Easy 10 Minute Throw Pillows With Re-purposed Fabric

Lately all I have been daydreaming about are indigo fabrics and throw pillows.

One lucky day I scored a bunch of nice down feather throw pillows at a yard sale, woo hoo!

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I am not in love with the covers. However, I love the idea of making some new pillow covers because they are easy to wash and fun to switch out for the seasons.

Even for someone like me who has very little sewing skills, these envelope throw pillows are the easiest things to make. From cutting the fabrics to sewing takes less than 10 minutes!

Here is the added fun: we are using re-purposed fabrics- cotton bed sheets and canvas drop cloth…

Last week, I shared how I decided to make my own indigo fabrics from some cotton bed sheets we have! Here is the tutorial if you want to check it out.

Detailed tutorial on 3 beautiful tie dye techniques to create your own glorious Indigo Shibori textiles for home decor or fashion projects! - A Piece Of Rainbow

I want the back of the pillows to have a linen look. Since it is so much fun to re-purpose fabrics, here comes one of the best-kept secrets: canvas drop cloth- as home décor fabric!

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Canvas drop cloth is a beautiful and inexpensive material. The key is to find ones with the right thickness.

For these throw pillows, I used  8 oz canvas drop cloth, which is soft and easy to work with, yet thick enough to resemble high-quality linen.

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Before you start, preshrink the fabrics by washing them in hot water, let dry, and iron them flat.

Step 1: Cut fabrics.

Measure your pillows. Amazon has many pillow inserts to choose from if you don’t have lucky yard sale pillows.

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Here is a simple formula to calculate how much fabric to cut (generous enough for beginners!):

For square pillows:

  • cut one piece that is your length+2 inches and height +2 inches
  • cut two pieces that are your length divided by 2 then add 4 inches, and height +2 inches

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For long pillows:

  • cut one piece that is your shorter length+2 inches and height +2 inches
  • cut two pieces that are your longer length divided by 2 then add 4 inches, and height +2 inches

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For example, if your pillow measures 18”x22”, the front piece will be 20”x24”, the two back pieces will be 20”x15”. If your pillow measures 18”x18”, the front piece will be 20”x20”, the two back pieces will be 20”x13”. This ensures an overlap of about 5 inches at the opening of the envelope.

Tip: if you are nervous, use some scrap fabrics to do a quick test before cutting up your favorite fabric! Pillow covers are really forgiving, so even if you are not super accurate, they most likely will still turn out fine!

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Step 2: Sewing.

First, hem the two back panels where they overlap.

Take the front panel and lay it flat right side up. Then, take one of the two back panels and place it wrong side up, line up at the edge of the front panel and pin in place. Repeat with the second back panel.

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Sew all around the edge, back-stitching at the beginning and end.

I find it a little easier to sew the two sides marked with orange lines, then the overlapped sides. I was able to do it this way without pinning. =)

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Now flip the cover right side out and stuff a pillow in it! I left the existing cover on for an extra layer, although it is not required.

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Here are our first group of indigo throw pillows! Are they lovely?

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Other simple yet effective updates for our homes if you want to see more: transform boring outlet covers into designer ones in just a few minutes!

DIY: Make Designer Switch Plates - A Piece Of Rainbow

Grocery bag pendant lamp-

Make Origami Lampshade | A Piece Of Rainbow

How to paint chevron patterns on a old lamp shade-

lamp-table-makeover-apieceofrainbow

Happy creating!

23 Comments

  1. Man, this is why I don’t sew. I don’t know what I did wrong. My pillow was 12 inches square so I made a 14 inch front pattern (the pillow length and width plus two inches on each) and then made the back panel pattern following the directions. I got a 13-inch pillowcase and my pillow was swimming in it. I would have just bought a 13-inch pillow but they only come in even sizes! My mom makes these and has given us a few so I took the pillow (also 12 inches) out of one of her covers and using that cover managed to come up with a workable pattern. The first one I made came out perfect, the second was a little large but not too bad. I was allowing for a half-inch seam but the second pillow I may have made the seams smaller. They are cute as anything. I made them for my daughter and her roommate and they love them. Two other friends saw the picture and have put in requests but I think I’m retiring! I do appreciate your website, though, it gave me a good starting place.

  2. Thanks for your easy tutorial! I’ve got lots of extra backing material from quilts I’ve made that I think will be fun to try!
    Question: For your (two) back measurements, you say to divide the length by two and add THREE inches. But in your example for an 18×22 pillow, you wind up with two 20×15. That is actually dividing length by two (11) and adds FOUR inches.
    So just wanting clarification – not sure if it really matters – but should we add THREE of FOUR. Thanks!!

    • hi Lorna! thank you for catching that! 3″ are fine for relatively flat pillows, 4″ would be better for very puffy pillows! i updated the measurements to 4″ just to be safe! 🙂

  3. Enjoying your pillow tutorial. Need your advice on how to ‘sanitize’ pillows I find at yard sales & thrift stores; since there’s the chance of bed bug infestation, etal. Yuck!

    Thanks…and I appreciate your spectacular content.

    • hi evie! thanks! =)
      to start, i would only buy pillows that look and smell very clean, be selective!! net, wash the covers, let everything air out in the sun for a few days. sunlight kills germs and works almost like natural bleach!

  4. I only found you today. I just love all of the posts. Where do you get all these great ideas ? I have been thinking to get off my crafts and on to doing the yard, house, etc…… Now since I have seen all of these I will never be able to get anything else done. I am going to try them all. Kudos !

  5. Your pillow covers look smashing Ananda. Indigo is such a stunning colour. And your steo by step tutorial makes it look so easy. Thank you:)

  6. The envelope pillow is my favorite thing to make. One pillow so many changes. Love your dyed blue material. I commented on your wonderful dying technique in another post.

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