Sewing A Pillow Cover

Karen and JayMy mother-in-law, Karen, lives three doors up the road from us. This comes in very handy when you are getting your only bathroom remodeled and, unlike the guys, you can’t just go into the shed to relieve yourself.

This also allows her to stop by for her Tuesday and Friday evening visits. Typically we sit in the front living room, chatting about whatever is going on, and sipping on some wine. Well, this past week was her birthday and I didn’t know what to get her. But then, I had a bit of inspiration…



Formal Living Room CouchApparently I need to take some updated pictures of my living room! Anyway, because Karen is shorter she likes to have a pillow behind her back so that she can comfortably sit on the couch. Up to this point she’d been using a smaller sofa pillow and one of the afghans wrapped around it to give it enough substance. What ends up happening is she fights with this arrangement every time to get it just right.


Karen's Pillow - OriginalI decided that I would buy her a stouter/bigger pillow to sit against. However, I worried that it was a pathetic gift. “Here’s a pillow for you! But you have to leave it here.” Also, it wasn’t a very personal gift, either.

That’s when I decided that I would make a pillow cover for it.


Karen's Pillow - Shell RemovedMind you, I’ve never sewn a pillow cover in my life. How hard could it be? It’s just a poofy square, right? I had never sewn a zipper in before, either, and that turned out okay.

I made sure to get a pillow with a removable cover so that I could use it as my template as I knew it would already fit.



Karen's Pillow - MaterialsThen I ran over to Hobby Lobby to look for material. I found this corduroy that would go great with the slipcovers that I use on the couch. I also grabbed a zipper while I was there. Would you like to understand how I operate, though? I hadn’t measured the pillow so I didn’t really know how much of anything that I would need. I knew that I would be safe if I bought a yard of fabric, but I really had to sit and puzzle over the zippers. From memory I was thinking that I would want one about 18″ long. I measured this by holding up my hands to the width of the pillow (pulled from my memory and probably not at all accurate) and determined that around 18″ would be good. The only lengths of invisible zippers that they had were 12″ or 22″. I had never shortened a zipper before, although I had read about it and seen it done on one of my Craftsy classes. This project was going to be filled with a bunch of ‘firsts’ for me!

Karen's Pillow - Original Cover EdgeWhen I took the blue cover off and turned it inside out I have to admit that I was underwhelmed with the quality of construction. To be fair, I’m sure that the six-year-old in China was paid by the piece and so the quicker he could get it sewn together the more money he could make that day. It looks like they sewed the pieces together and then serged the edges together around the entire thing. When doing this they were not at all worried about doing it straight. As I was trying to measure this to see how big I needed to cut my pieces I was irritated by the unevenness of the edges. They also left all of the serger tails in place. I managed to get a rough measurement despite the waviness.

Karen's Pillow - Chester and BobWith the help of my two supervisors I managed to cut the corduroy into two fairly square pieces of fabric. Considering I’m not a quilter and don’t really need that skill very often, I was happy with my results.





Karen's Pillow - Cut Lace PieceI was originally going to tack a frilly doily on the front, but didn’t have any in my stash. So I decided to go with a panel of lace that my mom had given me. I wanted to add some decoration to it so that it would be just a plain pillow. I also had thoughts of adding lace around the outside, but forgot to incorporate that part of it when I was sewing the zipper. So I left it out.


Karen's Pillow - Shortening ZipperI did some measuring of the fabric and determined what length I wanted my zipper. I then read the instructions on the zipper package for shortening it. I think that it turned out okay. As you can see, Chester approved.




Karen's Pillow - Sew Zipper to First SideThe next step was to sew the zipper to one of the pieces. This took me a few minutes to lay out because I had to picture the construction in my head (which I’m not good at) and determine the steps that I would actually need to do to get it there.



Karen's Pillow - Press Seam FlatSuccess! I had done such a good job that Chester didn’t even have to wake up to check out my work.





Karen's Pillow - Zipper Sewn to Both SidesThe next part was even trickier for me to work through. I needed to figure out how to pin the zipper to the other side of the fabric. I needed to do this in such a way that the lace would be on the outside and nicely edged. It doesn’t sound complicated, but I had some difficulty with it. I finally managed to get it done, though. Phew! Not bad for never having sewn an invisible zipper, eh?


Karen's Pillow - Pin Sides TogetherThe easy part was next. Pinning the two sides together so that I could sew around the outside.





Karen's Pillow - Open Zipper before SewingIMPORTANT! Don’t forget to open the zipper so that once you have sewn the sides together you can then turn it inside out!





Karen's Pillow - Trim CornersBefore turning it right-side-out, though, I always clip my corners. It helps to keep the bulk down and makes it lay a little flatter.





Karen's Pillow - New and Old CoversTA-DA!!! A pretty pillow cover!

Okay, so yes I used a navy blue zipper on this instead of a red one. Hobby Lobby didn’t have a red one and I hadn’t come up with the idea soon enough to be able to get one somewhere else. Also, it’s just a pillow. If somebody comes over and judges me for having a navy blue zipper on my red pillow cover then they have issues that I’m not prepared to deal with. Besides, it’s patriotic! And it goes with the Civil War-themed lap quilt that is often covered by the afghan on the back of the couch to keep it cat-hair free.

Karen's Pillow - DoneI think that I’m happy I forgot to add the lace around the edge. That would have been too much. I like the simple prettiness that this has without it.

What do you think? Not too bad for my first pillow cover, eh?



Karen's Pillow - BackEven the back looks nice. I didn’t spend a lot of time trying to make sure that the pillow squished into all of the corners because I figured that would happen naturally with use.




Karen's Pillow - Invisible ZipperOkay, so my invisible zipper isn’t quite invisible. Honestly? I don’t really care. I’m not going to be parading the pillow down a catwalk in a fashion show so I think that it will be okay.

I did a pretty darn good job without even reading a tutorial, don’t you think? Maybe I inherited more of my mom’s sewing abilities than I had originally thought.

Dresses for Missions - New Fabric 2-15-16After all of that hard work I don’t feel as bad about buying MORE fabric for Dresses for Missions… even though I haven’t touched any of the fabric that I bought last summer.



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