Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial - Part 1

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Bear Creek Quilting Company

2023 Maywood Studio Maker
I am a 2023 Maywood Studio Maker!
Posted by Shari on February 22nd, 2015

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
Hello, Friends!  I'm visiting again from the Amy Made That! blog, for a brand new 3-part series of posts, featuring Color Theory from V and Co. for Moda.
Color Theory by V and Co. for Moda
I used a fat quarter bundle and one yard of solid fabric, but these projects are also great for layer cakes, charm packs and yardage.

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
This bundle of colorful beauty inspired me to create a fabulous quilt block that I call the Granny Star.  It's a Granny Square block with a star in the middle.

Let's get started making a big 22 1/2" pillow!

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
Here is the layout for the block.

{Each piece is labeled only once in the photo. They are placed as shown.}

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial

A:  (1)  5" x 5" square - center
B:  (4)  5" x 5" squares
C:  (4)  5" x 5" squares
D:  (4)  5" x 5" squares
E:  (4)  6" x 6" squares, cut diagonally - 8 side triangle pieces
F:  (2)  5" x 5" squares, cut diagonally - 4 outer corners
G:  (8)  3" x 3" squares - star points

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
Press the G squares in half diagonally, WRONG sides together, for the star points.

TIP:  I used a solid gray fabric for the background triangles, E and F.

I also chose to use the background solid for my B pieces, so that the star would show up well.

Lay out all of the squares of your block, to keep them in the right positions.

{You can trade places with some of the 5" squares until you like the layout.}

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
First construct the center STAR points.  Pick up a B square, and line up the edges of a folded G square as shown.  Stitch along the fold.   I like to chain stitch all 4 B's, then snip them apart.

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
Using scissors, trim away the inside corners as shown, to end with a 5" square with one star point, after pressing.

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
Repeat the process for all of the B units, stitching along the fold of the second star point.

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
Trim with scissors, and again the finished pressed star point block will measure 5".

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
Begin to sew the squares together in rows, without the triangles.  Press all seams in the same direction within each row, and alternate the pressing direction for every row.   This will allow you to nest the seams for perfect piecing.

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
Next, add the triangle pieces.  Be careful they are being attached in the right orientation.

Always line up the straight edges for stitching.  There will be a lot of fabric overhanging the edges.

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
After stitching, press the seam and trim off the excess dog-ear.

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
Now stitch all of the rows together...almost finished!

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
To finish the block, center the corner triangles and stitch them in place.  They are a wee bit over-sized.

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
Trim up the block to make a perfect square measuring 20" x 20". 

Make sure your 10" ruler lines cross the center of the block.

Now add borders:

Top and Bottom Borders:
      (2)  2 1/4" x 20"

Side Borders:
      (2)  2 1/4" x 23 1/2"

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
Here's the block I used for the back of my pillow...more of those pretty Color Theory prints!

For a reversible floor pillow, make another Great Granny Star block.  Alternately you could use a 23 1/2" square of fabric for the pillow back.

Add a layer of Pellon ShapeFlex interfacing (SF101) to the back of the finished pillow top.  This adds stability and shape.  I use it for almost all of my pillows.

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial

For the bottom edge of the pillow, use a zipper at least 14" long.

{A 16" or 18" zipper will be easier for stuffing, but 14" will work.}

Center the zipper along the bottom  edge  of the pillow front, wrong side up.  Make a mark at the beginning of the zipper.

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
Also mark the end of the zipper.

Now pin the pillow front and back together, right sides together.  

Using a 1/2" seam,  backstitch to begin sewing and stop stitching when you reach the first mark.  Backstitch to reinforce, then stop at the mark.  Switch to the longest stitch length, and baste the area between the two marks.  Switch back to the normal stitch length.  Backstitch as you continue sewing past the mark, then finish sewing the seam all the way to the edge.  Backstitch to lock the finished seam.

{The area where the zipper will be placed has now been basted in place.}

Press the seam open.

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
Place pillow on table, with the seam showing.  Lay the zipper RIGHT SIDE DOWN  on the seam, and pin it into place over the basting.

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
Use a zipper foot to stitch the zipper in place, around all 4 edges.  If the tension is right, your zipper will look just great on the right side, too.

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
Now for the fun part...turn the pillow to the right side and use the seam ripper to remove ONLY the basting stitches.

{I bet you never knew using a seam ripper could be sew much fun!}

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
OPEN UP THAT ZIPPER NOW   and keep it open for a while.

{Did you open that zipper?  Just checking...}

Pin the pillow front and back, right sides together, around the remaining three sides.  Stitch around all three sides, with a regular or triple stitch.  Trim corners, and turn pillow right side out.   Don't blame me if you didn't open that zipper. ;)

Give your pillow cover a nice pressing.

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
Stuff the pillow with a 24" pillow form.  It will be nice and full, ready to snuggle.

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
The bottom zippered edge is so neat.

Great Granny Star Pillow Tutorial
I like both you?

Stop back again soon, and we'll make the Granny Star block in smaller sizes.

"Great Granny Star Pillow" Tutorial was designed and created for Bear Creek Quilting Company by Amy from Amy Made That by eamylove.
Fabric used in this tutorial is from Color Theory  by V and Co. for Moda.
Do you love free fabric?  Do you love to teach?  Want to be a contributor on our blog?  Send us an email at to get started!
Category: Tutorials


  • 1. Posted by Karla on April 16th, 2015 at 3:01 p.m.
    I love your tutorial!! I have a layer cake and a couple of charm packs of Color Theory. Looking forward to the smaller sizes!
  • 2. Posted by Karen Miller on March 11th, 2015 at 6:35 p.m.
    Awesome tutorial Amy -- and your results are stunning. Thank you so much.
  • 3. Posted by Elaine on March 2nd, 2015 at 4:39 p.m.
    This tutorial is excellent. As usual Amy's pictures show every step especially that zipper, it totally vanishes, how clever!
  • 4. Posted by Lori Smanski on February 28th, 2015 at 4:05 p.m.
    this is wonderful. thanks for the tutorial. cant wait for the smaller sizes
  • 5. Posted by Pat on February 26th, 2015 at 10:24 a.m.
    Great tutorial and gorgeous pillow, Shari! Thank you for sharing ... :) Pat
  • 6. Posted by LINDA on February 24th, 2015 at 10:48 a.m.
  • 7. Posted by Susie on February 24th, 2015 at 9:19 a.m.
    I love this pillow in these fabrics! What a beautiful tutorial. I think you have explained the zipper so well, that I will try it on this pattern!
  • 8. Posted by Lara B. on February 23rd, 2015 at 8:31 p.m.
    Such great photos and instructions Amy! Perfect Tutorial and a beautiful pillow!
  • 9. Posted by Julie @ The Crafty Quilter on February 23rd, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.
    I love this pillow! Great instructions and I like the new zipper technique. It's nice to have it on the bottom, so you can make both sides pieced (and reversible).
  • 10. Posted by Karin Vail on February 23rd, 2015 at 9:53 a.m.
    Cute project! Can't wait to see what else you make!
  • 11. Posted by Donna on February 23rd, 2015 at 9:01 a.m.
    Very nice! Thank you very much!
  • 12. Posted by louise on February 22nd, 2015 at 8:09 p.m.
    I like it very much
  • 13. Posted by Terry on February 22nd, 2015 at 7:22 p.m.
    Love the pillow…thanks for the great tutorial :)
  • 14. Posted by Becky on February 22nd, 2015 at 6:50 p.m.
    Your tutorial is wonderful! The pictures are so clear I felt like I could pick the fabric up!!