A New Summer Flower Pillow

2 Hours

I made a new summer flower pillow this week. Today I am sharing how to make a pillow cover with paint and free motion stitched embroidery.

My new summer flower pillow was painted with acrylic paint and then I added the design detail with free-motion stitched embroidery. it’s not a hard craft and I am excited to share it with you.

How to Make a Summer Flower Pillow
What is free motion embroidery?

Free motion machine embroidery is a type of sewing that you do on a regular sewing machine but you can move the material in any direction while sewing it on your machine. Normally when you sew, the machine automatically moves the fabric forward. When you sew free motion embroidery, you get to move the fabric so you determine exactly where you want to sew. You can move sideways, forward, backward, and create any shape you want. All you need is a quilting foot.

The free-motion quilting foot, sometimes called a darning foot, is designed so that the sewing machine needle passes through a small ring on the foot. Instead of hopping, these feet float over the fabric without providing pressure. The Foot releases the fabric when the needle is in the up position, allowing you to move the fabric freely.

This is the free motion foot for your machine. This foot may vary based on your type of machine but I linked a universal one that should fit!

I read a lot about lowering the “feed dogs” on your machine when stitching free-motion embroidery. Feed dogs are the little teeth on your sewing machine that feed your fabric evenly through the machine. These teeth are extremely important because they help us produce perfectly spaced, even stitches whenever we sew garments, piece quilts, or applique shapes on our machine. Most people recommend that you lower the feed dogs for free-motion embroidery.

For this flower pillow, I lowered the feed dogs using a lever on my machine. But I did have some problems with breaking threads and tension. Next time I think I will leave the feed dogs up and use a Supreme Slider instead.

What You Need to Make a Free Motion Embroidery Pillow

Pillow cover (I used the Gurli 20″ cover from Ikea)

Acrylic paint and brush

Dark Embroidery thread (I used brown)

Parchment paper or cardboard to fit inside the pillow while painting.

Free motion quilting foot for your machine (varies by sewing machine brand)

The process to make one of these pillows is not difficult. You just need to paint the pillow with shapes of your design and then add the detail with free motion embroidery stitching.

Free Motion Embroidery Stitching Details

There are a lot of different ways to free motion stitch. As you can see from this photo, I added some detail on this coneflower by doing a circle stitch design on the center. I loved how it turned out.

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If you look at this photo you can see how I loosely painted the pillow and then added the detail with the stitching.

You will want to pick your color palette before you do anything else. I chose pinks and oranges and mixed up the paints myself.

These are the mixed colors I created. Aren’t these mixed paint colors just so much fun?

Here you can see some detail of the painted coneflower. My painting style for these pillows is to paint shapes and paint them loose. All I want to do is create the “idea” of a flower and nothing specific.

I just kept painting more flowers until I felt that the pillow looked fun!

Next, I pulled out my darning foot and added it to my sewing machine. Next, I found the feed dogs lever on my machine and moved the feed dogs down, so they would not be in use. By doing this, you will be able to pull the fabric in any direction you want while you are stitching.

I followed the paint loosely when I added the stitching.

It takes a bit of time but way less than you would respect. I love doing this.

This photo is a great example of the difference between the painted and stitched cornflowers.

Links to the Items Shown in This Flower Pillow Post

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Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 4 questions
  • Audrey Troutman Audrey Troutman on Aug 05, 2021

    Why couldn’t you use a paint pen if no sewing machine?

  • Aardy Aardy on Aug 24, 2021

    Can you use any heavy fabric? I live in India with no access to IKEA.

  • Aardy Aardy on Aug 24, 2021

    Love the little round table beside the chair ... did you make that too? If you haven't yet, please tell us!

Join the conversation
4 of 26 comments
  • Aardy Aardy on Aug 24, 2021

    Sorry for my artistic ignorance but I need to know if this is washable if using acrylic paints. There is something called fabric paints I've seen on here but have the same question if they are washable too. Thanks for any insights. From a non-artist but the freestyle painting gives me a bit of hope at least until I try it! 😊 I love the pillows ... beautiful!

    • My 100 Year Old Home My 100 Year Old Home on Aug 24, 2021

      You can use fabric paints and they work great and are washable. You can also use acrylic paints, just be sure to iron the pillow to set the paints.

  • Patricia Patricia on Aug 06, 2022