Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cheap living room re-do

I mentioned in a previous post that we are starting a sewing group at my church. For our first meeting we will be making pillowcovers, and I am teaching, so I thought I'd get some practice by making a few and writing a tutorial for all of you. So, please if you have any feedback, I'd appreciate it.

So, on to the meat. You will need:
an old pillow (16 inches or smaller for our purposes)
5/8 yard of quilting cotton that matches the room in which you plan to use your pillow
matching thread (although it won't really show so the matching isn't really critical)
a measuring tape or yardstick
a hard edge for drawing lines (like the yardstick!)
a sewing machine with needle and bobbin

1) Measure your pillow. This is hard to do while also holding a camera to make a tutorial. Do measure along the seamline to get a nice straight line. Measure both sides, even if you think that it is square. You never know!
2) Now for a little math. You need to make a rectangle with dimensions that are equal to your pillow's short side on one side and equal to your pillow's long side times 2 (Pillow back and front) plus 6(for overlap). I know you want to add a seam allowance, but don't unless your pillow is REALLY fat. You want a nice tight fit.
For example, my pillow is 17 x17 inches. For the short side, I need 17 inches. On the long side I need (17*2)=34 +6=40.
Measure your rectangle on your piece of fabric. Just write on the fabric with a pencil or fabric marker. Use the selvage for one of the short edges so that you don't have to clean finish that edge. Cut out your rectangle!
3) Now we need to figure out how to fold our big rectangle to make it into a pouch for our pillow. Lay your pillow down on the RIGHT side of your fabric and fold it over so that the selvage is around the middle of the pillow. Pull it tight! Put a couple of pins on the two folds to mark them.
4) Now fold over the other edge so that it overlaps the selvage edge. Again, pull tight and mark the folds with pins.
5) Now, head to the sewing machine. Our first step is to clean finish the raw edge. If you have a serger, just serge the edge. I used a zigzag stitch (since we won't have any sergers with us at our meeting) and an overcast foot. You can hem it, but this edge doesn't show in the final product and a hem could be bulky.
6) Now fold it again along the lines you marked with your pins in step 3 and 4. Be sure that the fabric is RIGHT sides together and that the edge you serged or zigzagged is on the outside as you seam. Sew seam with a 1/2 inch seam allowance along both open edges.
7) Clip your corners and turn right side out. Give the seams a quick press for a professional look.
8) Enjoy your new pillows!!
These pillow covers are very basic, but could easily be embellished for a more fun look. Stick some trim into the side seams, stitch on some ribbon, buttons or applique, go wild! This is fun!


  1. Love it!!! A woman after my own heart, I refuse to pay 20 and up for a pillow that my family will use into dust. Or decorate with yogurt.

    This was a good guide, it was not too wordy, simple yet fun!!!
    "measure both sides..." hahaa I have soooo many sewing projects including curtains that are crooked. My first quilt was insanly crooked and nothing matched up. I tell people I did it on purpose.

  2. I am glad you put the instructions up here because I forgot to grab some after church... I am looking forward to it! :-)