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Stylish Baby Nursery: Super Simple Throw Pillows

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This is our favorite pillow pattern. Even though the style is the same, it looks different in each different fabric combination. It's so simple and uses such a tiny bit o' fabric, making a pile of pillows is a snap. The envelope back means it's easy to pop out the pillow form and wash the pillow cover, and we all know easy laundering is a MUST for any nursery item. Our sample was made for a baby girl's nursery, using the stunning Patty Young Andalucia collection. For information on where to buy, read Stylish Baby Nursery: Designing Bold Colors & Patterns. This article also includes suggestions for creating an alternate fabric palette that would work well for a boy's nursery.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • Fabric for pillow front panels: ½ yard of 45" wide fabric PER PILLOW: we used Patty Young's Andalucia in Petal Flora (pillow A) and Earth Mod Blooms (pillow B).
  • Fabric for pillow back panels: ½ yard of 45" wide fabric PER PILLOW : we used Patty Young's Andalucia in Petal Jester (pillow A) and Kiwi Jester (pillow B).
  • 12" x 12" pillow insert: ONE PER PILLOW
  • Lightweight paper for drawing pillow front and pillow back pattern pieces
  • All purpose thread
  • See-through ruler
  • Measuring tape
  • Fabric pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. Using your measuring tape, measure the length and width of the pillow you will be covering from finished seam to finished seam. For our samples, we made pillow coverings for two 12" x 12" square pillow inserts.
  2. Add a ½" seam allowance around the entire length and width of pillow. In our example, that would result in a 13" x 13" square. This 13" square represents the FRONT of the pillow. Draw the length and width of your pillow front panel, including the ½" seam allowance, onto a sheet of lightweight paper, and cut around the drawn line (13" x 13" in our sample). Label this pattern piece PILLOW FRONT.
  3. Pin PILLOW FRONT pattern piece to the fabric you are using for the front of your pillow, and cut out around pattern edges.
  4. Now that you have your pillow front, let's make the back pattern piece for that pillow. As you see below, the formulas to create your back pattern piece are simple:
    Height of cut piece = ½ finished pillow height + ½" (bottom edge seam allowance) +2" (extension amount) +2" (for double turn hem edge).
    Width of cut piece = full finished pillow width +1" (½" seam allowance on both sides).
    In our example, the formulas would look like this:
    Height of our cut piece = 6" + ½" + 2" +2" = 10½"
    Width of our cut piece= 12" + 1" = 13"
  5. Draw your back pattern piece onto a sheet of lightweight paper, and cut around the drawn line (10½" x 13" in our sample). Label it PILLOW BACK.
  6. Pin PILLOW BACK pattern piece to the fabric you are using for the back of your pillow, and cut out around pattern edges. Remember, you need TWO back pieces. If you are using a directional print for your pillow (like flowers growing up or stripes), and using the same fabric for both front and back, make sure to cut the two back panels in the same direction you cut the front panel. Also for directionals, make sure your print is straight – either up and down or side to side.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Take one of your pillow back pieces, and turn under the right side of the fabric ½” along the entire width of the piece (the 13” side in our sample). Press
  2. Fold under an additional 1½” and press.
  3. Edgestitch along the folded edge to make a clean double turn hem.
  4. Repeat Steps 1-3 with the other back piece.
  5. Take both pieces and overlap the hems to yield the correct finished height (13” in our sample). Pin hems together.
  6. Working as close to the edge as possible, stitch the sides of hems together to secure and create one piece. It's easier to work with one piece to stitch front to back.

Finishing your pillow

  1. Place your newly completed pillow back piece and your pillow front piece right sides together, matching raw edges all around, and stitch a ½" seam around all four edges of the pillow, making sure to back-tack three to four stitches at each corner to reinforce the seam.
  2. Trim all four corners of the pillow.
  3. Using the envelope opening on the back, turn the pillow covering right side out. Push out the trimmed corners from the inside to make nice, square corners on the outside. Use your finger or a blunt-edge tool, like a large knitting needle.
  4. Insert the pillow form through the envelope closure and fluff out the corners of the pillow covering evenly.

Hints and Tips

Your pillow may not be a perfect square; that's okay, just measure length and width accordingly and follow the same directions. The envelope opening on the back of the finished pillow should be at the center of the longest side of your pillow. For our example, our pillow is 12” square, so the envelope opening would be at 6” along the height of the pillow. If your pillow is more of a rectangle shape, you should make the opening at the middle of the longer side, which means you should look at it standing on end in the diagrams above: width being the shorter side and height being the longer side.

You can buy pillow inserts to create a brand new pillow, or you can recover a pillow you already have. Take a look at our article on pillow possibilities: Understanding Pillow Inserts.

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Heather Tucker



Comments (2)

Athena said:
Athena's picture

I used 54" medium weight upholstery fabric (because I wanted to use the same line of fabric that I am using yo make curtains for my nursery) and I was able to get a 14" pillow out of each half yard with plenty left over. Easy, simple, vert fast pillow, especially if you use a rotary cutter instead of making pattern pieces. 

Cheryl Warner said:
Cheryl Warner's picture

The instructions for the pillow was very easy to follow. Thank You.