I thought about calling this the Ten Minute Pillow Cover, but realized it might take some a full fifteen minutes, or the pros just five. I sew a lot of pillow covers because when I spy a pretty piece of fabric and this can happen anywhere at anytime (a scarf, a curtain, or regular ol’ fabric I see at a store) my first instinct is “ooooh this would make a really fab pillow!”. Great fabrics for decorative pillows are everywhere if you keep your eyes open.
I also sew a few pillow covers each time I feature a new fabric, so even though a basic pillow cover tutorial is so 2012 I don’t care because this is the method I’ve adopted and I use time and again to sew the easiest pillow cover ever in the history of the world and today I’m sharing it with you.
In the past I would cut three separate pieces of fabric to make envelope pillow covers but then realized ‘duh’ you really only need one long piece to sew an envelope pillow cover. And even though zippered pillow covers aren’t that hard either, I like this method for speed because with a single 44” x 22” piece of fabric, I can stitch up a cover for a standard size 20” pillow insert in about ten minutes. Or at least that’s how long it takes me now that I’ve mastered the technique.
Away we go! Here’s what you need for a 20” envelope pillow cover: a piece of 44” x 22” fabric, a few ball head pins, scissors, a 20” pillow insert, and a trusty sewing machine. Can you sew a straight line? Well then, you can make a pillow cover. (Come to think of it, you could probably replicate with fusible web and skip the sewing.)
I have no fancy sewing table, all of this happens on my dining room table cause that’s how I roll. First (obvs) cut your fabric to the proper size. If you’re working with standard 44” inch wide cotton, cut it so that you have a piece that measures 44″ x 22” in height. (If your fabric is wider than 44″ that’s fine too, it gives you more overlap on the back side.)
At a minimum, the A side is 22” the B width is 44”. The edges of the A side of fabric are the selvedge edge so you’ll want to hem them first.
I just roll the edge underneath then sew straight down, repeat for both sides.
Once you’ve hemmed those selvedge edges, turn the fabric upside down so you’re looking at the back and overlap the sides to form the envelope (the pattern should be on the inside), it looks like this diagram below. The A side now has hemmed edges, the B width is the 44″ minus 3/4 inch on each sides where you hemmed. If your pattern allows you to match the repeat you score bonus points.
Lay the pillow insert on top to eyeball the width, then use the ball head pins to secure the fabric together and also to mark where you’ll sew that straight line to form the top and bottom seam.
Follow the pins with your sewing machine to sew across the top and bottom of the cover to form the seams of your pillow cover.
Once those two straight seams are complete on the top and bottom of your pillow cover trim any excess fabric and turn it right side out.
Insert your pillow inside the envelope and you’re done!
The nice thing about this method is you end up with an uninterrupted pattern that wraps around the pillow. There are no side seams so there’s no break in the print repeat and it always looks great from the side!
That’s it friends, my method for the simplest, easiest way to sew a pillow cover ever!