DIY Pillow Cover

I am the type of person who enjoys the flexibility of changing up my decor to fit my style as it grows. Changing for holidays and special events is always nice too. Lately the pillow situation on our couch has been a bit drab. I originally had these old, gross pillows with ugly fabric that was unpleasant on the skin. But, they were what I had at the time and I made them work. That was, until one day I got so fed up with them I ripped open the seams, pulled the stuffing out and used it in different pillow cases.

The first pieces I used were manufactured. They were from an embroidery kit I purchased  and fit the size of the pillows perfectly. Looking at their design I decided that I could easily make my own pillow covers using just a bit of fabric, a sewing machine and some stencils to personalize them. I’m afraid this whole endeavor has made me a bit of a pillow fanatic. Soon the couch might be over run.

1. Stencil-I ended up using a different stencil than pictures, but more on that later
2. Stencil brush or sponge-I prefer the sponge
3. Cutting Mat
4. Paint-I used regular acrylic but you can buy fabric paint
5. Fabric-I used two different patterns
6. Rotary blade-you could substitute an exacto-blade if you are feeling confident
7. Ruler-I used a series of rulers used in quilting projects.
8. Stuffing or a Poly-fil Pillow-I used this since I didn’t have any pillow stuffing handy

Step One: Measure your pillow dimensions. If your stuffing is loose you can make the pillow any size you wish. For the purposes of this demo I used a 16in x 16in Poly-fil pillow form. I cut three pieces: One 16 x 16in front piece, one 16 x 8in back piece, and one 16 x 11in piece for the back as well. The two back pieces will be where you insert your pillow, so you want to make sure your pieces have a nice overlap.  (note: for better, more precise cuts make sure you iron your fabric as flat as possible before cutting)

Step Two: Before I sew anything together I want to do my embellishment stenciling on the front piece. Doing this step first will give the front time to dry while you work on the other pieces. Position the stencil where you want it to go on the fabric and then tape down. I used painters tape so as to not damage the fibers of the cloth as much as possible when I removed it. Make sure you have something you don’t mind getting messy underneath your fabric as the paint will seep through.

Step Three: Using the sponge or stencil brush, dab over the stencil with paint, making sure to press in so that all nooks and crannies get paint. This will help your stencil look fuller. You can do as many coats/colors as you want. The sky’s the limit!

Note of Importance: The mishap that caused me to not only change my stencil but the front section of fabric as well involved using a wet stencil brush. Do not wet your brush or the fabric will wick up the paint and you will lose definition in your image.

Step Four: You do not need to wait for the paint to dry entirely before you remove your stencil. Just be careful when you do so you do not get paint anywhere you don’t want it. I also gently pulled the fabric away from the poster board I was painting on so that it didn’t stick badly when the paint dried. Set this piece aside to dry while you work on the back pieces.

Step Five: Fold down the long side (16in) on both back pieces and iron to form a crease. I folded just a little more than a quarter inch.

Step Six: Sew fold down at a quarter inch. Do this for both pieces. Make sure you are sewing along the long edge (16in in my case)

Step Seven: Once the paint on your front pieces has dried completely (and I mean completely, because in this next step if the paint is not completely dry you will get it all over the back pieces) position your front and back pieces so the rights sides (the sides you want showing) are facing each other. Pin. Sew together with a 1/4 inch seam.

Detail: Make sure that the seams you sewed earlier are in the center, overlapping each other. This is where you will insert your pillow. The folded seams add strength to prevent wear and tear with use. I usually position it so that when the pillow case is right side out the longer piece lays over the shorter.

Step Eight: With sewing complete you are ready to turn your pillow rightside out! I used my fingers to press the corners out to a nice point.

Step Nine: Iron your seams flat. This gives the case a nice finished look. Once ironed you can insert the pillow (or stuffing) in between the folds of the backing. The overlap keeps the pillow inside from showing.

Ta-da!! This is a great way to get a specific look without spending a ton of money on designer pillows.



  1. Kat says:

    Super cute!

  2. Jessica says:

    What a GREAT idea! I never thought to re-do pillows nor to paint on the fabric using stencil. I’m not that great with sewing, however I find this post inspiring 🙂 Great Job!

  3. Michelle says:

    I may need a music note with stencil pattern too!! 😉 I loooooove that pillow!

    Awesome idea! 🙂 The more pillows the better, after all (I love pillows)!

  4. Joy says:

    Love everything about these pillows- beautiful! 🙂