Finishing Lesson: Biscornu (8-Sided Pillow)

A biscornu or 8-sided pillow is a great little finishing technique for square designs. Here's a sample (my version of Indigo Rose's Mary's Pin Pillow):

Here's what you need to get started:

*Your design should be square, preferably with an even number of backstitches around the outer border. The most common size is between 60 and 64 stitches per side. It *is* possible to finish up a biscornu with an odd number of stitches per side, you simply need to take an extra stitch at each corner.

Backstitch with either two strands of floss or #12 perle cotton. Whether you choose to match or contrast the fabric color is up to you!

First, prep your design by trimming excess fabric from the backstitch line. I usually leave about a half inch.

If you like, press along the backstitch line.

Now for the fun. Find the center of one side of the bottom and place a pin. Match a corner of the top piece to the pin.

Knot your seaming thread (yes, I said *knot*) and bring it up in the corner of the top. You're going to catch the backstitches *only* for your seam. Do not pick up any fabric threads! I find it easier to go from bottom to top, but either will work - do what feels comfortable.

Stitch along, matching the backstitches on the top and bottom piece, until you reach a corner.

Fold the long side around the edge of the corner and keep going, continuing to match each backstitch. (If you had an odd number of backstitches, here is where you'd use that odd one - leave it at the corner and take an extra stitch)

Continue around...see the little pillow shape forming?

When you have one half of one side left to stitch, it's time to stuff.

Stuff your biscornu with fiberbill or plastic pellets (for added weight) or a combination of both (my choice usually). Remember to take into account whether you will be compressing your pillow with a button. That'll make the resulting pillow a little firmer than it is right now.

Once you're happy with your stuffing, keep stitching as before.

When you make it around to the beginning, take an extra stitch or two and make a small slip knot. Run your needle back under to secure the thread end.


Time for buttons! I have two cards here as I couldn't decide which I liked before this point...

I'm liking these burnished ones....

I find it easiest to tie your thread to the bottom button before assembly. Use a doubled length for strength.

Center him on the bottom and run your needle up thru the biscornu and catch the top button. Go back down and continue to sew, pulling your thread a little tighter after each pass to compress the center of the pillow. Don't pull too tight too soon - the thread will break!

End your thread with a small knot behind the button and bury the thread.

Done! Your first biscornu!

Here are a few of my others:

JBW Designs' Spring Garden with a small gold button for the center

Another version of Mary's Pin Pillow