Hello Fat Quarterly readers from sunny, cold, and snowy York Region! :) My name is Michelle Southern and I’m the gal behind Kinetic Quilts. I’m so glad to be writing this tutorial for you today and hope you’ll be inspired to make a project of your own using Melody Miller’s awesome Ruby Star fabric.

Body Pillow - cross-stitch bee panel as sent

I adore my long, comfy body pillow. They are a blessing to moms, people with joint pain, and anyone who likes to lounge around with a novel. The only trouble with mine is that when I bought it the only available pillow case was a polyester fabric that got quite static-y in the wash and wasn’t as pleasant as the crisp, cotton fabrics I use when quilting. I’d planned on making a new one but body pillows are long, and I didn’t want to “waste” the fabric that could be used in a quilt! However, when the opportunity came to use Melody Miller’s Ruby Star fabric in a project – any project I wanted – I jumped at the chance to showcase the big, bold, colourful prints in a quick and easy pattern that is suitable for the holiday gift-giving season.

Body Pillow - sewing a batik to Ruby Star

Pillows have different standard sizes, but body pillows vary in length and fluffability. It’s best to measure your pillow to get correct measurements for yours, and decide on how tight or loose you want the fabric to be around it. Loose is better because the pillows do not slip into the cases as easy as regular pillows, but if it’s too loose (and I say this from experience) your legs will feel wrapped up in the excess. It’s up to you to decide; you’ll get a feel for it when measuring, depending on how loose the current pillowcase is. My pillow measured 53” x 16” but the old case was several inches more on all sides. To make the case I wanted, I would need to use the original pillow measurements, add in a 1/4″ (or more) seam allowance, plus a few extra inches on the sides – and factor in the “hang” of the pillowcase opening.

Body Pillow - slash and sew!

To re-create this pillowcase for yourself, piece together a rectangle that is 2” wider than your pillow and several inches longer with scraps and slices of your favourite fabrics. I used the fabrics graciously sent to me by Melody Miller plus a green cotton from Daisy Janie and a dark purple and black marbled batik. Lay out the stitched panels often to see how they look. Use a matching single panel of fabric for the back of the pillowcase to save time (or do a quick slice and add as I did). Use a single piece for the pillowcase opening if possible because you will be folding it back inside and top-stitching it in place. The best tip I can give you is this: add a long strip about 2″ wide to the bottom of the entire front panel, because when you set the pillow on its side this strip is hidden and your pieced fabrics are visible and centred as you meant them to be.

Body Pillow - layout wherever there's space

Put completed sections over pillow and check for drape, size:

 Put completed sections over pillow and check for drape, size

Add strip along bottom, where pillow will rest

Body Pillow - finishing (top-stitching opening)

This project took about 5 hours to make, and that includes the cutting, planning, and sewing (the scrappier your panels, the longer it will take). If you have a few hours to spare you can make a gorgeous, lounge-worthy body pillowcase that is easily whipped up for special occasions, as a gift, or an anytime treat for yourself. The Ruby Star fabrics, with their cross-stitch motifs and coffee pots and cheerful flowers, could also be used to make a wonderful bench pillow for your kitchen, or a cushion for a bay window reading nook. And you can also use it as a long super-sized gift bag if you need to! Just insert the item and tie a ribbon at the top. May you have a joyful holiday season and a safe, prosperous new year!

Body Pillow - Back panel (opening is on right side)

Body Pillow - Natural habitat

Thanks so much for the great project idea, Michelle!  Michelle Southern is a writer and composer, and the quilter behind Kinetic Quilts and its innovative online quilt label system. She likes most of the same stuff you do and has a dog named Quincy. Visit one or both of them at http://kineticquilts.com