You too, Can make cute pillows

For anyone who is just starting to learn how to sew, PILLOWS are a great way to get acquainted with your machine.  I am doing this post for those who possibly read my other post on our newly re-decorated music/lounge room. Go here to see more details:  I made a few pillows to toss on the “bed” one afternoon, and thought to take photos while doing it so I could share some easy tips!

Before I go any further….Let me just say that I had in mind to make bigger pillows for this seating area (and I will eventually add some more), but when I went to World Market/Cost Plus a few weeks ago, they had their cotton velvet pillows on sale for 4.99$ ea (18″x18″).  Listen people– you can’t even buy the basic pillow form for that price!  Just take a look at Jo-Ann’s or any other place that sells forms.  THAT being said, I figured, “Even if they aren’t the color I want, I can at least use the insert for my own design.” Which is what I ended up doing.  ***Here’s another tip:  If you are looking for cheap pillow inserts, go to Ross.  They often have pillows marked on clearance because, ehem, they are really weird/ugly.  Recover them!  I’ve found 18″ pillows there for 5$ or 6$ ea.


So, here is an easy way to make an envelope pillow.  (And scroll down for the appliquèd pillow too).  This is my favorite design for a pillow cover because 1) It’s super easy and fast to make and 2) It can easily be removed for washing.

Always remember to pre-wash your fabric.  It will shrink if it has any cotton in it.  An easy and fast way to do this (because, let’s face it- usually when you get the urge to start a project, you want to do it RIGHT THEN) is to wet it in the sink and then toss it in your dryer on high.  The heat is what does the shrinking.  If it’s some unusual fabric, or a polyester or minky, dry on low heat, because man-made materials melt and do weird stuff!

Unfold fabric to see the full width.  This is to make sure the width will cover your pillow and then some.  This fabric was 45″ wide, so no problem for an 18″ pillow.  Even if you are working with a directional fabric (i.e the fabric only looks good going one way because of the pattern), this will work.  Cut the length you need (I had an 18″x18″ pillow, so I cut my fabric 18.5″x18.5″ and used approx 1/4″ seams).  If your pillow is more than about 20″x20″, you’ll need wider fabric to do it this easy way. (like 54″or 60″)


1.  Fold fabric back in half so that selvedges line up together.  Cut off the selvedges (white edge often printed with words).

2.  Using an iron, fold and press these edges under 1/2-ish inch. Then again.  Do this on both fabric edges.


3.  Now stitch across each edge to hem.


4.  With the right side of the fabric facing inward, fold the fabric on each side until it measures the same as the width (or, obviously whatever the pillow measures if it happens to be a rectangle).  MY version was folded in until it measured 18.5″ from side fold to side fold.  As you can see in step 4, I like to fold it so that one of the hemmed edges is about centered on the back.


5.  Pin the sides and stitch across the raw edges, using the correct seam allowance.


Turn the pillow inside out.  Now you’re done!  The pillow can be flipped any way you’d like, because it doesn’t matter which way the “envelope” opens on the back.  Both of these pillows were constructed in this manner:


Pillow #2:  Appliquèd Bird Pillow

What you’ll need:

Main pillow fabric, fabric motif, 1/2-ish yard of fusible web. (I am partial to regular weight “Heat N’ Bond” brand, but Wonder Under will do too).

This is an easy way to place an appliquè onto, well, anything.  The possibilities are endless.  Pillows, towels, bibs, clothing, curtains, bedspreads-you name it!

Here is the finished pillow on the right:


I even cut out silhouettes of birds on a wire and ironed them to my wall in this room(right hand wall).  Of course, I just took them down to paint the wall, but you see the possibilities?


1.  First thing you’ll want to do is find the perfect piece of fabric with a motif you would like to use.  I decided to use the birds in this Japanese fabric by Echino fabrics.  I cut it out with a generous allowance around the whole thing.


2.  Then decide exactly what you want to cut out.


3.  Be careful on this step.  I used a fusible web (it can be found near the interfacing usually at your local store.  I buy it by the yard, but certain brands are available in packages in the notions section as well) to adhere the motif to my pillow front.  The web is an iron-on adhesive with a paper backing.  If you feel it, you can tell which side is paper and which side is glue.  Cut a piece of the web just a hair smaller than your fabric piece.  This is VERY IMPORTANT.  If the web is larger, then when you iron it to the wrong side of your fabric it will get glue all over your ironing board!


Flip your fabric over and iron (according to package directions) the web GLUE SIDE DOWN against the WRONG side of your fabric (see above).

4.  Using a decent pair of scissors, cut around the motif (the paper backing helps stabilize while you cut).

5.  Once you are done cutting, you may peel the paper backing off of your fabric.  **MAKE SURE you can see/feel the glue on the wrong side of your fabric motif as you peel.  Sometimes it doesn’t stick well and may need to be ironed a bit more.


6.  Now position your motif onto the background fabric.  I used a few extra pieces so that the design would extend over the edges of my pillow front.  This step is helpful to do on your ironing board so you don’t have to move and re-position everything againYou can also place a bath towel on your work surface and iron that way if you have a larger piece you are working on.


7.  Once everything looks good, iron it down!


8.  Optional:  My last step is to stitch around the edges.  You don’t have to do this, because technically the fusible web is permanent.  But this way it won’t start peeling off after time.



I finished this pillow off envelope style as well.  See?  How easy was that?  A few years ago I gave my friend’s daughter sewing lessons, and her first project was a pillow.  Check out Zoë with her creation:


May pillows become your new passion!


One thought on “You too, Can make cute pillows

  1. Amber:

    Thanks for this. I forwarded it to my daughter as she has made a few little pillows, but I think she’ll benefit from this fun instruction. Also, I had completely forgotten about World Market. I went out there today just to have a look around. You could stay there for hours.



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