What’s faster than a pillow. Well… cheetahs, Italian sports cars, and the time it takes for your kids to age from 2 to 20 to name a few. So, let’s be more specific. When it comes to sewing projects, what’s faster and easier than a pillow? Nothing! This pillow design is certainly quick and easy, but the classic styling makes it look like it stepped right out of a high-end home décor store. We took a traditional envelope closure and brought it around to the front. Add a beautiful button, and you have instant elegance.
We chose mid-weight linen fabrics for our pillow trio, mixing two solids with a stand-out print. Using something heavier than quilting cotton is indeed our recommendation for this design. You’ll end up with a smoother, richer finish as well as pillows that can stand up to more “wear and tear.” Ever wonder why they’re called “toss” or “throw” pillows?
Our Fast Fridays projects are all about whipping up something wonderful in no time at all, and these really fit the bill. We made all three of our samples in a single afternoon.
You want a substantial button for the best look (we used 1¼”), and it should be a shank button to give it a bit of extra height off the surface so the loop can easily slip on and off. The button is also a good element to give continuity to a set. We chose different fabrics, but tied all three pillows together by using the same button on all.
This project featured tapered corners. It might seem like a geometric rule-breaker, but one trick to keeping a square pillow square is tapering the corners rather than sticking with a classic 90˚ angle. We don’t use tapering 100% of the time, but do turn to it for a simple design like this. We have a full step-by-step tutorial linked below if you are new to the technique.
The Supplies list and Getting Started cut list below show you what’s needed for one pillow. However, this clean and simple design lends itself beautifully to groups of two or three. Have some fun mixing and matching to come up with a pillow scape that is just right for your room.
Our pillows all finish at 18” x 18”.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: As mentioned above, the quantities shown below are for ONE pillow, multiply as needed for your space.
- ⅝ yard of 45”+ mid-weight fabric for the pillow front and back panels as well as the front facing and loop; for our coordinated trio, we used three linen fabrics –– two solids and one print: Waterford Linen in Natural, Jefferson Home Décor Linen in Midnight, and Tidal Wave Linen Blend in Torn Paper Stripe
NOTE: ⅝ yard is a good amount for solid colors, if you have print with a specific directional motif, more yardage will be required. The exact amount will depend on the width of your chosen fabric and the direction of the motif. You can use the illustration below to help you map out the best cut options for your fabric. If, as we recommend, you go with a home décor fabric, the width is likely to be wider than 45”, giving you additional cutting options.
- ½ yard of 45” wide fusible fleece; we used Pellon Thermolam Plus one-sided fusible fleece
- ONE 18” x 18” pillow insert
- ONE 1¼” - 1½” decorative shank button
- All-purpose thread to match fabric
- Heavy duty button thread to stitch the button in place; optional
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
- From the fabric, cut the following:
ONE 19” x 19” square for the back panel
ONE 19” x 16” rectangle for the front underlap
ONE 19” x 9” rectangle for the front overlap
TWO 19” x 2½” rectangles for the facing panels
ONE 6” x 1½” strip for the button loop
- From the fusible fleece, cut the following:
ONE 18” x 18” square for the back panel
ONE 18” x 15” rectangle for the front underlap
ONE 18” x 8” rectangle for the front overlap
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Create the button loop
- Find the 6” x 1½” strip. Fold the strip in half lengthwise and press to set a center crease.
- Unfold wrong side up so the crease line is visible, fold in both long sides to meet in the middle.
- Re-fold along the original crease line, enclosing the raw edges within the folds. Press again.
- Edgestitch along the folds to secure.
Add facings and position the loop
- Find the two 19” x 2½” facing panels.
- Place a facing panel right sides together with the inner 19” raw edge of each front panel (the inner edges that will overlap). If you are working with a directional print, make sure everything is running in the correct direction. Pin each facing panel in place.
- Along the opposite side of each facing panel, fold back the raw edge ½” and press well.
- Fold the button strip in a loop. Place the loop against the right side of the front overlap panel. The loop should be at the exact center of the raw edge of the panel. If you are working with a directional print, you should have already made sure it is the bottom edge. The raw edges of the loop should be flush with the raw edge of the fabric panel and the two ends should be about ¼” apart. Pin and/or machine baste in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch each facing in place. Press the seam allowance toward the facing. Grade the seam allowance if necessary for your fabric.
- Fold the facing into position – so the front panel and facing panel are now wrong sides together. Pull the button loop out into position.
- Press well, being careful to insure your seam line is precisely straight along the edge.
Taper the corners
- Place the back panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place the front underlap panel right side down on top of the back panel, aligning the side and bottom raw edges.
- Place the front overlap panel right side down on top of the underlap panel, aligning the side and top raw edges and adjusting until the overlapped front panels are an exact match to the back panel.
- Lightly pin the front and back layers together.
- Flip the panels so the back panel is now facing wrong side up. Make sure both layers are still flat and flush.
- Measure ½” in from each corner both horizontally and vertically and 6” in from each corner, also both horizontally and vertically. Mark with a fabric pen or pins at each of the four points.
- Draw a connecting diagonal line from each 6” mark to the corresponding ½” mark, then cut along this drawn line in each direction to create the tapered corner. You are cutting through both layers.
- Repeat these steps at each of the four corners.
NOTE: If you are new to this technique, take a look at our full step-by-step tutorial on how Tapered Corners Make Square Pillows. You can, of course, skip this step, choosing instead to leave your panels with square corners simply pivot at each corner.
- Un-pin the panels.
- Find the three pieces of fusible fleece.
- Center a square of fusible fleece on the wrong side of each fabric panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the fleece on all four sides.
- On the front panels, this means you will need open up the facing and align one edge of the fleece with the facing seam line.
- Very lightly press just to tack the fleece in place on each panel.
- At each outer corner of each fleece panel, trim the corner of the fleece to match the tapered corner of the fabric panel.
- Re-fold the facings back into position, and following manufacturer’s instructions, fully fuse the fleece in place on all three panels.
- On the underlap panel only, you can stitch the facing in place to make it a bit easier for it to lay flat as you insert and remove the pillow form.
- Do not stitch across the overlap panel; you want that edge to be clean and smooth for the best look from the front of the finished pillow.
Layer and stitch to finish
- Place the front and back panels right sides together, overlapping the front panels so the raw edges of the two layers are once again flush on all four sides. Pin in place all around.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around all four sides.
- Turn the cover right side out through the front overlap opening. Use a long, blunt tool, like a knitting needle or chopstick, to gently push out the corners. Press flat.
- Place a pin through the center of the button loop to mark the position of your button.
- Hand stitch the button in place. Don't pull down too hard on the overlap before stitching the button. Remember, it eventually has to close over your pillow form. If you're concerned about the fit, you can mark the position of the button, insert the pillow form, overlap so the pillow front is smooth, then double check the marked position for the button, adjusting as needed. remove the pillow form and hand stitch the button in place.
- Repeat to create as many additional pillows as needed for your pillow scape!
- Insert the pillow form through the front opening and fluff out into the corners. Button closed.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever