Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Simple Envelope-Closure Pillow Cover

I seem to have gone a little batty for homemade pillow covers lately.  It all started with the porch project (furniture photos here).  I knocked out twelve box cushion and pillow covers in about a week...which may not sound that fast...but for me, that was about every moment of time I had to myself that week.  I did, however, discover how simple it is to make an envelope-closure pillow cover.  No zippers, nothing fancy, just accurate measuring, some ironing and pinning, and sewing four straight seams.  There are a number of little variations on this technique that I'll be sharing in the coming weeks - tomorrow I'll show you how I adapted it to work for box cushions - and I have several yards of fabric both in hand and on order to spruce up the pillows in a bunch of rooms in my house. 

But today, I take you to our home office.  Well, sort of.  It's a bit of a disaster right now and waiting for some much-needed cleaning and organization attention, so all focus will be on this particular little bench under one of the windows and the jazzing up of its two accent pillows.


The office used to be occupied almost exclusively by Scott when he worked from home, but those work-at-home days have gotten sparer since our girls got old enough to walk and talk and pound on the closed door and scream, "Daddy!! I want to work too!"  And since I am now the one who works from home and uses the office most often, I have (somewhat) subconsciously started to feminize it.  Today's pillow makeover definitely takes another drop of masculine out of the room.  But who says a home office has to be akin to a man cave anyway?  Not I.

I actually purchased the ikat fabric I used here as a possibility for accent pillows on the upholstered bench in the kitchen, but it just wasn't working for me.  And then I realized that the dusty aqua shade was just the same as an upholstered chair we have in the office.  And the taupe in the pattern was a perfect match for the little bench.  There was nothing wrong with the pillow covers that were there...they were just a little "blah."  And the aqua ikat fabric was so pretty.

Special skills you will need here are the ability to use a ruler (if you have a cutting mat, even better.  I do not and used a flexible measuring tape and T-square), operate scissors, iron fabric, insert pins, and sew a straight line.  That's pretty much it.  Read on for more specific steps, and happy mini-makeover-ing!

Simple Envelope-Closure Pillow Cover

To determine the amount of fabric you need to cut, follow this simple formula: take the width of your pillow and add 2".  Then take the length of your pillow, double it, and add 8".  So for the 18" square pillows I made here, the fabric sizes I cut were 20"(18"+ 2) x 44" (18"+ 18"+ 8).

If you are using a patterned fabric like I am here, there is some finesse to figuring out the placement of the pattern.  You want the pattern to be generally centered on the pillow and if you are making matching pillows, well, you want them to pretty well match.  You also need to be sure that all measurements are square (this is why I used the T-square).  If you have any questions about these details, please do leave a comment and I'll do my best to clarify!  If your fabric is a solid color, no pattern attention is needed, just cut it straight and square and you are all set.  Now, onward...

Iron 1" down at the top of one of the long sides.  A useful little tool you can make for yourself (picked this idea up on is a piece of cardstock with a straight line drawn 1" down from the top.  Then you just fold your fabric over to meet the line and iron right on top of the cardstock.  Make sure your fabric is upside down on the ironing board at this point.

Then fold over again and iron another 1" down.  Repeat at the other long side of the fabric.

Fold half the length of the pillow + 4" (in this case 9"+ 4, so 13") and press the seam with your iron.  Make sure the edges line up.  Then fold half the length of the pillow (9") from the other side and press that seam.  You should now have something like this:

Note that the fabric is still inside out - very important or your finished product will not have the patterned side of the fabric facing out!

Open up the fabric and sew a straight seam down each of the folded edges (where you ironed 1" and then folded and ironed another 1").

Fold the fabric back along your ironed seams now and pin in place along the edges, making sure the edges line up with each other.  Draw a line 1" in from each open side.

Sew a straight seam along each of the lines you have drawn.  Trim loose threads, then flip your covers rightside out.  I like to iron the previously ironed seams out of the finished cover.  The cover on the left below shows the back side of the pillow with the envelope closure, and the one on the right shows the front of the pillow.

After you have ironed the covers, slip a pillow form inside, and voila!  New pillows!  And in my case, a prettified little window seat.

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