How to Turn a Quilt Block into a Pillow

How to Turn Any Quilt Block into a PIllow

So. Let’s say you really like one of my quilt patterns, but you’ve never made a quilt before and you’re kind of freaked out about making the whole thing.

Start with one block. You can make one single block, right? Of course you can! And you can turn it into a fun pillow. Here’s how.

Make a quilt block.

Any block from any pattern.

Step 1 - make the block
Hey! Are you trying to frame me?

You could always enlarge the pattern so it fits on the pillow form you want to cover – but depending on the size you’re enlarging it to, that could make things a little tricky. I’m working on a class (Think BIG!) showing how to do giant applique. For now let’s keep things simple and just add some framing to enlarge the block.

I made this monster block exactly as the pattern specified. It’s a 10 1/2 inch square. Almost all of my applique quilt patterns are 10 1/2″ squares.

Add frames

My pillow form is 18″ square. That means I need the front of the pillow cover to be 18″ square. (I like my pillow covers to be just a little bit smaller than the pillows so they have a nice snug fit.)

My block is 10 1/2″ square. That means it will finish at 10″ square when I take up the seam allowances. I want it to end up 18 inches square, so I need to add 4 inches on each side of the block.

I could add 4″ frames all the way around, but I want a narrow frame inside a slightly wider frame. So I’m going to add a 1″ frame all the way around, and then a 3″ frame all the way around that. That will add up to the 4″ frame all around.

Step 2 - add side strips
Start with the sides.

Cut strips 1 1/2″ wide. (Remember – if you want a 1″ frame you need to cut your strips 1 1/2″ so seam allowance is included.) Sew a strip to each side of your block using 1/4″ seam allowances. Press them flat.

Step 3 - finish the inner frame
Add strips to the top and bottom.

Sew strips to the top and bottom. Press them flat.

The inner frame is done. Now your block is 12 1/2″ square

Step 4 - repeat for the outer frame
Repeat for the outer frame

Do the same thing for the outer frame, but use 3 1/4″ strips for a 3″ frame.

Once the outer frame is sewn on, your pillow cover front should be an 18″ square. Remember – that will finish at 17″ for a nice, snug fit for an 18″ pillow.

Make the pillow back

I like using zippers on my pillow covers so I can take them off for washing. You can add the zipper to the side seam where the front is sewn to the back, but I think that sometimes distorts the look of the pillow. I prefer to add it to the middle of the pillow back.

How to Add a Zipper to a Pillow Back - a video tutorial from Shiny Happy World
This video tutorial shows how to sew a zippered pillow back.

For this monster pillow you need to make a back that is 18 inches square.

Finish Your Pillow Cover

Unzip the zipper at least part way. Don’t forget to do this or you’ll be very sad!

Sew the pillow front to the pillow back, right sides together, all the way around the pillow, using 1/2″ seam allowance.

Turn it right side out through the zipper opening. (See why you left it unzipped a bit?) Slip your pillow form into the cover. Zip it up and toss it onto a chair.


finished monster pillow
I knew you could do it!

Happy sewing!



  1. Your creativity were eye catching and it also helped me a bit .I tried making the pillow back exactly how you made it.It was really very nice.Thank you so much.

  2. Janice King SAYS...

    Just in time with the zipper insert! My granddaughter wants some pillows for her bed. As I have only ever made envelope closures, this tutorial gives me the confidence to make the apperceive closures! Thanks, Wendi!

    • Janice King SAYS...

      Zipper closures….dang auto correct…lol!