Wednesday, February 3, 2010

DIY Wednesday: Make an A Detacher inspired rose pillow from a thrift-store skirt

As mentioned last week, I was inspired by the big full flower pillow sold by Manhattan boutique A Detacher. There are semi-affordable knockoffs of the rose pillow style such as this one at Z Gallerie for $50. But why buy when one can make?

You will need:

  • a second-hand skirt, the larger the better. A full skirt will work best.
  • a second-hand pillow.
  • pins.
  • scissors.
  • a sewing machine. (It is possible to hand sew this project, but it would be an ordeal.)

I started with a size 24W silver skirt and a puffy 18-inch second-hand pillow. See the diagram below for an overview of how you can use the body of the skirt as a pillow cover and the hem of the skirt as a ruffle.

I used the skirt's zipper as my pillow zipper. (This is not always possible because the zipper on a skirt may be too short to work for a pillow. In an upcoming post, I will show you how to make a rose pillow from a skirt where the zipper is not usable.)

Turn the skirt inside out with the zipper side facing up.

If your second-hand pillow has a removeable cover, use this to create a pattern for your new cover.

Fold the old pillow cover in half and align it with the zipper on your skirt. This allows you to center the zipper in the middle of the new cover.

Unfold the cover and pin it to the top layer of your skirt. Cut around the old cover leaving about an inch on all sides as your seam allowance. (See photo below.)

If you do not have a pre-existing pillow cover to use, you can make a pattern. Measure the height and width of your pillow and add two inches to the height and two inches to the width for a one-inch seam allowance. Cut out a piece of paper of those dimensions. Fold the paper in half and align with the zipper of your skirt to center the zipper. Unfold the paper and pin to the top layer of the skirt. Cut out the fabric along the edge of your pattern.

Now you will need to cut out the "front" of your pillow. Turn the skirt over so that you have a section of fabric that does not have a seam running through it. You want a nice plain piece of fabric. Pin your old pillow cover or your pattern to the fabric and cut out the front piece. If you are using a preexisting pillow cover as your pattern, remember to leave an inch of extra fabric around all sides to create a seam allowance.

You now have a front and a back (with a free zipper!) for your pillow.

The next step is to cut out the fabric for the ruffle. The depth of your ruffle is up to you, but it can range from about three inches to about seven inches. My pillow used a deep ruffle of seven inches.

Use the bottom edge of the skirt because it is already hemmed, saving a step. From the bottom hem of the skirt, measure up the width of your ruffle and mark. Cut out the fabric, which will be a long strip three to seven inches wide and about two yards long.

Depending on the fullness of the skirt and the size of your pillow, the hem of the skirt may not provide enough fabric for a nice big rose. In that case you will need to cut a second strip of fabric above the first strip, hem one side and attach it to the first strip. My "ruffle" ended being about seven feet long and took two strips of skirt fabric (as shown in my diagram).

That's it for the cutting. Now on to the sewing. Take the front piece of your pillow cover and find its center point. (I do this by folding in in half and in half again and marking the corner with a pin.)

Unfold it and start pinning the ruffle to the fabric. For this particular pillow, I pinned with the wrong side of the ruffle up. This gives the "petals" a curved look. (But it doesn't look exactly like the ruffles on my inspiration pillow. I'll show you an alternative ruffle in an upcoming post.)

Contine pinning the ruffle in a tight spiral outward. Allow about a half an inch between each row.

It's going to start looking like this.

When you are done pinning, sew along your pin line, starting with the outside of your spiral and working in. When you're done, the back of your pillow will look like this. (Or likely a little neater.)

Fold your rose in toward the middle. Pin the back cover over the front cover with the wrong sides of the fabric facing out. Sew along all four sides.

Unzip the zipper and turn the pillow right side out through the zipper hole. Squish the pillow inside through the zipper hole and zip it shut.

Fluff your ruffles.

Place pillow in a position of honor and make all your friends come look at it.


  1. This pillow is so cool. Kudos to you for DIY'ing it. I so want to do this but I'm afraid it would take forever since I don't have a sewing machine. I'll just enjoy looking at yours for now. xo, Cristi

  2. I <3 <3 <3 this. Beautiful work. I want to try this!

  3. waaaaay better than the zgallerie one! wow! that's also a great color and fabric..

  4. Love it! Thanks for the tutorial. I'll have to try it now.

  5. Wow. You did such a great job! It looks so professional! You need to consider opening an Etsy shop and selling these babies. :)

  6. Amazing! Is there nothing you can't do?

    s (& j)

  7. Thanks everybody. Honestly, I am very much a hack seamstress.

  8. LOVE this! Great job. And also love the screen!

  9. It looks absolutely amazing! lots of work (or at it seemed like it!) but totally worth it. Thanks for showing us!