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How to Sew a Simple Envelope Cushion Cover
What You Will Learn In This Article
Even if you have never sewn anything before, my video, clear instructions and pictures will help you create a perfect pillow cover.
Below, I show you in greater detail how to make your pillow cover (I believe pillow cover is the term used in the US, whereas here in the UK, we call them cushion covers).
I have also supplied a chart which should help you out if you want to check what size fabric to cut for your covers.
Here Is One I Made Earlier!
Below is the reverse side of a cushion I made from a spare curtain - I had enough to make a set of four 16" cushions for my sitting room. As you will notice, the pattern does not quite match on the back where I have the envelope opening - but it really does not matter, they look great from the front and cost me next to nothing to make!
How To Make Your Own Envelope Cushion Cover
Step One, Choose the Fabric for your Pillow Covers
Choosing the fabric for your covers is fun. You might be able to do as I did, and use fabric that you already have. If not, you will need to consider where and how your cushions are going to be used.
If they are likely to get grubby (in the children's playroom for example), you should choose a good quality washable fabric. Make sure you wash the fabric before cutting our your cushion cover pieces because cotton shrinks by around 10% the first time you launder it.
For other areas, you will want to choose fabric to match your decor. Consider your level of sewing skill here - even though these covers are really simple to make, shiny or silky fabrics or those that fray badly are much harder to work with.
If it's really important to you that the back is as perfect at the front and you are worried about pattern-matching, choose a plain fabric or one with a ditsy, random print.
These Fabrics Are Available From John Lewis in UKClick thumbnail to view full-size
Fabric Cutting Guide For Your Chosen Pillow Form Size
Cushion Pad Size (Pillow Form Size)
Fabric Dimensions for Front
Fabric Dimensions For Back
13" x 13"
13" x 17"
15" x 15"
15" x 20"
17" x 17"
17" x 23"
19" x 19"
19" x 25"
Cutting Out Your Cushion Cover Fabric
If you have chosen plain fabric, cutting out your two pieces, choosing the correct dimensions from the table above, is a little easier.
If you have chosen fabric with a directional pattern (i.e. flowers or people or houses, or anything else that has a 'right way up' and an 'upside down',
You should always cut your pieces parallel to the edge of the fabric, to avoid problems with your cushion cover going out of shape
If you are use fabric with a definite pattern
Use picture 1. (below) as a guide if you want your opening to be horizontal (straight across) the back of your pillow cover.
Use picture 2. (below) as a guide if you if you want your opening to be vertical (straight down) the back of your cushion cover.
Instructions for Sewing Your Pillow Cover
If you have cut out your pieces accurately and your fabric is easy to work with, you might find it is sufficient just to pin the seams. However, I always like to tack my hems and remove this temporary stitching afterwards.
For the opening, you will definitely get a better result if you fold over the edge carefully, tack it and press it firmly before stitching. The amount you fold over is not critical in this case, it could be anything from 1/4" to 5/8". When you have machine stitched it, remove your tacking stitches before folding the hem you have made, over itself so that the cut edge is now safely inside the new hem you have made. Again, tack this and press it before machining neatly next tto the inner edge. Remove your tacking stitches and press again. This extra bit of care makes all the difference to the finished result.
Repeat the procedure with the other half of the back.
The edges you want to be folding over and sewing are the edges you made when you cut the piece in half - in other words, the center of the back piece - you can double check that you have done it right by ensuring that the pattern looks right when you place both pieces on the table with the folded over edges meeting together in the middle (see the video if you are still not sure!).
Now you are ready to assemble your pieces ready for sewing together.
- Place the front of the cushion cover right side up on the table in front of you.
- Place the first piece of the back on top of the front. making sure you have it wrong side facing you, the opening in the centre and checking that you have the pattern running in the same direction as on the front cover piece,
- Now repeat the procedure with the other piece of the back, overlapping it with the other back piece already in place.
- Pin or tack all around the cushion cover before machining round all four sides using a seam allowance of 1/2" approximately.
- Next press your seams open for a really professional finish.
- Now clip the corners to remove excess material (see the section below on avoiding 'rabbit's ear corners'!
- Turn the pillow cover right side out through the opening you have left and press it neatly, making sure all your corners are square
- Insert the cushion pad or pillow form through the opening
- Stand back and admire your work - congratulations, you have learned how to sew a simple envelope cushion cover!
Making Neat Square Corners on Your Pillow Covers
You may have been wondering why, in the table above, I have only shown dimensions one inch bigger than the size of the cushion pad or pillow form chosenall round for the front cover piece.
This is because, from personal experience of making cushions, it gives a better result and a 'plumper' cushion. There will be no extra material which would enable the pad to move around inside the cover which gives a result like having a duvet cover too big for the duvet - no duvet at the edges, just the duvet cover material.
If you have not made cushions for yourself before, you may not have come across what I call 'rabbit's ears corners' - I have illustrated this in the drawing on the right. This normally happens when using lighter weight material, like the washable cottons you might use in a pillow for children. It is caused when the cushion pad inside does not get right down into the corners.
This can be avoided by making the cushion pad fit snugly inside the cover. To make really good corners, it is important to ensure that you clip the corners when you have finished stitching your pillow cover to take our excess material. It also helps to push the tips of blunt scissors gently into these corner points from the inside, once you have turned the cover the right way out, pushing them gently into a right angle to make neat, square corners.
Avoid 'Rabbit Ear' Corners With the Tips Above
Now You Know How To Make An Envelope Cushion Cover ...
How will you use the information you have learned in my guide?
Here is an Inspirational Books I really recommend
This book covers all the basics and is ideal for a beginner. It also has great photographs to illustrate the 25 projects that you could soon be making for yourself!
If I Could Choose Just One Sewing Book?
More Simple Sewing Projects
Now that you have learned how to sew this simple cushion cover with the envelope style, you will probably be all fired up to make more pretty things for your home.
There are lots of things you can make that add that extra, personal touch, to your soft furnishings and home decor.
Simple things you could try would be adding a pretty fabric border to bed linen sheets and pillow cases. You can also do this with face flannels and bathroom towels. These make pretty gifts too.
Simple, reusable bags for storing vegetables, clothes pegs, plastic carrier bags, etc or tote bags for carrying shopping can also be easily made.
Thrify sewers can stitch together fabric remnants, leftover material or the 'good' parts of clothing and home furnishings that are no longer required. Use this technique to make a patchwork effect before cutting out the pieces you require to assemble your new project.
Ideas For Adding Extra Decoration To Your Envelope Pillow Cover
An envelope pillow cover can also be 'jazzed up' a little. You might want to have the opening at the front and add a decorative feature such as the button fastening shown right.
If you are not confident about making buttonholes, cheat! There is no need to fasten the pillow closed because you have allowed a generous overlap that will keep the pillow form safely in place so just stitch on some buttons as a decorative feature down the line of the opening.
If you want it to look 'fastened' a popper or press-fastener stitched in place beneath each button will close the opening just as effectively.
Alternatively add some pretty ribbon or lace ties to your cushion.
An envelope cushion cover might be simple to make but can look both stylish and professional. Following my step by step guide will ensure success. Please leave your comments below and let me know how your sewing project turned out!