Pillow Tutorial with Envelope Backing

I love making quilted pillows to give as a present or to add some seasonal decorations to the house– they are easy to make, relatively quick for a handmade item, and always appreciated by the recipient. After making numerous pillows this holiday season I wanted to share my way of making an envelope backing. I’ve always struggled with zippers and I have found this method to be quick and hassle free.

First you need to determine the size of the pillow and make your pillow top. I like my pillows to be firmly stuffed so I make the pillow the same size as the pillow form, if I buy a 16” square pillow form then both my front and back will measure 16” exactly. If you like your pillow to be a little looser then you can make your front and back a half inch larger than the form.

I typically start with a quilted pillow front. I used a simple patchwork pattern then layered it with a piece of cotton batting and muslin for the back. I quilted it with straight lines then cut the final product down to a 16” square.

Next you will need to cut two rectangles from a coordinating fabric that you want to use for the backing. The width of the rectangles will match the pillow width, in this case it is 16”. You will need to do some math to figure out the height – I take the width of the fabric divided by two, then add 3.5 inches. For a 16 inch pillow you will want 11.5 inches as the height (16/2=8, 8+3.5= 11.5). Below is a chart for some of the most common sizes.

Pillow Size Backing Pieces (cut 2 pieces per pillow)
12” square 9.5” x 12”
14” square 10.5” x 14”
16” square 11.5” x 16”
18” square 12.5” x 18”
20” square 13.5” x 20”

Once you have the rectangles cut you will need to take a long side of the piece and fold it over approximately ¼” (this doesn’t have to be an exact measurement, you can eyeball it).  I spray the fold lightly with Magic Sizing and iron it. You will need to fold it over one more time so the cut side of the fabric is hidden.

 

Using a matching thread you will need to topstitch the fold down close to the fold side. You will do this on one long side of each rectangle.

NOTE: If you have directional fabric you will need to make the fold on the top side of one rectangle and the bottom side of the other.

Now it is time to sew the pillow together. I like to have a binding on my pillows, I think it really adds to the pillow and helps it stand out. If you are adding a binding then follow the directions below with the right side of the pillows both facing out (wrong side together). If you are not adding a binding then you need to sew the pillow right sides together and then turn the pillow the right side out.

Place the pillow top right side down on your work table.

Place one backing rectangle on the bottom of the pillow, right side up, with the sewn seam edge in the middle of the pillow. Next add the other rectangle piece, right side up, with the sewn seam edge in the middle.

Pin the pieces together along the edge.

Sew a ¼” seam around all four edges of the pillow. Your pillow is almost done now, you just need to add the binding!

You can finish the pillow any binding method of your choice. I use 2 ½” inch strips for my binding, machine sew to the front of the pillow, and hand stitch it to the back side. If your pillow is 18” square or smaller you will need two strips cut the width of the fabric, any pillow larger than that will likely need 3 strips.

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