Scrap Map Throw Pillow Sewing Tutorial

A few weeks ago, I saw the idea for a US map quilt that looked great, but also like a lot of work. I decided to make a throw-pillow size instead using fabric scraps. It turned out better than I expected, and matches almost any color scheme! Here’s how you can make one:

Start by printing your map template. Use this PDF, and click Print > Poster > Landscape > Tile Scale between 150% and 190% depending on how big you want your map. I printed it a few times and held it up to the pillow to see how big I wanted it.

Next, tape together your map into one big piece, then cut out each state. This map has somewhat simplified borders so it’s actually not that bad to cut each one. Make sure to put them in a plastic bag as you cut them out, or the little New England states might get lost.

Once the paper states are all cut, pick your fabrics. I used 25 different patterns of scraps, so there were 2 states cut from each. Try to pick fabrics with basic patterns or solids, because the map starts to look pretty busy if there are lots of big shapes within each state.

To cut the fabric to the right shapes, tape the paper state to the fabric with scotch tape around the edges. Then cut right through the tape and fabric to the right shape. It is important to be pretty accurate with cutting at this part, so the states will match up later.


Once all the states are cut out, take a big piece or muslin or other lightweight material and lay the states out on top of it, using a regular-sized map as a reference.

Pin the states down well. For smaller states like Rhode Island, I used some Elmer’s glue to hold it to the fabric, because a pin wouldn’t really fit without fraying.

Now, it’s time to start sewing the states to the muslin. Try out some different zigzag widths and lengths on scrap fabric to see what you like. You’ll want it fairly thin in width and close together in length, kind of like a basic machine embroidering stitch. On my machine, I ended up liking a width of 3 and length of 0.5.

Carefully sew around each state, around 1/8” from the edge of the state, backstitching and cutting the threads after each one. I started with Washington and moved east, so that I could get used to sewing them with the bigger states before I got to the tiny ones.

When it comes to the super small states like Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Delaware, I just did one line of zigzag to tack the fabric down. Otherwise, if possible, I sewed around the edges of the state, because it looks nicer.

Once all the states are sewn on (except Hawaii and Alaska), cut the muslin right to the edges of the country. Press everything well, using some steam to make sure the whole thing is flat.

At this point you pretty much have one big applique with states on one side and muslin on the other.

Use a regular straight stitch around the edge of the country over the zigzags to attach the map to your pillowcase. (You can use an existing pillowcase or make one from this pattern. If you use the pattern in the link, sew the map on the fabric after you cut it and before you sew the pillow together, to make things simpler.)

Pin/glue and sew Alaska and Hawaii directly onto the pillowcase now the same way you sewed the states to the muslin.

Sew around one more state toward the middle of the map (I did Nebraska) with a straight stitch to secure the map to the pillowcase.

And you’re done! If you want, you can sew on a little button where you live, or on your favorite states. Hopefully everything makes sense- let me know if you have any questions!

Paris Itinerary

Every once in a while someone asks me for tourist ideas for Paris. Here’s a summary of what we did last week. We like a fast pace, so cut this in half if you prefer to relax on vacation.

A few recommendations before you arrive in Paris:

  1. Buy Rick Steves Paris and read as much as you can — highlight and mark pages and lug it around with you during your trip.
  2. Download Rick Steves Walking Tours if you want to do any audio tours
  3. Download the TripAdvisor app and save Paris for offline use. Perfect for tracking down restaurants and sights that are close to wherever you happen to be in the city.
  4. Download the Citymapper app. I can’t say enough good things about this. You tell it where you want to go and it will figure out the quickest options via bus, metro, Uber, and walking. It will even tell you which part of the train to get in so you are closest to the exit when you get off.
  5. Set up your phone for international use. We use Verizon and pay $25 for 100MB of data (expires in 30 days). This can easily last a week if you are careful to only turn on Cellular Data when you need it. (For example, turn it on for 1 minute while you type in a Citymapper route. Click the star to save the route for offline use. Then turn Cellular Data back off. You only used a fraction of a MB.) Make sure your phone is not doing App updates or other heavy things over a cell connection – these can eat up your 100MB very quickly.
  6. Consider a Paris Museum Pass – this is a great deal if you’re going to see 3+ museums during your stay. It also includes climbing Notre Dame, climbing Arc de Triomphe, and several places in Paris suburbs if you want to explore further out. You can buy a 2-, 4-, or 6-day pass.

Ok, here was our itinerary. Keep in mind that the day of week matters. Many places are closed on Mondays, others (like the Louvre and Pompidou Center) are closed on Tuesdays. Click a day below if you want more detail and photos:

Day 1 – Arrive, climb the Eiffel Tower, check in to Airbnb, explore

Day 2 – Bike tour of Versailles, visit Mormon temple (if you’re so inclined), climb the Arc de Triomphe and walk the Champs-Élysées.

Day 3 – Church, Père Lachaise Cemetery, Louvre Museum, Orsay Museum, Sacré Coeur and Motmartre, Bateaux-Mouches tour of the Seine

Day 4 – Notre Dame tower climb, Sewer tour, Napoleon’s tomb, Pantheon, Sainte-Chapelle, Luxembourg Gardens

Day 5 – Catacombs, Rodin Museum, Picasso Museum, Museum of Music, Pompidou Center and Les Halles

Day 6 – fly home with mounds of Chocolate Cruesli

My stash of Cruesli – brought an extra suitcase for this.