Thursday, April 7, 2011

How to Sew Your Own Pillows {a tutorial from a non-sewer}

I mentioned last week that my mom was kind enough to offer me some sewing lessons. I even showed a little teaser photo of me sewing some pillows for our $5 Goodwill wicker chairs that I bought.

But, before I give you the low-down on how I sewed my own pillows, I do need to give you one piece of critical advice: you’re not always saving money when you sew something yourself. This may or may not come as a shock to you, but it certainly did to me. Fabric, sewing patterns, stuffing, thread, buttons, piping, needles, etc. are not altogether "cheap." My suggestion is, if you’re looking for something specific, try seeking it out at a store first and do a little price comparison on how much it would cost to buy the item versus making it.

Since I couldn't find any circular shaped pillows that would fit perfectly in our chairs in the right colors that we needed without spending $40, I decided to make my own. In the long run, I spent $20 on my supplies, so I actually saved $20 by DIY'ing them...I figure that's a pretty good deal!

If you’re like me and you end up deciding to make your own pillow, then you’ll need a template. Unfortunately, “Circular-Shaped Pillow for $5 Goodwill Wicker Chairs” is not a template that’s sold in many fabric stores. I know, I was disappointed too.

To make your own template, you’ll need: Cardboard, pencils, a measuring tape, heavy duty scissors or box cutters, and someone in your household that knows how to find the circumference of a circle – thank goodness for my math wizard husband! Once you determine the circumference of your chair seat, you’ll want to trace that onto cardboard and carefully cut it out with your scissors or box cutter.

Here’s the finished template:

To make your own circular-shaped pillow, you’ll need: a sewing machine, thread, fabric (for this project I needed 1.25 yards of fabric for each pillow), piping (if applicable), buttons (if applicable), stuffing (I used Poly-Fil 100% Polyester), needles, scissors, and an iron.

A good sewing teacher doesn’t hurt, either (grin)…

You’ll want to start by folding your fabric in half and, using your trusty cardboard template, cut your fabric out to match your template. Set this aside.

My mom recommended adding piping to the pillow to make it a little extra fancy, and so we bought some of this stuff . . .
You'll want to determine how much piping you need, by stretching it around your circular fabric cut-out

Then, using some of the extra fabric you have, you'll want to fold your piping into the fabric like so...

Using your sewing machine, sew your piping into your fabric...

Your end product will look something like this...

You can certainly buy solid color piping that you don’t need to “create,” but I liked the idea of the piping being the same fabric as the pillow, so we got a little fancy.

Now, position your fabric so that the backside of each piece is facing outward, and pin your piping around the fabric (you're sewing your piping this way so that when you turn your fabric inside out, it will be on the outside, but the seam will be on the inside)

Now, carefully sew the piping to your'll want to leave a little room somewhere in the fabric so that you can stuff it with the filling (probably about a 5-inch hole). When your done sewing all the way around, turn your fabric inside out. It should look like this...

Iron out any wrinkles...and then start stuffing!

Using a needle and thread, sew the opening together by hand.

Since I wanted the pillow to have a little personality, I also decided to add a tuft with a big ole' button. If you want to do this, I highly recommend buying the button set that comes with the template, and the little button-creating plastic tool...
I never knew button-making was so easy!

Find the center of your pillow, and pull your thread all the way through and back again a couple of times pretty tightly until you get the right amount of "tuft" that you desire (you may want to use a more sturdy thread to do this part)

Then sew on your buttons!
And now you have yourself a nice cushy pillow for your $5 Goodwill wicker chairs :)

And here's the one we created for the Master Bedroom (I just loved the fabric!)
Oh, and please ignore that pile of laundry to the right....we're just keeping it real!

I have to admit, sewing was quite fun! I'm even thinking of sewing a pair of curtains for our living room if I can find some cute fabric on the cheap. 

So what about y'all? Do any of you sew? If so, what all have you done? Would any of you like to try sewing? I'd love to hear!!


  1. That is awesome! So excited for you! If I can ever find a sewing machine on the cheap I will definitely be getting into some sewing. =]

  2. Great job!! I love the pillow in the master bedroom :)

  3. They look great! My mom sews but I never learned. I probably wouldn't have listened then, but I sort of want to learn now! I never even learned in 4H. I chose buying my clothes instead of sewing my clothes:)

  4. Rachel you made pillows for those adorable chairs! How cool is that? And you're right, sometimes it's more expensive to sew your own. Fabric can be very expensive.


  5. I am very impressed - adding piping and a button is not always easy. You jumped in with both feet and did a great job. The pillows look great!


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