Envelope Pillow Cover

Pillow Makeover

Here’s a little pillow makeover I did recently. It’s a very simple sewing project for people like me, who have well, “modest” sewing skills. I basically just made a new pillow cover to slip on over an old pillow using the envelope pillow cover technique. An envelope pillowcase is just one big rectangle of fabric that folds over on itself (like an envelope) with an open slit in the back. This way you can remove it to wash or change it whenever you want. Nothing fancy.

Here’s the fabric I chose, an inexpensive cotton from Joann Fabric & Craft Stores.

Pillow Makeover

Here’s a very sad before pillow and the slightly more pert looking after:

Pillow Makeover

You can find tutorials for making a cover like this by searching online, but here is what I did (and its only a guideline):

First, prewash your fabric (if it is machine washable) to ensure it won’t shrink afterwards if you want to wash it later. If you are using upholstery fabric or ‘decorator’ fabric, you may not be able to wash it. Press your fabric if needed.

How much fabric you’ll need

  • Measure your pillow or pillow insert. Mine was 18″ square.
  • Add 1″ more to the height (that’s 1/2″ on top and 1/2″ bottom)
  • Double the width of your pillow (a front and a back) and add about 6″ (thats a bit extra for the overlapping part in the back + hemming)

So if you have an 18″ pillow, your fabric would need to measure: 19″ x 42″ (18+1 height) and (18×2+6 length)

Now, the rest…

Cut a rectangle of fabric to size. Make sure if you are using a patterned fabric, that the pattern will be flowing the way you want it when you cut.

Draw your dimensions out on the back of your fabric with a ruler and disappearing ink fabric pen and cut it out. You should have something like this:


Hem the left and right edges so they won’t fray. (fold in 1/4″, iron it flat, fold in 1/4″ again and iron and then hem. Note: The wider you make your hem here, the less extra fabric for your ‘overlap’, so keep that in mind.

After you hem the left and right sides, lay your fabric down flat and INSIDE OUT (you should be looking at the wrong side), and fold the left and right sides over to create a square and overlap them slightly in the center (see above). Here’s the part where I measure again to make sure the square I’m about to sew will fit around that pillow.

Pin the folded fabric together, and now you can sew the top and bottom seams across—just two straight lines—about 1/2″ from the edges.

Turn it right side out and you should have an 18″ (or whatever size you’re using) square with an overlapping slit in the center of the back to stuff your insert into. (The slit could run horizontally too, but because of the nature of my pattern, mine is vertical).

Here’s the back of mine… not sure I have a 6″ overlap but it’s enough.

Pillow Makeover

I don’t know if this is the most fool-proof way of making one of these covers, but it has worked well for me (as long as I measure twice and cut once). Best wishes if you make one!

Psst…if you like this project, please consider sharing it with others!

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