Two sisters, two coasts, one blog

Throw Pillow Cover Tutorial


Happy Sunday dear readers! It’s been awhile since I’ve done a tutorial, and I thought with Christmas coming up it might be a good time to walk you through making a simple throw pillow cover with a zipper closure:

Step 1:


Choose your fabric, one that is medium to medium-heavy weight (about the weight of your jeans, or a skirt rather than say, quilt weight. It will look & wear better).

I prefer natural fabrics, like cotton, hemp, linen or blends of these, and I always pre-wash it to remove any finishes and get any shrinking that might occur out of the way.

If you are a beginner avoid shiny or slinky fabrics, or prints that will need to be matched up.

You will also need thread to match the fabric and a standard nylon coil (sometimes called “all-purpose”) , non separating zipper. The length will depend on the size of your pillow (see below). You want a that is about an inch shorter than the finished measurement of the bottom side of the pillow.

Step 2:

Decide on the size of your pillow and add a seam allowance. For my example piece I wanted a finished pillow size of 18″x18″, plus a .5″ seam allowance. So I drew two (one front and one back) 19″x19″ squares on my fabric.

Make sure that your squares are actually square! I find an L shaped ruler helpful for this.

After you cut out your pieces, check that the front and the back line up nicely. It’s easier to make corrections at this stage then when have already partly constructed the pillow.

Also, I drew on the right side of the fabric for clarity in the picture, but it’s best practice to draw on the wrong side of the fabric.

My favorite marking tool is an artists chalk pencil. It makes a nice precise line, and doesn’t rub off as quickly as tailors chalk.

Step 3:

Decide which side of your front and back squares will be the bottom of the pillow. This is where you are going to put your zipper, so it’s not visible when you have it tossed casually yet beautifully on your couch.

Finish the edges of the bottom edges. I have a serger, but if you don’t have one, you may have an overlock style stitch on your machine, or you can use a tight zig zag stitch.

Step 4:

Installing your zipper. Fear not, zippers can be your friend, with just a little practice!

Pop your zipper foot on your machine. You can do this with a regular foot, but the zipper foot makes it easier.

Put your front and back pieces together, right side to right side, finished edge to finished edge. Stitch a line at least 1″ long at the top and the bottom. My zipper was only 16″ , so my line of stitching was more like 1.5″ long.

Working on the wrong side, lay your zipper, face down onto the right side of the seam, and run a line of stitching along the edge. You’ll probably have to stop, lift up the foot and move the head of the zipper out of the way as you move past it.

Then do the same on the other side.

Now flip it over to the right side. Make sure the zipper is closed. Run a line of top-stitching down each side, gently lining the fold of the fabric up with the center of the zipper coil with your fingers.

When you are done top-stitching, make sure that your zipper is all the way open. It’s really hard to flip your pillow right side out after you sew up all the seams if the zipper is closed because the pull will be on the inside of the pillow.

Step 5:

And that’s exactly what you’re going to do next, sew up the sides.

Your front and back pieces are now joined by the zipper. Fold with right sides to right sides, and the zipper at the top. Stitch a .5″ seam around the remaining three sides.

Finish the edges the same way you did in Step 3.

Step 6:

All you have to do now is turn the pillow case right side out. To achieve a nice corner, you can use a small pair of scissors, a bone folder, or other pointy object to help push the fabric out.

And you are done!

If anyone is interested in a PDF version of these instructions, I can add one later. ‘Til then, happy sewing!

8 Responses to “Throw Pillow Cover Tutorial”

  1. nerponline

    Your artificial light photos turned out well! I almost feel that I could make this pillow myself, although I’m not certain what it’s filled with. Is it a muslin covered “blank” such as I’ve seen in fabric stores?

    • oami powers

      Thanks! They are usually called pillow forms, and are available from fabrics stores, Ikea, Bed, Bath & Beyond etc. You can get ones that have poly fill, or down, or feathers.

  2. ursula

    your pillows are always the best. you totally inspired me to make some for our new house. i think we actually have too many ginormous throw pillows now. it looks like i dream of jeanie in our living room. i like the ones you made w/the button closure too, those were really cool.

  3. frances Newcross

    that looks great. thanx. like your fabric, of course.

  4. Anne-Marie

    Oh man, I am a terrible sewer. I find this inspiring, but I’d totally mess it up. I wish I could sew better! The placemats I made my daughter are….charming. πŸ™‚


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