Hi. Last week I made a pair of pillow covers out of fabric scraps. I’m sure that doesn’t sound awesome to a lot of people, but here’s why it is. These fabric scraps are stored in a small pile in my studio that’s part of a bigger pile in my basement that’s becoming a mountain of half-baked craft projects. You know, “I really think I should start needle felting all my friends’ baby gifts. Hm, maybe I’ll take up oil painting en plain air and buy a stupid beret while I’m at it. Those mittens are totes adorbs – I can probably make them myself I just need 8 skeins of alpaca wool.”
Said pile has been growing for at least the last three years and making my husband worry about me. The new rule is that if I’m not going to use it, out it goes.
So I made these pillow covers out of some old samples from a design job and a random piece of cute vintage green tomato fabric from my Mom. Green Tomatoes!! It was super easy and I’m NOT an expert at sewing. I have a beginner machine that my Mom and I picked out together in college from the local Kmart. It’s a Brother LS-1217, which they don’t make anymore but is probably most comparable to this guy. It’s bare bones but it gets the job done.
So here’s how I did it. After perusing the internets for inspiration, I decided on a simple geometric pattern.
Here’s what you need:
1. 20″ SQUARE PILLOW INSERT (LIKE this one FROM IKEA)
2. THREE PIECES OF CONTRASTING FABRIC FOR YOUR GEOMETRIC PATTERN (I used a neutral woven, a black textured microsuede and a blue-gray wool)
3. ABOUT ONE YARD FABRIC FOR YOUR BACKING
5. GOOD FABRIC SCISSORS
6. IRON (optional)
7. SEWING MACHINE AND THREAD
1. Cut your triangles for the front – one large and two small as the pattern shows. I find it easiest to just drape the fabric over the pillow insert to see how much I need to cut. When you’re sewing anything, you always want about one inch of extra fabric all the way around so keep that in mind when you’re cutting your pattern.
2. Cut two rectangles from your backing fabric and set aside. Each rectangle should be bigger than half of your 20″ square…so that they will overlap by a good six inches (see pattern above). That would mean your rectangles would EACH be about 17″ x 22″. For this pillow, instead of using a zipper (too hard) or sewing the entire cover shut (too permanent), we’re going the easy/non-committal route. We’re making an overlapping fold so the pillow insert can be removed easily but won’t peek through. Like this:
3. Iron all of your pieces. This step is optional but highly recommended.
4. Back to your triangles. Take your two SMALL triangles and align the edges so the hypotenuse edges face outwards (what, you didn’t think a GEOMETRIC pillow cover would involve GEOMETRY?). You should now have two triangles that, together, are roughly the same size as your LARGE triangle. Capisce? If you have to read this step a couple times I won’t judge. I had to write it nine times so we’ll be even.
4. Now fold those two SMALL triangles onto each other so that the good sides FACE INWARDS. Muy importante! Pin along the middle edge and sew along this line. Yay.
5. I like to iron the new piece so that the seam sits flat and doesn’t cause any problems. Also optional.
6. OK OK OK. Take your two big triangles and lay them down, hypotenuses facing IN this time, to make a square! Fold those two pieces onto each other along that line, good sides IN again. Pin…and sew. Easy peasy!
7. BOOYAKASHA geometric square.
Let’s make the back now!
1. Lay your two rectangle pieces down so that they overlap by about 6″. Just check yourself here to make sure you have a square big enough to cover your whole pillow. This would be the time to adjust if you need to…
2. Hem one (22″) edge of each rectangle. This hem will be VISIBLE so use a thread color and stitch you don’t mind looking at. I have exactly two stitches available on my machine…so I chose zig-zag and used black thread. You could be super fun and use hot pink thread and a fancy pants stitch.
3. Now lay your overlapping rectangles down over your geometric square…good sides what? GOOD SIDES IN. Pin all the way around that bad boy and trim wherever you have extra fabric. You should have a nice 1″ border around a 20″ square to fit your pillow.
4. Sew all the way around…inevitably run out of bobbin thread and struggle to remember how to reload and thread a bobbin. Curse, get up and go eat something, come back and calmly finish sewing.
5. DONE! Turn it right-side out, stuff your pillow inside, and give your cat a brand new thing to shed on.