Make it Modern Pillows – May 2024 Tutorial

It’s Jamie again from Sew Brainy Designs! It’s year 3 of my Make it Modern Pillows series! I’m so excited and I have some fun designs in store for this year! In case you missed 2022 or 2023 pillow fun, you can click the link below. Last year we started a fun Facebook Group so we can all sew along together!

April’s block used small pairs of rectangles that spin around each other..

May’s block uses alternating Half Square Triangles to create small arrows pointed in the same direction.

I love the bright colors!

Any colors would work here and of course you can always use scraps!

This pillow definitely has a fun summer vibe!

I did a 1/2″ grid quilting with Aurifil 50wt. white thread for this fantastic texture!

This month’s pillow features POParazzi by the RBD designers. The colors I used were Alpine, Coral, Powder, Marmalade, Honey, Moss, Violet, and Peacock.

These are such pretty colors!

Now let’s make a pillow!

MAY 2024 Pillow Tutorial

Pattern Notes

  • Please read through all instructions before beginning.
  • Seam allowances are 1/4″ unless specified.
  • Press all seams open (or in preferred direction) unless specified.
  • To avoid confusion, there is no FABRIC I.

Material Requirements

For the block (pillow top):

This pattern uses (1) BACKGROUND fabric [FABRIC A] and (8) ACCENT fabrics [FABRICS B-J]. Below are the requirements to make ONE 18″ block.

For the pillow body:

  • (1) 22-24″ square piece of muslin or other fabric (for quilting the top)
  • (1) 22-24″ square piece of batting (for quilting the top)
  • (2) 13½” × 18½” pieces of backing fabric (for the pillow envelope)
  • (1) 20″ pillow form (my favorite one to use is the FJÄDRAR from IKEA!). I always use a pillow form that is one size larger than my pillow case to make sure it’s extra full.

Cutting Directions


(2) 3½× WOF strip, subcut:

  • (8) 3½” squares [A1]
  • (8) ” × 3″ strips [A2]

(6) × WOF strip, subcut:

  • (16) ” × 5″ strips [A3]
  • (8) ” × 3″ strips [A2]

From each of the ACCENT FABRICS B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and J:

  • (1) 3½” square [B1/C1/D1/E1/F1/G1/H1/J1]
  • (2) ” × 5″ strips [B3/C3/D3/E3/F3/G3/H3/J3]
  • (2) ” × 3″ strips [B2/C2/D2/D2/F2/G2/H2/J2]

Piecing Directions

1. Using your preferred marking tool, prepare all (8) A1 squares by marking a diagonal line on the wrong side from one corner to the opposite corner.

2. Pair (1) A1 and (1) B1 square RST to create HSTs using the two at a time method. Stitch a seam 1/4″ away from the center line on each side. Cut along the diagonal line to create TWO HSTs. Press the seam and trim to 3″ square.

3. Repeat STEPS 1 and 2 using the remaining A1, C1, D1, E1, F1, G1, H1, and J1 pieces to create HSTs in the combinations shown below for a total of (16) HST units.

4. Lay out (1) FABRIC B HST, (2) A2, and (2) A3 as shown below. Sew (1) A2 to the left and right side of the HST. Press the seams.

5. Sew (1) A3 top the top and bottom. Press the seams. Trim to 5″ square if needed.

6. Repeat STEPS 4 and 5 with the remaining A2 and A3 pieces, as well as (1) HST from FABRICS C, D, E, F, G, H, and J to make the units shown below.

7. Lay out the remaining FABRIC B HST, (2) B2, and (2) B3 as shown below. Sew (1) B2 to the left and right side of the HST. Press the seams.

8. Sew (1) B3 top the top and bottom. Press the seams. Trim to 5″ square if needed.

9. Repeat STEPS 7 and 8 with the remaining C2, C3, D2, D3, E2, E3, F2, F3, G2, G3, H2, H3, J2, and J3 pieces, as well as the remaining HSTs to make the units shown below.

10. Lay out all (16) UNITS into 4 ROWS as shown below, noting the direction of the small triangles in the upper left corner of each unit. Sew the FOUR UNITS in each row together. Press the seams.

11. Sew the FOUR ROWS together. Press the seams.

12. Your pillow top is now complete!

13. Layer the completed block on top of the 22-24″ batting and muslin squares and quilt the pillow top as desired. When you are done, trim the block to 18½”.

Note – if you add dense quilting, your top may shrink a bit in size. Just trim it to the largest square that you can. You can trim the width of envelope backing fabric a bit in the next step if needed in order to match your actual top size.

14. Create a finished edge on the long side of each of the (2) 13½″ × 18½” pieces of envelope backing by folding 1/2″ of fabric over the wrong side TWICE. Stitch a seam near the edge to secure it.

15. With the square top facing up, layer the envelope pieces RST on top of it as shown below and sew a 3/8″ seam around the edge of the pillow top.

16. Trim the edges of the corners a bit to reduce bulk. Turn the pillow case inside out and insert your pillow form. Your pillow is now done! Enjoy your fun modern make!

I can’t wait to see all the beautiful pillows everyone makes! They can be very addicting! Be sure to share them on social media! #makeitmodernpillows #iloverileyblake #sewbrainydesigns.

If you check out my blog, I have some more color mockups and some freebie coloring pages you can download. Plus a sneak peek of a companion quilt pattern for this block that’s coming soon!

I’ll see you in June with some rainbow strips! Don’t forget to join us in the Facebook Group!

Until later, happy quilting!


Jamie is the creative brain behind Sew Brainy Designs. This self-proclaimed science nerd loves bright colors, big blocks, Mid-century modern design, and using as few seams as possible. Find all of her Make It Modern Pillows on the Riley Blake Designs blog!

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