Quilted City Pillow

This post contains affiliate links, if you purchase something via one of these links, I will receive a small portion of the profits at no additional cost to you.

About a year ago I ran across these gorgeous quilts by a Emily Fischer of Haptic Lab.

Quilt detail from Haptic Lab Studio

She’s also a designer with architectural background I just totally loved the idea of a quilted map. I wanted to create my own versions but while hers are beautifully hand-quilted, I knew I didn’t have the time to do that.  I wanted to go with machine quilting and my machine can’t handle a bed sized quilt so I made a set of quilted city throw pillows.  Yeah, maybe white is a little risky with a toddler but so far they’re still looking pretty good!

A friend of mine had been ogling them since I finished them and for her birthday this weekend, I thought I’d make one just for her and document my process.

I started out by deciding what size pillow I wanted (16″ x 16″) and cutting one 16″ square out of white quilting fabric, two squares of natural cotton batting, and two rectangles of my backing fabric (16″ x 10″) to form an envelope back for my pillow cover.  Envelope backs are great because they are easy to make and easy to remove for washing (essential for a white pillow!).

I also cut strips of my backing fabric to use as binding for my pillow cover.  I cut mine 2.5″ wide.

The next step was to decide what I was going to map. This was for a childhood friend of mine so I went with our hometown.  My original pillows for our house have maps showing where my husband I met (Milwaukee), where we started dating (Kyoto, Japan), where we got married (Madison), and where we live now with O (downtown Chicago).  I looked up a map of our hometown on Google maps, and sized it to print 16″ x 16″ in Photoshop.  I had to piece together screen shots to get the whole city in the view. I printed it out in 4 pieces on my home printer and taped them together. Then I taped the map to a window in our living room, taped the white fabric square over it and got to tracing with a disappearing ink fabric pen–the ink goes away with just water.  Here’s a pic of the map with fabric over it, taped up on my window:

Once the whole map was traced (I’ll be honest, it took a while), I was ready to start quilting!  The first step is to layer the white square of fabric with the map on it with two pieces of quilt batting (I use two layers to make it puffier), usually when you’re quilting you want the batting to be a little bigger in dimension than the quilt top because it can move and pull a little as you’re sewing.  Then when you’re done with the quilting step you trim it down.  If you’re familiar with natural cotton quilt batting, you’ll also know that it sometimes has little brown specs in it which are just normal tiny pieces of stem and leaves; because it’s natural batting they don’t bleach that out.  Usually one side of the batting has the specs and one side is cleaner.  I have found that sometimes with white quilting fabric, the specs can show through, so make sure you put the cleaner side of your batting against the white fabric. Normally for a quilt, there would be another piece of fabric behind the quilt batting making what they call a “quilt sandwich” but because that would be inside the pillow I didn’t add it. Just make sure to clean the batting lint out of your sewing machine when you’re done. Pin in a few places with safety pins and start sewing!

The blue lines in the photo above are the map lines I traced with my disappearing ink pen and you can see in the lower right a few blocks and roads I have already sewed along.  This part of quilting will take the longest and my only advice is to be patient and go slowly, especially if you have curvy lines.  (And set up something good to watch on Netflix!)

When you’re all done quilting along all of your traced map lines, cut any loose threads (I usually do them all at the end) and then put your quilt top through the washer and dryer. You can handwash if you prefer. This gets rid of the pen lines and gives your map quilt top that cozy crinkly quilty look.  When it’s dry, cut the batting to match the edge of your white quilted map fabric.  Then lay your quilt top right side down on a table, and put the envelope back, right side up on top of it and pin.

Next, make your quilt binding and attach it by machine.  If you haven’t done this before, here is my favorite tutorial for quilt binding. After you have attached it my machine to one side of the pillow cover, turn the pillow over and hand stitch it to the front using an invisible ladder stitch.  Normally I would do the hand sewing on the back of the quilt or pillow cover but I spaced out and did it on the front this time, it was fine.

Here is my finished product! My friend loved it!


3 thoughts on “Quilted City Pillow

  1. I love this idea. We have lived in many cities over the years and it would be fun to make one for each city we’ve been in. Maybe even have a star on the spot

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *