Create this Solar System Space pillow using hand applique and embroidery. A fun DIY you can customize for your favorite space lover! This post includes a free template and picture tutorial to help you get started :)
Good morning! Today I have a new fun pillow project to share with you – a DIY solar system pillow! I love the solar system quilts I have seen and wanted to do something similar with a body pillow we weren’t using. It was perfect size to turn into a floor pillow for my son’s room.
Years ago my mom gave me several yards of a beautiful midnight blue corduroy that she purchased in the ’90s. My pictures really don’t do it justice because it has such a rich color and it is so soft.
For this solar system pillow, the corduroy was a perfect backdrop for all of my planets and stars. My son helped me pick out the fabrics for the planets at Joann Fabrics. We took a couple of his space books with us and used them to help us choose the fabrics. I also used the books to help determine the size of the planets and to make sure I included things like the Great Red Spot of Jupiter.
I chose to do all of the applique and embroidery by hand. Hand sewing is my jam so this was the easiest for me. I tried to include some fun elements that the kids would like looking at – the martian and Plutonian as well a the rocket ship and UFO. When possible I tried to be accurate, for example I included the astroid belt in between Mars and Jupiter and included some of the planets’ moons. You can see see four of Jupiter’s largest moons (including Ganymede, which is actually larger than Mercury!), our moon, Titan (Saturn’s moon) and Triton (Neptune’s biggest moon). Not everything is exactly to scale and not everything is included but that was okay with me! You can choose to be as accurate as you want!
Below is the tutorial for how I created the pillow along with a free pattern for the planets, spaceship and comets.
DIY Solar System Pillow
- Free printable pattern: Link located at the bottom of this post.
- Dark blue or black background fabric (I used midnight blue corduroy)
- Cotton fabric for planets
- Felt scraps for comets, spaceship, UFO, moons and astroid belt. (I used felt in the following colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, light grey and dark grey.
- Wonder Under Fusible Web – heat transfer paper
- Embroidery thread that matches planet fabrics
- Light grey, silver or white embroidery thread for orbit lines
- Dark blue or black 20″-22″ Invisible zipper and thread
- Alien iron-ons (optional)
- Sewing notions: fabric scissors, ruler, pins, needles
Step by Step Tutorial
Step One: Cut out the all of the fabric pieces needed for applique.
Download and print the free printable pattern found at the end of this post. Trace the pattern pieces found onto the Wonder Under. I like to do this by laying the Wonder Under, paper side up, on top of the pattern piece. I can then see through to the pattern and trace all of the pieces using a pencil.
Once you have traced all of the pattern pieces, cut each piece out leaving space around them.
Press each piece onto the wrong side of the corresponding fabric.
I have started using an applique pressing sheet for this step and it has been so nice! It helps prevent my iron from touching any of the fusible web.
Follow the same process for all of the felt pieces that make the rocket ships,
Step Two: Cut out the background fabric.
You will need two pieces for the pillow that measure 48.5″ x 18″, not including seam allowance. I left about 2″ seam allowance all around. On the top piece, that will have the solar system appliqued to it, I needed to see the seam lines on the right side of the fabric. This way, as I stitched my design, I could keep all of the applique inside the seam lines and also make sure to extend my orbit lines past the seam lines. I marked the rectangle seam lines on the back of the fabric with pencil and then I thread-traced the seam lines using a running stitch and white thread. I could see the white running stitch from the front of the fabric and remove these lines later. (You can see my thread-tracing along the top of the pillow in the third picture below).
Step Three: Place the sun and create the orbit lines.
Start the solar system design by placing the sun on the one side of the background fabric. My sun is placed about 5.25″ from the left and 5.25″ from the top. Peel the Wonder Under from the back of the sun and iron it in place. Next, mark all the way around the sun with pins. This way you can see the outline of the sun from the back side of the fabric.
Draw the orbit rings onto the back side of the fabric radiating from the sun. I did nine orbit rings, spaced 3.5″ apart, around the sun. I know Pluto is not a real planet anymore, but I included it to represent the dwarf planets :) Start from the sun and mark 3.5″ all the way around it. This will be the first orbit line for Mercury. Continue drawing orbit lines until you have nine. Use white pencil and mark on the wrong side of the fabric.
Embroider the orbit lines using the white, light grey or silver embroidery floss. I used a light grey and it showed up really nicely on my corduroy. I used a small running stitch and worked from the back of the fabric following my pencil lines.
Step Four: Place the planets and other space items.
I laid out all of the planets, comets, spaceships, etc. that I had until I liked the layout. Then I ironed each piece in place by peeling off the Wonder Under. The alien monster patches were a fun addition to the pillow! I chose to place one on Mars and one on Pluto.
Step Five: Time to applique!
Since I love the look of hand sewing and enjoy doing it, I chose to hand applique everything onto my pillow. I used the blanket stitch and embroidery thread that matched each planet. The stitches needed to be smaller on the smaller planets to go around them nicely. For the felt moons, asteroid belt, and Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, I used a small backstitch. The rocket was a combination of both blanket stitch and running stitch.
I added stars in a slightly metallic embroidery thread which was really fun! I randomly placed the asteroid belt using small uneven pieces of light and dark grey felt.
Step Six: Finish the pillow case!
I decided to flat line, or back, the front piece of my pillow with a layer of quilting flannel. I think this makes the pillow softer and also helps keep the front smooth by making it thicker. You can stitch the two layers together in the seam allowance or just hold them together with pins.
I inserted an invisible zipper, 20″-22″ navy blue, along the short end near Pluto. I referenced one of my sewing books, Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing. It has nice clear pictures.
Once the zipper was inserted, I put right sides of the pillow together and stitched around the pillow along the seam lines. Make sure to open your zipper before doing this so you can then flip the pillow right side out through the zipper hole.
The pillow is finished!
I love the way it turned out and it fills up the space under my son’s book shelf perfectly! Since I already had a body pillow hanging around and the corduroy fabric, this was a great project.
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