how to sew: envelope-backed pillows



When we moved, I returned the vintage desk and chair that I had borrowed from my parents when I first got married. I’ve since replaced my desk, but haven’t been able to find a chair that I like. Currently I am using one of our dining room chairs. It works for now but needs some lumbar support. I decided to make a pillow to help with the support. Because I’m not sure what my final chair is going to look like, I wanted to make the cover of the pillow removable. Envelope-backed pillows are perfect for this. They typically are made from one long piece of fabric, but I find that making them from 3 pieces allows me to buy a smaller amount of fabric because I don’t have to buy for the length. By cutting the fabric this way, you also can easily insert piping if you want to.

envelope backed pillow




To start you need to figure out the size of your fabric pieces. You’ll need one that is the same width and length of your pillow insert. In my case it was 12″ by 16″. You then need two pieces that are [( length/2) + 4″] by the height. My pieces were  12″ by 12″.

001-cut fabric


Cut your fabric.

002-fold once

Take one of your first backing pieces and fold over 1/2 inch. [You don’t have to pin, I just needed to pin to take a picture]

003-fold twice

Fold over another 1/2 inch and pin.


Sew in place approximately 1/8th of an inch from the inside edge. Repeat with the other backing piece.

005-pin one side

Place your front piece right side up, and pin and place one of your backing pieces.

006-pin other side

Place your other backing piece and pin into place. Sew around the perimeter.

007-cut corners


Clip the corners.

008-turn and stuff

Turn the fabric and insert the pillow form.


Congratulations, your pillow is finished! If you want to have a button to keep it closed, you can now mark off where you want the button and button hole. Remove the pillow insert and create the button hole and sew on the button.


And here is the pillow in action.


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