simple pillow tutorial (with piping)

Marian ParsonsSewing, Tutorials

I’ve shared a few pillow tutorials on my blog over the years, but it’s been a while, so I decided to take some pictures as I was making a couple of pillows today.

Since I shuffled things around in my family room a few months ago, I’ve needed (well, wanted) to make a couple of pillows.  I finally got the push I needed when a sweet reader sent me a beautiful antique woven coverlet.  I just about squealed when I opened the package.


It’s sort of an odd sized, pieced together and has some repairs, so I decided I would get more use out of it if I turned it into pillows.  Don’t get me wrong, I love it with all of the imperfections.  People only repair things they love and it’s clear this coverlet was well used and well loved.  I want to use it in a way that will be more than just folding it up in a cabinet, though.

So, pillows it is!


I cut sections out of the best parts of the coverlet to fit two pillow forms I already have.  They were 22″ pillow forms, so I cut the pieces to 24″ square, to give me plenty of seam allowance to work with.  I don’t know about you, but I’m a kind of person who needs more than 1/4″!

Lay the front and back pieces of fabric on a work surface (the floor in my case), with the right sides facing together.


I already had some custom piping made with antique hemp sheets.  I like the way piping adds structure and detail to a pillow.  If you want to know how to make custom piping, check out this tutorial HERE.  Place the piping (store bought or custom made) or trim between the two pieces of fabric with the finished side facing in.

I say this a lot in sewing tutorials, but raw edges should always be facing the same way.  Just double-check.  I can tell you from experience how frustrating it is to sew a pillow only to turn it right-side-out to find that your trim is now on the inside of your pillow!


I start the trim halfway on the bottom edge of the pillow, so the place where the piping meets will be at the bottom of the pillow.


Pin all three layers together (both sides of the pillow and the trim.)


When you get to a corner, cut a few slits in the raw side of the piping, so it’s easier to bend around the corner.


Continue pinning until all four sides of the pillow are pinned, except for approximately a 10″ gap along the bottom.  You need this gap, so you can turn the pillow cover right-side-out and insert the pillow form…


Cut off the excess fabric, just to make the edges tidy.


Sew along the piping, making sure your foot is nice and tight against the roll of the piping.  You need to use a zipper foot on your machine, so that can be done.


Again, don’t sew that 10″ gap on the bottom edge!  If you do, you’ll have an inside-out pillow without any stuffing.  And that’s pretty pointless!

Turn the pillowcase right-side-out, pushing the corners out with your fingers.  Check all seams to make sure you sewed all three layers.  Sometimes there can be a little gap if you or your fabric went a bit off track.

Gently insert the pillow form.  You might get a little bit of splitting in your seams, but that’s okay.


Once the form is in, make sure the corners of the form match up the to corners of the pillow cover.


Pin the gap at the bottom closed, folding the raw edges under and crossing the two pieces of piping.


Hand stitch the bottom closed with a thread that will blend in with the fabric used for the pillow.  Just do a running stitch with stitches close enough to hold the pillow closure securely.


Trim excess threads, give the pillow a good fluff, and the pillow is done!

I made them for my house, but I had a fun time photographing them in the studio.


You may be wondering why I still have the tufted sofa when I sold it at Lucketts.  It is sold, but I had to take it home when Lucketts closed a day early.  I’ve been keeping it safe until the owner can arrange to pick it up.


I’m going to have to find a new studio sofa!  It’s pretty handy having one around.


Anyway, back to the pillows.  They turned out even better than I pictured in my head.


They remind me a lot of some pillows the stylist from Country Living used when they came to my house last year.  I loved them, but, if I recall, they were somewhere around $300/each.  I didn’t even know people spent that much on pillows!  (You can see one on the French daybed in the picture below…)


I like that these are made out of antique textiles and have a richer color.  I also am pleased with how the cream piping really pops against the rich blue.

mms-8689 mms-8698 mms-8695

Here they are in my family room…




I’m still looking for a cabinet/buffet for under the TV and a few other things to bring this room fully together, but it’s coming along!


As an FYI, the next sale in my online shop will go live this Friday night, June 24, at 8:00 pm EST.

You can see some of the items listed as “coming soon” that will go live in the sale HERE.  It’s a mix of Lucketts leftovers and stuff I’m getting rid of after the studio purge.

simple pillow tutorial (with piping)

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