Lessons Learned From Making a Pillow

Making a pillow isn't hard, but you should read on to find out what not to do.

Lessons Learned From Making a Pillow

Hey friends!  Today I’m talking about how to make your own pillow cover.  It’s not hard.  You absolutely, positively can do it.  It doesn’t even take much time.  And, I’ve learned a few lessons that you could use to help you get your own pillow cover done.

However, first, I have a confession to make.  For six months I have struggled to figure out how to do this whole blog thing.  I am unsure of what I’m doing, but determined to keep at it.  In addition, finding my own voice while writing has been difficult as well.  Sometimes it just doesn’t feel like ‘Me’ when I read it.  Well, I might have hit on why.

I’ve been feeling like if I write a post, I should offer you something.   You know, a how-to kind of thing.  Otherwise, why would you care what I have to say?   Writing as if I am the “expert” and giving advice on how to do it.  Ha!  Well, I’ve always known I’m no expert, but if that’s the case, why am I offering a how-to do anything?  I think it would be more helpful, and real, to share the how not to do things side.  Believe me.  I have plenty of DIY struggles and fails.  Still, I keep at it because many times it’s the only way I am going to get what I want.  Anyway, let’s get to the pillow talk.

Let me give you a little background here.  I was never taught how to sew or use a sewing machine.  In fact, sewing would have been the last thing I wanted to learn.   Fast forward to life as a pregnant, hormonal woman who wanted some very expensive bedding for my baby’s nursery.  Mr. LouiseMarie wasted no time telling me that I had literally lost my mind if I thought he was going to pay that much for baby bedding.

Then, shazam!  I was at a fabric store and found the exact same fabric of said bedding. In a hormonal black out of sorts, I requested yards of the different fabrics so that I could make my own.  After all, how hard could rectangle and square shapes be?  On the way home, I came back to reality and realized that I had just bought over $200 of fabric to make bedding and did not know how to sew!  There was no way I was going to let Mr. LM know about that.

So, I taught myself. 🙂  And, did I mention this was before You Tube?  The bedding turned out beautiful (if I do say so myself) and that began my attempts to sew things for the home.  I began making pillows.  Then, after that I made my own duvet cover for our king sized bed, curtains, and window seat cushions.  This is not to brag.  I am telling you that if I could figure it all out, you can too.  The proper way to do things is not how I roll.  I do not know how to use a pattern.  Having to deal with the tension on the machine still makes me curse out loud.  Still, I can sew just about anything (as long as it’s a basic geometric shape).  I have zero idea how to sew clothes – nor do I care to know.

Now, let’s get back to the pillow.  You may remember that I shared the beginning of my master bedroom makeover here.  Well, it’s the summer and that means I have time to tackle some of those time-consuming projects ~ like sewing.  I wanted to add a pillow to my bed that would bring in a bold pop of color and a new pattern.  The perfect one was found online ~ I think it might have been through Etsy.  For the insert, I found an UGLY lumbar pillow on the clearance aisle at Home Goods of which I would only use the fluffy, feathery insert.  Now, I’m ready to go.

Making a pillow and the lessons I learned.

Nope, not ready.  I decided I wanted trim on this pillow.  Truth be told, I scoured stores to find some sort of tassel or pom-pom trim.  However, it was not to be.  I could not find the right color.  So, decided to go with a different trim.  I liked the bright pink.  However, using this trim on the pillow ended up being a bit of a nightmare.  Those little flowery petals did not want to stay put.  They kept insisting on going under my needle.  Argh!  LESSON ONE – use a trim that is easy to work with and will stay put once it is pinned.


Making a pillow and the lessons I learned.



This trim was no joke.

Okay, I got a little ahead of myself there.  Trust me, you want to learn to make pillow covers if you don’t know how to do it.  Purchasing pillows is expensive.  I mean even at Home Goods you can pay $30 – $60 for one pillow.  The prettier they are, the more you will pay.  However, with just a little time, you  can make your own.  #itsnothard  Here are the basic steps.

  1.  Measure your insert.  Mine was 14×24.  Add an inch to both measurements for a seam allowance.
  2.  Cut your fabric to that measurement.  Mine was 15 x 25   LESSON TWO – make sure that you cut the correct size for your pillow and that all sides are even and equal.  I had one side longer than another and thought I could just eyeball it.  Wrong.  That made it way harder.
  3.  Put the right sides together.  (That means the pretty sides that you want to show)Making a pillow and the lessons I learned.
  4.  Pin along the edges to hold everything in place.  LESSON THREE – pin everything.  It makes sewing it correctly the first time so much easier.  I tend to rush and don’t like spending time on these small details.  I ALWAYS end up paying for that in the form of ripped seams and do-overs.  Not to mention, it will save you a lot of aggravation.  Why can’t I learn this one?Making a pillow and the lessons I learned.
  5.  Sew a 1/2″ seam on 3 sides.  On the fourth side, you can sew some of the side, but you will need to leave room to turn the pillow right side out and stuff the insert into it.
  6.  Sew the remaining open space on the pillow – making sure that you battle the insert to stay out of your way while yow sew.

Easy enough, right?  This time, I decided to stretch myself and learn something new.  So, I decided to use a zipper rather than close the whole pillow.  That way  can switch out covers if I want to.  Although, I am so in love with this fabric, I don’t see that happening.

Now, let’s talk about that zipper.  I watched a You Tube video on how to sew a zipper.  It seemed easy enough.  I knew I was ready to tackle it.  Only guess what?  I had already spent time pinning my fabric together.  I didn’t realize that putting in a zipper happens first.  So, I had to unpin and start again.

LESSON FOUR – add a zipper first.  Don’t get ahead of yourself and start pinning fabric until you’ve added a zipper.

Making a pillow and the lessons I learned.

To add a zipper, you are basically sewing a seam with wide stitches.  Placing the teeth of the zipper onto that seam.  Sewing a rectangle round the edge of the zipper to attach it to the fabric,  Then, you tear out those initial ‘basting’ stitches.  Now, your zipper is holding the two fabrics together (right sides facing each other).  I thought it was all going well, but then realized that those d*@$# petals of my trim had squeezed under my needle.  So, I had to rip out one side, move the trim (damaging it in the process) out of the way, and re-sew.

Making a pillow and the lessons I learned.


LESSON FIVE – (this bears repeating) use trim that will stay in its place and is not easily damaged if and when you have to rip out a seam.

Making a pillow and the lessons I learned.

Once the zipper was in #hallelujah  I was ready to sew the other three sides.  What do you think happened?  I had to fight those flower petals over and over.  The thin strip of tulle did not really hold it securely in place.  Yes, I did pin it, but it was a struggle nonetheless.


With all the sides sewn, you trim the hanging pieces of thread, clip the corners diagonally to help them lay flat, and then turn the pillow right side out.  Voila!  A lovely pillow cover. 🙂  Insert your pillow and you are good to go.

Clearly, I am no expert.  I am sure if you sew, you could give me lots of pointers; however, the truth is I generally just want to get a project done.  For me, it’s not the journey.  It’s the end product.   At least on these types of projects.

The pillow as it turns out is flawed, just like me.  Still, even though it is not perfect, I love it.  It will work.  No one will be coming into my room to inspect my pillow seams up close.  And, I did it for just a few dollars.  In truth, there are many things that I love or want to have, but can’t or won’t spend the money to buy.  Instead, I often feel like I could do it myself for way cheaper.  So, I’ll give it a shot.  I hope maybe you will too.

Making a pillow and the lessons I learned.


I would love to hear about your DIY lessons.  So, leave me a comment below so I won’t feel so alone out here in the land of DIY struggles. 🙂  And, sign up for my email list here.  I’m working on a freebie coming soon for subscribers.


Until next time~

This post was shared on Lisa’s Creative Designs.



  1. Wow, I am impressed with your determination to learn and try new things! I am in love with this pillow! My mom sews so I always go to her with my ideas! I really need to learn how to do it myself one of these days! Thank you for sharing! Keep blogging, you are a great writer!

    1. Author

      AWW…that’s the sweetest compliment. Thank you so much. You absolutely should learn to make a pillow. So easy (no pun intended). You’ll save lots of $$$$ too. I was shopping today and saw a Magnolia (Chip & Jo) pillow and it was $109! Seriously. Who buys those do you think? Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

  2. LOVE that fabric! I need to do this for some of my pillows that need a new look!

    1. Author

      Thanks Lauren. I love that fabric too. As soon as I saw it, I knew I needed it. Plus the pink trim in a house full of boys doesn’t hurt matters either. 🙂

  3. I know it’s too late but I think you would have had less trouble with that particular trim if you had basted it in place first. After sewing all sides you could have left the baste stitch or pulled it out. Don’t hit me! … because I’m in love with your pillow. I’m a very neutral decor lovin girl but I also love me some bright floral splash surprises. That fabric is gorgeous!

    1. Author

      Hey thanks Cindy for the tip. But you know, I did baste it in at first, but it was still folding up under the fabric, so I only basted one side. However, as I said, I am no expert for sure. I think I will stick with more sturdy, less flimsy trim next time. Thanks for visiting.

  4. Brava! You persevered and learned a lot in the process! You will treasure this imperfect pillow because of all the lessons learned, and your next pillow project will go easier. Thanks for your honesty and good humor.
    Carol (“Mimi”) from Home with Mimi

  5. I think I have a secret sewing ability inside me but too anxious to use it! These are lovely tips though and a fab layout. Am stumbling it for you. #fortheloveofblog

    1. Author

      Thanks so much. I am not very familiar with Stumble Upon. I’m going to have to go check it out. I appreciate you sharing so much. Can’t wait to go see your blog as well.

  6. Wow very pretty fabric and choice of colors!! I think your pillow turned out great!! Learning to sew is definitely my next project! Thank you for sharing <3

  7. OH MY GOSH!! That fabric!! Your pillow looks great! Trim can be a pain in the tail. I think now I am going to need to go and check out your room makeover. Thanks for linking up on the Wednesday AIM Link Party #22 at GrammysGrid!!

    1. Author

      Thanks so much. Part 2 of the master makeover is coming soon. That pillow is just one part, so come back and check that out once I get it finished. 🙂 Thanks for visiting.

  8. What a lovely job you did and I love the floral pattern. So bright and colourful. Thanks for sharing with us at #BloggersPitStop. Have a great day!

  9. Your cushion is wonderful and I really enjoyed the story behind it. I love to sew home decor items that I design myself. Its fun to create your own items. I think the heart ribbing is perfect.

    1. Author

      Ha ha! Leanna, I didn’t know that’s what it is called. Clearly, you know WAY more than me. 🙂 Thanks for the kind words and for visiting.

  10. To say I am an amateur is giving me too much credit!!However I’ve all these lovely ideas and one was some kind of cushion or pilliow from all youngest girls old summer dresses through the years (last child syndrome OH THE MEMORIES I can’t possibly let them go) Maybe I can make a start with an easy project and work up to this!!! #fortheloveofBLOG

    1. Author

      Oh, I hope you do. What a great idea. You should definitely use the fabric from the dresses. I love that! A pillow is not hard at all. I’ve saved t-shirts from each of my boys with the intent to make each of them a quilt…..one day…

  11. With trim like the one you used, and I love, I would have taken painters tape, pushed all the flowers to one side and locked them into place. You would not lock the binding, just the petals. Painters tape comes off so easily and generally does not leave residue. Do that on both sides of the trim. Much easier!

    1. Author

      Oh my gosh! That is brilliant! I wish I had thought of that. I will remember to do that next time. Thanks for the tip.

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