Sewing Pillows the Easy Way

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The pillows on my sofa and loveseat have been driving me crazy since we first got them (they came with the furniture), but it was just one of those projects I hadn’t gotten around to tackling. I’d finally had enough of it, so this morning I went to Hobby Lobby and got my fabric. I got home, put the baby down for a nap, and was finished sewing by lunchtime. Now before you get impressed, you need to know that I don’t know anything about sewing. I bought a cheap sewing machine at Walmart a few years ago and only know how to use the most basic stitch – but that’s all you need!

Now, I couldn’t sew a zipper if my life depended on it, so I have always made envelope style pillows. Instead of the pillow zipping on a seam, there are two panels on the back that form an opening. In the past, I’ve cut out three pieces for these pillows: one piece for the front and two pieces for the back panels. But I saw this tutorial a while back that got me to thinking how much easier – and quicker – it would be to just cut one big piece of fabric. I will never go back!

The first thing you need to do is cut a long rectangle of fabric. I wanted my pillows to be 18×18 inches. Here we go with some math, but I’ll try to make it as simple as possible. I decided to have each panel on the back of my pillow be 11 inches (in hindsight I wish I had made them larger, but I’ll know next time). As always, I had to draw myself a little picture. (You’ll notice that I cut my fabric 18.5″ long instead of 18″. That’s because your pillow will be slightly smaller once you sew the ends together.)

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I cut out my rectangle

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The next step is my least favorite part – ironing! I hate that you have to iron when you sew, but I’ve tried skipping this step before with disastrous results. First, run your iron over your fabric to get the creases out. Then, fold over just a little bit on your short ends and iron them down.

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Now you’ll hem those short ends. Just run a stitch down those short sides that you just ironed.

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Once you hem both the short sides, you’re going to take your fabric and lay it horizontally with the pretty side facing you. Then take one side of the fabric and fold it over. Remember that picture I drew earlier? I referred back to it to remind myself how long each panel was supposed to be. My paper said 11 inches, so I knew how much I needed to fold over.

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Use straight pins to pin that side down and then do the other side. Just make sure that when you’re done, the width of the square is the width you want your pillow to be.

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Sew the two pinned sides together.

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When you’re done, pull the pins out (duh), flip the pillowcase right-side-out, and stuff it! I recommend using an actual pillow form since these cases don’t actually close like zippered ones. I used polyfill because it’s what I had on hand, and I can already tell my kids are going to pull it out. Regardless, it sure looks pretty!

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Here’s how the back will look. You can see why I should have made my flaps larger than 11 inches each, but oh well. (Edited to add: sure enough, my boys were pulling out the polyfill, and my living room looked like a snowstorm. I ended up buying 18×18 pillow inserts at Hobby Lobby, and they work much better.)

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I love the way my couch looks now, and I love how easy this method is! Bright and happy for spring! (Disclaimer: I didn’t sew the green and yellow pillowcases.)

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