Sewing Decorative Pillows

I have made a lot of decorative pillows. They are fun. Most everyone loves to add that personal touch to their own decor with a pillow. I have taught classes on how to make these pillows. I will recap my process for you here.

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To make a pillow like one of these you will need a pillow form. Pick a pillow form that is any size that you want to add to the decor of any room in your house. Big, small, rectangle, square. Which ever your heart desires.

This helps to decide how much fabric you will need and what size zipper you will need. Generally, I suggest an 18″ X 18″. For this pillow you will need at least an 18″ all purpose nylon zipper that matches the fabric that you will use for your pillow front and back. The fabric for your pillow can be pretty much any type of woven fabric. Solid, print, denim, quilter’s cotton, you can pick. 3/4 yard is the amount that you’ll need. Then you will need 1/2 yard of a coordinating fabric to use for the piping. If you are trying this for the first time, try to pick a fabric that is not too heavy. Even a light weight denim will work. These pillows that I make for my client are backed and piped with a linen blend. You’ll also need 2 1/2 yards of 1/4″, 6/32″ or 1/2″ cotton cording.

Now let’s get to work…..

For this project I create a continuous bias tape. It took me some time to learn this technique (as I had to keep the directions handy for reference) but, now I just go with it. I find it so much easier than cutting bias strips and sewing them together. And one fat quarter of fabric can yield up to 8 yards of bias tape (depending on how wide the strips are cut). I generally get around 7 yards for the pillows when I am using linen and 6/32″ cording. I learned this method from this tutorial….Continuos Bias Tape from Melly Sews website. (Note: check out her wonderful Blake Slate Patterns while you are at her web site. They are super awesome and really fun! There is something for the whole family.)

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Once I have made my mound of bias tape, I put the zipper foot onto my machine and wrap the bias tape around the cording, keeping the cord centered in the middle of the tape and the raw edges lined up, stitch close to the cord on the outside. This typically will leave about a 1/2 an inch seam allowance on my piping/welt.

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Now that I have my pile of piping/welt, it’s time to prepare the pillow fronts and backs.

I cut front and back pieces the same size as my pillow form. This creates a nice, plump pillow.

The next step is to attach the piping/welt to the front of the pillow fabric. To do this I line up the raw edge of the piping to the raw edge of the pillow fabric at the side of the pillow. By starting somewhere in the center of the side it will allow me to create a nice finished look for the finished project. I begin stitching with the needle moved slightly towards the cording.

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Once the piping is attached it is time to begin prepping for the zipper. Easy now…it’s not that bad. I stitch the back of the pillow to the front (right sides facing) just about two inches on each side of the bottom. In other words, I stitch the back to the front from the right hand corner two inches towards the center and again at the left hand corner leaving the center opened for the zipper. (see photo below)

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With my zipper opened and facing down I lay the right hand side of the zipper so the teeth are against the piping and the top tabs are within the seam allowance that I just created on the right hand bottom edge (the pillow back is pulled gently back towards the center of the pillow, keeping it out of the way for now). Carefully stitch close to the teeth all the way to the bottom tabs…which should fall into the seam allowance at the other corner.

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Then I close the zipper and flip the pillow over so I am able to line up the opposite zipper tape with the edge of the pillow back. I sew close to the zipper teeth about 2/3rd or 3/4 of the way down. Then I stop with the needle in the down position and slide the zipper past and behind the needle. Now I can easily finish sewing the rest of the zipper tape attaching it to the back. I then test my zipper to make sure it opens and closes freely.

Whew! I am almost done!!! I make sure that I leave the zipper opened about 4 – 5 inches. I have only forgotten this important step only once. I will be turning the pillow right side out through this opening. Now, with the back facing up, I line up all the remaining 3 sides of the pillow. Then I can begin sewing just at the bottom edge on the left side of the pillow. I am sewing close to the piping above the bottom of the zipper tape. I stitch around the corner and continue all the way around the pillow staying close to the piping, until I turn around the bottom right corner of the pillow…again, I am stitching just above the zipper tape at the top of the zipper. This gives the bottom corner a nice, neat finish.

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That’s it! I am done! I trim any excess seam allowance to about 1/2 inch and turn my pillow right side out. I stuff my pillow form in and zip it closed. I usually give my pillows a good shake from each side to evenly distribute the pillow form.

The instructions sound rather complicated but, I assure you it is really quite easy to make these pillows. I enjoy it so much that I have made around 100 of them. And these techniques used are one of my best sought after classes. I love making the continuous bias strips for my piping and I love how simple it is to put this zipper in. Please share your pictures with me of your pillows. I would love to see them. And as always message me with any questions.

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About robynsewsthisandthat

I sew. I knit. I craft. I have too many desired projects and not enough time to create. I am mom to 8 and grandma to 5 wonderful gifts. I am married to the man of my dreams. I created this blog to track my projects and to inspire others. We all learn by sharing knowledge.
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3 Responses to Sewing Decorative Pillows

  1. CurlsnSkirls says:

    Love the look of piping on these – thanks for the step-by-step, too!

  2. Thimberlina says:

    Great tutorial Robyn, I keep meaning to try the continuous tape method but haven’t really needed long pieces of bias tape. I have 3m of fabric to make some cushions for my lounge, so I’ll be coming back to this post when I get round to it. 🙂

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