Upcycled Chic Suede Pillow

We’ve been working with Krista Hennebury of Poppyprint for a few years and are honored to have her join our newest class of certified Aurifilsophers. She is a creative and enthusiastic educator and an innovative designer. We’re excited to see Krista bring her unique style to Aurifil’s thread education program.

She recently sent a stunning and classic upcycled throw pillow project our way and we’re thrilled to hand the blog over today so that she can share her process with all of you. Thank you, Krista!

As she was packing to move recently, a friend gave me her old suede trousers that were languishing at the back of her closet. She thought maybe I could use them to make a nice project one day. The suede was in great condition with very little wear on the nap and all of the piecing seams intact. I immediately removed the partial viscose lining and deconstructed the garment. I kept the trouser leg side seams intact and only opened the inner leg seams to lay the pieces flat and maximize the width. The construction stitches were quite large and the seams pressed open, so I was able to easily open the seam by running my seamripper right up the centre of the stitches.

Fast forward to this month and my friend’s birthday.  She’s my regular craft fair buddy and always appreciates handmade, so I started thinking of options for a gift I could make with her retired trousers. I decided to try quilting the suede and turn the trouser legs into a chic lumbar pillow. I cut two large rectangles 13” x 24” from the upper leg sections which would fit a down pillow form that I had on hand.

With a scrap of the suede, I tested fusible heavyweight fleece batting to see if it would stick to the material. I thought that the quilting lines would be more pronounced if there was some batting behind the suede and I was so pleased when the fleece fused easily to the wrong side of the suede. To do this, I placed a protective pressing cloth on my ironing board, then laid the suede right side down, put the fusible side of the fleece against the wrong side of the suede, then put another pressing cloth on top of the stack and pressed with a hot, steamy iron. Caution: some of the brown suede dye transferred to the lower pressing cloth, likely due to the steam.

I had the perfect shade of chestnut brown 28wt Aurifil 4012 for the topstitching and it’s corresponding 40wt for the bobbin. Using a 100/16 leather needle, my walking foot and a stitch length of 3.0 on my Juki, I stitched out a few lines on the practice piece: the Aurifil thread looked beautiful on the suede. I marked out a diamond grid on the two suede rectangles using my long acrylic ruler and a hera marker and got busy quilting.

Once the two sides were quilted, I completed the pillow with an invisible zipper along the bottom edge. There is no lining to the pillow, I simply quilted the suede to the fleece. The pillow has a gorgeous patina which is beautifully enhanced by the Aurifil thread quilting stitches.


Krista is a traditionally-informed modern quilter, international quilting educator, retreat host, active guild-member and instagram enthusiast. She teaches popular technique and project workshops and is known for her friendly and encouraging hands-on style in the classroom. Equally comfortable with improv design or piecing in a traditionally accurate manner, Krista loves encouraging quilters to experiment, participate and try new things to advance their practice. She’s been a dedicated Aurifil thread user since 2003 and became an Aurifil Artisan in 2018. Her quilts and patterns have been published in numerous magazines and books and won awards at QuiltCon and QuiltCanada.

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