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Kevin Arnold

These three simple finishing styles -- a slipstitched closure, an envelope-backed closure, and a zippered closure -- provide nice options for any sewn-from-scratch pillow project.

Although the instructions are for square pillows, you can make rectangular pillow covers in the same fashion.

Slipstitched Pillow Cover

For this streamlined style, the cover is closed with an invisible seam after inserting the pillow form. Because the closure is permanent, the cover is most appropriate for pillow forms that won't be washed.

If you do need to wash the filled pillow -- particularly if it's made of a delicate fabric, such as silk -- have it dry-cleaned.

Tools and Materials

Basic sewing supplies

Pillow insert

Fabric

Slipstitched Cover How-To

1. Add 1 inch (2.5 cm) to the height and length of the pillow insert for the seam allowance. With a ruler and a disappearing-ink fabric pen, draw 2 squares of fabric with these dimensions; cut out squares.

2. Pin the squares together, right sides facing. On the bottom edge, make marks 3 inches (7.5 cm) in from the right and left sides. Starting at one of the marks, sew along all the edges of the pillow with a 1/2-inch (13 mm) seam allowance, leaving the space between the marks open. Clip the corners and turn the pillow right-side out. Use a point turner or a closed pair of scissors to push the corners out.

3. Press the edges of the pillow, turning the unfinished edges of the opening under 1/2 inch (13 mm). Insert pillow form. Slipstitch the opening shut.

Envelope-Backed Pillow Cover

Creating an envelope backing is simple: One long rectangle of fabric is overlapped in the back to create the closure.

Tools and Materials

Basic sewing supplies

Pillow insert

Fabric

Envelope-Backed Cover How-To

1. Measure the dimensions of your pillow. To determine the size rectangle you'll need, add 1 inch (2.5 cm) to the height for the seam allowance, and multiply the length by 2, then add 6 inches (15 cm). (For example, an 18-inch [45.5 cm] pillow insert would require a 19-by-42-inch [48.5 cm by 106.5 cm] rectangle.) With a disappearing-ink fabric pen and a ruler, draw the dimensions of the rectangle onto your fabric; cut it out. Place the rectangle right-side down. Double hem the left and right edges: Fold each edge in 1/2 inch (13 mm), press, then fold over again 1/2 inch (13 mm), and press. Pin and edge-stitch 1/8 inch (3 mm) from the inner fold.

2. Fold the left and right edges in, overlapping them by 4 inches (10 cm). Measure the square to make sure it matches the dimensions of your pillow insert.

3. Pin the top and bottom edges and sew with a 1/2-inch (13 mm) seam allowance. Turn the pillowcase right-side out. Use a point turner or a closed pair of scissors to push the corners out. Insert pillow.

Zippered Pillow Cover

Adding a zipper to a pillow cover makes it versatile; you can easily remove the insert to wash the cover, or replace it altogether. Use a zipper that is the exact length of or slightly longer than the pillow opening. A polyester coil zipper is a good choice because it is easy to shorten.

Tools and Materials

Basic sewing supplies

Pillow insert

Fabric

Zipper

Zipper foot for sewing machine

Zippered Cover How-To

1. Add 1 inch (2.5 cm) to the height and length of the pillow insert for the seam allowance. With a ruler and a disappearing-ink fabric pen, draw 2 squares of fabric with these dimensions; cut out squares. Pin the squares together, right sides facing. On the bottom edge, make marks 3 inches (7.5 cm) in from the right and left sides. Starting at one edge, sew to the mark with a 1/2-inch (13 mm) seam allowance; backstitch to secure. Repeat on the opposite edge. Set your machine to a basting stitch, and sew between the 2 marks (see dashed line; this is where you'll install the zipper). Press the seam open. With a disappearing-ink fabric pen, mark the seam allowance 3 inches (7.5 cm) in from each edge (over your first marks).

2. If the zipper is longer than the pillow opening, mark the zipper the same length as the opening. Use a needle and thread to sew 5 to 10 times around the coils at the mark (this will prevent the zipper pull from slipping off the coils). Trim the zipper 1/2 inch (13 mm) below the stitches.

3. Lay the zipper facedown on the opening seam, aligning the coils with the seam. Flip the zipper pull up, so that it can be moved down while you're sewing. Pin the zipper in place and use a needle and thread to baste the zipper tape to the seam allowance. Using the zipper foot, and starting 2 inches (5 cm) from the top of the zipper, machine-sew around the zipper (about 1/8 inch [3 mm] from coil), stopping 2 inches (5 cm) from the top. Bring the zipper pull below the 2-inch (5 cm) mark, and finish sewing around the top of the zipper, including the top edges. With a seam ripper, remove the basting stitches along the zipper tape, and from the opening. Unzip the zipper. Pin the front and back pillow pieces together, right sides facing, aligning the edges. Replace presser foot, then sew the remaining 3 edges with a 1/2-inch (13 mm) seam allowance. Clip corners and turn the pillowcase right-side out. Use a point turner or a closed pair of scissors to push the corners out.

Comments (11)

Anonymous
January 6, 2019
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Anonymous
October 16, 2017
I am making the Envelope-Backed pillow cover. It says to cut the cover 42 by 19 inches. Fold both sides 1/2 in. twice. If you do that, the cover will only be 17 inches. my pillows are 18 inches. I already have on cut. What do I do, other than buy more fabric.
Anonymous
September 14, 2016
I really appreciate the way you described the things. I would like to add an useful information. You may suggest to use neverwet fabric water repellent spray to your readers. This spray repels the water from fabric surfaces. Hence fabrics will not get wet if they are placed in outdoors like garden. You can get the complete information about the same at Truworth Homes.
Anonymous
September 6, 2016
Wow.....the instructions are really great. I like the heart shaped tree pattern most. Though i don't know enough about zipped pillow covers but i'll definitely like to decorate my bed and sofa with different types of pillow covers like these.
Anonymous
June 16, 2016
taking care of of furniture is a good thing for furniture long lasting. in that case we have to more careful and aware, otherwise over caring might be harmful for our furniture.
Anonymous
June 16, 2016
this is one of the most lovely pillow cover which i like. i would like to collect various types of cushion for my home with different types of covers. this heart shape tree pattern cushion over should be increase the bountifulness in the bed and sofa.
Anonymous
December 12, 2013
These look so lovely — those berries are gorgeous! I hope you continue to feel a little bit better each day. Thinking of you! survey research data analysis
Anonymous
June 29, 2013
Oh, duh, I was expecting images to be inline with the steps they correspond to, not part of a slide show at the top of the page. That would have been easier for me to see and follow. I appreciate you including them.
Anonymous
June 29, 2013
Thanks for these instructions. I don't know enough about working with zippers to follow them without a line drawing or two.
Anonymous
April 7, 2013
It's good to find instructions without having to watch a video and listen to someone. I hate videos. Written instructions with pictures are much better.
Anonymous
December 20, 2012
I wish you would make a video of this.