Thank you, Mo Willems

I have a horrible secret that I'm about to share with all of you. Are you ready?
I used to sort of hate reading to my daughter.

Ick, it seems even more horrible when I type it out. Well, the good news is that I said "used to", as in past tense. I have Mo Willems, the literary genius, largely to thank for this!
In the past, I bought books on sale. I don't want to say that they were bad books, but they weren't fun to read. Then this last year Addy started preschool, and with that came the infamous Scholastic order forms. I could finally buy all of the fun books that I saw in the book stores at great prices! For Christmas I ordered a huge stack of new books, including a few of the pigeon books by Mo Willems. These books are *so* fun to read, and Addy really seems to like them too!
Then a few weeks ago I was wandering through the local Barnes and Noble, and I ran across the Elephant and Piggie series, also by Mo Willems. I picked one to bring home, and!!!! These two characters are even more fun to read than the pigeon! I later went back for another book, which is going in Addy's Easter basket. :)

Ok, so there's the back story. And now for my tribute to Mo. I decided that I wanted to make a pillow featuring the pigeon. Then I remembered the Elephant and Piggie, and decided to try for a group shot. Not wanting to leave anyone out, I started researching the other series by Mo, and came across Knuffle Bunny and Cat the cat.

And the back, nice and simple:

The quilty details:
Traced the characters onto pattern paper and then reversed the images when I traced them onto lightweight fusible web.
Fused the pieces onto fabric and cut on my tracing lines.
Pieced each character together separately by ironing them onto an Applique Pressing Sheet. I had to clip pieces and maneuver things just right to line up my pieces.
Once they cooled on the applique sheet, I peeled them off and played with them on the pillow front.
Then I fused the whole group* down on the pillow front.
When everything was fused well, I basted the pillow top, batting and a thin muslin backing.
To hold the applique pieces down, I free motion quilted around them with black thread. This was the first time I tried this (usually I would use my walking foot and painstakingly sew the pieces v.e.r.y. slowly). I like the effect, especially since the drawings in the book are sketchy. Plus it was fast!
I didn't quilt in the background at all, because I didn't want to distract from the characters. It also gives them a more poofy look.

For the pillow back, I used a regular zipper and simply offset it running vertically. This was mostly done out of 1. laziness and 2. desire to finish the pillow without another run to the store. In the end, I really love the back though! Finished size is about 12.5" x 16.5".

Addy squealed when I showed her the pillow, and promptly announced that she wanted to put it on her bed. This is probably one of my favorite projects of all time. And I'm happy to say that we read a lot more now. Thank you, Mo Willems.

*I apologize to those characters who were left out. I tried to include as many as I could.

I'm linking this pillow up to the Blogger's Pillow Party!