Stack of DIY envelope pillows with flange borders on a bench

Make Pillow Covers DIY

Hello Friends! Today I’m sharing a super-easy way to create and sew pillowcases or cushion covers that look store-bought and a bit more tailored than your basic envelope-style design. It only involves one extra step. The secret sauce is an additional topstitch that creates a flange rim edge around the perimeter of the pillow. Follow along with these simple instructions to make DIY pillow covers that give your room an instant upgrade!

Recently I was comparing a few old pillows that I made years ago to a couple of Pottery Barn pillow covers that I purchased. I realized the only difference was a collared flange edge. This one easy extra stitch makes a big difference in the professional look of your homemade pillows!

Flange and Envelope Style Pillow Inspiration

This pillow technique will work equally well for any space in your apartment or house. Try decorative pillows for your couch, outdoor cushions for the screen porch or patio, or bed pillows. Below are examples of this pillow style and sewing method for inspiration.

inspiration source

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inspiration source

Great Beginner Sewing Project

This method is perfect for beginner sewists! It only involves FOUR stitches. No, seriously, you can do this! And, if you have an iron or can borrow one, that will take the workmanship of this pillow to the next level. If you have any questions at all, feel free to write them in the comments below or send me a note HERE. I am happy to help!😃

Here are the sewing materials you will need for your pillow project.

Project Supplies needed for your DIY Pillow with Flange Trim

Affiliate links in blue below.

Fabric for Pillow
Matching Thread

Straight Pins
Ruler or Tape Measure
Sewing Scissors or
Rotary Cutter
Sewing Board or
Safe Cutting Surface
Down or Poly filled Pillow Cushion Insert
Sewing Machine
Scotchgard Fabric Protectant, optional

Preparing your Fabric to Sew 

Be sure to prewash your fabric before cutting into it. This will prevent shrinking and potential fit problems if you intend to wash the pillow cover in the future.

How to Make and Sew a DIY Pillow Cover

Below are step by step instructions to make your own pillowcase.

How much fabric do I need?

To determine the size of the fabric for your pillow cover, first measure the size of your pillow form. You can find the dimensions on the pillow tag or measure from side seam to side seam using a tape measure fitted close to the pillow.

If you want to add a flange trim, also add the width of the flange to all sides. You can make it any size you want. The typical flange size is 1/2 inch up to 3 inches deep.

If you prefer a nice fitted look for your pillow, do not add a seam allowance. My pillow covers are looser than I intended. I added 1/2 inch of seam allowance by accident! Do as I say, not as I do! 😉

Equations to Determine Fabric Cutting Dimensions 

Use these simple math to find out how much fabric is needed.

Fabric needed for the height or shorter side of the fabric
Pillow Height + (Flange x 2) = Height

Fabric needed for the width or longer side of the fabric
that wraps around the pillow

(Pillow Width x 2) + (Flange x 2) + 6 inch Overlap = Width

Note: These two are interchangeable. You can wrap the long edge horizontally or vertically so that your opening pocket in the back of the pillow runs either way.

My pillow equation
My insert is 20 x 20 inches and I am adding a 1/2 inch flange all the way around, so my math looked like this:

(20 x 2 = 40 inches) + (1/2 inch x 2= 1 inch) + 6 inches = 47 inches for width
20 + (1/2 inch x 2 = 1 inch) = 21 inches for height

(My pillowcase is a little looser fit because I accidentally added an additional 1/2 seam allowance to the math aove. Do this only if you like a looser look and fit.)

Finishing the Overlap Fabric Edges

The first step is to finish the raw fabric edges on both ends of the pillow material. 

The choice is yours what finishing technique you choose. For my pillow, I finished the outer flap with a double fold hem (far left style, below). This is a hem made up of two folds. First, press or fold the raw edge over 1/4 inch (6mm). Now, press the hem over one more time. Stitch close to the open folded edge.

I used a zigzag stitch (middle style, below) on the inside pillow flap because I wanted a flatter, low profile finish that would not show on the outside of the pillow. You could also use an overlock stitch with a serger (on the right, below). 

Next, with the right side of the fabric facing up, fold both finished ends in towards the center, so that they overlap. Adjust the fold lines where you want them, overlapping in the location you prefer on the back of the pillow cover. If you have a patterned fabric, keep in mind what you want to be centered on the front of the pillow. Similarly, you can choose where you the opening on the back of the pillow.

Sewing the Pillow Together Step by Step

1 Finish the raw fabric edges on both ends of the pillow material. With the right sides of the fabric together, fold both finished ends in towards the center, so that they overlap. Pin.

2 Stitch the top and bottom opening closed with a straight stitch. This is referred to as an envelope style pillow.

3 Carefully clip all 4 corners on the inside to eliminate bulk.

Turning the DIY Pillow and Creating the Flange Edge

4 Turn the pillow right side out at the back opening. Press with an iron and gently pushing corners out.

5 Topstitch the perimeter of the pillow to create the flange. Most flanges on pillows look best between 1/2 – 3 inches deep. I made a 1/2 inch flange.

6 You are almost done! It’s time to gently insert and stuff your down-filled or poly-filled pillow into your swanky new pillow covers. 

  

You’ll need to adjust the corners of the inner pillow cushion so it fills the form nicely. Give it vertical and horizontal karate chops from both sides and you are good to go!

I hope you enjoy this easy DIY pillow project! Let me know if you make your own or if you have any questions, in the comment box below. I’m happy to help! You can also ask me a question or send me a note HERE.

xo,
Cindy

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