As I was creating my bi-monthly quilt block for my Quilty Club members I figured I should probably give an optional pillow finish, but how to do that without necessarily including it in every pattern—I’m trying to keep the patterns simple enough to be one front and back page (we’ll see how that goes as I have a tendency to have “complicated” patterns in my head 😆). Either way I want to keep the pattern short(ish 😁), so having the pillow cover tutorial here seemed the best option.
As pillows come in whole sizes, we need to make sure the block size we are using is ½” larger than the pillow. For this we are making an 18” square pillow, so the block needs to be 18½” square, this allows for seams or binding.
I will have both sets of directions—a turned-out pillow (navy) and a pillow with binding (white). I’ll make sure to let you know where they vary.
Oh! A quick note, I don’t like having the envelope seam in the middle of my pillow; I’m always afraid I’m going to rip seams as I’m stuffing the pillow 😆, so my directions will have the envelope part higher (at about 1/3 from the top) on the pillow instead of in the middle.
Let’s get started…For our 18” pillow we’ll need 18½” wide pieces of fabric, so if you’re purchasing new you’ll need to purchase 5/8 yard of fabric.
If you’re turning-out your pillow you’ll need
point turner of some kind
thread to match pillow cover
If you’re binding your pillow you’ll need
thread to match your binding
2 - 2½”x WOF strips for binding (I’m not doing a binding tutorial here, but I’ll get you to that point).
Cut your fabric to 18 ½” wide, if it’s not already.
Subcut it to
1 – 8 x 18½” strip
1 – 14 x 18½” strip
I know you’re probably thinking, Tracy, why does the 6” + 14” not equal 18”??? Well, we want an overlap to cover our pillow insert 😃. In this case our 18” finished pillow will have approximately a 2” overlap; for smaller pillows you can decrease the overlap to 1”, and for larger pillows you can even increase it, but I don’t imagine you’d need anything more than a 3” overlap unless it’s a monster sized pillow or your pillow insert is super fluffy.
Press fabric ½” wide along 18½” side, wrong sides together (WST).
Then open and fold small edge in toward pressed edge, again WST.
Fold the pressed edge back in and press, this will give you a hem for the envelope edge.
Repeat this with the other strip of fabric.
Topstitch, with a straight or fancy stitch, the hem to secure it.
This is where you’ll start seeing the separation of turned-out versus bound pillow…
For the Bound Pillow
Lay your quilted pillow block right side down.
Lay your 14” strip on top with right side up. The hem should be toward the top with the bottom edge of the fabric lined up with the bottom edge of the pillow block.
Lay the 8” strip on top with right side up. The hem should be toward the middle with the top edge of the fabric lined up with the top edge of the pillow block.
Skip down to the heart 💜.
For the Turned-Out Pillow
Lay your quilted pillow block right side up.
Lay your 8” strip on top with right side down. The hem should be toward the middle with the top edge of the fabric lined up with the top edge of the pillow block.
Lay your 14” strip on top with right side down. The hem should be toward the top with the bottom edge of the fabric lined up with the bottom edge of the pillow block.
💜 Pin. I double pin where the hemmed seams are for a couple reasons, 1) so I know where there will be more bulk going under my foot and needle and 2) so I extra secure the seam (I’m rough on things, remember 😆).
Sew a ¼” seam all around your pillow on the quilted-pillow-block side. I highly suggest using a walking foot for even feeding—you have lots of layers under that foot, and if you’d like some extra reinforcement for the “envelope overlap” feel free to sew over it an extra time.
I go forward over both double sets of pins on one side, then go backward over them, then continue forward to finish the pillow seam.
Do a quick quality control check by checking the pillow backing to make sure you caught all the fabric in your seam.
Trim any excess backing from the block, leaving ¼” seam allowance.
For the Bound Pillow
This almost completes your envelope pillow cover, it’s time to bind it and you’ll have a beautiful pillow cover to adorn your home or gift to someone special.
Skip on down to the heart .
For the Turned-Out Pillow
After you trimmed the excess backing you’ll need to trim your corners. Most recommendations say at a 45°angle off the corners. I prefer to trim something closer to a 30 or 60° angle on each side of the corner, so there is less bulk.
Important: Do NOT cut across that seam! Or you’ll be sewing that corner over again
I also suggest not cutting too closely or you may poke through the corner when you’re turning it.
Turn the pillow right side out being careful when poking out your corners. I love my OESD point turner for this as it has a bigger end I use for most of the poking and a smaller end I use to get that last little corner out, but Be CAREFUL, I’ve still poked through the corner before 🤦🏻♀️️.
Now press the edges of the pillow cover to really make the shape more defined.
Last, but definitely not least, stuff your 18” pillow insert in! 🥳
Now go and make some beautiful blocks to turn into pillows! Show off your new skill, we definitely want to see it; I know I would, so please tag me in your finished creations!
Warmth & Love,
PS. Turning "orphan" or practice blocks into pillows is a great way to make use of them! 😃
PPS. If you'd like more sewing tutorials you might like these:
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