secret heart pillow
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Secret Heart Pillow with Piecing & Quilting

Secret Heart Pillow

by Jennifer Strauser of Dizzy Quilter

secret heart pillow

Create a secret heart pillow that has a zippered compartment for treats or notes. Use one fabric color for the secret heart or piece together coordinating Valentine-themed fabrics to create a 10 1/2″ panel for Piece A. This project is a great way to use a fun fat quarter bundle. Add some quilting using 50 wt. Cotton thread for texture and pops of color.


Sulky 50 wt. Cotton + Steel thread 

(1) 10 ½” square of heart fabric

(1) 10 ½” square of fabric (to back the quilted panel – it will not show, so use up a scrap!)

(1) Background fat quarter of fabric

(1) Fat quarter of fabric (pocket lining)

(2) Pillow back fat quarters of fabric

(1) 8” or longer zipper

(1) 11” square of batting

(1) 16” pillow form

All seam allowances are ¼”. Prewash and press all fabrics.


From the heart print, cut a 10 ½” square for Piece A.

From the background fabric, cut:

B: (1) 3” x 5 ½” rectangle

C: (2) 2 ½”  squares

D: (2) 5” squares

From the panel backing fabric, cut two 10 ½” x 5 ¼” rectangles.

piecing plan

Place Piece B wrong side up on a flat work surface.  Fold one long edge ¼” toward the wrong side; press. Fold the two short raw edges up toward the wrong side, forming a triangle with the folded edge at the point.

folding & prep

Press pieces C and D in half along the diagonal, wrong sides together.

folded pieces


Lay Piece B in place at the center of the heart panel upper edge. Mark the point using a removable marking pen. This is the zipper upper-edge placement.  Set aside Piece B.

Cut the panel in half vertically.

Align the zipper right side down along one panel center cut edge, positioning the zipper teeth just below the mark. Align one piece of panel backing fabric along the zipper wrong side.  Pin well, and then stitch a ¼” seam. Press the fabrics open. Unzip the zipper during sewing to keep the pull away from the presser foot.

zipper placement

Repeat to sew the opposite zipper edge to the remaining panel and panel backing piece.

one half of zipper

Cut the batting piece in half.  Place it in between the panel and panel backing along one zipper edge, abutting the long batting edge against the folded line of the panel fabric.

inserting zipper

Topstitch ⅛” from the foldline, securing the batting.

zipper panel with border

Quilt the panel as desired using Sulky 50 wt. Cotton thread.

Trim away the excess batting and zipper tape from the panel perimeter. Make sure the zipper pull is zipped partially, contained within the panel body before trimming.

zipper panel

Measure the panel. It should measure 10 ½” square. If not, either cut it down or adjust the following cutting instructions to fit the panel dimensions.

pieced heart closeup

Following the diagram, position the heart corner pieces.  Pin all three layers together.  Sew a line of stay stitches along the outside of the block with a ⅛” seam allowance.


Cut two pieces of border fabric measuring 10 ½” x 3 ½”.  Align the borders with the heart panel side edges; pin. Stitch with a ¼” seam. Press the seam allowances toward the border. Topstitch along the pressed seam using a ⅛” seam allowance.

Next, cut two pieces of border fabric measuring 16 ½” x 3 ½”.  Align the borders with the upper and lower heart-panel edges; pin. Stitch using a ¼” seam. Press the seam allowances toward the border. Topstitch along the pressed seam using a ⅛” seam allowance. The topstitching is a good place for decorative stitches!

quilting heart

Slip your finger into the flap created by the corner piece. Carefully fold the fabric over along the bias, creating a gentle curve.

topstitching heart

Topstitch along the curved edge. If possible, stitch around the heart in one pass, stitching in the ditch between the curved pieces.

topstitching heart at angle


Fold each backing fat quarter in half along the short side; press, and then cut each 16 ½” wide. The pieces should measure 16 ½” x 10”.

Place the lining fabric right side up. Then place pillow front right side up over the lining. Layer the pillow-back panels over the pillow front, with the folded edges toward the pillow center. Next, align the raw edges and the pillow-front raw edges. Stitch the perimeter using ¼” seam allowance.

secret heart pillow backing

Clip the corners, and then turn the pillow right side out through the envelope closure. Lastly, topstitch ¼” from the pillow perimeter.

secret heart pillow front

To finish the pillow, insert the pillow form.

Secret Heart Pillow zippered front

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I am the Director of Content for Sulky of America. The former Editor in Chief of Sew News and Creative Machine Embroidery magazines, I hosted Sew it All TV on PBS for nine seasons. I've appeared on It's Sew Easy on PBS, DIY Network's Uncommon Threads, Hallmark's Marie Osmond Show, MacPhee Workshop and more! Come sew with me!