simple pillow tutorial (with piping)

Marian ParsonsSewing, Tutorials42 Comments

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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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…

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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…)

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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.

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Here they are in my family room…

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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!

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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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42 Comments on “simple pillow tutorial (with piping)”

  1. The new pillows are gorgeous in your living room! Especially with that primitive pie safe in the background.

  2. These look really lovely. I particularly like the rich colour and texture. Makes me feel braver to repurpose vintage textiles. Job done.

  3. They are so beautiful. If you ever come across another coverlet like that and are willing to share, please post on your online shop, and of course give us a heads up. Thank you!

  4. Love them! They are so much nicer than the $300 ones which don’t even have piping! They look great everywhere you put them.

  5. Love that fabric and it looks amazing in pillow form! I am in need of a new sewing machine and it looks like you are sewing with your Sailrite. Do you still like it and would you recommend it? I have had a Singer for about 30 years and she really struggles sewing any of the thicker fabrics. Everyone has a different opinion and I am really struggling.

    1. Definitely! That’s why I bought the Sailrite. My old Kenmore was really having trouble with the thicker fabrics I was working with. The Sailrite is a great machine for that.

  6. So pretty.
    I am sure you will get a slew of comments on how to end piping…but let me be the first. I have sewn for 25 years and i just learned this trick a couple years ago, as though it is secret knowledge. You cut one side of the piping flush, then the other side about two inches longer, then you rip the seam out of the piping those two inches and cut the piping (but not the fabric) so it will now lay flush with the other side, you take the two inches of extra fabric and fold one inch under so there is no exposed seam, and finally you lay that over the first side of the piping you cut. It is way easier on your machine and looks professional…a real game changer.

    1. Katie– you are exactly right! i do it the same way. it’s such a little thing but makes such a difference.

  7. Question…I’m contemplating putting fabric on one of my walls however my walls are textured sheetrock. Will this be a problem. Also, could you do a tutorial on how you do the fabric on the walls.

  8. Beautiful pillows! If you have extra fabric, you should make more from the ‘wrong side’ of the coverlet. It is just as pretty.

  9. Beautiful pillows. Love that idea that Chris up above said about making a pillow with the “wrong side”. That would look great. You know I have been all about the pinks and pastels the last few years, but Marian you are really selling me on these blues. Love the blues and cream/white colors together. Every time I read your posts I get inspired. Dont always act on it, but inspired none the less. 😉

  10. Insanely beautiful.
    Be proud of yourself – they are waaaaaaaay nicer than the $300 pillows!

  11. Love the ironstone in your online shop. Would really like pitchers and lids. Love lids but can’t find any just by themselves.

  12. Very good directions. I am a sewer, but my pillows are always not so good. I think anyone could follow these directions. One thing, it is nice to use a bigger pillow form for a nice think pillow. Like a 20inch form for an 18 inch pillow. I think I still have some antique jacquard like that. I was using it to make doll beds for the American Girl doll, with tiny hand towels as sheets. I’ll have to go find it. Thanks.

  13. I think you could sell pillow kits! Just cut the fabric and include some piping! That would be a good item to sell online.

  14. Gorgeous. FYI … there is no wrong side, this is a summer/winter weave quilt. The dark side for cool weather, the light for summer. This traditional pattern is made on a loom with anywhere from 4-24 harnesses. The more the more complex the pattern can be made. Look for a name, date, or place in the pine tree boarder. The woof would be cotton or linen, the the weft dyed wool. I have some dyed green, red and some a red/blue combination. As a sometimes weaver I generally can’t bring myself the cut into them!

  15. Beautiful fabric! Great job, you make it look so easy. Got some pointers for adding piping to an ottoman cover I’m about to start. I’ll have to check out your tutorials to figure out how to create a slight ruffle for the skirt. Perplexed on how to pull it off without it flaring out?. Thanks so much Marion, I appreciate you?❤️?

  16. I love the piping with that fabric…I’m so motivated to make some pillows for a settee I’m working on (but was nervous to do!) Thank you!!!

  17. I want to second the suggestion about also using the other side of the fabric. It is just as appealing. And I appreciate learning about the “winter/summer” weave.

  18. I have a question about the chair that has the blue ticking slip cover (picture #17 from top). Did you use a pattern for that? I just bought a very similar chair and would love to make that cover.

  19. No, I just made it custom to fit the chair. If you chair has the same back, I actually have an extra one that I made for this twin to this one, but the chair back broke. Let me know if you’d be interested…

  20. Hi there, Love your blog! Can you tell me where you got that beautiful leather couch, please? I’d love to buy one just like that. Thanks! -Rebekah

  21. Well I just answered my own pillow question I left on your most recent post. That’ll teach me to catch up on posts out of order. 😉 I LOVE LOVE LOVE these pillows. That fabric is ahhhhhh-mazing! I was hoping they were a mass produced pillow so I could buy some. Gorgeous!

  22. Where do you find you Antique Hemp Sheets for recovering. YOu have probably been asked a million times. But please let me know and thank you. Everything you do is beautiful!

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