So here’s me before making these pillows. This will be easy! I don’t sew but…it can’t be too bad. My mom says making pillow covers is easy so she must be right? It can’t possibly be that my Mom’s been sewing forever, so that’s why it’s “easy” for her. Because that’s what it is! Easy for her, not me folks! No Mom and pre-pillow self, sewing pillows aren’t a piece of cake. You haven’t sewn since Junior High!
That’s right folks, I haven’t sewn since Junior High during home economics. I remember quite clearly sewing the pillow portion of the blanket/pillow thing on unevenly. So I’ve got great credentials here! Good thing my mom’s here to help. And this can be done, I’m coming from practically no sewing experience but you. I know you can do it.
First, grab a pillow insert, or existing pillow you’d like to re-cover. Once you’ve established the pillow you’ll need to pick out the fabric. We purchased our fabric from downtown LA – where fabric is one-hundred times cheaper. We were actually there to pick out our dining room chair seat fabric but this cool denim fabric caught our attention. Quick tip: if the front of the pillow has fabric that’s expensive, get a solid, cheaper fabric for the back of the pillow. Saves money!
Let’s get these pillows started. Now that you have your fabric you’ll need to wash or dry cleaning it first – depending on what fabric you have. If it’s denim, make sure to set the color with vinegar. That’s means adding a dash of vinegar to the very first wash. This helps to prevent the denim from rubbing off your couch. You should also do this with your dark-wash jeans.
It’s measure time. Since I was recovering an existing pillow that had an envelope cover on it, I had an actual piece to measure. We measured the large front portion, then each back flap, nicknamed the large and small flap. When measuring both flaps, add an 1 1/4 inches for fold over. You’ll need to fold over the end, the hem, because it will be visible and you’ll want it to look pretty. Folding over achieves that.
Once you’ve determined the size of the pillow, measure that onto your fabric. Remember you’ll have three different fabric pieces: front, large flap and small flap. While measuring make sure to mark everything in pen since you’ll be cutting it out next. We drew a dash every two inches, so that when we cut, it was more apt to be a straight line.
A few tips here. This part takes the longest amount of time. Make sure the edges of the fabric are even and straight. We cut along the edge of the counter to make sure it’s straight. Also, be mindful of the pattern. I took about a day to figure out where I wanted my fabric to land on the front and it was ridiculous of me. Always double check measurements! You’re about to make cuts that can’t be taken back so take your time and do it right. No pressure.
Next up, cutting the fabric. Now remember we have the front, a large flap and a small flap – that’s three pieces. If you’re doing more than one pillow, cut them all out now. Don’t measure and cut and sew just one pillow. Your life is easier when it’s efficient.
Before you sew the pillow together, you’ll need to hem the both the large and small fold. Remember we’re doing this part so your pillow looks nice. Don’t skip it, you’ve already put in so much work. One ugly hem and your pillow is now amateur hour. To do this, fold the fabric over 1/4 inch, iron it. You’re ironing so the hem stays in place and looks nice. Then fold again one inch, iron it and pin into place. Now head over to the sewing machine and sew the hem.
Now we are going to line the pillows up and pin them together so we can sew! Lay the front piece right side up, so the pattern is facing you. Next, lay the large flap on top of the front, right side down. That mean’s your seeing the back of the fabric. Then lay the small flap, right side down too, slightly on top of larger envelope, again you’re seeing the back of the fabric. Next you’ll need to pin the fabric all the way around the pillow, making sure to match the edges through out. Do not pin together about 1/3 of the fabric on one side. This is the opening you need, well open, to stuff the pillow inside the cover.
Sew the pillow together! That means sewing almost, every edge together. Remember to keep the opening to stuff the pillow, open, do not sew closed. Also, make sure to back stitch, a few times, where the flaps overlap (the large and small flaps) because it’ll pull once it’s finished so you need to make it strong.
Once you’re done sewing the pillow together, iron it one more time for a nicer finish before stuffing it.
We added buttons to the pillow cover because I like the look and it has a tendency to pull apart, not to where the pillow is exposed, but it bugged me. Listen guys, this next step is for people who really know how to work a sewing machine. If that’s not you, my mom says skip it. It looks fine. Had my mom not known how to do it, I would have gladly kept is sans buttons because you know I didn’t help during this part at all.
Let’s say you go the button route. Pick out the buttons, I did three, and figure out the spacing you’d like them to be. Next, you’ll need extra fabric for each hole. This will help the button hole be extra strong because it will have a some stress on the buttons from tugging and normal wear-and-tear. Cut out a small square of the fabric – a little larger than your button. Pin that fabric to the back of the large flap where you’ll like your buttons to be.
Every sewing machine is different when it comes to sewing buttons, so consult your machine’s manual or YouTube. I’m not your gal and my mom said “I’m not going to explain how to sew on a button!” Her one tip is: make sure you place a pin at the end of the button hole so you don’t sew too far and screw up.
Guys. We’re almost done, seriously. You’ve been a champ. Remember the opening you didn’t sew together? Well it’s time to stuff the pillow in! Once it’s in there and looks nice, filling out the corners, pin the hole together to close it up. Next you’ll take a good ‘ol needle and thread to hand sew it shut. When sewing you’ll go at an angle, grab one side of the fabric and sew through to the next. Yes, I did do this step and it was taking me a while, then my Mom said it was going a little crooked so she finished it up. I suppose I’m a toddler at hand sewing. We, my mom, did it!!!!!!!!!
MAKING AN ENVELOPE PILLOW COVER
- Sharp scissors
- Sewing machine
- Buttons (optional)
- Get a pillow, either new or one you’d like to recover.
- Wash or dry clean the fabric.
- If you have an existing pillow cover, measure the front, the large flap and the small flap to determine how much fabric is needed. If not measure your pillow to get your measurement. Remember to add 1 1/2 inches to both of your flaps to make a nice hem.
- Make sure the edges of your fabric are straight.
- Determine the placement of the fabric, taking into consideration the pattern.
- Mark, with pen, each of your measurements: front, large flap and small flap.
- Cut the fabric, you’ll have three different pieces.
- Prepare the each flap’s hem by folding 1/4 of the fabric over and ironing. Then fold it again, one inch, iron and pin into place.
- Sew each flap’s hem.
- Place the front of the pillow cover, right side up, with the fabric facing you. On top of that you’ll place the large flap, right side down down, with the back of the fabric facing you. Over lapping the large flap, place the small flap right side down down. Again, with the back of the fabric facing you.
- Pin the fabric all the way around most of the pillow, making sure to match the edges through out. Do not pin together about 1/3 of the fabric on one side. This is the opening you will stuff the pillow into.
- Sew the pillow together, making sure to not sew where you’ll be stuffing the pillow in.
- Once the pillow is sewed together, iron the material for a nicer finish.
- If you do not want buttons, skip this step. If you would like buttons first determine the placement of the buttons. Next you’ll turn the large flap over and place three square swatches of the fabric where the button will be. Swatches need to be slightly large than the buttons. Pin that fabric to the back of the large flap where you’ll like your buttons to be. Sew your buttons on. Every sewing machine is different when it comes to sewing buttons, so consult your machine’s manual or YouTube.
- Stuff pillow into cover.
- Take a needle and thread and hand sew up the hole. When sewing you’ll go at an angle, grab one side of the fabric and sew through to the next.
- Congratulations you’ve made an envelope pillow cover!