Saturday, February 16, 2013

Envelope Pillow Tutorial

This week was not a good sewing week for me. I didn't get much done, at all. But! I did have an opportunity to churn out one of the curves class projects that I was most excited to do. Here is my clamshell pillow.

Yes, I bit the bullet and cut up some of my Good Folks scraps. I have so little left at this point but, I figured if the Good Folks quilt was going to live out on the couch, a pillow to accent it would just be lovely. I also hugely stepped out of my comfort zone with the background color. I LOVE neutrals, but this pillow insisted that it needed a color to really create a pop.

I am still pretty new to pillows, but I have learned that I love the envelope method. Why? Because you can change out pillow covers with tons of ease, no messing with zippers, and you pillows still have a gorgeous, clean, finished look.

The pillow I had to cover was 19" from seam to seam, so my measurements will be based on that. However, if you scroll down, I have created a table that should help you create the right size pillow cover for many pillow sizes. Hopefully that helps!

Ok, here we go. For my 19" pillow, I cut the front into a 19.5" square. This would allow me a quarter inch seam on all sides. For the backing, I cut two rectangles measuring 15.5 x 19.5".

Here is where you adjust these measurements based on your pillow size. If you are covering an existing pillow and you aren't sure how big it is, use a flexible measuring tape to measure from seam to seam. 

If you have a:
10" pillow - front:10.5" square
                    back: two rectangles 10.5 x 6"
11" pillow - front: 11.5" square
                    back: two rectangles 11.5 x 7"
12" pillow - front: 12.5" square
                    back: two rectangles 12.5 x 8"
13" pillow - front: 13.5" square
                    back: two rectangles 13.5 x 9"
14" pillow - front: 14.5" square
                    back: two rectangles 14.5 x 10"
15" pillow - front: 15.5" square
                    back: two rectangles 15.5 x 11"
16" pillow - front: 16.5" square
                    back: two rectangles 16.5 x 12"
17" pillow - front:17.5" square
                    back: two rectangles 17.5 x 13"
18" pillow - front: 18.5" square
                    back: two rectangles 18.5 x 14"
19" pillow - front: 19.5" square
                    back: two rectangles 19.5 x 15"
20" pillow - front: 20.5" square
                    back: two rectangles 20.5 x 16"

Ok, now that your pieces are cut, fold over one edge on each back piece 1/2" with you iron. This should be an edge that measure the same length as the front on your pillow (i.e., on mine, it was a 19.5" edge). One you have these edges pressed, run a top stitch (in a matching color) on the right side of the fabric about 1/4" away from the pressed edge to lock it in place. These will be the edges that show on the outside of your pillow.

Now, lay out the front of your pillow, right side up. Match the raw edge of one backing piece to a side of your front piece, wrong side up (see below).

Notice the hemmed seam is in the middle of the pillow rather than matching a raw edge. This is important! Now, lay the second backing piece the same way on the opposite side of your front piece. Raw edge to raw edge and wrong side up. 

Before you start pinning, be sure you have right sides together and that neither of the hemmed seams are touching an outside edge.

Ok, pin alllll the way around. 

And now sew around all four sides, backsitching when you start and when you stop. Make sure you don't leave any holes as this does not need to be turned right side out through a raw edge. I also like to pivot at the corners (see picture below) rather than start and stop at each to maintain the integrity of the seam. 

Once you have finished sewing the four sides, you can turn your pillow right side out through the envelope enclosure in the back and, you have a nice new pillow cover!!

Im so happy to finally have such a great pop of color on my boring white couch!


  1. Gorgeous pop of colour! Did you hand applique the clamshells or fuse?
    I'd be reluctant to use my scraps of that line too. Once it's gone........

  2. Lovely, Megan! And you can enjoy it in warm weather too, unlike a quilt.

  3. Thank you so much for this Tutorial - just what I needed. If you look on my blog I am have an amazing giveaway so please don't miss it.

  4. Thanks so much for the instructions! :)


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