Welcome Brett Bara! One of our favorite creative crafters and the founder of Brooklyn Craft Camp has shared step-by-step instructions for personalizing a west elm pillow with one of our favorite flowers — billy balls!…

To me, a basic throw pillow is a perfect blank slate for DIY personalization — and in this tutorial I’ll show you some simple steps to embellish a west elm pillow with handmade billy balls, using basic embroidery and yarn pom-poms. To make the stems, we’ll learn the split stitch, and the billy ball tops are made from yarn pom-poms. Both are super easy to do, so let’s get started!


What You’ll Need
west elm Cotton Velvet Duo Pillow Cover
• Embroidery Floss — I used DMC in colors 905 and 987
• Medium-weight yarn — I used Koigu Kersti Merino Crepe in color K2180
• Embroidery needles
• Yarn needle or tapestry needle (optional)
• Sharp scissors

Part 1: Stitch the Embroidery


    1. First up, cut a piece of embroidery floss about 3′ long and thread it through a sharp, large-eyed embroidery needle. Knot one end of the floss and leave the other end hanging free.


    2. To begin the embroidery, you’ll be working from the inside of the pillow cover. Insert the needle from back to front at the very bottom of the pillow, just next to the zipper edge.


    3. Pull the needle and floss all the way through to the front of the pillow, and insert the needle back in the fabric, a little less than ¼” from where the floss came out.


    4. Pull the floss all the way through to the inside of the pillow, and you have your first stitch!


    5. Now, bring the needle back through to the front of the pillow, a little less than ¼” ahead of the last stitch.


    6. Next, insert the needle back into the fabric, inserting it directly through the last stitch. You’ll actually split the floss of the last stitch — this is what makes the stitching look like one continuous line.


    7. Pull the floss all the way through, and you have two stitches complete!


    8. From here on out you’ll simply repeat these same steps. Bring the needle up to the front of the fabric, just ahead of your last stitch…


    9. …and then bring it back down again, right through the thread of the last stitch.


    10. Again, bring the needle up ahead…


    11.…and back down through the last stitch. That’s it!


    12. Just keep repeating these steps as your stem grows…


    13. …and continue until your stem is as long as you’d like it to be. When you’re done, just knot the floss on the inside of the pillow and trim the end. You don’t have to worry about making a perfectly straight line; in fact, your stems will look more natural if they’re a little wonky and they lean a bit.

Part 2: Make the Pom-Poms


    1. Begin by wrapping the yarn around your first two fingers.


    2. Wrap it a lot, about a hundred times or so, until it’s nice and chunky like this, then cut the yarn. (The exact number of times you wrap will depend on the thickness of your yarn, but it’s better to err on the side of wrapping more times than less, which will give you a nice, thick pom-pom.)


    3. Cut a piece of yarn about 12″ long and thread it through your fingers, below the yarn bundle.


    4. Fold the strand of yarn up over the yarn bundle…


    5. …then carefully slide the whole bundle off your fingers. Tie the yarn strand tightly around the center of the bundle; you should have something that looks like a bowtie shape, with the loops of the bundle on either end and the knot in the middle.


    6. This is where things get exciting! Carefully cut through all the loops on both ends of the bundle. (Do not cut the long tails of yarn that are attached to the center knot.)


    7. After cutting all the loops, you’ll have a bit of a shaggy mess. Most people think they’ve made a terrible pom-pom at this point, but worry not! It’s just not done quite yet.


    8. The last step is to give the pom-pom a haircut, trimming it all around until it’s neat and compact. The shorter you cut it, the denser it will be. (Again, leave the long yarn tails attached to the center knot.)


    9. Now it’s time to attach the pom-pom to the stem! Thread each end of the yarn tail onto a large-eyed needle, and insert the needle through the pillow at the top of the stem. (If your yarn is very thick you may needle a special needle with an extra-large eye, called a yarn needle or tapestry needle. These can be purchased at yarn shops.)


    10. Tie both of the yarn tails together on the inside of the pillow, trim them, and you’re done!


    11. One billy ball is complete! Just repeat these steps to make as many flowers as you’d like.


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brett bara diy workshops brooklyn west elm

west elm brett bara greenpoint brooklyn diy

Brett Bara is a published author, designer, blogger, and Jell-O mold enthusiast. She blogs about crafts and her DIY adventures at Get to know her, or connect with Brett on Twitter and Facebook. Brett is the founder of Brooklyn Craft Camp — inaugural camp is scheduled for March 16, 2013.


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The Junk Drunk

February 28, 2013

This is completely adorable! I love billy balls, and they’re perfect on the yellow trimmed pillow. I recently did a similar project – I embroidered a pair of black cats on to pillow cases for my friend’s birthday:

Lauren @momhomeguide

February 28, 2013

Really cute — I love this DIY pillow!


March 1, 2013

Great tutorial! Thanks.

Brett Bara

March 1, 2013

@Junk Drunk — I LOVE those cat pillows!!!


March 11, 2013

very nice, coming spring fresh from those pillow!!!


March 11, 2013

Simple and adorable! This is such a great way to personalize our throw pillows! Thanks for the tutorial!

Joyce Theos

March 17, 2013

Like Beckie, I LOVE the simplicity of this design! It’s also brightly springy and happy!!


March 19, 2013

I loved the Billy Ball pillow cover embroidery. But why do you say to get two colors of green floss for the stems in the Billy Ball Pillow? I only see one used …

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sandie fisher

March 16, 2014

Couldn’t be simpler or cuter. Going to pick up the covers and copy yours exactly. Such impact with minimum time and brain strain. Thank you.

sandie fisher

March 16, 2014

P.S. Impeccable instructions!

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Eleanor murty

February 16, 2016

Amazing !!


March 27, 2016

Thank you for sharing. Can’t wait to try it out.

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