How to Make an Envelope Pillow Cover

Inside:  How to make an envelope pillow cover to update your space for any season. This is a really easy sewing project and such a simple way to decorate your home on a budget and add a fun pop of color!

Are you feeling like it’s time to make some changes to your living room or bedroom?

One of the easiest ways to freshen up your decor, without a ton of commitment, is to add new throw pillows to your sofa and making your own envelope pillow covers is a lot easier than you might think.

I’ve shown you how to make a zippered pillow cover and I love hearing that so many of you are facing your fears and learning how to install a zipper, but if you want to cut costs a little bit and whip up some seasonal pillows then an envelope pillow cover is just what you need. — I’m going to show you the super simple steps today!

How to make an envelope pillow cover

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What? You thought I was always super fancy and made all my pillow covers with a zipper?

Not at all!

I have 2 young kiddos and a husband who may or may not fall asleep on the sofa and drool a little, (sorry honey) so I definitely need a few  sofa pillows that look good, but aren’t worth the extra time, since they won’t be around forever.

We don’t live in a museum or a magazine. We drool. And occasionally have sticky stuff on our fingers.

So let’s gather up our supplies and get our straight line sewing selves into action shall we?

To make an envelope pillow cover you will need:

Want to add piping to your pillow cover?

Start with the steps in this post first.

Measure fabric for envelope pillow


How to make an envelope pillow cover

Step 1: Cut the front side of your pillow cover the size of your pillow insert.

So if your insert is 16 inches square, you’ll cut a piece of fabric that is 16 inches on all 4 sides.

Step 2: Cut 2 pieces for the back side –be sure that your fabric is going in the same direction as the front unless you don’t want it to.

Each back side piece will be the same width as the front side and 1/2 of the length plus 5 inches to account for seams and overlap (the envelope part.)

For example, my pillow insert is 16 inches so 1/2 of that is 8 inches + 5= 13 inches. So each of my back pieces will be 16 inches wide and 13 inches tall.

how to make an envelope pillow cover

Step 3: Fold the bottom edge of your top back piece over about 1/2 an inch and then again and sew along the edge to create a finished edge.

Repeat for the top edge of the bottom piece.

Tip: it’s often easier to sew these types of seams if you iron them in place first.

how to make an envelope pillow cover

Step 4: Now place your front piece good side up –with the fabric going in the direction you want the finished pillow to have.

Then place the back bottom piece good side down, lining up the corners, and then the top back piece good side down. It will overlap the bottom piece.

Pin in place all the way throw pillow cover for couch

Step 5: Sew all the way around your pillow with a 1/2 inch seam.

Step 6: Then run your sewing machine around the edges with the zig-zag stitch so that the needle lands just off of the fabric on the outer edge. This will keep your fabric from fraying.

how to sew a throw pillow cover

Step 7: Turn your pillow cover right side out and add your insert! DONE!

Check out the fun pop of color these envelope pillow covers add in my typically pretty neutral living room!

sewing diy throw pillow covers

Now the hubs has a nice bright place to rest his sleepy head in the evening. 🙂

how to make throw pillow covers

And just imagine all of the fun fabric combinations you could come up with for each season to give a little refresh to your space!

how to sew a diy envelope pillow cover

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About Corey

Corey is the creative behind Hey There, Home where she shares easy-to-follow and beautiful home decor and entertaining ideas. Her mission? To make home decor accessible to everyone, even if you don't consider yourself crafty, and to empower people to decorate their homes in a way that they can actually be lived in, not just looked at.

66 thoughts on “How to Make an Envelope Pillow Cover

  1. Becky says:

    Amazingly simple! Perfect to refresh pillows with life left but needed a new style. Thank you so much. Looking forward to exploring more of your site

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Welcome and so glad you’ve found inspiration here, Becky!

  2. Lisa says:

    Hi Corey. Have tried your pillow instructions with good success…. NOW, how can I do this for a cylinder body pillow that is 65″ L X 10″ round? I’m so stumped and this size isn’t available for purchase- so I must make it!
    PLEASE help! Thanks in advance.

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hey Lisa, I think I would start by creating a long tube of fabric with a seam on one side. If you want the ends to be round and flat (like the bottom of a can) you’ll cut a piece of round fabric allowing for seams, turn your tube inside out and attach to one end. Then on the other end you’ll make an envelope enclosure out of the round end piece so you can slide the whole thing over the pillow. 65 inches is too long for the envelope opening to be along the length of the pillow. Hope this helps!

  3. Kathy says:

    Which is the “bottom edge of your top back piece” mentioned in step 3? Maybe I’m making this harder than it needs to be, but even with my 40 years of sewing experience I’m just not seeing it.

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Glad to clarify, Kathy! The back has 2 pieces to create the envelope opening. I’m referring to the top piece of the two.

  4. Raya says:

    Wish I could post a picture of how my pillow came out! I took my sewing machine out for the first time in over 3 years… all I had done before was a simple pillow case. This was easy to follow and turned out great! Thank you!

    1. Corey Willis says:

      So happy you let me know, Raya! You made my day! I’d love to see a pic – please email to [email protected] 🙂

  5. Linda santoemma says:

    When sewing envelope pillows, the two back are pulling apart, what can I do to fix this.

    1. Corey Willis says:

      I’ve never had that happen Linda. Perhaps try using a thicker fabric (no stretch) and also increasing the overlap.

  6. Beth says:

    Hi – Question: I made my pillows exactly according to your instructions, but the 4 inch overlap of the envelope causes bunching at the back and actually pulls the pillow in at the sides. Is this happening to anyone else’s pillows?

    1. Corey Willis says:

      I’ve never heard of this happening Beth. It may be the type of fabric you’re using. Hopefully one of my wonderful readers can chime in with some insight!

    2. Neva D Dew says:

      I think the problem is not the overlap, but that the cover is not quite big enough – I’ve noticed a similar thing on a few of my pillows.

  7. MrsJDT says:

    Thank you so much! I just whipped up two from leftover curtain fabric in about 45 minutes, from getting out to putting away all the tools. Awesome! At that speed, this might become an addictive habit. 😉 On the second one, I did decrease the overlap a bit to save fabric, but it still turned out just as well! Thanks again!!!

  8. Connie says:

    Hi Corey. Can you help me understand the cutting of the front piece of fabric the same size as insert? I have made lots of pillows but always add extra 5/8 for seam allowance on all sides. How will this be big enough for my insert? I’ve never made an envelope pillow cover and I’d love to try this. Thank you.

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hi Connie. Cutting your fabric the same dimensions as your pillow insert will ensure that your pillow is nice and plump! Try it, it really does give the pillow a great shape!

  9. Christy Williamson says:

    Fabulous tutorial! Question:I want to make a slip cover for a rectangular chair cushion. It’s about 2” thick. Would you suggest cutting the top and bottom pieces of the slip cover the same width as the top, or should I add 2”? I guess I am just wondering if these square foam seat cushions are going to “fill out “ differently than the standard pillow form…

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Great question, Christy! I’ve had the most success with cutting my fabric to the size of whatever I’m covering. You may want to add 1/2″ to an inch for seam allowance so it’s easier to get the cover on, but you want it to fit pretty snug.

    2. Helen Coulombe says:

      I have jerseyknit material do I cut the same as cotton and am I suppose to pre wash all fabric before cutting

    3. Corey Willis says:

      Hi Helen, working with stretchy jersey knit is certainly more challenging than cotton. I don’t have any posts that deal with this issue but I found one here that might help you. Best wishes!

  10. Cheryl says:

    Corey, how far from the point of the material did you go into the piece at the corners? It looks like you might have gone about 2″ . I’ve used that same approach when making bags, but wanted to make sure since I’ve never done a pillow form. By the way, I was skeptical about cutting the pieces the exact size of the form. To test it, I stitched the pieces first with a narrower/about 1/4+” seam because my forms were really, really over-filled. I thought I would need the space…but not so! Had to go back and sew 1/2″ because it wasn’t a tight fit. So for the other skeptics out there….cut it exactly the size of the form and sew with the 1/2″ seam! Happy Sewing!

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hey Cheryl, Usually you just need to go into the piece about an inch at the corners. I’m finding as I do it more that the angle doesn’t have to be drastic. Just a little bit in is fine and still makes the corners look nice in the end. Love your “experiment” -!!

  11. Margy says:

    I’ve found some cotton fabric online, but fear it will be too thin for a nice pillow. If I use a fusible facing do you think it would work better (picking up sewing after a 30 year break!).

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Yes that would be a great solution Margy, but make sure you get an interfacing that isn’t stiff. Another option would be to line it with an inexpensive white or dark grey fabric depending on the main color of your pretty fabric. You could even just double layer each side to make it easy and have to only sew each line once.

  12. Amber says:

    I have been looking everywhere for the orange/coral scallop designed fabric you feature in this post’s photo. Did you purchase this fabric from a website? if so do you have to link? Thanks!

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hi Amber! It’s a Michael Miller fabric and I believe that it’s no longer available. I bought this color on Etsy and also bought it in grey for some dining chairs that I reupholstered. You may want to google Michael Miller scallop fabric and see if you can find it anywhere.

  13. Kate says:

    Hey Corey, I see in one picture u do a overlock stitch to keep the edges from raveling, can I use pinking shears instead to keep the fabric from fraying? I’m a newbie too. Thanks

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hey Kate, I think it depends on how often you plan to wash the cover. Pinking shears will help but serging the edges (or using the zig-zag if you don’t have a serger) will be a better bet if you plan to wash the cover often.

  14. Gail says:

    It looks like you sew diagonal corners, not 90 degree ones, what is your reasoning for this? And do you do it on piped/corded pillows too?

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hey Gail! I do a slight diagonal so that when you turn the pillow right side out the corners are super crisp. It is more difficult to do on piped pillows so I typically just cut the extra fabric right up to the seam on these ones to get as much fabric out of the way as possible. Hope this helps!

  15. Sharon says:

    Do these same instructions hold true if the pillow size is 12 x 16? Thank you.

    “Each back side piece will be the same width as the front side and 1/2 of the length plus 5 inches to account for seams and overlap (the envelope part.) For example, my pillow insert is 16 inches so 1/2 of that is 8 inches + 5= 13 inches. So each of my back pieces will be 16 inches wide and 13 inches tall.”

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hi Sharon, Yes but is your pillow 16 inches tall and 12 wide? Or the other way around. Either way it will work; you’ll just have your opening vertical vs. horizontal.

  16. Helen says:

    Thanks! I had purchased fat quarters and pillow forms and was going to just wing it, but then realized I wanted them removable and your pattern came up in my search. They turned out great!

  17. Angela Hall says:

    Yea you are right little change in room interior affects a lot like changing pillow covers. I tried to make pillow covers as you directed and I had it perfectly done. Thanks.

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Glad you found the instructions useful, Angela. Thanks for letting me know!

  18. Nicole says:

    Thank you so much for your tutorial! Loved the suggestion to cut the fabric the same size as the pillow. Makes my pillow look much more plump.

  19. Hello! Thanks so much for this tutorial! Question: How much does the top piece overlap the back piece when the pillow is finished? I am making pillow covers for a friend, and they have pictures and other pieces on them on both the top and bottom back pieces. I want to be sure they all “show” up when I am done. I kind of have an idea since the finished pillow, in my case, will be 18 inches, but thought I’d check in here with you. Thanks!

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hi Ellen! They overlap about 4 inches after you have the seams sewn. You can adjust that if you need to to have your pattern (or picture) lay nicely but I wouldn’t go less than a 2 inch overlap. Happy sewing!

  20. Rochelle says:

    So, I am sorry if this question is redundant but you don’t add extra for the seams? If you are using a 1/2inch seam then the pillow cover size would be smaller than the insert? Is this why it is a better fit for the pillow? I just want to be sure I am reading this correctly before cutting my fabric.

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hi Rochelle. Yes you cut your fabric the same dimensions as your pillow form and then sew a 1/2 inch seam. It will ensure that your pillow has a nice shape. 🙂

  21. Kim says:

    I’d love to add piping that Ive already purchased to an envelope pillow cover. I see it mentioned in your post but can not locate the instructions to do so. Would love to see that included in the tutorial. Excellent straight forward instructions. Best yet! Thank you.

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Thanks bunches Kim. The steps to add piping are in this post. Happy sewing!

  22. Stephani says:

    I think the back pieces of mine are a little too long, but this was so much easier than trying to figure it out on my own!

  23. Julie says:

    Thank you for saving my bacon tonight! I needed a last minute gift and this fit the bill PERFECTLY!

    1. Corey Willis says:

      That’s awesome, Julie! Glad you found the perfect gift here!

  24. Cynthia says:

    I noticed you clipped your corners but you don’t mention that in your tutorial.

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Oopse. I do clip my corners so that when it’s right side out the corners are super crisp. Thanks for letting me know, Cynthia!

  25. Valerie says:

    Love your fabric!!!

  26. Gabrielle says:

    That was one of the best and easiest to follow tutorials I have used. Thank you

    1. Corey Willis says:

      You’re so welcome, Gabrielle! Glad you found it helpful!

  27. Linda says:

    Dear Corey,

    Thank you so much!

    I have read several DIY instructionals on how to sew an envelope-style pillow cover, but the directions on how to measure (and cut) the back pieces varied, leaving me confused and frustrated. Your directions are perfect — easy understand and they make sense!

    1. Corey Willis says:

      You’re so welcome, Linda. Happy to be of help!

  28. I simple use one long strip of fabric hem each end fold so back of cover overlaps a couple of inches then machine sides .. it’s so easy! !

  29. Jackie says:

    I too was concerned about making the envelope pillow the same size as the insert but your pillows look perfect. I have made envelope pillows before and did add that extra inch so it was 19 inches rather then 18. Do you think your way makes for a nicer fit? Im a very new sewer so Im open to your ideas.
    Thank you!!

    1. Anne says:

      Yes always make the finished cushion cover the exact same size as the insert. Makes for a plumper cushion.

  30. Deb says:

    Just made this as my very first sewing project on a quiet Saturday night. I love it! (followed the advice of those in the comments that the back pieces should be the width +1inch)

    1. Carol says:

      Thank you for your instructions for an envelope pillow cover. I wish I had read the comments before making my first pillow cover. It was really hard to get the pillow into the cover as the overlap was way to much. I can’t get my hand inside to get the corners fixed or smooth out the pillow. My next cover backing will be halve each end plus only add 1 inch to each piece.

    2. Corey Willis says:

      Thanks for the input, Carol. Let me know how your next pillow turns out!

  31. Stephanie says:

    Thank you so much!! I just made this and it was so easy!! It’s the first thing I have sewn from scratch.

    1. Hooray! That is so exciting Stephanie!

  32. Kate says:

    I’m so going to make pillow covers now.
    On the sample dimensions I think the back piece measurements are wrong. Shouldn’t they be 12.5 by 16 since they should be the same width as the front panels (1″ larger than the pillow itself)? The example says 12.5 by 15.

    1. Marissa says:

      I was wondering the same thing. I started to lay the pieces together and I can’t figure out the purpose of having the front piece an inch wider than the back pieces. It seems like the back pieces should have had that extra inch too.

    2. Corey Willis says:

      Hi Kate, after lots of trial and error, I’ve found that cutting your pieces the same dimensions as your insert makes for the best fit. I’ve updated the instructions to reflect this and hopefully make it less confusing. Thanks a bunch for your input!

  33. Whitney says:

    This is a perfect tutorial! I’ve been looking for a way to cover my old ugly throw pillows!

    I do have a question though because I am a fabric newbie. What kind of fabric do you use for this type of project?

    Thanks again for the tutorial!

    1. Basic home decor fabric will be the best. You want to avoid silks and knits since they are harder to work with. You could also use a basic cotton fabric but they are a bit thin and don’t hold their shape as well. Hope that helps!

  34. This is so what I needed – something for the beginner! I love your fabric choices and it’s awesome that it’s so easy, you can really change it up for every season & they’d also make a super easy gift. Cool project!

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