How to Make XO Pillows With DIY Letter Appliques

How to make letter X and O pillows for your sofa. It is easy when you use a pair of throw pillows you already own and add the letter appliques made with fabric, no sewing is needed. When decorating, a pair of XO pillows can go beyond Valentine’s Day since sentiment of XO doesn’t have a season.

xo pillows on shelf at a furniture store

How to make a decorative item yourself that you see in a home decor or furniture store. It can be a fun DIY decorating challenge that will save you money while at the same time, create unique style decor for your home.

Last week when I was out and about, I came across not just one xo pillow, but this set of “X” and “O” natural linen throw pillows.

They made me smile, so I checked the price tag. $99 a piece for the 20″ x 20″ sized throw pillows!!! It wouldn’t make any sense to just buy one, unless your name began with an X or and O – so it would have cost $200+ tax for them.

Of course you know what was going through my mind at this point… “I can make these using pillows and scrap fabric I already own in my decor stash.”

Leftover fabric scraps in wire drawers in craft stash.

I couldn’t get the pillows out of my mind and asked myself why are pillows so expensive? Price mark-up is why. Eye candy that home decor shoppers can’t resist.

When I got home, I challenged myself to make my own version of them. I went to my fabric stash to see what I had to make the appliques for two pillows that had a similar covering as the pillows I saw in the furniture store.

I didn’t have muslin that would have made the letters have a nice fringed outline, but I didn’t let this stop me.

x and o throw pillows on a sofa

In place of muslin, I used white cotton canvas. The tighter woven fabric does not create a fringed edge when cut like muslin does, but I am happy with how they came out.

DIY Tip!

Never be afraid of trying out an idea you may have, especially if it is using items and supplies you already own. If the idea doesn’t turn out like you thought, no money was wasted. If it does turn out – WIN all around! This is one reason why I enjoy making “use-what-you-have” projects.

I thought that posting my DIY knock-off XO pillows today would be a nice way to say…

…Thank you for being the best reader a blogger could ever ask for. I love each and every one of you for reading, subscribing, commenting and connecting with me.

pink roses in a white vase on a sofa table

Without you – I would have no reason to have a blog.

X and O throw pillows on a white sofa.
Valentine’s Day Pillows

So here is an X + an O for you from me. :-)

How to Make XO Pillows With DIY Letter Appliques

Normally when making appliques you use felt or fabric that will not unravel when cut. But for the $90 letter pillows, the opposite is true. The cut edge of the muslin turns into fringe that adds to the casual style of the pillows.

I would recommend using this or another fabric that has a loose weave where the cut edges of the fabric will fringe easily.

I used solid color fabrics, but making the pillows with a colorful or coordinating pattern of fabric and a solid letter or vice-versa would look great.

If using a pillow insert, these directions don’t explain how to make a cover for a throw pillow. You can find that here:

Letter applique a rotary cutter and heat n' bond on a work table.

supplies needed:

The technique I used to make the letter pattern for the appliques is very old school – no Cricut or fancy cutting machine needed.
If letters are not your style and you would like to applique your own design on a pillow, you can follow the steps I used to make the appliques using your design.

  • 2 – 18″ covered throw pillows
  • Muslin
  • Thread in coordinating color
  • Computer Paper or a piece of cardboard
  • Tape
  • The Letter X pattern
  • The Letter O pattern
  • Heat n’Bond Fusible Web Sheet
  • Scissors or Rotary cutter
  • Pencil or marking pen
  • Straight pins

Heat n’Bond is a great product when you enjoy making decorative and crafty items with fabric. It is a brand name of fusible web. It comes in rolls of various widths as well as by the yard and in pre-cut sheets. You can buy it anywhere fabric is sold.

Time needed: 1 hour

How to Make an Applique for a Pillow from a Drawing

  1. Make Template/Pattern and Cut Out

    Draw your design or trace the letter template .pdf onto sheets of computer paper that are taped together to create one larger piece. Cut out 4 for each letter.

    Note: I wanted the appliqued X and O to be large, so I taped computer paper together to make the pattern.

    If making something symmetrical, you can fold the paper in half and only draw one side of the item, then cut, making sure not to cut the fold.

    Once unfolded – you have an equal sided template. This only works symmetrical designs.

    If you are making a smaller design or letter that is no larger than the paper you are using, then you can simply trace the full letter or design on.

    X template used to make an XO pillow for a sofa.

  2. Transfer Pattern to Fabric

    Tape the cut letter pieces together to create the letters – X and O.

    Lay the paper letter on fabric. Use straight pins to hold it in place. Use scissors or a rotary cutter to cut out the letter.

    Note: I wanted the letters wider than I made the pattern, so I used a pencil to draw a line around the letter – 1/4″ away from the edge. I could have made a new template, but I was experimenting and wasn’t looking for perfection.

    transferring a template to fabric to make an applique pillow.

  3. Sew a Stitched Outline

    Using a contrasting color thread and your sewing machine’s longest stitch, sew an outline about 1/4″ from the outer edge on each letter.

    sewing an outline stitch on letter appliques

  4. Press Heat n’Bond

    Attach fusible web to the back of each letter or your applique using a warm iron. Let the webbing cool. I cut the fusible web 1/4″ shorter all around as I wanted to create a fringed edge for the letters that was not attached to the pillow.
    attaching fusible web to fabric

  5. Apply Applique to Pillow

    Peel the paper backing from the fusible web on the back of the letter and center on the pillow. Use a warm iron to attach the letter to the fabric on the pillow front. Let cool.

    Ironing on a letter applique onto a pillow.

XO pillow you can make into a set for a sofa or bed.

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  1. Sorry so late to this party. Just realized I’ve been reading and enjoying your content for years without ever telling you so. So I wanted to thank you for all you’ve shared and to let you know that one more person finds inspiration in what you put here. Keep up the good work. I look forward to your next post. ~~Swan

  2. A great DIY. Have you ever used freezer paper on fabric? You can cut out any pattern and then iron the shiny side to your fabric. It stays on quite well so you can trace or sew around it, then easily remove it. An old quilters tool I’ve used so many times. It might make your pattern transfer much quicker.

  3. Yours came out great! $99 for a pillow seems a bit much, and I like that you were able to recreate them on a budget. Bravo, and thanks for sharing!

  4. kate shaw says:

    Prefer your versions – they look elegant and bold. Not too taken with the 99 dollar ones because of the edging which looks a bit “tatty” if you’ll excuse the expression! Your “Z” is modern in style. Goodness, I’m getting carried away here – but I do so prefer your version! Thanks!


  6. You did a great job on the pillows. Happy Valentines Day!

  7. Happy Valentine’s Day, Diane! Cute pillows, and you saved $200! I have been a long time subscriber to your blog and really enjoy all of your great ideas.

  8. Helen Moss says:

    Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours, too, Diane. I always enjoy reading your inspiring posts!

  9. Great idea! and you know I love those candlesticks!

  10. I can’t believe the ones at store were that much!!! That seems so excessive but the ones you made turned out adorable. AND you have the added satisfaction of knowing that you created them! Beautiful work!

  11. Great project and cute too💜
    Happy Valentines Day!!!

  12. You put a smile on my face & love in my heart
    Happy Valentine’s Day!

  13. Is there anything better than seeing something and saying, “I can make that!” and then doing it- without any mistakes!!

    so thankful to you and your blog.
    it really brightens up so much of my life.
    Hope all is well with you and your family.

  14. Thank you! Happy ❤️ Day! The pillows are so fun! Keep up the great work!

  15. Cate Cooper says:

    Cool pillows, Diane! Thank you for all your great ideas. I appreciate you!!
    Wishing you a lovely Valentine’s Day.