Throw Pillows: A Quick Update for the Couch

There comes a time in everyone’s adult life when you realize that despite your best efforts,  your comfy decor needs updating,  but you don’t have the time (or moola) to tackle this daunting task. As a co-worker pointed out the other day, furniture can be more permanent fixture in one’s life than relationships for some people. How do you decide what will best suit your needs when nothing is certain?

This is why I love DIY.  Not only is it a perfect excuse to get your hands dirty and stay busy…it allows you to design something “for now” on a budget. And the low cost can also make it less agonizing to attempt a redo if plan A is an epic fail. Our current pillows are actually fine, just pretty beat up, so rather than replace, today’s task is to craft pillowcases that give them some much needed oomph.

(And I bet you thought I was going to share earth shattering relationship advice…nope…this is strictly a throw pillow kind of day.)


The tired yet functional pillow.

I carefully measured looked at the tag to determine the size (26″×26″) and headed to JoAnn’s to get fabric. While they are having a pretty major textile promotion this week, I opted to look at the remnant boxes first, as these pieces are 50% off AND often save me the trouble of needing to cut a larger piece down to size. Our living room is primarily modern furniture that is black,  glass or grey, so I was hoping to find a print or two with a simple pattern that essentially pulled together the style of the existing furniture.

I lucked out and scored about 1.2 yards of a grey mod print that was the perfect size for the two pillows in question, and several other .5 to .75 pieces of similar patterns and colors to add to our stash of pillows. Since I also will be buying some smaller sized pillows later on, I invested in the cloth now to finish the whole project. If I hadn’t found coordinating designs right away I would have ventured into the main department,  but this trip I scored 4 options – three that are a variation on the pictured project, and one that I just really liked the pop of color in. Who doesn’t like grey and yellow together?

To start, I cut the 1.2 yard piece in half. Since I am making pillowcases,  and don’t ultimately want to see the stiches, I turn the fabric inside out. Additionally,  I want to be able to remove the cases to launder them,  so I opted to fold the fabric over into 2/3 and 1/3 pieces to create an overlap for the backside.


The pattern gets folded inside.


All ready to sew!

To ensure a secure hold, I am using upholstery thread. This stuff looks like regular thread, but is stiffer and way stronger. They really only make it in boring colors…but since we are not going to see it, no worries.


One of the other reasons I am opting for the fold over closure is to minimize the sewing. I do not own a sewing machine, so my stiches are by hand.  It’s hard to see, but these are basic stiches, and I am simply following the pattern straight down two edges.


Sewing down the line.


1st finished edge.

Once I finish all four edges (two on each pillow case) I am ready to turn these right side out. Here is the before and after:


Before and After.


Love approves. ..and is attempting to claim the cases.

Next step is to finish the edges of the overlap. I am in possession of an absurd amount of ribbon. I am guilty of raiding the dollar bin at Michael ‘ s or ACMoore when I lived out East and stockpiling for wrapping or craft purposes. So today I actually already had grey grosgrain ribbon to finish off the edges. Coupled with Peel and Stick, this project will be a breeze to wrap up.


To finish the edges, I cut 4 pieces the width of the cases, 2 for the internal flaps and 2 external flaps. Then one piece at a time, I lined each with the Peel and Stick tape, pressing and cutting until it looked like this:

Then to expose the adhesive on the other side, carefully peeled the backing off, and aligned the ribbon to the edge of the fabric and pressed firmly until it was smooth and flush with the fabric.

Here are two views of the process:


One side done...the bottom is a ribbon with the adhesive.


Both sides done!

Now the cases are ready for pillows! Our couch looks much cheerier, and I also made another case WITH BUTTONS so that all 3 pillows are no longer a dingy creamy (aka tired) color.


The Front.


The back.


Can you see the yellow buttons?

Even the cat approves…


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6 Responses to Throw Pillows: A Quick Update for the Couch

  1. Chloe says:

    Those look great, Emilie! I am getting sick of some of our pillows as they have a bunch of threads pulled. I didn’t think it would be very easy to do pillowcases without a sewing machine but this looks worth a try!


  2. Barb johnson says:

    I love your step by step pics and entertaining narrative. Makes me think I should pull out the sewing machine I bought last at but haven’t used yet and try this project! Your fabrics are fabulous!


  3. jschutz5 says:

    You need to long-term borrow my sewing machine! I’m not using it and I know you would. We can always send the mending YOUR way. You did a great job on these – like the fabric.


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