How to Make and Fold a Quillow

Free quillow pattern

Free quillow pattern

I have been meaning to show you how to make a quillow for ages and now here it is.  If you haven’t come across the term before, a quillow is a combination of a quilt and a pillow – the cushion cover is attached to the quilt and the quilt can be folded up and stowed inside the cover.  This gives you a spare cushion and a neat and tidy way of storing your quilt.  The quilt measures 48″ square, the cushion is 16″ square and I have used about 3/4 yard of red fabric, 1/2 yard of blue and 1.3/4 yards of white fabric.  I have used a quilt block called Year’s Favourite which I thought was appropriate for this time of the year.

Fabric requirements

4.7/8″ squares:  forty each in red and white, twenty each in blue and white

4.1/2″ squares:  forty white

One 16.1/2″ square of fabric for the cushion backing

Backing and wadding:  one 52″ square of each

Binding:  five 2.1/2″ strips cut across the width of fabric

How to make a quillow top

Make half square triangles

Make half square triangles

Make half square triangles with the 4.7/8″ squares in either red and white or blue and white as listed above.  Place two squares with right sides together and mark a line along the diagonal.  Sew a 1/4″ seam either side of the marked line and cut along the line.  This will produce two half square triangles which are now 4.1/2″ squares.

Years favourite quilt block layout

Years favourite quilt block layout

Lay the patchwork squares out in four rows of four.  I have used a very simple block so that I can concentrate on how to make a quillow.  The blue/white half square triangles form a pinwheel in the middle and there are three red/white half square triangles and one white square along each edge of the block.  You’ll have to check the photo to be sure which way to place the triangles.

Completed year's favourite quilt block

Completed year’s favourite quilt block

Sew the squares together across each row and then sew the rows together.  Make ten of these blocks.  Sew nine of them together in three rows of three blocks to form a quilt top 48.1/2″ square.

Place the backing fabric with right side down and smooth gently.  Lay the wadding on top and smooth again.  Place the year’s favourite quilt on top.  Pin to secure and quilt to secure the three layers together.  I have just used a general meander quilting across the entire quilt – stitch in the ditch around each block to stabilise the area and then quilt gentle curves all over the block.

Trim the quilt edges

Trim the quilt edges

Trim the edges of the quilt so that the edges of all three layers are in line.  If I’m glossing over these stages, it’s because there are full details of these steps in the beginner quilting section.

 How to make a quillow

Place the two squares with right sides together

Place the two squares with right sides together

The next step is to add the tenth block to the quilt to form a pouch so that the quilt can be folded to fill the cushion.  Lay the cushion backing against the tenth quilt block with right sides together.  I have used red velvet for the cushion backing because I like the fabric, it shows up well in the photos so that you can see what I am doing, and because it makes a lovely soft pouch on the quilt if you want to tuck your feet into the pouch when you are cuddling up in the quillow.

Make a pouch with the backing

Make a pouch with the backing

Sew the backing and the quilt block together along three edges to form a pouch.  Turn right side out and push the corners out gently.  I haven’t done any quilting on this block because it would have been difficult on the velvet.  As a result, the block is more visible on the front of the quillow, showing up against the other blocks which have been quilted.  If you are using a cotton fabric for the cushion backing you may prefer to quilt the block.  All I have done is topstitch around the three edges of the block about 1/4″ in from the edge.

Sew the extra block to the quilt

Sew the extra block to the quilt

Lay the tenth block on the front of the quillow with the backing fabric against the quilt.  The fourth, unsewn edge of the block should be lined up with the middle block of the bottom edge of the quilt.  Sew two lines of stitching up each side of the block to secure it to the quillow.  The top of the block remains unsewn so that you can fold the quilt into the pouch.  The bottom edge remains unsewn because it will be sewn to the quilt when the binding is added.

The quillow is now almost complete.  It just remains to sew the binding on as for any quilt.  Just take care that all the layers are included in the stitching when you stitch across the bottom of the quilt where the extra block has been added.

How to fold a quillow

Fold the quillow in from each side

Fold the quillow in from each side

Turn the cushion backing up

Turn the cushion backing up

Folding the quillow so that you can make it into a pillow or cushion is not difficult but you need to follow a few steps.  Lay the quilt out with right side down.  Fold each side in so that the quilt is in three layers.

The cushion backing (the extra quilt block) is at the bottom.  Pull this to the front so that the backing (red velvet) is on top and the lower third of the quillow is tucked inside the pouch.

Fold the quillow into thirds

Fold the quillow into thirds

Fold the quilt inside the cushion pouch

Fold the quilt inside the cushion pouch

You should now have the red velvet layer at the top and two thirds of the quillow stretching out above it.  Fold the top of the quilt down so that the top block covers the middle block.  Now it just remains to fold the top of the quilt (on the right in the photo) inside the pouch formed by the red velvet on the left in the photo.


Front of the quillow

Front of the quillow

Back of the quillow

Back of the quillow

You now have a pillow or cushion with a quilt inside waiting to be unfolded whenever you want to use the quillow.

I think that learning how to make a quillow is a great idea for someone who is short of space.  This is perhaps a good time to point out that I have chosen to make my quillow with the cushion cover part on the front but you could just as easily sew the cushion pouch to the back of the quilt if you wanted it not to be visible on the front.  You could also use a plain cotton fabric for the cushion backing or you could sew the cushion backing on the other way up so that the back of the pillow/cushion was also a quilt block.  Never forget that this is your project and you can experiment with different options for your quillow.

Here’s the video:

I hope that you have enjoyed the festive season so far and I want to send you warmest wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.

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  1. Jane Chresta says:

    Dear Rose,
    just want to thank you for a year full of great inspirations and at the same time wish you a very happy new year.
    Kind regards
    Jane (in Switzerland)

  2. Thank you Rose, for the best wishes. I like the idea of the quillow. Wish you a very Happy New Year & all the best for 2014. God Bless.

  3. Quiltingle Sue says:

    Thank you for unfolding the mystery of the Quillow….with your clear video, at last I get it! Thank you also for all the wonderful enjoyment you give us each week. I’m always excited to see what’s going to pop up in the inbox! I just don’t know where you find the time. Very appreciative of everything you do. Happy Sewing in 2014 to all!

  4. Rose, it’s beautiful.
    Hope you will continue to inspire us in 2014.
    Wishing you a happy and above all a healthy New Year.

  5. Dear Rose: I made quillow’s for my grandchildren about 25 years ago. They are great for the Kids to bring with them when they visit Grandma. I think it is time I make them for the Great grandchildren. Something to do in the new year. Love your Blog, it is so informational. I hope you and your family have a wonderful and safe New Year.

  6. Thank you Rose for another brilliant idea hope you had a great Christmas. wishing you a peaceful and productive new year .

  7. Jan in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada says:

    Dear Rose,

    Thank you so much for doing all the videos (and all the work that you put in making the quilts!) and of course sharing with us in your weekly email. I appreciate your lovely speaking voice and the pace with which you describe each step. Your weekly emails inspire me to bash on with my next project (I’m a novice quilter, I’ve made 10 projects so far and I’m in my happy place with colourful fabrics and my little Singer). I wish you and your family Happy New Year and all the best for 2014. Thank you so much!

    • Hi Jan. Thanks for your kind comments. I love that description of ‘being in your happy place’ – that certainly must be true for many quilters. Best wishes for the New Year.

  8. Sandra Barnett says:

    Oh Rose,
    Thank you for this wonderful idea. Now if I get started I can have a few done for next Christmas, for gifts. You should have been enjoying your company and not worrying about making a quillow. Well you can always give this one to one of your children.
    Thank you again and Have a very happy and healthy New Year.

    • Hi Sandra. Oh don’t worry – I wasn’t making the quillow while the family were home. I made it before Christmas and we made good use of it during the holidays. Best wishes for the New Year.

  9. Hi Rose,
    Zimbawe for your niece’s wedding how lovely. I am desperately trying to talk my daughter around to a wedding abroad but up to now she is having none of it, ha! ha! Wishing you and your family a very happy and healthy New Year

  10. Brenda in the USA says:

    I LOVE THIS! I made a few Quillows as gifts a few years ago,, and they were a big hit. This inspires me to want to make more! Thank you, <3

  11. Bev tucker says:

    I need the pattern for a small child’s quillow

  12. Such a good idea — I was looking for something like this for my daughter who only has a small appt.
    I love your ideas — which I stock in a little place in the back of my mind for when I have a couple of days to create something.
    All my best wishes for a Happy and Prosperous New Year

    • thanks, Judith. A quillow is ideal for someone with small space – I think they are a great idea. Best wishes for the New Year.

  13. dawn o brien says:

    look forword to our weekly lesson -always different and interesting.
    Blessings for The New Year !Dawn South Africa

  14. Thank you so much for the instructions, my grandchildren will love these. Thank you for taking the time to do these instructions you have made it look so easy. Have very Happy and Healthy New Year.

  15. Thankyou Rose. This is something I have always wanted to do.
    Now I can. Well, have a go anyway.
    Best wishes for the New Year

  16. Hi Rose, Just want to wish you a very happy new year and to let you
    know how much I enjoy your posts with the beautiful quilts and tutorials.
    I will be traveling to London next summer…would love to drop in and meet
    you! I will be with a group, so no guarantees!! Happy 2014!

    • Hi Alice. Thanks for your comments. I live quite a long way away from London – about 5 hours by train. I hope you have a wonderful trip to London. Best wishes for the New Year.

  17. Amazing!!! Superb idea and so clearly explained, as always.
    Thank you so much Rose for all your incredibly creative ideas.
    Hope you are having a wonderful holiday and wish you a wonderful 2014.

    • Thanks for your comments, Karen. Yes, I still have two of the children at home so I’m having a great time. Best wishes for the New Year.

      • Debbie Walker says:

        Hi Rose may I firstly wish you a very happy and healthy 2014….. I must say what a brilliant project you have chosen to share with us. Thank you so much . Happy Quilting . Debbie

  18. I’ve seen children’s sleepwear storage pillow cases but never cases for stowing quilts. Now, how clever is this?
    Best wishes, Rose for a happy and healthy New Year. I’m still trying to recover from Christmas. I had company 3 days in a row and it’s time to take it easy.

    • Hi Claire. Sorry to hear that you haven’t been well. I hope you start to feel better soon. I agree about taking it easy – curl up with a good book and a glass of wine! Best wishes for the New Year and thanks for all your support in 2013.

  19. Margaret W Fairgrieve says:

    Merry Christmas Rose.
    I was so happy to receive your email that I had won the fabric in your contest . you asked that I send my home address which I did that night as you would like to post it on the Monday to me , Which I did I also emailed you last week but sad to say I have not had a reply

    • Oh Margaret I am so pleased to hear from you. I haven’t had any emails from you and I couldn’t understand why you weren’t claiming your prize! Could you try and send your address again please. The fabrics are still sitting here beside the computer waiting to be sent. I can’t understand it, because I have been particularly looking out for an email from you.

  20. Stacey King says:

    Rose, Thank you so much for this pattern! I have been looking for something to take to horse shows because I keep forgetting to take something to keep myself warm. This will be perfect to keep in the truck when I have my forgetful moments (or if I feel I need a nap). I can not wait to get started making this!!

    • Thanks, Stacey. Glad to hear the quillow pattern will be useful! It shouldn’t take up much room when it’s folded into the cushion when you are not using it.

  21. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I am definitely going to make a quillow in 2014. My daughter has one, which is about 20 years old, and I would love to make one for her baby, due in June.

  22. I love your tutorials but when I try to save them to Favorites on my computer, they don’t show up. Is there some kind of glitch or am I doing something wrong? I am trying to save the Quillow pattern.

    • Hi Nancy. I don’t know why the patterns won’t save to favourites. I’m not aware of any reason for this to happen.

  23. Thank you Rose. Your instructions are so easy to follow. I’ve been looking for a quillow pattern. Thanks for all the great tutorials. Hope you and your family will have a wonderfull and blessed New Year.

  24. Mary E. Howard says:

    I have been tossing around for a project for 1014 and always liked the idea of a quillow…thank you,,,I now have my project in mind…..I am 78 years of age, always been inrested in needlework of all kinds, and done a fair bit of patchwork, embroidery etc… shall sort out my fabrics within the next few days and get started…bit of arthritis in hands, but this will help keep the fingers moving…great stuff…thank you for this idea especially and all the others that keep coming through….Happy New Year to you and yours…

    • Thanks for your kind comments, Mary. It certainly sounds as if you are keeping really busy. As you say, it’s best to keep active. Best wishes for the New Year.

      • Ediie karlin says:

        Rose your patterns are great just having trouble printing the patterns can you help me
        Thanks Edie

  25. Joy Thornby says:

    BRILLIANT !!!!!!!
    Again thank you Rose.
    The ideas are great and the instructions are so clear and simple.
    Keep them coming!
    best wishes for 2014