I’m fascinated by Celtic knots. I love the detail, the symmetry and the fact that you can make such intricate designs with just a few continuous lines. This pillow is based on a two-stranded knot drafted using the circle design pack and Celtic knot fonts from Clan Badge. I love these fonts. They’re great for designing borders for quilts and wall hangings. I can make any size I want and they print out beautifully every time. Much easier and more accurate than drawing them by hand!
To make a Celtic wreath knot pillow you’ll need:
- 1/2 yard base fabric
- An 18″x18″” pillow form (or a bag of Polyfil if you prefer to stuff the pillow yourself)
- Two strips of 1/2″ single fold bias tape, each about 80″ long,* plus matching thread
- A package of 1/4″ Steam-a-Seam 2 double stick fusible web (or 1/4″ strips cut from a larger sheet of fusible web)
- 11 1″ buttons (8 to trim the wreath, plus 3 more for the back of the pillow)
- A package of red piping
Optional but highly recommended:
*See this tutorial for instructions on making your own bias tape. A fat quarter of fabric is more than enough to make all the bias you need, even if you make both strips the same color. If you’re making two colors, use two fat quarters or any scrap fabric big enough to cut strips at least 12″ long.
Download the knot pattern here and print out 4 copies. Make sure your printer is set to print actual size. Rotate the pieces and tape them together along the grey lines.
From the backing fabric, cut one 18″x18″ square for the front of the pillow and two 18″x 13.5″ rectangles for the back. Set the rectangles aside.
Mark the center of the 18″ square. Line up the center of the fabric with the center of the pattern (created by the intersection of the grey lines on the pattern) and trace the pattern onto the backing fabric with a vanishing fabric marker or tailor’s chalk. I couldn’t quite see the pattern through the fabric so I taped the pattern to my patio door, taped the fabric over top and traced it from there.
Apply the Steam-a-Seam or similar fusible web to the back of your bias strips and remove the paper backing.
If you look at the pattern you’ll see the “over” and “under” intersections that create the knot. Choose one of your strips and beginning at what will be an “under” intersection, pin the strip to the backing fabric following the pattern.
I found it easiest to pin down a quarter of the design at a time, then use my mini iron to attach it at a few points. I tried not to iron the entire pattern until both strips were in place so I could easily weave in the second strip. The Clover mini iron makes projects like this SO MUCH EASIER than a full-size iron. You can really ease in the curves with it. I’ve had mine for years and it was well worth the $20 or so I spent for it.
Here’s what it looks like with the first strip loosely attached:
Repeat the process with the second bias strip, beginning at an “under” intersection and weaving over and under the first strip.
Here’s where you’ll really begin to see the pattern emerge and, if you’re anything like me, this is also the point where you’ll start talking to yourself and/or getting annoyed if anyone interrupts you. Since the traced pattern is partly covered, you’ll need to remember to alternate going over and under the first strip to create the knot. Just thread the end of the second strip under the first one at every other intersection, then slowly pull the strip through and iron or pin it into place. If you come to an “under” intersection that was accidentally ironed down, warm it slightly with the iron, carefully lift the bias strip and weave the second piece underneath.
When both strips have been added, press the entire pillow front with your full-size iron to lock everything into place. Don’t slide the iron as this can make the bias strips roll up or shift and creates an awful mess on your iron. (Guess how I know that!) Instead, press one section, pick the iron up, move it to another area and press again.
Next you’re going to stitch down the strips. Sew as close to the edge of the strip as possible, following one strip all the way through the pattern. When you come to an intersection where the strip you’re sewing goes under the other, backstitch, lift the needle, skip over the intersection and continue sewing on the other side. This is a pain. You will be very tempted to just sew right over the intersections. Halfway through, I was tempted to just sew over the intersections. Don’t do it! It really makes the knotwork stand out if you take the time to do it right.
Repeat until both sides of both strips are sewn down, then snip off the threads where you skipped over intersections.
You may find you have some loose corners at the points in the design. I did my best to create nice, neat points that could be sewn down completely with the edge stitching:
But I still had a few corners that looked like this:
No worries! Just sew them down by hand with a few small stitches before you go on to the next step.
Once you’ve dealt with any wonky corners, decorate the wreath with 8 buttons and hand stitch them into place. Set the front of the pillow aside.
For the back of the pillow, turn under 1/2″ on one long edge of each backing piece, then turn under again to create a double hem. Press into place and stitch down.
(For some reason I have no photos of the next few steps. I blame the Boy for sneaking off with my iPhone to play Flappy Bird.)
Make three buttonholes along the hemmed edge of one backing piece. Place one at the center of the fabric and one 5″ from the top and bottom.
Lay out your two backing pieces with the hemmed edges overlapped so the width of the two totals 18″. (The pieces should overlap by about 3″.) Mark the location for the buttons and hand stitch them to the right side of the other backing piece. Snip the buttonholes open and button the two backing pieces together.
Sandwich together the pillow front (right side UP), red piping and pillow back (right side DOWN). Sew together, using a zipper foot to get as close to the piping as possible. You may find it easier to apply the piping to the front of the pillow first, basting it down, and then put the front and back together. You can see the corners to make sure they’re even if you do it this way, and use the basting stitch as a guide for joining the two pieces together.
Turn everything right side out and insert the pillow form or stuff the pillow.
Admire your handiwork!