How to Sew an Envelope Pillow Cover
(and what to do differently if you have a really firm pillow)
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Envelope pillow covers are a great way to change your pillows for the seasons or holidays without having to buy or store the complete pillow. They also have no zippers so they are fast to make and a great sewing for beginners project.
Written Directions: How to Make an Envelope Pillow Cover
THE BIG LESSON LEARNED COVERING THE MASSAGE PILLOW: If you have a pillow that is really firm or dense, you need to adjust the amount your fabrics overlap on the back of an envelope pillow cover.
Fabric Selection: If you are covering a pillow that has a design on it or is a dark color be sure it won’t show through your fabric before making your envelope pillow case.
STEP 1: Measure your pillow
Measure your pillow (or read the label if you are using a new pillow form). (fig. 1)
STEP 2: Pillow Cover Front
Cut fabric for the front of the pillow the same size as the size of your pillow.
So if your pillow is 14″ x 14″, your front fabric is also 14″ x 14″. You can use a solid piece of fabric, make a quilt block, etc. Just have a final piece that is 14″ x 14″.
The fabric being the same size as the pillow feels really counter-intuitive to me but this is how you get a snug fit that looks like you bought the pillow at a store instead of a loose fitting, homemade cover.
STEP 3: Prepare the Pillow Cover Backs
Cut 2 pieces for the back that measure the width of the pillow x (width of pillow ÷ 2) + 5″
So for a 14″ pillow you cut 2 pieces that are each 14″ x 12″.
Note: that works for most pillows but had too much overlap for the My Massage Pillow. I adjusted the calculation to add +3″ instead of 5″ and was able to get the cover on.
For each piece of fabric, iron one long side over 1/4″ and then another 1/4″ to encase the raw edge.
If your fabric is directional, fold and sew the top edge of one piece and the bottom of the other.
Sew to secure.
STEP 4: Layer the front and back
Place the pillow front right side up, in the direction you want the pillow to have if it has a specific direction.
Place one of the back fabrics over the pillow front fabric, right side down, matching the bottom sides. If your fabric is directional put the piece where you folded and sewed the top edge. (fig. 2)
Place the other back fabric on top of the two layers, right side down, matching the raw edges. This piece overlaps the other backing piece – hence the name “envelope pillow cover”. Pin all 3 layers together. (fig. 3)
STEP 5: Sew the Pillow Cover
Sew around the entire square with a 1/4″ seam. Go back and forth over the place where the backing pieces end to reinforce – that area gets the most stress when putting the cover on and off a pillow and you don’t want your seam to give!
STEP 6: Finish Up
Trim the fabric at the corners to reduce bulk.
Turn the pillow cover right side out, paying attention to the corners for the most professional results.
Put your case onto your pillow and enjoy!
🎯 SHORTCUTS TO SPECIFIC TOPICS:
00:22 My Massage Pillow demo
01:26 Choosing fabric
02:22 Measure the Pillow
04:21 Make the back fabrics
05:55 How to make a quarter square triangle quilt block
14:32 Sew the envelope pillow case
16:29 Put the envelope pillow case on your pillow
16:42 What to do if it won’t go on
In the video I show you the “My Massage Pillow” – a pressure activated massage pillow I discovered at the Portland Quilt Show. I learned a lesson – and almost scrapped the video – but decided you could learn along with me!
🧵 Fabric shown is from my Monthly Placemat Panel Collection for Riley Blake Designs: Navy July Stars and Red July Stars.
I love making pillow covers for the holidays and this is my favorite way to go because it’s so fast. I’m off to put my feet up and relax my back with my newly covered massage pillow!
🧵 Happy Sewing!