Making Primitive Applique Flag Pillows

May 7, 2011

Applique can seem difficult and time consuming, but primitive applique is simple to do and imperfections are required. Make primitive appliqued flag bowl fillers to decorate your home for the summer holidays. Homes with an Americana decor style can display the bowl fillers all year round. Dig through your fabric stash for shades of red, white, and blue fabric. Primitive Applique Flag Pillows - Flags in basket.


This project can be successfully achieved by a beginner who is new to sewing. Plan on making several, since you won't be able to stop with one. I made a set for my home, and made several to sell at craft shows.


Approximate Time: One hour, not including drying time



  1. Cut two, 5-inch wide by 7-inch long rectangles from muslin. These are the foundation of your bowl filler pillow. You could also use old white or off-white tablecloths, pillowcases, or sheets. I used any scraps I could find. A few of my pillows were made using vintage off-white, pre-printed embroidery fabric. The printing was a faded blue/gray ink that I positioned on the inside of the pillows.
  2. Cut fabric scraps for the applique pieces. Cut one, 2 1/4-inch wide by 3-inch long blue rectangle for the flag's blue field. Cut three, 1/2-inch wide by 4-inch long red strips for the stripes next to the field. Cut three, 1/2-inch wide by 7-inch long red strips for the stripes below the field. I made several bowl fillers, so I cut one long strip of red fabric and trimmed it as I pinned the pieces in place. Trace a 3-inch star on a scrap of white fabric and cut out. I used a wooden star from craft supplies as a pattern.

    Note: To keep the look of the bowl filler primitive, I used measurements for the blue field and stripes, but I roughly cut them out. This produced some uneven and wavy lines on the pieces, which I wanted. The star and the pillow rectangles were not rough-cut.

  3. Lay one pillow rectangle on your work surface with the right side facing up. Position the blue field rectangle in the top left-hand corner with the long edge running horizontally. Align the left and top edge of the field with the edges of the pillow rectangle. Pin the rectangle to hold. Place the three shorter red strips next to the field with the lengths running horizontally and place the longer strips below the field. Evenly space the strips. Pin the strips to hold.
  4. Top stitch the pinned pieces to the pillow rectangle using a straight stitch. Sew around the edges of the applique pieces a scant 1/8 inch from the edge. The sewing line does not need to be perfect. Imperfections will add to the primitive appearance of the bowl filler.
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  6. Place the fabric star on the appliqued blue field, overlapping onto the stripes. Pin the star to hold and top stitch in the same way as the other pieces.
  7. Primitive Applique Flag Pillows - Sewing on star.

  8. Place the two pillow rectangles together with the wrong sides facing. Pin three edges, leaving one short end open. Sew the pinned edges using a scant 1/4-inch seam allowance. The raw edges are exposed on the finished appliqued flag bowl filler. Do not turn it inside out.
  9. Primitive Applique Flag Pillows - Finished flag pillow.

  10. Fill the pillow with stuffing and sew the end closed.
  11. Mix two teaspoons of brown acrylic paint, a 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, ginger, and cloves with a cup of water. Stain the entire surface of the flag bowl filler with the mixture using a sponge brush. Allow the stain to dry.
  12. Primitive Applique Flag Pillows - Stained to age.


  13. Cut a 36-inch length of twine. Wrap the twine around the pillow like a gift package. Tie the ends in a knot on the top. Trim the ends.
Primitive Applique Flag Pillows - Tied with twine.

By Cyndee from Winfield, KS

Comment Pin it! Was this helpful? 6


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May 7, 20110 found this helpful

Beautiful work.I just love any primitive folk art. Thanks for sharing great directions with photos.

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May 8, 20110 found this helpful

Lovely. I so love to see your flag in crafts, keeper on here sends me loads of cool stuff like this in parcels, as I'm in UK.

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May 11, 20110 found this helpful

This is a beautiful idea. I love it! And I have a large stash to go through. This would make a great gift idea too.

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June 25, 20170 found this helpful

I love this idea. Already thinking of other holiday themes to interchange with the flags, hearts - Valentine's Day/February, eggs- Easter, etc.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
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