Sew Throw Pillows and Envelope Covers

Updated on May 14, 2019
RTalloni profile image

Robertatalloni means creativity. Whether in writing or in more typical art forms, artistry (and a bit of fun) must be part of the work.

Beautiful fabrics stitched up add happy comfort to any season. Choose your method, then sew!
Beautiful fabrics stitched up add happy comfort to any season. Choose your method, then sew! | Source

Ever Noticed Throw Pillow Prices?

Basic sewing skills let you stitch up first-rate throw pillows and/or throw pillow covers to comfy up your personal space. Pillows and covers can be designed to use as special gifts throughout the year. Take a look at these examples and methods. See how easy they are to make without breaking your budget.

Some can be made without sewing. Easily sewn projects shown here, though, involve designs created for particular people. Incorporating fun use of color, basic machine embroidery like top-stitching combined with other simple stitches, patchwork styles, and more, all meant happy work with yummy fabrics.

Aren’t Fabrics Expensive?

They can be, but knowing they do not have to be changes the picture. Out-of-the-box options for obtaining fabric to use in sewing projects may be incredulous to a beginner or open new doors for an experienced do-it-yourself decorator.

Yippy-yay for sales! Find stores in your area with the best ones, especially clearance sales. Doing this leg work at the end of a season (the new year after Christmas, for instance) can set you up with super sales. Clearance fabrics can even be found online.

It may come as a real surprise to find out how much fabric you actually have at home. That shirt or skirt starting to show a little wear along the collar or hemline can be used in amazing ways. Maybe for a pillow form, or a part of a cover's fabric medley.

That sadly outgrown pair of jeans? Well, you’ve probably seen a few projects for using them, but no one has seen what you will design when your creative juices start flowing. Have unused tablecloths, even napkins and placemats? Pretty top sheets whose fitted mates have worn a little thin? Fabric is not too hard to find.

Another idea is to connect with upholstery shops or fabric manufacturers. These businesses are often glad someone will take left overs off their hands. It keeps them from disposing of them in landfills. Samples they cannot use are usually quite useful and high quality.

Don’t forget thrift and consignment stores, even yard sales. A vintage find can be worth a little celebration. These sources occasionally have clothing or other items made from classic fabrics. Consider possibilities!

Where ever you shop take time to take a second look at things you would ordinarily just smile at while passing by. Do a little fabric shopping when you travel, especially in unusual places. A clearance skirt in a little out of the way shop may be just what you need to make a comfy pillow.

See Finished Examples!

The following projects are samples of basic throw pillow/cover designs. The pleasure of thinking of each person the gifts were for was a lovely part of creating them, and it was an opportunity to pray for them as I worked.

Four Multi-Season Pillows

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Christmas pillows designed with potential to be used throughout the year.Pieced stripes with machine embroidery applied to the solid strips before stitching front to back.A cute yo-yo button center front of embroidered strip.Tiny gold jingle bells are easily removed after the holidays.Bolder red fabric with bright red removable  jingle bells.A stash of heavier woven fabric suited the throw pillow backs.
Christmas pillows designed with potential to be used throughout the year.
Christmas pillows designed with potential to be used throughout the year. | Source
Pieced stripes with machine embroidery applied to the solid strips before stitching front to back.
Pieced stripes with machine embroidery applied to the solid strips before stitching front to back. | Source
A cute yo-yo button center front of embroidered strip.
A cute yo-yo button center front of embroidered strip. | Source
Tiny gold jingle bells are easily removed after the holidays.
Tiny gold jingle bells are easily removed after the holidays. | Source
Bolder red fabric with bright red removable  jingle bells.
Bolder red fabric with bright red removable jingle bells. | Source
A stash of heavier woven fabric suited the throw pillow backs.
A stash of heavier woven fabric suited the throw pillow backs. | Source

Three Vintage Fabric Christmas Pillows

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fancy vintage Christmas fabric from my holiday stash with solid back.Vintage fabric pillow designed in quilt block style with matching red back.Vintage Christmas fabric pillow pieced in contrasting colors with a back pretty enough to make it reversible.
Fancy vintage Christmas fabric from my holiday stash with solid back.
Fancy vintage Christmas fabric from my holiday stash with solid back. | Source
Vintage fabric pillow designed in quilt block style with matching red back.
Vintage fabric pillow designed in quilt block style with matching red back. | Source
Vintage Christmas fabric pillow pieced in contrasting colors with a back pretty enough to make it reversible.
Vintage Christmas fabric pillow pieced in contrasting colors with a back pretty enough to make it reversible. | Source

How Experienced are You?

Are you new to pillow making?

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Two Envelope Covers for Storing Needlepoint Style Pillows

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Christmas pillows can be stored inside envelope covers for use throughout the year.Vintage manufactured pillow tops sewn into 14" x 14" pillows were fun to pull out of my stash.Can you see the gold paint highlights I added to the designs?Using edging fabric to match the cover back, machine embroidery added a nice detail to the front's fun fabric.Close up of embellishment for the other envelope cover. This front combined textured fabrics, adding interest to the design.Envelope cover backs for this group of pillows.
Christmas pillows can be stored inside envelope covers for use throughout the year.
Christmas pillows can be stored inside envelope covers for use throughout the year. | Source
Vintage manufactured pillow tops sewn into 14" x 14" pillows were fun to pull out of my stash.
Vintage manufactured pillow tops sewn into 14" x 14" pillows were fun to pull out of my stash. | Source
Can you see the gold paint highlights I added to the designs?
Can you see the gold paint highlights I added to the designs? | Source
Using edging fabric to match the cover back, machine embroidery added a nice detail to the front's fun fabric.
Using edging fabric to match the cover back, machine embroidery added a nice detail to the front's fun fabric. | Source
Close up of embellishment for the other envelope cover. This front combined textured fabrics, adding interest to the design.
Close up of embellishment for the other envelope cover. This front combined textured fabrics, adding interest to the design. | Source
Envelope cover backs for this group of pillows.
Envelope cover backs for this group of pillows. | Source

Guest Bedroom Pillows and Envelope Covers

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Tossing throw pillows into a guest bedroom warms up a space that can otherwise wind up with a sparse feeling.Two richly colored pillows created with expensive upholstery silks manufactured in exotic places from around the world. Two pillows created from one bed pillow covered with washable polyester envelope covers. The weight and weave of this fabric gives a prized textured look to an inexpensive product.Wide overlaps of the covers keep them in place for comfortable use.The envelope covers are loosely made, making it easy to take them off for washing.
Tossing throw pillows into a guest bedroom warms up a space that can otherwise wind up with a sparse feeling.
Tossing throw pillows into a guest bedroom warms up a space that can otherwise wind up with a sparse feeling. | Source
Two richly colored pillows created with expensive upholstery silks manufactured in exotic places from around the world.
Two richly colored pillows created with expensive upholstery silks manufactured in exotic places from around the world. | Source
Two pillows created from one bed pillow covered with washable polyester envelope covers. The weight and weave of this fabric gives a prized textured look to an inexpensive product.
Two pillows created from one bed pillow covered with washable polyester envelope covers. The weight and weave of this fabric gives a prized textured look to an inexpensive product. | Source
Wide overlaps of the covers keep them in place for comfortable use.
Wide overlaps of the covers keep them in place for comfortable use. | Source
The envelope covers are loosely made, making it easy to take them off for washing.
The envelope covers are loosely made, making it easy to take them off for washing. | Source

Ready to Create? Pillows First!

Okay! Below you’ll read of how the above were created and find videos to help you see the methods before deciding which you want to use. Let’s go!

The first four were created without removable covers. They look involved but are quite simple to make. Designed as Christmas decor gifts using fabrics that could be used throughout the year, two had tiny jingle bells sewn on which could be snipped off jiffy-quick once the holidays were over. Traditional pillow construction was used after tops were planned out.

Assessing which fabrics I wanted to use from my stash I made sure there was enough to make each pillow approximately 12” x 12”. The pillow backs all have the same heavy cotton fabric cut at 13” square. The tops came from leftover upholstery samples. Piecing each one together as shown in the photos to make 13” squares, I had four matching backs and four different tops.

After pinning right sides together I stitched a 1/4” seam around the sides according to the diagram below, securing the stops and starts by sewing backwards a few stitches (back tacking). After clipping the corners to take out some bulk (not too closely) I used a zig-zag stitch to finish the edges of some of the pillows pictured above, depending on the weave of the fabric used.

After turning the sewn pillow shells right side out through their openings, making sure the corners were neatly turned by gently pushing them out with the tool provided in the Poly-fil bag, it was time to stuff them. At this point the pillow openings were sewn shut by machine, but they can be sewn shut by hand using a blind stitch.

Making a Pillow Shell for Stuffing with Polyfill

Leave an opening between two corners for stuffing with polyester fiberfill after the shell is turned. Option: Buy a pillow insert and make your shell the correct size for inserting it.
Leave an opening between two corners for stuffing with polyester fiberfill after the shell is turned. Option: Buy a pillow insert and make your shell the correct size for inserting it. | Source

Creating Envelope Covers

There are lots of reasons to love envelope covers! They

• keep the pillows cleaner.

• are easy to remove and wash frequently if need be.

• are interchangeable for seasons, holidays, parties, and whims.

• are simple to make (but be warned, after a little practice it is tempting to go wild making a stash of them).

Let's look at the basic method first. Plan an envelope cover to fit loosely. This includes generously planning the back overlap. Keeping these tips in mind makes using an envelope cover easier. Struggling with one that is too tight is time consuming and frustrating, besides not good for the pillow, the cover, or your hands.

Measure the pillow the cover is for, adding at least 1/2" to each side. Cut 1 top. If the pillow is 16" square then the top should be 17" square. Then cut 2 backs 17" square. I mention these separately because you may want the backs to be a different color or print than the fronts. If they are alike they can be cut together.

Keeping the direction of fabric print in mind, next hem one side of two of the back pieces. Press one edge over once about 1", then again about the same amount. Easy peasy! Then use a simple straight stitch to sew the hem. Slick and quick! You may wish to add an extra seam across the folded edge if you will be washing the cover often.

Again, keeping fabric print/weave in mind, lay the back side of the cover on the table (front side up) and match one of backing to it, right sides together, placing hem across the central area. Next lay down the other side of the backing in the same manner, matching its raw edges to the front's remaining exposed edges, right sides together, overlapping the hemmed sides. Pin outside edges. If this is confusing watch video below.

The envelope cover is ready to sew. At 1/4" from edge begin stitching by back tacking about 3" from one corner, sew to corner, turn, and repeat until the seam winds up where it began. Back tack a few stitches on top of the beginning of this seam. Clip the corners (not too close). Adding a zig-zag stitch at this time is an option if you do not use a serger. Turn the cover right side out by sliding your hand into the hemmed opening and pulling corners out first. You may use a rounded tool to gently push corners out.

See a Smart Envelope Cover Come Together

Alternate Easy Method for Making an Envelope Pillow Cover of all the Same Fabric

Hand Sew a Throw Pillow Opening Closed

Machine Sew a Pillow Opening Closed (at End of Video)

Learn About Making Various Clean Seams

Don't Sew? Here's a Bonus Tutorial for Making a No-Sew Throw Pillow!

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Do You Plan To Make Pillows and/or Pillow Covers?

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Questions & Answers

    What's your take on these basic throw pillows and covers?

    Submit a Comment
    • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

      RTalloni 

      4 months ago from the short journey

      Linda Chechar:

      Yes, clearance is the first place to look! If the perfect one can't be found it's a great place to find a nice pillow to put a handcrafted envelope pillow cover on. I hope we get to see the pillows you will be making.

    • lindacee profile image

      Linda Chechar 

      4 months ago from Arizona

      Ready made pillows are typically expensive unless they're on clearance. It makes more sense to sew pillows with fabrics that coordinate the rooms color palettes. I love to make pillows. I haven't made any in a while but you have given me the impetus to sew some new ones!

    • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

      RTalloni 

      4 months ago from the short journey

      Dianna Mendez:

      You are so kind, thank you. Maybe we will get to see the results of your project posted here. Yes, I'm hinting. :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      4 months ago

      I purchased some pillows for Thanksgiving with the intent of using them for other holidays. It works. I love the ones you made here. Once again, you amaze us with your talent!

    • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

      RTalloni 

      4 months ago from the short journey

      Ann Carr:

      So glad you added your plans here. I hope we get to see your designs in an article, and maybe some of your other renovation results. Thanks for letting me know this post inspired you!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      4 months ago from SW England

      I have loads of 'bits' of material and tend to pass them on to my creative 'crafty' daughter; however, there are some earmarked for my own use but I never seem to get round to it! You have inspired me to have a go, as our house renovation is coming together and a few new bits would be good. Thank you.

      Ann

    • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

      RTalloni 

      4 months ago from the short journey

      Peggy Woods:

      It's too bad you do not have pics to share. Maybe it's time to make more. ;)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Roberta,

      I gave all of my trapunto pillows away as gifts and do not even have a photo to show you. They were really pretty if I do say so myself. (Smile)

    • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

      RTalloni 

      4 months ago from the short journey

      Liz Westwood:

      Thanks for stopping in and letting us hear from you. Very much appreciate your positive response!

    • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

      RTalloni 

      4 months ago from the short journey

      Peggy Woods:

      Oooh, it would be lovely to see your trapunto work. Thank you for your kind comment that adds a new idea for the pillow designs.

    • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

      RTalloni 

      4 months ago from the short journey

      Donna Herron:

      Thanks very much for letting me know this helped you! So appreciate that you came by.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      4 months ago from UK

      This is a very useful article packed with creative, money-saving ideas.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Your pillows are so pretty! Years ago I made pillows to give as gifts. I did some trapunto on the tops of them in various patterns. It was a fun project during the cold Wisconsin winters when we lived up there.

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 

      4 months ago from USA

      Thanks for sharing these great pillow ideas! I see a lot of lovely pillows in stores, but didn't realize how easy it was to make my own and personalize them with special fabrics and trim. Pining to share with others!

    • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

      RTalloni 

      4 months ago from the short journey

      Pamela Oglesby:

      Thanks very much for checking this article out and letting me hear from you on it. I want to do some reversible pillow covers soon but am currently working on some hats, trying to get a handle on various styles. Some of my results have been funny enough that I may post about them, but I need one really good outcome first. :)

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      4 months ago from Sunny Florida

      I use to sew numerous things, but for some reason I haven't done anything in a long time. I think making pillows is a great idea, and I liked this article,

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