My First Tutorial

Remember this quilt…?

Ellis Quilt in the garden

I’ve decided to write a tutorial for Double Irish Chain pillow shams that match this quilt.


(full disclosure:  this will be a lengthy post, so stop now if you don’t want to invest too much time)

I started with a traditional block (found at


To figure out the math, I first determined the size of the quilt to be made.

Originally, I made a king-sized quilt.  I wanted each block to be approx. 10” square (any smaller and the scale would have been too small for the size of quilt).  With a layout of 11 x 12 blocks, I would need to make a total 110 blocks.  That would have me making 55 of each block.

For the sake of this tutorial, I have made matching pillow shams to go with the quilt.  I used the same size blocks and the same fabrics.  You can easily make your project larger by multiplying the blocks.

Step 1:  Design the Block: 

I sketched out the design on graph paper to get a sense of the scale of the pieces in each block.

For block 1 (grid block):  I would need each square to finish at 2”, multiply by 5 to get the full 10” block to give me a total of 25 @ 2” squares.  In order to get a finished 2” square, I would need to cut my strips at 2.5” to account for the seam allowances.


For block 2 (background block): to finish at 10”, I needed a 6” (finished) square as the centre of the block with 2” border/accent strips.  To get these finished sizes, I needed to cut a 6.5” square for the centre.  The border would be a sub cut of 2.5” strips (explained below).

Fabric Requirements:

5” x wof – accent (red-orange) fabric

7.5″ x wof – accent (yellow) fabric

1/2 yard – various shades of red fabric

6.5 yards – white fabric

1 yard – batting (2 pieces @ 35” x 22”)

Step 2:  Cutting the fabric:

For both blocks:

Cut 2 @ 2.5” strips from red-orange fabric

Cut 6 @ 2.5” strips from various shades of red fabric

Cut 3 @ 2.5″ strips from yellow fabric

Cut 2 @ 2.5” strips from white fabric

Cut 2 @ 6.5” strips from white fabric

For Pillow Border:

Cut 8 @ 2.5” squares from red-orange fabric (sub-cut from 2.5” strip leftovers)

Cut 4 @ 4” x 34” strips from white fabric

For Pillow Top Backing:

Cut 2 @ 36” x 22” from white fabric (this will not be seen on the outside of the pillow, so any fabric will do – this is a good way to use up old sheets/pillow cases that are no longer useable)

For Ruffles:

Cut 15 @ 5.5” strips from the white fabric

For Envelope Enclosure Backing:

Cut 4 @ 34” x 22” from white fabric

img_1593  img_1580

Step 3:  Sew the strips together:

For Grid Block:

  1. line up the strips in order of sewing:  red-orange / red / white / red / red-orange
  2. sew these strips together
  3. press seams all the same way
  4. line up next set of strips in order of sewing:  red / yellow / red / yellow / red
  5. sew these strips together
  6. press seams all the same way
  7. line up next set of strips in order of sewing: white / red / yellow / red / white
  8. sew these strips together
  9. press seams all the same way

img_1591  img_1597  img_1598  img_1588

For Background Block:

  1. sew a red strip to both sides of one of the 6.5” white strips
  2. you will be left with one 6.5” strip of white fabric
  3. press seams to the dark side

IMG_1581.JPG    img_1582  img_1583

Step 4:  Sub-Cutting the Strips:

For Grid Block:

Sub-Cut each set of strips into 2.5” strips


For Background Block:

Sub-Cut the red-white set into 2.5” strips

Sub-Cut the 6.5” white strip into two 6.5” squares and four 2.5” x 6.5” pieces


Step 5:  Layout the Blocks:

For Grid Block:

Layout the strips into the block design (labeled by top square colour)

orange-red strip / red strip / white strip / red strip / orange-red strip


  For the Background Block:

  1. Sew a 2.5” x 6.5” piece to top and bottom of the 6.5” square
  2. Press seams toward the centre block
  3. Lay out the pieces to form the block:

red-white strip / white-white wide strip / red-white strip

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Step 6:  Sewing the blocks together:

For Grid Block:

  1. In order of layout; nest seams together (seams should be going in opposite directions) and pin in place.
  2. Sew carefully – remove pins as needed to avoid sewing over them.
  3. Your block points should match up nicely!
  4. Press seams any way you choose

img_1601  img_1602  img_1603  img_1604

For Background Block:

  1. In order of layout; sew red-white strips to either side of the white-white wide strip
  2. Press seams away from centre block

img_1609  img_1610  img_1611

Pillow Top Piecing:

  1. On two red-white strips, sew one 2.5” orange (accent) square to one end.
  2. Lay out the pillow front as a whole
  3. Sew all pieces together beginning from one side, working in sections.

img_1612  img_1613  img_1614

Border Piecing:

  1. Once the main pillow top is pieced, lay it over the pillow to be covered
  2. Measure the remaining strip needed to cover the pillow
  3. I used King-Sized pillows (measuring 34” x 20.5”)
  4. I needed an additional 4” (seam allowance accounted for) on the top and bottom edges of the pillow
  5. Sew the 4” x 34” strip white fabric to the completed pillow top
  6. Trim the edges of the white fabric flush with the pillow top edges

(my apologies, I forgot to take photos of this step)


Step 7:  Sandwiching the pillow top:

  1. Press the pillow top nice and flat
  2. Lay out the 36” x 22” white backing fabric right side down (this will not be seen on the outside of the pillow, so any fabric will do – this is a good way to use up old sheets/pillow cases that are no longer useable)
  3. Place the piece of batting on top of the backing fabric
  4. Place the pillow top on the batting creating the sandwich
  5. Hand press all three pieces flat so there are no puckers/wrinkles


  1. This is a good time to stencil on any quilting marks you will want to follow for the quilting process.  I used a fleur de lis motif in the centre white space.


  1. Working from one side, pin baste all three pieces together being sure to hand press out any puckers along the way.


Step 8:  Quilting the Pillow Top:

  1. Using the FMQ/darning foot of your machine, follow the motif you chose for the centre white space.  This step takes some practice.  If you are not comfortable with Free Motion Quilting, quilt as desired.
  2. I straight-line quilted diagonally in the red/yellow squares to create a trellis effect.

img_1619  img_1620

Step 9:  Trimming up the Pillow Top

  1. Once the quilting is completed, trim up the pillow top.
  2. To create rounded corners (easier for attaching ruffles) use a curved ruler or in my case, a roll of tape!
  3. Trace the tape to create a rounded cutting mark – cut the pillow top to form curved edges at the corners.


Step 10: Adding the Ruffles:

  1. Sew the 15 strips of 5.5” white fabric together to create one (very) long 5.5” strip.
  2. Trim the seams to 1/4” and press to one side.
  3. Fold the strip in half and press.
  4. Starting on one side, sew the ruffle strip to the top of the pillow top, folding the ruffle strip back on itself every 1” or so to create a pleat.
  5. Continue until all the way around the pillow top working in one or two extra pleats  at the corners.


Step 11:  Adding the Envelope Closure

  1. Along the long edge of the 34” x 22” white fabric, fold over 1” and press
  2. Fold again 1” and press again
  3. Sew straight line to create a hem (folded edge will be on the wrong side)
  4. Repeat for both panels of the backing fabric
  5. Lay out your pillow top (right side up)
  6. Place both panels of the backing fabric (right sides down).  These will be overlapping quite a bit — that’s good!


  1. Pin the envelope closure backing panels to the pillow top, keeping the ruffles between the pillow top and the backing fabric.
  2. In order to catch all the many layers, sew a generous 3/8” seam (you could go as much as 1/2” but you will be sewing into the ruffles)
  3. When sewing over the folded hems of the envelope closure, backstitch over the entire hem to create stability at the seams.  This area will undergo a lot of wear when the pillow is inserted.

Step 12:  You are Finished!

Now, admire your work!

Photos below showing the envelope closure on the back and the ruffles in the corners

img_1651  img_1652

Here you can see a close up of the fleur de lis quilting design and the straight stitching in the grid.  White thread used in the white space and red thread used in the grid.

  img_1653  img_1654

Here are the two pillow shams with the matching King-Sized Quilt, all ready to go to their new home!  The quilt looks almost as good on the back too!

img_1641  img_1637  img_1644

Oh, and here was one of my helpers throughout the whole project!


My sweet Wrigley all covered in thread bits.  😉

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, it was kinda fun to write it up.  We’ll see where this path leads…

Till next time…


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6 Responses to My First Tutorial

  1. Ioleen says:

    Love the quilt and the pillows. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Pingback: I'm Published! - Fabric Please!

  3. Pingback: I’m Published! | Pin Pricked Fingers

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