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A Tutorial: A Simple Envelope Pillow Cover

Updated on March 28, 2015
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Are your couch pillows looking a little outdated? Or do you want to add a bit of color to your living room? Creating an envelope pillow cover is a simple and quick sewing project a beginner sewer can complete in about an hour.

Buying new fabric can be a bit expensive. Explore your options and use an old vintage sheet, an out of date sweater, or an old blanket that has been in storage for a while.

Need a new couch pillow?

If you need a new pillow for your couch, do you sew a new one or go buy one?

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Supplies:

  • Fabric for the front of your pillow.
  • Fabric for the back of your pillow.
  • Measuring tape.
  • Scissors.
  • Sewing machine.

Corresponding fabrics are listed at the bottom of the page.
Corresponding fabrics are listed at the bottom of the page. | Source

#1. Choose your fabric.

I decided to make this project a little more complicated by quilting a pillow cover, but you do not need to use a quilted top for the pillow. A single yard of any fabric will work great. Feel free to use the same fabric for the front and the back of the pillow. Or, like me, use patterned fabric for the front, and use less expensive, solid colored fabric for the backing.

#2. Measure your pillow.

Take the pillow you want to re-cover. Measure the width and the height of the pillow. Err on the liberal side because you can always make the pillow cover smaller as you go.

If you have a flexible measuring tape for measuring, great. If not, you can take a string or ribbon of sorts and run it the length of the pillow. Then use a straight ruler to measure the length of the ribbon.

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#3. Cut the fabric for the front of your pillow.

You have chosen your fabric and measured the pillow. Remember, I quilted my pillow cover but quilting the front is not necessary. Find any patterned fabric you like, and your pillow will look beautiful.

When you cut your fabric, keep in mind that when you sew the pillow cover, you will likely use a quarter of an inch seam allowance around the border. In other words, if your pillow is 15 inches tall and 15 inches wide, you need a square of fabric that is at least 15 and 1/4 inches square.

In my case, my pillow was 19 inches tall and 19 inches wide. I cut a fabric square that was 20 by 20 inches. I made sure to have plenty of room for error.

Go ahead and cut your fabric!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
I laid the fabric for the front of the pillow on top of the fabric for the back and used it as a template.Each piece of fabric should measure approximately two-thirds of the size of the fabric for the front.
I laid the fabric for the front of the pillow on top of the fabric for the back and used it as a template.
I laid the fabric for the front of the pillow on top of the fabric for the back and used it as a template. | Source
Each piece of fabric should measure approximately two-thirds of the size of the fabric for the front.
Each piece of fabric should measure approximately two-thirds of the size of the fabric for the front. | Source

#4. Cut the fabric for the back of your pillow.

Cutting the fabric for the back of your pillow is where the 'envelope' part comes in play. Lay the fabric you cut for the front of your pillow on top of the fabric you are planning to use for the back. Instead of remeasuring, I just used the front fabric as a template for the back. One small change though. Cut a piece of fabric that is approximately two-thirds the size of the front fabric. See the referencing picture if my instructions are confusing. Cut a second piece the same size (two-thirds the size of the front fabric.)

Do not feel you need to be precise. Kind of estimate how far is two-thirds down. Cut two pieces of fabric the same size. One piece for the top half of the envelope and one piece for the bottom half of the envelope.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
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#5. Hem the fabric.

To create a finished look for the back, hem one side of each piece of fabric for the back of the pillow. Fold approximately half an inch of fabric over and iron it. At this point a raw edge of fabric still shows. Fold another half inch of fabric over and iron it again. Sew a quarter inch seam straight through the ironed portion of the fabric.

Pin the sides together.
Pin the sides together. | Source

#6. Sew the front of the pillow cover to the back of the pillow cover.

Here's the fun part. You get to see your pillow cover take shape.

Lay the fabric for the front of your pillow on your sewing table. Put the patterned side of your fabric facing up. Lay the top piece of the envelope on top. Line up the sides. Put the finished hem face down. Lay the bottom piece of the envelope on top. Make sure all the pieces are lined up. You want all the right sides (patterned sides of the fabric) facing inward.

I now carefully flipped the fabric pieces over so I could use the front fabric for my sewing guide. Pin all the way around the fabric and sew a quarter inch seam allowance around the entire square.

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#7. Flip your cover inside out.

Great job finishing your pillow cover! If you put the cover on your pillow and want a snugger fit, flip your cover wrong side out again and sew another quarter inch inside your original seam. As you can see in the photo above, I ended up sewing two extra seams since I had over shot my measurements quite a bit.

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Fabric.

If anyone is curious, here are the fabrics I used for my pillow. The picture at the top of the page has corresponding letters to identify the fabrics.

A. Alexander Henry House Designer - Mecca For Moderns - Broome Street Floral in Grey
B. Amy Butler - Lotus - Slate
C. Eloise Renouf - Bark and Branch - Line Leaf in Khaki
D. Kona Cotton - White
E. An older fabric from Kate Spain's Fandango line. I highly doubt it is available anymore.
F. Organic Poppies in Shroom - Mod Basics 2 Collection from Birch Fabrics

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    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      The fabrics you chose are delightful and your pillow cover turned out so cute. I enjoy making them and would like to make some new ones for spring in a bold cobalt blue and white print.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Lovely pillow! I love the colours and the different fabrics. The end result is just fantastic! Great pictures with added explanations on them.... just great!

      Have a nice day!

    • prestonandkate profile image
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      Preston and Kate 3 years ago from the Midwest

      Hi RTalloni, I'm glad you enjoyed the fabrics. I probably spend too much time browsing fabrics, but I love looking at the variety available. A cobalt blue and white combination sounds beautiful! -Kate

    • prestonandkate profile image
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      Preston and Kate 3 years ago from the Midwest

      Hi kidscrafts! You are so encouraging to me! Thanks for stopping by, once again! I am glad you liked the combination of colors and fabrics. I am never quite sure if the patchwork projects will end up looking busy and cluttered or cute and colorful. Have a nice day yourself! -Kate

    • hardwarechick profile image

      Susie 3 years ago from Bennington, VT

      Great tutorial! Pillow cases are one of the first things I learned with sewing. I also love using old T-shirts for fabric on pillows - hold on to the nostalgia but with a more practical use!

    • prestonandkate profile image
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      Preston and Kate 3 years ago from the Midwest

      Hi hardwarechick! Great idea! I have never used t-shirts for anything. I have some old ones from high school that are hard to part with. Pillows are an excellent idea! -Kate

    • Christy Kirwan profile image

      Christy Kirwan 3 years ago from San Francisco

      What a beautiful project and a fantastic Hub! I'm a big fan, P&C. Keep these great DIY tutorials coming. :D

    • prestonandkate profile image
      Author

      Preston and Kate 3 years ago from the Midwest

      Thanks Christy! Your encouragement is appreciated! -Kate

    • merej99 profile image

      Meredith Loughran 3 years ago from Florida

      This is so neat! I can't sew a straight line but I love crafting and I love that this gives new life to old pillows. Very nice.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 3 years ago from USA

      I've made a pillow cover using this method and it is amazing how quick and simple it is to make. You've provided great directions here.

    • prestonandkate profile image
      Author

      Preston and Kate 3 years ago from the Midwest

      Hi merej99, oh there are days I don't feel I can sew a straight line either. You should see some of my imperfections! Glad to have find another fellow crafter! Thanks for stopping by! -Kate

      Hi Millionaire Tips! Yes, the envelope pillow method has somewhat transformed the look of our living room as I slowly change out our dated pillows. :) Amazing how fast they can go together. Thanks for stopping by! -Kate

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Your pillow is so adorable! Thanks for the detailed tutorial.

    • prestonandkate profile image
      Author

      Preston and Kate 3 years ago from the Midwest

      Hi randomcreative, thanks for the compliment...it means a lot! -Kate

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Congrats on Editor's Choice. This was an excellent hub on how to make a simple envelope pillow cushion cover for your sofa and couch., Voted up!

    • prestonandkate profile image
      Author

      Preston and Kate 2 years ago from the Midwest

      Hi Kristen! Thanks for the compliment and the vote! I appreciate you stopping by. :) -Kate

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