How to Make a Pillow from Scratch

How to Make a Pillow from Scratch

Making and stuffing a pillow by hand is an excellent (and useful!) project for beginner DIY folk. That said, no seamstress should ever view herself as too grand for the task. Homemade pillows are cheap and quick to make, and they instantly transform the décor of a room. Once you learn how, there'll be little need to purchase accent pillows ever again!

1 Figure out what size pillow you'd like to make. Add ½ to 1 inch for a seam allowance. If you aren't exactly sure of the size, I suggest purchasing about a yard of fabric. If you'd like the front and the back to be different patterns, you may want to start with a ½ yard of each.

How to Make a Pillow from Scratch

2 Cut the fabric to the desired dimensions.

How to Make a Pillow from Scratch

3 Lay the fabric one piece on top of the other, right sides in.

How to Make a Pillow from Scratch

4 Sitting at your sewing machine, use a straight stitch to sew up three edges of the pillow.

How to Make a Pillow from Scratch

5 When you get to side four, sew until you have about 5 inches unsewn, making, essentially, a hole in a pouch.

How to Make a Pillow from Scratch

6 Turn the "bag" inside out by pulling it through the hole. Now the right side (or out-facing side) of the fabric will be showing.

How to Make a Pillow from Scratch

7 Stuff polyfill or other filling, as desired, through the hole until the pillow is as plump as you'd like.

How to Make a Pillow from Scratch

8 Tuck the unstitched fabric edges into the hole and pin them in place so the folded-over edge lines up with the outer seam. Pin the fabric edge to itself, but don't pin the hole closed.

How to Make a Pillow from Scratch

9 Thread a sharp needle with a single knotted thread that best matches your pillow in color and weight.

How to Make a Pillow from Scratch

10 You don't want a hand-sewn whip stitch or a machine stitch that will show on the outside of the pillow. Use the following invisible stitch to keep the fabric closed and hidden beneath the folds of the fabric: Pierce the edge of the fabric on the inside of the pillow, so the knot remains unseen on the inside layer.

How to Make a Pillow from Scratch

11 Take the needle and bring it through the seam crease right across from where the thread is coming out on the other side.

How to Make a Pillow from Scratch

12 Keep the needle inside the fabric under the fold for about ¼ to ½ inch, and then poke it out a little.

How to Make a Pillow from Scratch

13 Bring the point of the needle toward you and pick up some fabric (not too much) from the fold of the other side.

How to Make a Pillow from Scratch

14 Pull the thread until it's taut, and then repeat the same action all across the opening.

How to Make a Pillow from Scratch

15 Pierce the fabric across from where the thread is coming out, then travel under the fold and come out toward your body, grabbing a small amount of fabric from the other fold. Tie off the end by knotting inside the folds of the seam.

How to Make a Pillow from Scratch

Very different from their Western equivalent, pillows made in ancient China were often crafted from porcelain. The material was  thought to have health benefits in this form and may have been thought to inspire dreams.

Pillow-Making FAQs

How much fabric do I need?

You'll need to use your math skills on this one because it's all about geometry. The amount of fabric depends on the width of the fabric and on the size of the pillow you desire. My advice? Stick with squares as you learn, then progress to rectangles. As you gain skill, you can branch out.

Every basic pillow has two sides. You need to add about an inch to each edge for the seams. Think of it this way: A 12-inch square pillow requires two 14-inch squares. One square in front, one in back, and extra fabric to sew the seams.

How do I buy it?

Fabric is sold by the yard (which is, as you know, 36 inches). In a fabric store, you'll see that most yardage is between 36 and 60 inches wide. The exception to this is upholstery fabrics, which are commonly 54 inches wide. A square of 54-inch fabric is 1½ yards long. That'll get you two 16-inch square pillows, plus a length of fabric left over.

How do I trim it?

Add fringed trim to pillows by pinning the trim between the two layers of fabric with the fringed portion facing the center of the pillow. You'll sew it inside out. When you turn the pillow right-side out, you'll have trim on the outside.

What fabric should I use?

The only rule is that you should use durable fabric for outdoor pillows. I suggest cotton canvas, duck cloth, vinyl, olefin, or use a shower curtain! (Hint: Make sure your fillings are 100 percent waterproof, too.) I like to make pillows out of blankets or bedspreads that have suffered a stain that I can cut out or sew around.

What fabric should I avoid?

Pillows can be a real art form for the inspired designer. But for everyday home use, consider avoiding silks or brocades that will show stains easily and that require dry-cleaning or special care.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE