Loop de Loop Pillows

I am a chronic doodler. My school notebooks always had more scribbles of flowers, geometric shapes, and animals than actual notes. To this day, my Purl Bee notes look more like mysterious outsider art than useful information. One of my recurring doodle themes is a loop de loop motif.  I love the hypnotic repetition of it.

With this penchant for doodling, it’s no wonder that I love embroidery so much. It’s basically drawing with thread. Once you master a couple of basic stitches your needle and thread become as versatile as a pencil, but unlike a tossed off pencil sketch, embroidery has an elegant and refined finish.

These Loop de Loop Pillows combine the simple, breezy feeling of a notebook jot with the beauty of embroidery.  I used soft, rustic Prairie Cloth in a gorgeous natural color as the base and accented it with sumptuous black silk embroidery thread. These pillows are very simple to make but end up looking so modern and sophisticated. 


For a set of three pillows, two 14-inch square and one 18-inch square:

Note: If you'd just like to make one pillow you will need 1/2 a yard of fabric for each 14-inch pillow and 1 yard for each 18-inch pillow. You will also need just one spool of silk embroidery thread per pillow.



For the smaller pillows cut :

  • 2- 15-inch squares
  • 4- 11-inch X 15-inch rectangles

For the larger pillow cut:

  • 1- 19-inch square
  • 2- 13-inch X 19-inch rectangles

Put all of the rectangular pieces aside until you reach the sewing section of the pattern.


For pillow A:

  • Mark a horizontal line 6-inches from the bottom edge, across the entire width of the square.
  • Mark a line 1 1/2-inches above the first line and parallel to it. Starting 1-inch from the left edge make a mark every inch along this line.
  • Mark a line 1 1/2-inches below the first line and parallel to it. Starting 1/2-inch from the left edge make a mark every inch along this line.

Using your marker connect the marks as shown above, making an loop at each mark with the whole motif bisected by the center marking. You may want to practice this with a pencil and paper first.

This is what the square will look like after it's marked all the way across.

For pillow B:

  • Mark a horizontal line 3-inches from the bottom edge of the square.
  • Mark a line 2-inches above the first line and parallel to it. Starting at the left edge make a mark every 1 1/2-inches along this line.

Connect these marks with simple loops as shown above, starting from the bottom line, and making the top of the loop at each top marking.

This is what the square will looked like when it's all marked.

For pillow C (This is the most free form of any of the pillows so you can just use these markings as a rough guide) :

  • Mark the giant single loop de loop starting 4 1/2-inches from the bottom edge at the left side, swooping up and to the right and ending at the top edge, 6-inches from the right side.
  • Continue the loop at the top edge 9 1/2-inches from the left side, swooping down to the right and ending at the bottom edge, 4-inches from the right side.
  • Continue the loop at the bottom edge 8-inches from the left side, swooping it more abruptly to the right ending on the right side 9 1/2-inches from the bottom edge.


All of the embroidery on these pillows is done with a simple split stitch. A split stitch is a back stitch in which the needle enters the fabric into the middle of the previous back stitch. If you have never done it before you can follow along with the diagram above. The odd numbers represent needle exit point, and the even numbers represent needle entry points.

Using the silk embroidery thread split stitch along the markings of pillow A. Use the embroidery hoop to keep the fabric taught as you go.

Embroider across the entire marked area of pillow A.

Do the same for pillow B.

And the same for pillow C.


Regardless of size pillows A, B, and C are sewn together in the same manner. For pillows A and B you will be using two of the smaller rectangles, for pillow C you will be using the two larger rectangles.

Hem the rectangle pieces by pressing one of their long sides over 1-inch twice and then edge sewing this fold down. The side with the fold is now the wrong side of the rectangle.

Place the pillow top right side up. Lay one of the rectangles wrong side up along the square's left side lining up the raw edges.

Lay the second rectangle, wrong side up along the right hand side of the square, lining up the edges.

Pin the pieces in place around the perimeter of the square.

To make sure the pillows corners are neat you will want to sew a curve instead of a right angle. Mark this curve by using a juice glass as instructed below.

Mark a 3-inch straight line 1/2-inch from each corner and then at the corner trace around the curve of a juice glass.

Sew all of the layers together across each raw edge, sewing around the marked curves at the corners.

Trim the excess fabric from the corners.

Zig zag stitch around the raw edges.

Turn the pillow case right sides out though the overlapping rectangles.

The front should look like this!

Repeat for all of the pillows and you're all done.

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7 Responses to Loop de Loop Pillows

  1. Lisa says:

    I love the simplicity of these. Great tutorial

  2. Libee says:

    Hi, I just wanted to drop a note and let you know that I absolutely love your blog! It was one of the first blogs that inspired me to start sewing again. I was so inspired with the simplicity of this project that I reinterpreted it and did a bib for my baby boy with this concept.

    you can find the project in this post:

  3. dkla says:

    I bought the prarie cloth in dark gray to make these pillows – do you think I should prewash it? also, will the pillows be wahable after use with the silk embroidery threat? thanks so much deborah

  4. purl bee says:

    Hi dkla-

    You don't need to prewash the prairie cloth because the finished pillows will not be machine washable anyway. They can be handwashed.

    Thank you for your question!


  5. dkla says:

    Hi Molly: thanks for your answer – I already prewashed it though and it came out great. One more question: when you zigzag the raw edges do you do it through both layers of fabric (top and bottom) or do you zigzag both the top and bottom layer individually? you can tell I'm a pretty new sewer – so many questions, sorry, I want these to come out great. thanks, deborah

  6. purl bee says:

    Hi Deborah-

    You zig zag through both layers together.

    Thanks writing in, and please let us know if you have any more questions.


  7. The Junk Drunk says:

    Thanks for such a great tutorial and for teaching me how to embroider. I recently turned this into a tea towel of my friend's Yorkshire Terrier:

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