pink-and-white stripe 2-1⁄2x14" strips to remaining edges and press as before.


2. Sew together a blue-and-white chevron 4x7-1⁄4" strip and a blue whale print 4x7-1⁄4" strip to make a short outer border strip. Press seam in one direction. Repeat to make a second short outer border strip. Add short outer border strips to opposite edges of Step 1 unit (Diagram 2). Press seams toward outer border strips.


3. Sew together a blue-and-white chevron 4x12-1⁄2" strip and a blue whale print 4x9" strip to make a long outer border strip. Press seam in one direction. Repeat to make a second long outer border strip. Add long outer border strips to remaining edges of Step 2 unit (Diagram 3). Press seams toward outer border strips.


4. Trim batting even with edges of patchwork to make a 21" square pillow top.

Embroider Pillow Top

Using two strands of floss, stitch marked design using Embroidery Pattern for color placement.

To backstitch, pull your threaded needle up at A (Backstitch Diagram). Push it back down at B, and bring it up at C. Continue in same manner.


To satin-stitch (Satin Stitch Diagram), fill desired area with straight stitches, stitching from edge to edge and placing the stitches side by side.


To make a French knot, pull your threaded needle through at the point where the knot is desired (French Knot Diagram). Wrap the floss around your needle twice without twisting it. Insert the tip of your needle into the fabric at B, 1/16" away from A. Gently push the wraps down the needle to meet the fabric. Pull your needle and trailing floss through the fabric slowly and smoothly.


Finish Pillow

1. With wrong side inside, fold each backing 21x25" rectangle in half to form two double-thick 12-1⁄2x21" rectangles. (The double thickness makes the pillow back more stable.) Overlap folded edges about 4" to make a 21" square rectangle (Pillow Back Assembly Diagram). Baste across top and bottom of overlapped layers to make pillow back.


2. Layer pillow top and pillow back with right sides together; pin. Using a 1⁄2" seam allowance, sew together around outer edges to make pillow cover. Turn right side out; press. Insert 20" square pillow form through opening to complete pillow.