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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Decorator Pillow Tutorial

When I showed the pillows I just made for the Living Room, I was surprised at how many emails and comments I got asking questions about "how to". I thought I would do a basic tutorial from start to finish on how to make a decorator pillow.

I am going to use a 12 x 16 pillow form for this pillow.

Next I decided on this fabric. I cut two pieces 13 1/2 x 17 1/2. This allows for a 3/4" seam allowance all the way around.

I want to give the pillow a little bit of a custom touch and I have a few scraps of trims left over from previous projects.

I decided on this combination. Be sure to set the pillow upright and take a look. You would be surprised at how differently a trim can look when you are looking down on it and when it is sitting up where it will eventually go. I also am going to use a self fabric cording around the pillow.

Since I had such a small scrap of trim, this dictated what I could do with it. Pin it down.

Next, take it to the machine and sew it in place.

Since I decided to use a second piece of trim on top. Just lay it down and sew it in place.

Trim is complete.

Next, I am making the cording. Cut a strip of fabric long enough to go around the entire pillow. If need be, piece two pieces together. Next using the zipper foot on your machine, place the cording in the center of the strip and sew close to the cording.

Cording is all done.

Place the cording down on the right side of the pillow. Starting at what will be the bottom of the pillow, leave one section of cording open so you can join the two sections later.

Using the zipper foot sew close to the cording and sew the cording down to the pillow top. When you come to a corner, clip the cording selvage in several places to help it easily turn the corner. Continue stitching all the way around the pillow.

Next, fold back your open end of the cording fabric and cut the joining end off so that it butts up next to the white cording smoothly. Fold the end edge of the open fabric under and place the joining cording inside the fold to create a smooth joint and hiding the cut end. One end is hidden inside the fabric of the top piece. (Hope that makes sense.) Stitch down, staying really close to the cording.

Look close and you can see the folded over section on the left, about in the middle. This is a nice and neat section and almost invisible where you joined the cording.

Now the cording is sewn on all the way around the pillow and the top is complete. Notice again on the bottom center of the pillow how neat the area is where the cording was joined.

Take the back side of the pillow and place the two pieces of fabric right sides together and pin all 4 corners. Since we are not going to use a zipper, start sewing the two sections together on the bottom about 2 inches before the corner. Using the zipper foot make sure to stay really close to the cording. Continue all the way around the pillow, again stopping about 2 inches past the bottom opposite corner. This creates an opening to insert the pillow form.

Clip all the corners to remove excess fabric.

Turn the pillow inside out and now you can see the finished pillow. Make sure to flatten your cording all the way around.Now you can see the opening you've created on the bottom. Insert your pillow form and adjust it to fill all the corners and make sure it is evenly placed in the your pillow cover.

Now we are going to turn the back side of the pillow fabric under and blind stitch it to the front being sure to stitch next to the cording. This method gives you a completely finished pillow that will look nice from all sides. ( This also shows a great picture of where we joined the cording. You can barely tell how they were joined.)

See how pretty it looks when it is blind stitched. You can't see the stitching at all.

Now here it is all done. Looks very professional and from start to finish took about 20 minutes to sew.

By using the blind stitching method to close a pillow cover, you can creat reversible pillows that allow you to get two looks out of the same pillow. They look fabulous from either side.

I hope this helped those that are wanting to create some new pillows for your home and I hope it shows you that they really are very easy to do. There are tons of shortcuts that I normally use, however, I wanted to take you step by step to show you all the basics. As you begin to make all of your new pillows, you will learn a few shortcuts on your own. If you missed my new Living Room look with all my new pillows, check out my previous post. I can't wait to see all the new pillows you make.


  1. Thank you !! Cording always scares me but once I get sewing it's never as bad as I imagine : )

  2. Thank you for this great tutorial on how to make pillows! Your directions and pictures are great!


  3. Marty, what a great tutorial! I may even get brave enough to make some pillow sometime! I could understand your directions, maybe you could give McCall's a few pointers! They are not always so clear to me!


  4. Marty, these directions are great! Sewing still frightens me though. i also don't think I have the "eye" to put together trims and fabrics the way you do. You could sell your pillows for big bucks (to people like me who are afraid of sewing!) laurie

  5. Great tutorial Marty.... I only figured out that handy-dandy cord end method a few years sure makes everything look nicer, doesn't it? I saw a gal, doing slipcovers, who just left the raw fabric on top. She said you'd never see it! WHAT? Hmmmm....not too hot on that method.

    Your pillows turned out beautifully. I'm always amazed at how a few simple changes can really change a room.

    Huggies to you,

  6. How nice of you to give us a tutorial! You make it look easy. I will have to try cording. :)


  7. Marty, you did a fabulous, professional job. The room looks wonderful!
    xoxo Pattie

  8. Hi Marty,
    Great tutorial! I can't believe how patient you are to go though all of that. I have a Marty pillow plug on my blog post today.
    Laurie's right! You could see those for big bucks!
    Hugs, Cindy

  9. I have never attempted the cording, so thanks for showing me how, Marty!

  10. Great tutorial Marty! You do make it looks so easy! I have a few pillows I really need to get done, but...LOL! I have done cording and it's kinda fun but sometimes tricky for me. My biggest problem is closing the pillow with the stuffing in it. Any tips for getting it under the machine easily?

  11. Hi Marty, Thank you for sharing your great tutorial on pillow making. You make it seem so easy to do, I'm going to have to give it a try! I’m happy you stopped by for a visit and enjoyed my Tabletop Tuesday ~ Mantel Vignette. I love how a few simple changes can make a big impact. I enjoy thinking up new ways to use things I already have in my home to give a different look to a room!

  12. Marty thanks for sharing! I have always been afraid to try sewing with cording, you make it look so easy I just may have to try! Sue

  13. Marty, I love seeing an expert at work and you are certainly one. And you are so kind to take the time to share your expertise with all of us.
    I don't really sew anymore and watching your create magic in your home is such a great experience for me.
    Love and hugs,

  14. P.S. Elegant is the work for this room...simply ELEGANT! Those colors will take you right on into favorite time of year.


  15. You did a great job with the tutorial...of course I don't sew a stitch, but I really love your pillows!

  16. You did such a good job on your pillows! Thank you for sharing these directions.

  17. Your pillows are lovely--and I appreciate the tutorial since I'd love to do something like that in the future.

    I loved seeing your living room reveal as well--you have such an eye for decorating!


  18. marty, great choice on fabrics and trims love all your pillows.

  19. Great job! This sounds easy enough that even I could do it! And they look wonderful Marty!
    I'm still loving my pin cushion . . . :) you should see what I did with it - OH WAIT! You will when you get here in August! YAY!
    :) Hugs! Karen

  20. gorgeous fabrics, Marty. what a great tutorial. I'm always wanting to freshen my pillows.

  21. Hi again, Marty! You should go into a business of selling pillows. You are so good, maybe start an Etsy shop. Come by when you have a chance to see where I store all my dishes.....Christine

  22. Marty: I'm so glad I "visited" this morning. I've been looking for porch pillows--florals--and haven't had any luck. I'm inspired (and now knowledgeable) to make some. I already have some forms. Now I just need fabric.



  23. are soo kind to show everyone this amazing tutorial. Your pillows are fabulous and such a reflection of your great eye for color and design.

    You bless all who visit with your willing to share...and share some more.

    Love to you~Rebecca

  24. Great timing on this, as I've been wanting to sew some pillow covers!! I feel like I can do it now...wish me luck (smile). Thanks a bunch! -susan

  25. You make it look so easy Marty! My solution when I want a custom pillow-call my talented sister and beg!

  26. Those look so great. Thanks for the tutorial. I am dying to try some of my own, now I feel confident. Thanks!

  27. Your instuctions were wonderful Marty. I love your new pillows. Don't you love being able to use up small pieces of trim for these types of projects? You've given me the fever to get the machine out and revamp some pillows around here..
    hugs ~lynne~

  28. did a wonderful job on the pillows, looks like a lot of work but the out come I am sure is worth the work. Your colors go so well with the sofa...Your home is so pretty and very inviting

  29. I adore your pillows! They turned out beautifully and I am soooo jealous of your sewing skills!

    The whole room is just gorgeous dressed in all of it's new color!



  30. Wonderful my Dear friend...thanks for the show-n-tell...May you have a GREAT weekend...hugs and smiles Gl♥ria

  31. Hi Marty, your tutorial is very good, like your cushions, I am in love of cushions, and yours are simple and beautiful...

    Its my blog and you can find some cushions there too... After day or two I post some more too, hope you enjoy there....Love

  32. What a great tutorial Marty. Your pillows are gorgeous, and they look so professional. I love the reversible idea, that yellow check is so pretty against the floral. I just love the new look in your living room, it's so happy and bright! Hugs, Kat

  33. Beautiful pillows & beautifully explained, Marty! I just made a machine embroidered monogrammed one for my DD out of lime green Sunbrella fabric for her porch bench. (like mine)

    It was NOT easy fabric to work with. Can't iron it well at all & it is very stiff.
    My piping join didn't look anywhere near as nice as yours did.

    Good job!

  34. Great tutorial! You make it look so easy! Twenty minutes?? Wow! I haven't made pillows is a real long time, I don't think I ever did any with the cording like that (always thought it was too hard!) They are all very pretty!

    Thanks for sharing!


  35. Great tutorial! Thanks so much! Pinning!

    Jenna @ Rain on a Tin Roof