Iron-On & Embroidered Fishy Pillow Tutorial

For a one-of-a-kind keepsake pillow for a couple who love to fish, I put their picture on a square pillow cover, designed a custom “fish” stitch, and embellished it with a complementary beaded fringe. This tutorial also shows how to use a piece of plastic cross-stitch canvas to make a stitch “template” and avoid needing to count stitches.

Difficulty Cost Time Age Person Event
$25 to $50
Long Term
-- -- Homemade Gift

Step by Step Instructions

  • Step 1

    Choose the image you want and print it out on iron-on transfer paper. I found the Purple Chimp paper at JoAnn’s and had easy-to-follow instructions.

  • Step 2

    The fish stitch. I hunted through embroidery books and didn’t find what I wanted for a border. So I grabbed an embroidery hoop and some scrap fabric and basted on plastic canvas. I wanted to design a stitch I could easily replicate. There was a lot of trial and error.

  • Step 3

    To make it easier to replicate the “fish stitch”, I first drew it on a graph (had no graph paper handy so just created a grid) so I could then count squares on the plastic canvas and create a little template. Once I had this template, I drew the design directly onto the plastic canvas with fabric pens and then basted the canvas onto the pillow. NOTE: I used different colored fabric pens for different stitches, especially helpful where the outer border stitches overlapped.

  • Step 4

    To finish off the pillow, add a decorative fringe. I first drew small dots along the outer edge of the pillow, spacing 1/2″ apart, to use as a guide for the fringe loops. Since this was a pillow, I decided to use white upholstery thread to lessen the chance of the fringe breaking. I used a combination of seed beads and some larger beads and teardrop pendant beads.


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