You are invited to participate in my 2016 Pillow Sewing Challenge. Brainstorm, browse, design, plan, and stitch your favorite pillow. Enter my Pillow Sewing Challenge by emailing me your image ([email protected]). My staff and I will add it to the link tool. It’s easy!

Make a pillow to showcase your sewing talents. Entries may be for any occasion, any color, or any size (that fits on a sofa or comparable household furniture). Sew a pillow using as much imagination as you like. You may enter ONE pillow; it must be completed within the last year and not entered in the 2015 Nancy Zieman Pillow Challenge.

For this challenge, my staff and I will upload your picture. We’ve listened to your feedback and know that having larger, clickable pictures would be ideal. We’ll make that happen. Simply email a photo of your completed project and project name to [email protected]. Deadline for photo entries is March 20, 2016.

Pillow Sewing Challenge Guidelines

  • Select or create your design.
  • All sewing, quilting, serging, machine embroidery, and embellishment techniques are eligible!
  • Grab our Pillow Sewing Challenge blog badge to let your friends know about this fun Pillow Sewing Challenge.
  • Remember to share your progress and projects on your social media sites using the hashtag: #NZPillowChallenge.
  • Email your photo by March 20, 2016, to [email protected].
  • Online voting begins March 22, 2016.
  • Voting closes on April 3, 2016.
  • Elected winners and one randomly drawn winner will be announced April 5, 2016.


Go Social with Your Pillow Sewing Challenge

Nancy Zieman's 2016 Pillow Challenge
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If you have a website, copy the code above and paste it into your website editor to have the Pillow Sewing Challenge badge on your site.

If you are on social sites like Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, or Facebook, let all your friends know you are working on the Pillow Sewing Challenge by tagging your post with the hashtag:   #NZPillowChallenge.

The hashtag is a searchable “word” associated with an event or activity, which, when searched on popular social websites, like Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook, shows every single post using that hashtag. Even if you don’t personally know that stitcher, you’ll see her/his progress and a photo. Hashtags are a fun way to network and connect with people who share similar interests.

Inspiration: Lattice Pillow

You can, of course, make any pillow design you wish. I thought I might share this easy pattern to spark your creative juices. The Lattice Pillow features four machine appliquéd strips of fabric interlaced on a solid square. The pillow back is created in an envelope style and uses a Velcro closure.

Note from Nancy: Additional pillow sewing tutorials are provided by our generous sponsors and are linked at the end of this pattern.


Cutting Instructions:

  • Cut one 17” square for the face of the pillow.
  • Cut two 17″ x 11-1/2″ rectangles for the back of the pillow (see blog for size).
  • Cut two 2-1/2” crosswise strips for lattice accents.

Create the Lattice

  • Fuse the Create-A-Strap to the wrong side of the 2-1/2” crosswise strips.
  • Cut four 17” lengths.
  • Fold and press along the interfacing perforations.
  • Position a length of double-sided basting tape on the wrong side of each lattice strip. Remove the protective backing.
  • Place one vertical lengths of lattice on the pillow front 5-1/2” from the left corner of the 17″ square. Place a second length ¼” from the first.
  • Place the first horizontal length 5-1/5” from the top edge. Weave over, then under the vertical lattice. (It will be necessary to slightly release the tape in the vertical lengths where the lattice will weave under.)
  • Place a second horizontal length ¼” from the first length. Again weave the vertical strips, this time under, then over.
  • Use a quilter’s ruler to guarantee the strips are placed at right angles.

Note from Nancy: I chose to offset the woven section of the lattice. Consider centering the strips for a symmetrical look. Be advised, though, if you add strips diagonally across the pillow, cut them longer.

  • Use clear thread such and Madeira’s Monofil in the needle of your machine. Wind the bobbin with thread that matches the pillow fabric. Stitch the lattice pieces to the pillow front.

Create the Pillow Back

  • Create the back using the two rectangles cut 17″ x 11-1/2″ and a 7″ length of sew-on hook & loop tape.
  • Separate the hook & loop tape pieces.
  • Serge or zigzag one long edge of each pillow back rectangle.

  • Center the top edge of the hook & loop tape strips to each rectangle 1-1/2″ from the serged or zigzagged edge. Measure using the 5-in-1 Sliding Gauge.

  • Topstitch the hook & loop tape to the fabric.

  •  Fold under a 3″ hem along one hook & loop tape edge.

  • Topstitch the hem.

  • Overlap the rectangles, matching the hook & loop tape strips. The pillow back is now the same size as the pillow front.
  • Baste the overlap on right and left sides.
  • Stack the front and back pillow pieces, right sides together.
  • Shape the corners of the front and back pieces to prevent pokey corners.
  • Measure down and across 4″ and mark with a non-permanent pen.
  • Measure in 1/2″ along both sides of the corners and mark.

  • Connect the lines using a ruler. (Optional)
  • Place ruler at 4″ measurement along cut edge and taper to 1/2″ mark; trim.

  • Repeat on all four corners.

Note from Nancy: Consider making a template of the size of the shaped corners from poster board to quickly mark the pillow corners.

  • Stitch front and back pillow pieces, using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

  • “Wrap” the corners: Fold the fabric along the stitch line at the bottom corner; pin.
Note from Nancy: Here’s a bit more detail on wrapped corners: Meet the pillow front and back, right sides together. Stitch one edge of the pillow from end to end. Press both seam allowances toward the under layer. Fold (or “wrap”) the seam allowance along the first stitching line, right sides together. Meet the remaining seam edges. Straight stitch from the fold to seam end. Repeat on all four pillow edges. Press. Turn right side out. Use pointer tool to help get uniform accurate points. Watch me show my wrapped corner technique on a collar on this episode of Sewing With Nancy.

  •  Release hook & loop tape, turn right side out. Insert the pillow form. Ta-dah!

Additional Inspiration—Pillow Tutorials

From Indygo Junction: Pocket Pillow

From June Tailor: Charming Circles Pillow

From Baby Lock Sewing: Pillow Projects
Simply type Pillow into their search bar to find pdf directions to these and many more pillow projects. 

From PellonPillow Projects
Find these and many more pillow projects on the Pellon Projects website


Over $1,300 in prize packages from our generous sponsors: 

Baby Lock Sewing: Anna Sewing Machine, value of $399

Assorted Product Bundle (patterns, books and fabric) from Amy Barickman and Indygo Junction, case and props not included, value of $200

Assorted Product Bundle from June Tailor, value of $185 

Clover Assorted Nancy Zieman Product Bundle, value of $165

Sewing With Nancy DVD Value Set from Nancy’s Notionsvalue of $164.

Pellon Product Bundle from Pellonvalue of $87.

 F+W Media Two-Book Package, value of $55

Hobo Tote Template and Notions bundle donated by Nancy Zieman, value of $50

2016 Pillow Sewing Challenge Schedule

  • March 1: Pillow Sewing Challenge kick off TODAY!
  • March 20: Entry Deadline
  • March 22: Voting Opens
  • April 3: Voting Closes
  • April 5: Winners Announced

Share your comments below about the Pillow Sewing Challenge and let us know if you plan to join!

Get Stitching!

Nancy Zieman The Blog

Email challenge questions to [email protected] Challenge not open to sponsors, employees, and immediate family members. Photos and techniques may be featured in future promotions, blog posts, videos, and/or TV shows.
Nancy Zieman—author, pattern designer, businesswoman, producer, and national sewing authority—is the host of the popular show Sewing With Nancy, which appears exclusively on public television stations across the United States and Canada. Follow Nancy’s blog at and sign up to receive Nancy’s E-News for the latest news in Sewing, Quilting, Creating, and Block of the Month updates.

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