Skully Applique Pillow

24 Oct

Halloween Project

So, I have some pretty sweet furniture, at least in my living room. I’ve got this sexi velvet couch as well as this beautiful midcentury armchair (snagged from my friend and fellow blogger Lisa, after she herself snapped up the couch of her dreams). Oh, and that ace ottoman, which I got for a DOLLAR at the Goodwill Outlet. Score of the year right there!

I’m also, like, really really bad at decorating. Once I get shit on the walls, it’s over. I don’t really decorate for holidays, other than put up a Christmas tree, and I definitely don’t do decor crafts. Whyyy suck up that time when I could be making clothes, amirite?

Halloween Project

I’m taking a step toward my inner Martha Stewart and making at least one craft for the three major upcoming holidays – starting with Halloween. Rather than decorate the front of my house (which would be too easy; we already have enough spiders that the whole front is covered in spider webs. I wish I was kidding about that. Hey, I guess we don’t have other bugs at least), I decided to give my sweet yellow chair an update with a fresh new throw pillow featuring a skull. This also meant I got to try out applique, which is something I’ve been meaning to do for, oh, like a decade. Ha!

Want to make your own – pillow or otherwise? Good, because I wrote a tutorial on that too. I’m on a roll, guys.

This is actually pretty simple, the only time-consuming part is the machine applique, which can easily be left off since the Heat’N’Bond is pretty permanent. All my supplies are from Jo-ann Fabric and Craft stores – quilting cotton (my only excuse ever to peruse those aisles. Ahh, the colors!), Heat’N’Bond, and a 14″ pillow form. Oh, and embellishments! Can’t forget those ๐Ÿ˜‰

You will need to cut 3 pieces for the pillow – one for the front and two for the envelope back. For a 14″ square pillow, I cut the front at 15.5″ square and the two back pieces are 15.5″ x 12″ and 15.5″ 6.5″.

Halloween Project 1

Start by drawing (or tracing, or photocopying, or whatever) the image that you want to applique on the pillow. Try to keep it simple, with the detail impact coming from the negative space, not a bunch of lines. Do you want to sew over a bunch of lines? Neither did I. Negative space!

I sketched out my skull’n’bonez based on a few images I saw on the internet, and then traced over it with a marker.

Halloween Project 2

Cut out your design and admire. Doesn’t he look sassy!

Halloween Project 3

Before you cut your appliques, you need to fuse the heat n bond to the back of the fabric (this makes it easier, and means less goo on your ironing board after the fact). Cut a piece big enough to catch all your pieces, and follow the directions on the package for best results – mine just had me iron it face-down for 10 seconds. Easy!

Halloween Project 4
Halloween Project 5

Trace your pattern on the fabric, cut, and peel off the paper layer. Arrange it on the pillow top as you like, and fuse it down. The Heat’N’Bond keeps everything from shifting, which means a much easier time appliquing. Of course, at this point, you could leave as-is and not bother with the stitching, but whyyy? It looks so good!

Halloween Project 6

Ok, this is the fun part – applique! This is really a trial and error saga, depending on your machine, but here are a few tips:
– Test your applique stitch on a few scraps of fabric (use leftover fused pieces if you wanna be real fancy) to make sure that you like your stitch. For my machine, I used a narrow width zigzag with a slight adjustment to make it longer.
– This stuff is gonna goo up your needle. Sorry, but them’s the breaks. Make sure you remember to change it out after you are finished, otherwise you’ll end up forgetting and gooing up the next garment you sew. Not that that’s happened to me or anything…
– Try to keep the stitch within the edge of your applique pieces – it looks neater.
– For curves, just go slowly. For corners, stop the machine at the end of the line, put the needle down and pivot the fabric, and then continue stitching.

Halloween Project 8
Halloween Project 9

Before you get all flustered trying to get the ~perfect stitch, remember – this is a Halloween project! It’s supposed to be a little messed up ๐Ÿ˜‰

Halloween Project 10

From here, you can leave the applique as-is or add some more embellishment. I decided to add some sequins to my skull’s eyeballs and nose because SPARKLES. I used this Aleen’s glue pen to anchor everything down.

Halloween Project 11

We are going to make an envelope back for our pillow now. Take your two back pieces and press them flat.

Halloween Project 12

Turn under one long edge of each piece and hem.

Halloween Project 13

(Ack! Sorry these photos are so blurry, hopefully you get the idea)
Take the smaller piece and lay it over the top of front piece, right sides together, matching up the edges and the corners.

Halloween Project 14

Larger piece goes on the bottom half, again, right sides together with all sides matching.

Halloween Project 15

Sew around all four edges…

Halloween Project 16

Clip your corners…

Halloween Project 17

Flip right side out and stuff your pillow inside.

Halloween Project

You’re done!!

Time for a sexy skull pillow photoshoot!

Halloween Project

Halloween Project

Halloween Project

I know this is a ~craft~ project, but this method could also be used for clothing (like we could all applique CAT SWEATERS. Oh god, guys, let’s.). I was planning on making myself a matching skull sweatshirt so I could match my living room, but time slipped out of my fingers and well, maybe later. I say this pillow is for Halloween, but let’s be real – you’ll probably see it on the couch during Christmas, and beyond. Welcome to my life.

Want to make one for your own #spookyspaces? Have a coupon! I got ya back!
Don’t say I never did anything for ya ๐Ÿ˜‰


33 Responses to “Skully Applique Pillow”

  1. Lisa A October 24, 2013 at 8:48 am #

    Awesome job.

  2. Clare Szabo (@Clarebel79) October 24, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    Dude I love this and I hope you appreciate the quickness of my response here! Haha it looks like I’m literally sitting and waiting for your next post. This is a cool project and I think breaking things up with a few little crafty jobs here and there is nice – loving his sparkly eyes, he looks real purdy! Love it xx

    • LLADYBIRD October 24, 2013 at 6:23 pm #

      Hahah I do! I always appreciate ya ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Blue Sunday October 24, 2013 at 9:02 am #

    Loving this pillow. It has a funky rocker biker chick vibe. Which is good … very, very good.

  4. Nakisha October 24, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    OMG My daughter would love this!!!

  5. Laura October 24, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    I have sewn a lot of mirrorball fabric which also tends to gum up the needle. I use Sewer’s Aid, which I think you can still get at Joann. It is the same size bottle as Fray Check, and is silicone based. You coat your needle in it and you avoid a lot of the glue and goo messing with your project, and you avoid snapping of threads, which can also happen when sewing with something made of glue. You may need to reapply to your needle during the project depending on how long you need to sew with the glue based item. It is great stuff.

    You can also just cut out the appliquรฉ with a 1/4 inch seam allowance around the Heat and Bond and skip the glue entirely. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD October 24, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

      Oh, MAN, I wish I’d known this before I did the project! I do want a future catlady sweatshirt, though, so I’ll keep this in mind. Thank you so much for your tips!

  6. vaxtorino October 24, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    psst if people just want to try it out without buying a lot of iron-on adhesive, wonder under is sold by the yard with the interfacings. we also have one of pellon’s ~new~ products EZ Steam which is the same kind of thing but safe to sew, but it only comes in packages. (I say we because I work at a JoAnns sshh)

    • LLADYBIRD October 24, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

      Good to know! I bought a yard package because I wanted a lot to play with, but I love the idea of buying it by the yard (and also the EZ Steam stuff, nice!)

  7. Tasha @ By Gum, By Golly October 24, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    So cute! That’s a great idea to just make a little decor item that’s actually useful, too. I kind of love the look of the skull in the photo where is mouth is jauntily off the side. Ha!

    We went bananas one year and made a bunch of papier mache Halloween decorations, but when we moved to the house I got scared of secret bugs (secret because I’m paranoid and said bugs don’t probably exist) eating them through the rest of the year so we tossed them. LOL!

    • LLADYBIRD October 24, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

      Awww!! I bet they were so cute tho! Especially in your perfect little house ๐Ÿ™‚ Now I want to make paper mache Halloween decorations haha sounds fun!

  8. Michelle October 24, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    I love your vintage finds! I’m pretty proud to say that every piece of furniture in my house has been re-purposed, salvaged or built for us by family. I think it makes for a very eclectic and environmentally responsible aesthetic. We’re in the process of moving into a bigger house, and I’m really absorbed in the idea of having something knitted or sewn as a fixture in each room. I’m not a big seasonal decorator either, but I think this pillow is fantastic- year round. Thanks for the How-To. .

    • LLADYBIRD October 24, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

      Thank you! I try to go by the same furniture concept… we have a few new pieces left, and we’re slowly swapping them out for vintage or hand-built. I can’t wait until I love EVERY piece of furniture in my house ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. sewcookgardenrepeat October 24, 2013 at 10:32 am #

    I just started making pillows too!!! Love it! (And I have giant ass spiders on my porch also.)

  10. jaggery October 24, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    Sweet pillow!
    And thanx for the coupon!

  11. Sarah Kate Creations October 24, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    I need to make myself a new pillow, mine are kinda old and not fluffy any more. Maybe I’ll throw some applique in there, or piping. I like piping. Anyways, I loved the little peak into your house. I wish my furniture was as nice as yours…

    • LLADYBIRD October 24, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

      Haha, if it makes you feel any better, almost all my furniture is vintage/antique from the flea market or my mama’s house (and super cheap, for that matter!) ๐Ÿ™‚ I waited a LONG time until I found that couch and chair, but they were worth the wait!

  12. Ashley @ My Craftily Ever After October 24, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

    This is great! I am such a fan of applique! I would love it if you would link up to our party this week at

  13. Lisa October 24, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

    Yay, thanks for the shoutout! I love the chair in his new home with his fine, fine accessories (that $1 ottoman is like GET. OUT). And the pillow is so cute! I have a skeleton-theme addiction, and the applique process you explained makes it look like it would actually be do-able by the less dexterous among us (cough, me). ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy early Halloween!

    • LLADYBIRD October 24, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

      You could TOTALLY do this. Omg let’s have a crafy party pls!

  14. weefrills October 24, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    You may not do much seasonal decorating, but I’ve seen your house and it’s beautifully decorated! You’ve got an eye.

    We used to have an ottoman like that when I was young, but I think it was a solid color. : )

  15. Rachelle October 24, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    Sweet project and tutorial! As an aside, who made the throw on the yellow chair? I love the pattern and have never seen it before!

    • LLADYBIRD October 24, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

      I have no idea, actually! It was given to me by a friend, who I think originally obtained it from an estate sale. I do love it, though, it goes so well with my living room ๐Ÿ˜‰

  16. jenna (@KittyCatStevens) October 24, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

    this is awesome! i was just playing around with heat n bond last week trying to figure out if i could use it for my patchesโ€” it’s pretty neat stuff! let me know when the cat sweater party is happeningโ€” lord knows five is not enough!

  17. Darlene Sipes October 24, 2013 at 11:36 pm #

    The Skull pillow is really cute, especially his sparkly eyes I think you should keep it out year round. I use Steam a Seam for appliques. It is repositionable until ironed down and it does not gum up your needle.

  18. bekswhoknits October 24, 2013 at 11:57 pm #

    this is so freakin cool!
    I didn’t think applique for was easy, but you make it look like something I could do. I guess it’s having the right materials for the job.
    and it’s definitely an all year round piece.

  19. Anonymous October 25, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    So fun! I think I may have to sneak this in at some point over the weekend! Ohmigawd, you should totally have a cat-sweater competition to see who can come up with the best one. I bet there’s a little cat-sweater-love in all of us! Siiiiiiick!

  20. Colleen October 25, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    That’s great, and I REALLY can’t wait to see what you come up with for Christmas!! And Thanksgiving. Turkey pillow? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  21. Laura Lou October 29, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

    The fabric really makes it. Awesome design.

  22. kimmie October 30, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    This is pretty damned cute! I really need to channel my inner lauren this evening because I am gonna sew part of my boyfriends halloween costume. Pretty scared shitless about it.


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