DIY Envelope Pillow Cover

With baby #1, I made sure to register for all the latest and greatest trendy items- including a boppy. From everything I read, I wouldn’t be able to live without the boppy. But then came the time to use it for nursing and I quickly realized its shortfalls. The theory is that you can rest the baby on the boppy while nursing. Maybe I’m just too tall or my boobs are too small, but I ended up so hunched over trying to make the boppy work. Eventually, I threw it in the closet, put a pillow under my arm and nursed with no problems. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the boppy for helping a baby sit and tummy time and all that jazz, but as far as nursing goes- get that thing away from me!

With this lesson sufficiently learned, I knew I’d want a pillow on my recliner in the nursery for baby #2. Luckily, we had a spare couch pillow on hand that we inherited from the previous owners of our house. The pillow itself is itchy and ugly, but I knew it wouldn’t be too difficult to make a cute, matching, non-itchy cover, so that’s what I set out to do.

The cover took very little time and turned out almost exactly as I’d envisioned. Since I had two different fabrics working in the bedroom, I wanted the pillow cover to coordinate with both, so I went with a quilted look. I also used a pink minky fabric for the back. If you’ve never worked with minky before, know that there’s a slight learning curve. It’s a stretchy material and I found that the edges constantly wanted to curl. You’re definitely going to want to use a walking foot and plenty of clips or pins. Lately, I prefer clips and I’m especially fond of these . They come in a tin box (with a lid and handle) of 100 and aren’t expensive at all. Plus, since they’re relatively cheap, I don’t panic when my toddler grabs a handful and only brings back a couple (I know there’s a pile of these clips somewhere in my house, I just can’t find it… toddlers…).

If you’re ready to make your own quilted front, minky back pillow cover, here are the supplies you’ll need:


  • ¾ yard minky fabric
  • ¼ yard fabric 1
  • 1/4 yard fabric 2
  • Walking foot
  • Clips or pins
  • Sewing machine, needle, thread, etc.

DIY Envelope Pillow Cover:

  1. The first step is to measure the dimensions of your pillow. To do this measure two perpendicular sides of the pillow. Do not measure across the middle. My pillow measured 18” x 18”.
  2. Next, you’ll need to cut your fabric. I decided on a 3 by 3 set of quilted squares for the front. To account for seam allowances, I cut fabric 1 into 5, 6.5” squares and fabric 2 into 4, 6.5” squares. If the front of your pillow will just be a solid piece of fabric, cut it to the size of your pillow (mine would have been an 18” square). For the back panels, I cut two pieces of minky into 18” x 14” rectangles. A good rule of thumb for the back panels of your pillow is to divide the length in half and add 5” ((18”/2) + 5” = 14”)
  1. With all your fabric cut, it’s time to piece together your pillow top. I like to lay out each of my squares so I can get an idea of what the pillow is going to look like before I start sewing.
  1. Once you’ve settled on a layout, it’s time to sew the pieces together. Starting with any row you choose (I prefer to start at the bottom), take the leftmost square and lay it right sides together on the middle square and pin or clip in place. Using a ¼” seam, sew along the left side of the fabric squares (marked in red).

After you sew the leftmost and middle square together, it should look like this:

  1. Then, fold the rightmost square right-sides together onto the middle square, pin or clip in place and sew along the right side (marked in red).
  1. Repeat this process for the remaining rows of your pillow top.
  2. With each of your rows sewn together, it’s time to move to the ironing board. Iron the seams of each row in opposite directions. Make sure you keep track of which row is which. In my example, rows 1 and 3 are ironed to the right and row 2 is ironed to the left. Your finished ironed seams should looks like this:
  1. With the seams ironed in opposite directions, we can now sew the rows of the pillow top together. Fold the bottom most row up, right sides together onto the middle row. Take extra care to ensure your seams are lined up. Pin in place and sew using ¼” seam allowance. Repeat this process by folding the topmost row down onto the middle row, pinning in place and sewing. Head back to your ironing board and iron the freshly sewn seams down. For our purposes, the direction in which you iron them is irrelevant. If your seams got a little wonky during the sewing process, feel free to trim the edges of your top to square everything back up. Remember though, you need to take evenly from both sides. If you cut ¼” off the left side and leave the right side, it’s not going to look even. Be careful not to trim your top smaller than the measured size of your pillow top.

You’ll notice that 3 of my 4 corners don’t match up perfectly. I could have ripped out the stitching and re-aligned everything so they’d match. Instead, I decided to declare victory at my one perfectly matched corner and leave the rest.

  1. With the top of the pillow cover finished, we begin work on the back panels of the pillow cover. Since these are a solid piece of material, we need only finish one edge nicely before putting the whole pillow together. For each back panel piece, hem one of the longer (18” in my case) sides. To do this, first, fold the edge of the material up ¼” and clip in place. I found that my material liked to curl, so I pinned every inch or so to keep it flat. Refrain from ironing minky as it could result in the textured bumps ironing out.
  1. Next, fold the pinned edge up ½” and clip in place. When I tried removing my ¼” clips, I found the material attempting to roll again, so I left them in place.
  1. Sew as close to the folded edge as possible, making sure to catch the ¼” piece of fabric with the needle. The massive number of clips definitely slowed down my sewing, but I was able to ensure everything stayed in place. Don’t hesitate to over pin. It sure beats having to rip out stitches and re-do something.
  1. Repeat this process for the second back panel.
  2. With the pillow top finished and the back panels hemmed, we can finally piece together our pillow cover. Place the pillow top right-side up. Then, take one of your back panel pieces and align its raw edge, right side down, with the bottom edge of your pillow top.
  1. Align the raw edge of the second back panel with the top of your pillow top. The two back panels will overlap by 3.5”.
  1. Clip around the entire perimeter of the pillow cover. Remember, it is better to have too many clips than too few.
  2. Once everything is clipped in place, using a ¼” seam allowance, sew along each of the raw edges. I prefer to sew all 4 sides individually. It is also perfectly acceptable to reach a corner, lower your needle, lift the presser foot, turn the pillow cover and continue sewing down the next side. In either case, make sure you backstitch at the beginning and end. Because I sew each side individually, my corners end up looking like this:
  1. Once you’ve sewn around all 4 sides, clip each of the corners as close to the stitching as possible but DO NOT cut the stitching.
  1. Turn the pillow cover right side out and push out the corners so they are crisp.

Ta-Da! And there you have it: a custom-made, perfect fitting pillow cover. Reward yourself with a nice nap on your super soft freshly covered pillow.

1 thought on “DIY Envelope Pillow Cover”

  1. neerodsivadyahoocom

    Kayla, you are so clever! I love your posts!? Do want to write my article??  Love you, Me

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

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