how to sew: a pillow with piping



Throw pillows can get really expensive, especially considering they are just fabric and stuffing. I don’t even bother trying to buy them anymore, I just make them. I needed new pillows for our chairs on the deck. I used outdoor fabric and an outdoor pillow form. Although I can technically leave them outside, I have been bringing them if it looks like rain. The simplest pillow is just a square, but an easy way to make it look more expensive is to add piping. I mostly buy my piping, but if you are feeling ambitious you can make your own. These directions are based off of 0.5 inch wide piping, with a .25 inch seam allowance. Please adjust the directions if you piping is a different width. If you just want directions to sew a pillow without piping, just skip the directions for inserting piping.

To make a pillow, you need fabric, a pillow form, and piping. Not pictured are thread, pins, a sewing needle, scissors, sewing machine. I like to cut my fabric with a rotary cutter, but you can trace a square onto your fabric if you don’t have one.



Start by cutting out your fabric. You need two panels (one for each side of the pillow). To make your pillow look full, cut your fabric the exact size of your pillow form. For example, my pillow is 16″  by 16″ so I am cutting a 16″ by 16″ square of fabric. Try your best to align your pattern so it doesn’t look wonky when put together.



Once you have both sides cut out, grab your scissors, piping, and pins.


Start pinning your piping to your fabric, raw side out. I like to start the piping about halfway down one side so that it doesn’t overlap on a corner.



When you get to a corner, make a small cut 1/4″ from the end of the fabric. This will help you bend the piping around the corner.


Gently maneuver the piping so it creates a nice corner. Continue pinning around the rest of the pillow.



Continue pinning until you get back to where you started. Maneuver the piping so they overlap slightly, with the ends facing outwards. Pin well. Cut any excess piping. I usually leave about an inch on each end, you will be able to trim them later.



Sew the piping to your fabric, sewing as close as you can to the stitch line. I find that using a foot that allows you to get closer to one edge makes it much easier to stay straight, but it should be soft enough that you can use a regular foot. Just go slowly. I also sew 4 straight sides instead of turning for the corners. I find that it makes a crisper corner.



Next, grab your second panel and place it so that the right sides are together. Again watch your pattern so they are aligned the correct way.



Pin all the way around. You are going to leave a hole in the middle that is the length of the side minus 6 inches. Even though it is tedious to hand sew, do not make your hole smaller than this. You won’t be able to insert your pillow form and could possibly rip your stitches. To make sure that I don’t sew beyond, I mark in 3″ on each side with a second pin.


Sew together following this pattern. Sew on top of the previous stitches that held the piping in place. Make sure to back stitch a bit to secure where you will be turning the fabric.


Turn your pillow covering and check for sloppy edges. I find that I have the most trouble with the corners. Go back and sew closer to the edge. Here is an example of a sloppy corner.


And here is a well sewn corner:

012-neat corner


Once you have checked all of your edges, stuff your pillow form inside of the casing.




Pin the hole closed. Make sure the same amount as your seam allowance is tucked under, and your edge is straight.


Hand sew it closed. Because of the piping you can’t do a whip stitch. I did a modified whip/back stitch.



Yay, you now have a pillow!


Or in my case, two!




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