pretty pillows

when you find that perfect pillow and it’s $2,643.12, get some material and diy it. great tutorial from

Step 1:
Cut out your fabric. I like my pillow covers to fit fairly snug so adjust accordingly if that is not your preference. For example, when I am making covers for a 27″x27″ Euro sham {like I am demonstrating in this post} I cut my fabric exactly 27″x27″.

Step 2:
Face the fabric print to print {think of it as inside out} so that your finished sides are touching on top of each other and that any pattern matching you have done is lined up. I pulled back one corner so you could see what I was referring to. I then add a stick pin to the top two corners and each of the sides {in the middle}.

Step 3:
Open the zipper and unzip it all the way. I usually always buy 24″ zippers in the natural color, regardless of the size or color pillow I’m making. I find the longer length works best {you’ll see why shortly} and the cream tends to go with nearly all fabrics. The white is usually much too bright. Here are the zippers I use.

Step 4:
Once the zipper is open all the way, flip it upside down {zipper pull facing down} and line up the bottom edge of the zipper with the bottom edge of your bottom fabric {just fold the top layer of fabric back a bit}. Extend the zipper out about an inch past the edge of the fabric like below. This is the part that always confused me the most so I took a few pictures from different zoom levels so you could see what I was referring to. Once in place, add stick pins down the length of the zipper.

**Note: the longest zipper length I can find is 24″ so you’ll note that it stops short on my pillows. For smaller pillows you may have zipper hanging over the edge but its OK! Don’t panic. In fact – I prefer it to hang over as it is much easier down the road.


Step 5:
At this point in the process, you’re ready to start actual sewing! Take out the first stick pin {or more, depending on how close you have them together} and adjust your footer like the photo below. I basically drop the footer on the zipper head and let it fall forward so I start sewing nearly exactly on the pillow edge and just past the zipper {make sure not to actually sew on the zipper head on accident}. You can see I line the needle line up as close to the zipper teeth as I can, without actually hitting them. I’ve done that before and it is a real pain to unpick. I find it’s best to have the left foot sitting just over the zipper teeth and you’ll usually find the right foot sits just on the other edge of the zipper and base fabric.

Step 6:
Pinch the zipper over like below and place the top layer of fabric over the zipper {while it is pinched}. Take caution to allow the zipper to line up naturally with the bottom layer so that if you were to imagine pulling the zipper the bottom layer of fabric and top layer of fabric are still lined up without a kink in the zipper.

Here is a shot with it opened up. At this point add stick pins to pin the top layer of fabric to the top part of the zipper. Again, be sure items don’t shift to ensure the zipper functions properly once sewn.

Step 7:
Start sewing from the opposite end {the end of the zipper} but following the same techniques listed above otherwise.

Step 8:
Congrats! You’ve finished what I think is the hardest part. It’s really just straight lines from here on out! Next up, I zip the pillow about three-fourths of the way shut. Your fabric squares should still line up nicely when you do this. If off a little – you should be okay. But if you see some significant shifting at this point {which, if you were careful on Step 6, this should not be an issue} you will want to unpick one of the zippers sides and redo it.

As far as the opening left, just make sure that when you eyeball it, you think you will be able to fit your hand inside if the seam on the side were sewn shut {the right side of the fabric in the picture below, if they were closed}. You’ll need to ensure you can unzip the pillow after the next few steps so you need to be able to reach your hand inside to grab the pull – but it does help to have the zipper closed at least halfway so that the sewing of your other sides is easier.

Step 9:
After you zipped the pillow part way in the step above, you will want to cut off any overhang on the zipper track. If your pillow is smaller, you will need to do this on both ends. But in my example since the pillow is longer than the zipper, I only had to cut the back end off. This step seems unnatural to me since you’re chopping off the “stopper”, but trust me – you’re good – as long as you don’t try to run the zipper past the edges at this point.


Step 10:
Now comes the easiest parts of all. You’re going to sew the three remaining sides shut. I use the same format and have the right part of the foot touching the outer edge of my fabric, probably only leaving 1/2″-3/4″ seam allowance. I know this is smaller than the usual 1″ you read in other tutorials, but for me, this is the easiest way for me to eyeball a straight line. And it works. Once you hit the zipper track on the two ends, you just go right over it – the needle goes right through the teeth. Note, I always do a backstitch or two as I reach the end of each corner.

Step 11:
Once your pillow is fully sewn shut, you have two more lines to sew. This is the next semi-tricky part {mostly because I find it the hardest to describe}, but once you get the hang of it, you won’t be intimidated. As with most pillows with zippers you see, the fabric looks normal until about two or three inches from each edge where the pillow actually starts. So, we now need to sew that two or three inch section that acts as our zipper “stops”. You want to be on the inside edge of the zipper track – meaning the side opposite the edge of the pillow. You also want to be just high enough that you won’t hit the zipper track. Just sew a straight line for a few inches, and then backstitch three or so times {you want to ensure this area is pretty tough because it’s where the zipper will be open and closed from}. I tried to include several photos of how this looks on the machine, once sewn, etc. as I think visually it makes more sense.

You can see I sewed until just where the arrow points – which is just above the zipper line and in from the side about three inches.

Both sides are done and the pillow had been mostly unzipped. Time to flip!

Step 12:
You’re ready to flip it right-side out! The best part in my opinion. I typically use my scissor tips to help fully push out the edges – but do be cautious! – you don’t want to rip your beautiful new pillow cover! **Note: some recommend cutting a slit on each corner but I find because my seam allowance is smaller this is never an issue. Plus, I’m not looking for a sharp, squared off corner.

See from Step 11 how the zipper just fades once you have your pillow form inside? The other end looks just as great.

A karate chop later and you are DONE!

Now, a note about pillow forms. I used to only use polyfills because they were cost effective. But they also looked lifeless. And you can’t karate chop them. I now swear by the feather pillows. Here are the ones I have been using lately – I get them at Hancock Fabric and load up when they offer 40 or 50% off. They are a 95/5 fill. I also have loved the ones from Robey’s Wholesale Pillow Inserts¬†which are a 90/10 blend and are the ones I have in my living room. I also feel like they carry a wider selection of sizes than the local fabric stores.

Since this set of pillows hasn’t quite wrapped up, here are a few other samplings of pillows I have sewn in the past:

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