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X O Pillow for the Bedroom or Valentine’s Day

This X O pillow DIY idea came about after a trip to a favorite expensive home decor boutique shop. I have wanted to create some sort of decorative lettered pillows but wanted it to be different and special. When I came across some decorative pillows with the lettering sewn behind the opening I knew exactly how I wanted to sew this new cushion.

A farmhouse style bed with pink bedding and an appliqued XO farmhouse pillow.

Here is the original beautiful cushion that inspired me. This oh-so-fab Christmas cushion was $85 but I waited for the boutique to have a Boxing Day sale and scooped it up at 50% off.

Large farmhouse cushion with applique lettering and painted saying for Christmas. Cushion used as inspiration for a handmade farmhouse pillow.

My $5 X O Pillow DIY

This XO pillow ended up costing me $5 because I had some leftover dropcloth fabric, but you can buy a dropcloth or enough cotton to make one for less than $20. You could even do it with cotton denim for a child’s room, wouldn’t that make a nice DIY gift for a teen?

The big difference in this new custom letter pillow is how the applique is done. It isn’t individual letters appliqued on the front of a pillow. Instead, it is cutouts and a large piece of fabric appliqued behind the cushion front. Let me show you how to do it, it’s so much easier

How to Sew an XO Cushion Cover

X O Pillow Cover Supplies

  • Two pieces of dropcloth or heavy cotton fabric 36″ by 14″ inch long
  • A smaller piece of dark or black coordinating fabric for the back of the lettering 34″ by 12″
  • A piece of fusible interfacing 34″ by 12″
  • A piece of freezer paper 36″ long
  • Free downloadable XO pattern

Step 1 – Prepare the Fabric

I used a bleached cotton dropcloth for my cushion, but with any fabric you choose start by washing, drying,- and ironing it first. This is an important step because you want to avoid the fabric shrinking and bunching up your pretty applique xoxo lettering.

Step 2 – Transferring the Pattern

Start by cutting your fabric. I like to rip my fabric to ensure it is exactly straight and to have frayed edges. Once you have the fabric pieces cut, iron, and set aside. No need to seal the edges. Bonus, this time we want those edges to fray, baby fray!

A pretty graphic with the pretty diy home logo in it.

Note: If you want to change the size of the pillow or create a pair of pillows instead, the pattern will work for you. Follow the same steps as for my large pillow but adjust the material sizes and the X O pattern to fit your needs.

Print out 3 copies of the downloadable pattern, on a regular letter-sized home printer. Then tape them together so they become one large pattern.

Cut the freezer paper, and place the wax side down. Center the taped-together XO patterns. I just eyeballed mine.

Tape the upper edge of the xo templates to prevent the pattern from shifting while you trace. Place a piece of carbon paper between the freezer paper and the pattern.

3 copies of a free downloadable pattern taped together that way XO, in plain white paper with a piece of carbon underneath.

Trace out each letter. You can lift the paper occasionally to make sure you have all the lines done. Once the pattern is transferred to the freezer paper, discard the pattern and carbon paper.

Transferring a pattern onto freezer paper using carbon paper.

Step 3 – Cutting out the X O Pillow Lettering

Measure one inch out from the edge of your lettering on each end. Draw a line and trim the paper edges, Fold the paper in half along the long edge and mark the center with a pen top and bottom.

Find the center of your fabric by folding the width size in half and marking the top and bottom with a pin.

Make sure the good side of the fabric is face up and the wax side of the freezer paper is face down, lineup the center of the freezer paper and the fabric, For the vertical I eyeballed it.

Steps of finding and lining up the center of the paper pattern with the fabric, and marking it with a pen and pins.

With a hot iron and No steam, press the freezer paper. The heat will melt the waxy side of the freezer paper and lightly adhere it to your fabric.

Flip your fabric over so the wrong side is showing. Cover with the piece of interfacing iron well.

Once again turn the fabric over so the freezer paper side is upwards. Next, pin all three layers together, the freeze paper the drop cloth, and the interfacing.

Carefully pin around the edges of each letter, I used about 50 pins. Make sure to pin the central part of the letter O as well.

X and O letter on freezer paper with lots of sewing pins holding down all the letter edging.

Once it’s all pinned start cutting out the letters. It is very important to remember you are discarding the actual letters and keeping the outer part. I used small scissors and snipped inside the letter, inserted the scissors, and cut along the edges. Each letter took less than 5 minutes.

For the letter O to hold the central portion of the O in place when removing the fabric leave a little bit at the top and bottom in place without cutting it. We will remove that later.

Cutting fabric XO from a pillow cover

Once all your letters are cut out. Flip the fabric a good size down. Cover the lettering with the coordinating fabric (grey) and iron in place.

Working on the good side of your fabric, apply the letter openings to the black coordinating fabric.

I liked to do the letters individually, removing the freezer paper and pinning the edges of each letter before completing a small zig-zag stitch around all the letters.

For the letter O remove the freezer paper and pin the edges of the internal part of the letter. Once secure cut out the little leftover bits before appliqueing.

Using scissors snipping out the little bits of fabric that was holding the center piece of the letter O

Step 4 – Sewing the XO Pillow

Our fabulous appliqued cushion front is done, so we’re almost finished. Now you can choose to make it a pillow or a pillow cover. I share how to make an inexpensive insert below.

A large DIY farmhouse cushion in cream with XOX appliqued on the front. Its sitting on a bed with pink bedding.

The expensive purchased cushion has a large zipper down the edge. I rarely sew zippers as they are fiddly, but in this case, a 30″ long zipper was too pricey. You can’t make this style of cushion as an envelope cover, as the frayed edges would have areas much thicker where the folds are. Our workaround is to use a strip of velcro fastener at one end.

Pin your pillow’s wrong sides together. Cut the velcro to fit one side. Pin the velcro in place. Once pinned sew along the edges.

Sew the remaining three sides of the cushion close to the edge. Repeat with a second seam 1/4 inch inside the first.

Sewing a Cushion Instead of a Cover

Instead of applying the velcro at one end. Sew the first three seams, then stuff your pillow. Once stuffed sew the final edge closed.

Don’t forget to pin this for later!

A handmade xo pillow thats been reversed appliqued for an easy method and more modern style.  The long xox cushion is sitting on a bad with pink bedding.

Save Money with a DIY Pillows Insert

If you don’t want to buy a long pillow insert you can make one custom insert using inexpensive muslin and stuffing. Cut two pieces of muslin 36 by 14 inches. Place the wrong sides together, and sew three sides. Turn the right side out, fill with stuffing, and then close the final edge. If you need better instructions check out my post about making pillow inserts.

How to make European cushion inserts and DIY bolster cushion inserts

Other Cushions or Pillow Covers

Sewing cushion covers is one of the things I love to craft the most. It saves money, and storage space and makes it so much easier to coordinate matching fabrics. Here are just a couple of the other pillows I have made.

Easy Hand embroidery on a DIY farmhouse bolster cushion with buffalo check.

Handmade Farmhouse Bolster Cushion


  1. Love that you saw something you like and figured out a way to make it for a fraction of the cost – you’re a girl after my own heart, Leanna. The pillow is gorgeous and so well done! Pinned

  2. Libbie@alifeunfolding says:

    What a sweet project for Valentine’s day! So pretty.

    1. Thank you for the Pin, and for letting me know Kim. It is much appreciated.

  3. That’s gorgeous Leanna. I love the fact that the letters are hugs and kisses are peaking out. That adds so much character and texture to the whole look.

    1. Thank you Michelle, its a little shabbier than I usually make but I adored the Christmas one, so I went with that style.

    1. Glad you like them, and I am trying to make my home more decorate year around and less seasonal looking, I think the black helped with that.

  4. I love this DIY idea! This would make a great gift and it could be customized with any word. Pinning!

    1. Thank you Paula, its much easier to do then singular letters and less messy then painting.

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