Have you ever gone to the accessory section of your favorite Home store and not been able to find those perfect throw pillows for your home? This happened to me so much when we were decorating that I decided to try my hand at making my own with fabric specifically chosen from a craft store. My only problem was that I didn’t have a way to sew them. Well, problem solved because I am going to explain how to make your own throw pillow shams without a sewing machine.
I want to make it clear that I have nothing against sewing. My grandmother was a seamstress and she would sew and knit me the most adorable outfits when I was little. I loved playing on her sewing machine and I was pretty good at it at one point. The thing is, I don’t have a sewing machine and I really don’t want to have to store one, especially when I don’t really need one! I am guessing many of you feel the same!
For a little background, my mother-in-law convinced me to go to JoAnn’s Fabrics with her last year when she was visiting for Thanksgiving. A store in my area had just opened and she is an avid crafter, so I went with her. My house was in much worse shape at the time – no rugs, no wall art, no kitchen table…(see here for our kitchen progress and here for our fully renovated kitchen!) We started looking at fabric and I decided that I wanted to reupholster my dining rooms chairs. We picked out all of this great fabric, but it sat around because I couldn’t do anything with it.
When my sister-in-law visited in May (she is also a great crafter), she showed me how to reupholster the chairs without using a sewing machine. We unscrewed the cushions from the chair frames, cut off the piping trim and re-covered the cushions, securing the new fabric to the existing cushion with a staple gun. I’m not going to say it was easy, but it was certainly easier than sewing a cushion slip cover.
This gave me hope that I could also find a non-sewing alternative to make my own custom pillow shams! I came across many blogs that had tutorials on how to make throw pillows without needing a sewing machine and I decided that I needed to try this technique before the next family Thanksgiving gathering. There were a lot of different options, some requiring an iron to activate adhesive strips to washable adhesive glue. I’ll admit it now, the glue seemed like the easiest route and I jumped at it! I headed back to my local craft store to gather my supplies:
– 3 Down Pillows (mine are 18″x18″)
*Any size will work, but your pillows should be roughly 2″ smaller than the piece of fabric that you cut to leave enough room for the glue seam. This will ensure that your pillow is not busting out too much.
– 1 tube of Fabric Glue (Arlene’s & Unique Stitch are great)
– The fabric of your choice
(here are some similar options Blue Ikat, Abstract, love this)
*I bought 2.5 yards of 1 fabric to make the first 2 pillows and 1.5 yard of another fabric to make the third pillow (I definitely had some fabric left over)
I found a great pattern to make an “envelope pillow”, illustrated below. The first step is to cut your front panel of fabric (I did 20″ x 20″ for my 18″x 18″ pillow). Next, cut the two back panels that will remain open and allow us to later stuff the pillow insert into the sham (for an 18″ x18″ pillow, I cut two 20″ x 15″ panels).
I cut these panels long so that I could fold over, iron and glue the inside seam (in green above) to give the edge a finished look. To be honest, 15″ was probably a little too long for the back panels, but I was erring on the side of caution. Instead, I could have folded over more fabric or cut the back panels to be about 20″x 12″ (with a 1″ fold over seam).
I would recommend ironing your panels once they are cut to get out any wrinkles. It will be a bit harder to try to iron the pillow once it has been assembled. After ironing the panels, I began assembling the pillow sham. The first step is to take each of the back panels and fold over a 1″ section of one of the 20″ sides to create a finished edge. Once I folded over the 1″ section, I actually pinned and then ironed the fold to create a crisp edge before gluing it down. This edge will be in the middle of the back of the pillow sham that creates the envelope opening.
I then placed my front panel on my workspace, pattern-up, and matched up the corners of my two back panels over it, pattern-down, with the finished edge in the middle. I glued all along the outer edges of the front panel (illustrated by the red lines in the pattern example) and then matched up the corresponding corners of the back panels (marked by the letters in the pattern example) and pressed down with my fingers to adhere them together. Remember that the finished edges marked in green should not be glued down, as that is the opening of the envelope where you will insert your pillow.
Make sure to match up your fabric pattern on the front and back panels so that it is going in the right direction on both sides. This will give your pillow a more professional and finished look. (Feel free to mis-match them too, this is your pillow afterall!)
Once I glued all of the edges, I let the pillow dry over night.
One last trick is to snip the excess fabric from the inside corner edges before flipping the pillow sham right-side-out. This helps the corners look nice and sharp when you flip your fabric!
Finally, I stuffed the pillow insert into my new sham and VOILA!!! DIY Throw Pillows without so much as a thimble. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Feel free to leave me questions in the comment box below or via email!
Mary TaylorMay 20, 2015 at 11:06 pm
Where did you find the pillow pattern?
KristenJune 10, 2015 at 4:43 pm
Hi Mary – Thanks for reading!
I actually made the pattern myself for instructive purposes. If you have a different pillow size than the one I used, I would factor in an extra inch or two of fabric for your seams. Otherwise, you should be able to follow the general pattern in this post.
I hope that helps!!
DIY Throw Pillow | getpinspiredwithmeOctober 28, 2015 at 3:56 pm
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SarahNovember 25, 2015 at 9:46 am
How well has the fabric glue glue held up?
KristenNovember 30, 2015 at 3:04 pm
Sarah – The fabric glue is still holding strong a year later. I use these pillows in my guest room, so I haven’t needed to put them through the washing machine, but I have read reviews saying that they also hold up well after going through the wash. If you are nervous about that, I would try spot cleaning instead. Hopefully this was helpful! Thank you so much for stopping by!
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How To: Keep Your Dorm Room Cozy This Winter - The College JuiceJanuary 12, 2016 at 3:05 pm
[…] Adding more pillows to your bed is a great way to add more coziness to your dorm room. Sinking into a pile of pillows provides undeniable comfort and will send you diving into bed after coming in from a long cold day. Learn how to make the above DIY throw pillows over at Suburban Renovation. […]
LisaAugust 19, 2016 at 6:09 am
I noticed a iron in one of the photos. Was it a prop or did you iron the fabric?
I read the instructions on from my phone and wanted to make sure I didn’t miss a step. Thank you.
KristenAugust 19, 2016 at 11:37 am
Hi Lisa – I mention briefly in the instructions that you should iron the fold for the inside seam to ensure that you get a defined and straight line (although I could have probably made that point more clear). I would also suggest that you iron the fabric before putting a pillow inside just so that everything looks fresh and clean. Goodluck with your project!
Rebecca WaltersDecember 21, 2016 at 9:13 pm
My mom loves battenburg lace so when I was in my 20’s I bought a tshirt, cut holes in the upper sleeves and used Unique Stitch to glue battenburg lace in the holes. That was over 20 years ago! Washed in a regular washing machine, dried in a dryer and still holding up nicely! Unique Stitch works great!!
KristenSeptember 28, 2017 at 12:34 pm
That is so amazing Rebecca! I’m glad to know that my pillows will last for years to come! Thanks so much for stopping by!
AllyJanuary 23, 2017 at 5:15 am
Wow! Thank you so much! This is amazing! I don’t sew, do not own a sewing machine and I just purchased a new rug and need to switch out all of my pillows on my couch. They are 26X26 feather/down filled and are amazing quality, but are the wrong colors. Trying to find covers in this particular size has been nearly impossible. I was about to give up and just buy all new pillows but I didn’t really want to since the pillows are fairly new, quite expensive and in perfect shape. Now I can pick out the exact colors/patterns I need, save a TON of money and not waste six perfectly fine pillows. Thank you for such a wonderful idea!
KristenJanuary 26, 2017 at 10:13 am
Ally – I am so glad that I was able to help! I an no seamstress either, so this was such a fun and easy way to get exactly what I wanted without too much trouble! Let me know how these pillows turn out! I’d love to see the finished product!