Dia De Los Muertos Pillow Tutorial

dodheader Sugar Skulls are by far the most popular symbol of Mexico's most famous holiday Dia de los Muertos (known as "Day of the Dead" in English).

Today I am going to share with you how to create a colorful, decorative pillow case using some great sugar skulls fabric. This finished pillow measures: 17" x 17", It is a quilted pieced front with a zipper opening.

Materials needed:

  • Timeless Treasures - Sugar Skulls in Black, 1/2 yard
  • Timeless Treasures - Soho Solids in Black, 1 fat quarter
  • Black or other coordinating thread
  • Seam ripper
  • 18" zipper in black or other coordinating color
  • Polyester batting - 19" x 19" // cotton batting or fusible fleece also work well
  • Safety pins, not needed if using a fusible batting/fleece
  • Straight pins
  • Rotary cutter & mat


I will say right off the bat that this might possibly be the cutest selvage piece ever. Look at all of those colorful skulls!


First cut 13 4" squares of skull fabric and 12 4" squares of black solid. You will have a total of 25 4" squares so you may alternate those amounts.


Arrange your squares in a 5 x 5 square pattern, alternating black and skull fabric.


At your machine sew your squares into strips using a 1/4" seam allowance.


Once you have all of your rows sewn, place in the correct order near your ironing board. I like to iron my seams in opposite directions, this allows you to nest your seams together when joining your rows.


Nesting your seams will improve your precision which will show in the points and corners of your squares.


Here is what nesting your seams does - creates perfectly lined up squares!


Now that your rows are all sewn together iron your seams open. This will reduce the bulk when you go to quilt the pillow front.


I like to use polyester batting for my pillow fronts because when quilted it creates a nice thick quilted look. If using a non fusible batting you will need to pin your quilted front to the batting with your safety pins.


Quilt as you like, I quilted a straight line next to my seam going both directions.


Trim away the edges of extra batting/fleece that extend past the fabric. Your pillow front should now roughly measure: 17.5" x 17.5" square.


Cut a backing piece out of the skull fabric to the same dimensions as your quilted pillow front. Lay right side down on top of your pillow front. You are now going to sew where your zipper will be placed. Make sure to use a 1/2" seam allowance so you will have plenty of space for your zipper to be added.


Press open the seam with your fingers.


Lay the sipper top side down onto the seam. You will need to pin it in place with straight pins.


Using a zipper foot, or regular foot close to the zipper teeth. Sew a straight line along each side. Use caution not to sew over the zipper teeth.


Now sew along the ends, on the inside of the zipper stops. Make sure on the side where the zipper pull is to unzip a bit so you do not accidentally sew over the pull and break your needle.


Using your seam ripper, carefully cut the stitches over where your zipper is now located. There will be bits of string to trim and clean up where they are cut. Once there are no more loose strings, unzip the zipper all of the way.


With right sides facing each other you may now sew along the three remaining sides of the pillow, double check that your zipper is open so you can easily turn your pillow right side out when finished.


I like to do a simple zig zag stitch along the edges to keep fraying from happening and it makes for a nicer finish.


Turn the pillow right side out and you are finished! Give your pillow case a nice iron finish and you are all set.


For the pillow stuffing I tried out two different pillow forms. Both are from Ikea and are 18" square. The top one is feather down and the bottom is polyester fill. You can see the difference in thickness.


Hope you enjoy your new pillows! If you are not a big fan of black decor in your home, Timeless Treasures also has a beautiful white skull fabric - Folk Art in White available for something a little less bright.


Thanks for stopping by!