31 Days of Shut Up and Sew: Envelope Back Pillows With Piping

Monday, October 8, 2012

It's Day 8 of...

Pillows have always been my favorite thing to sew.  They're just about the easiest thing there is.  (To see other pillows I've done, click here, here or here.)  However, for some reason, these pillows gave me major trouble.  Maybe it was the fact that I was working with home decor fabric for the first time?  Maybe it's that the fabric for my piping was unraveling at every touch?  Whatever the cause, I'm glad these things are DONE.

Supplies to make a 20" pillow:
1 yard home decor fabric (Mine is called Small Talk Blackbird by Waverly, purchased here.  Always Google around for a coupon code - you can almost always find one for fabric.com!)
Scrap piece of contrasting fabric for piping (I don't know what mine is made of, but I got 5 yards of it for $5 a couple years ago at Walmart.  It's heavier than a plain cotton but not quite as heavy as home decor.  I think anything would work just fine though.)
4 yards of piping (you can find it on a roll at Hobby Lobby)

~2 hours

Cut fabric as follows for each pillow:
(1) 20" x 20" (front)
(2) 20" x 13" (back)

On each of the back pieces, iron down a 1/2" hem on the 20" side and sew it down.  These will be the exposed edges of your envelope back.

Cut a long, skinny piece of your piping fabric (about 2" wide) and sandwich your piping inside it (do not cut the piping yet!)

Using a zipper foot, sew a straight seam right next to the piping to encase it in the fabric.  It's important to get as close as you can to the actual piping because the finished pillow will look neater that way.

Go ahead and keep adding fabric strips until all 4 yards of your piping are covered up.  When adding a new strip of fabric, just fold under the end about 1/2", iron it, and overlap it slightly with the end of the strip before.

I sewed the second pillow differently than the first one because I had such a hard time keeping the piping lined up between the fabric pieces.  But I don't know if my second way was much easier, so I'll give you both options and you can decide!

Option 1:
Sandwich the piping inside the fabric pieces (with the open end facing the outside), pin, and sew.

Option 2:
Pin the piping to the pillow front and sew it on...

...then pin on your back pieces and sew all the way around.  The back pieces should overlap about 6 inches.

This option requires you to sew around the whole thing twice, but you don't have to worry about the piping sliding around on you.

As you'll notice in this next picture, I'm no perfect seamstress.  But you know what?  You don't have to be with these things.  When you turn it right side out, all of the wobbly seams are magically hidden!

I know you were wondering my plans for these babies.  We have this huge sectional in our basement that was blah blah boring.

Not anymore!

See?  All those imperfections aren't even noticeable in the final pillow.  (I got my pillow forms from IKEA.)  By the way, don't you just love this fabric?  I've had a crush on it for years (that's years, people).  Now it finally has a place in my home and I couldn't be happier.

And a close-up shot of the envelope back.  I don't really understand why people go to the trouble of putting zippers in pillow covers when an envelope back is so darn easy.  Maybe if you wanted it to be reversible?  I haven't come across the need for that yet, so I'm perfectly happy with this method!

Here's another view from further away.

Ahh, just the perfect amount of lightness and brightness added to our beige sofa.

Watch out, came-with-the-sofa pillows, I'm giving you the stink-eye next!

What I Learned:
Patience is a virtue.  Enough said.


  1. Great tutorial and I love this series! Piping has always scared me but you make it look easy. Good job!

  2. Piping makes such a difference. I never really thought about making pillows for the couch before!

  3. I already want to make about 20 of these! What a quick and fun way to change a pillow with the seasons and/or decor of a room!! Thanks for posting!