Introduction: Ombre Denim Throw Pillow

About: My aim is to help you upcycle, remake, or sew! Or if you don't want to sew but would like to support artisans who do, visit my Etsy store: EmeraldRainbowProjct


  • Denim in 6 different shades (two different colors used twice; another I used the wrong side of the denim for my lightest shade. All denim shades used were from worn-out jeans.)
  • Fabric or recycled denim sizable enough for pillow back
  • Paper to make your pattern pieces
  • Micro velvet, red (1/2 yard)
  • 3 spools thread (dark blue, red, denim stitch shade)
  • Sewing machine with zipper foot
  • Preferably rotary cutter, mat, and ruler (scissors and ruler will do)
  • Cording
  • Steam-a-Seam (makes "B" an iron-on; can satin stitch around without the "B" budging)
  • Pillow insert

Step 1: Paper Piecing & Cutting Your Denim

Decide how big you want your finished pillow. Mine is 16"x16" so I needed to start with a pattern that was 17" square to allow for 1/2" seam allowance. Then I folded in quarters and cut one quarter in 3 triangles as shown. I will use these 3 paper pattern pieces for the whole pillow. Some of the smaller triangles I cut on the fold of the denim, making them twice as big...

I cut 10 triangles, leaving an extra 1/2" seam allowance around the pattern pieces. Two of the medium hue denims I used twice. The darkest 2 denim triangles are from the same pair of jeans even though one is slightly lighter than the other. And the lightest triangle is from the wrong side of my lightest denim. So in all it looks as though I used about 8 different denim shades when in fact I used 6.

Step 2: Sew the Triangles

Sew the triangles together, right sides facing each other. The point in the middle where the triangles all meet doesn't have to be pretty as we are going to cut this out due to the bulk it will create. Iron the seam allowances all to one side and then topstitch using a jean topstitch color and thickness of thread (like a goldenrod yellow or burnt orange color). Lengthen your stitchlength to 3 when topstitching and use a topstitch needle if possible. This topstitch should be done with the right side facing up after all your triangles are sewn together. Sew a line 1/4" away from the seam.

Step 3: Cut Away Center Bulk & Square-up Outer Edges

Turn to wrong side and cut away as much center bulk as you can so that your square lays flat. It's okay if you cut a hole in the center in the process. You can patch the hole as I did and you will be covering that up later with your letter or graphic.

Use your rotary cutter and ruler to cut your square into a perfect square. Mine is 17"x17" at this point.

Step 4: Add Letter or Graphic

The kind of letter that you can use for this project is a letter whose center point covers up the center point of your ombre base (letters like B, S, T, I, A, E, F, H). (Letters that would not work would be, for instance, L, C, D, G, or U as they have holes in the middle.) If your letter doesn't work, you can use a graphic such as an ampersand (&) or heart or star.

I found my letter when searching "letter B free printable 8x11". Here's the one I used:

If you watch my video, you can see my letter B is quite small initially and I needed it bigger to cover up the entire hole in the middle. So I enlarged this letter by 140% on my printer and taped it together as it printed in 4 pieces. The larger letter looks much better! Often necessity is the mother of good design.

Turn your letter or graphic to its back side (upside down) if it is not symmetrical and trace on the paper side of your steam-a-seam. Once traced, iron on to the wrong side of your velvet, being careful not to use too hot of an iron. You don't want to crush your velvet (or melt it in my case as mine is made of polyester). Just warm enough of an iron to adhere the steam-a-seam to the back of your fabric.

Cut out your letter & peel the backing off the steam-a-seam.

Center letter on your ombre denim square being sure to cover the center hole entirely. When ironing, use a cotton press cloth so as not to iron directly on the right side of the velvet. Use steam to affix but keep temperature of iron set to medium.

Satin stitch around the edges of your letter/graphic. This is a zig-zag stitch where you set the stitch length to near-zero (see pic).

Step 5: Make Piping and Baste on Pillow Front

Piping takes any pillow up a notch and it is easy to make - even out of velvet.

Cut 2" thick strips of velvet fabric along the diagonal of your fabric. You will need to piece together 2-4 of these strips as shown to make one continuous strip of velvet.

Next, switch out your machine foot to a zipper foot. This is so that you can get the stitching right up next to the cording that you will fold into the exact center of your velvet strips.

After sewing enough length to completely line the perimeter of your pillow front, pin this piping to the edges of your pillow front, making sure raw edges are together (cording/piping side in). Criss-cross the piping at the bottom center as shown.

Baste piping on by machine (or use longest machine stitch you have if you don't have a basting stitch.) This will keep your piping exactly where you want it when you go to add the pillow backing.

Step 6: Pin & Sew Pillow Backing & Fill

I did not want to fuss with a zipper in my pillow but I did want it removable so I can wash the cover. So I made overlapping flaps in the back.

Cut 2 backing pieces measuring the length of your pillow front on one side (17" was mine) and the other side about 3 inches shorter than that. Fold under 1/2" on the shorter side and iron. Then fold again another inch or so and iron again. Stitch this side 1/4" away from the edge. You now have two pieces of back fabric that are finished on one side.

Then pin this backing piece to the front, right sides facing together, matching the three raw edges. Sew (still using machine zipper foot) right up against the cording piping which you can feel as you go. It should be about 1/2" -5/8" away from the edge. Pin the second back flap on and sew in the same way.

Step 7: Make Your Couch Happy


Fill pillow with a pillow form and you are ready to rock your couch with your new pillow(s).

For how to's on my other denim pillows pictured here, stay tuned.

Thanks for reading & watching and I hope this inspires you to create beautiful pillows out of something that might have otherwise been tossed in the garbage.

Happy sewing!!!

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