A Step-By-Step Guide To Making A Quilted Pillow Cover

How many of you have been contemplating trying out quilting, but you’re just not quite sure where to begin? Making an entire quilt?

That’s a bit intimidating, but there are other easier projects you might want to try first.

Today I am going to show you how to make a quilted pillow cover. This is a great way to try out quilting and have a lot of fun doing it!

This is absolutely a beginner-friendly project, and we want to help you get started! Let’s do this!

Quilted Pillow Cover Tutorial

A pillow cover is a great way to dabble in quilting AND sewing without feeling overwhelmed by such a huge project.

For this tutorial, I'll show you how to create a zippered pillow. If a zipper is still too intimidating for you (I’ve been there and understand how that feels), you could easily adjust this to be a more simple, envelope-style pillow. More on that later.

Pillow covers are so fun because, in just a few hours, you can create new decor piece that can change the look and feel of any room. It also can give you a chance to express your creativity and make something unique that no one else will have. How cool is that?

Without further ado, let’s get into the tutorial and create this quilted pillow cover together.

Quilted Pillow Cover Supplies

  • Pillow Insert: I used an 18” pillow for this tutorial, but you can use any size you would like. You could also use an existing throw pillow as the insert.
  • Sewing Supplies: Sewing machine, thread, rotary cutter (or scissors if you don’t have a rotary cutter), a ruler, or something to use as a straight edge to trim your fabric edges.
  • Fabric for the front of the pillow: The amount will depend on what design you choose for your pillow top, but as a rule, make the pillow top 1” smaller than your pillow insert.  This will ensure your pillow will look plush and full. So for example, since my pillow insert is 18”, I will make my pillow top 17” square. If you would rather not piece together the pillow top and just use a solid piece of fabric, then you would just cut it to 17” square.
  • Batting: You will need batting for your quilted pillow top. I use 100% cotton batting. Cut the batting square at least 1” larger than the pillow top for the quilting process. So for mine, I will cut the batting at 18” square.
  • Fabric for the back of the pillow: You will need two pieces. For my example 18” pillow, I cut one piece 9”x17” and the other 12”x17” ( the backing piece should also be 1” smaller than the pillow insert).
  • Fabric for binding the pillow: I used 5″ x 42” piece and cut into 2 2 ½” x 42” strips (step 5).
  • Zipper: I used a 16” zipper.
  • Pins or Basting Spray

How To Make a Quilted Pillow Cover

Step 1: Choose the fabric, pattern, and size of the pillow insert. 

I wanted to do a fairly simple pattern for this tutorial, so the fabric that I am using is from a jellyroll. “Jellyroll” is a cute name for fabric cut 2.5” wide and the length is cut by the width of fabric (WOF).

If you are a beginner, this would be a great option for you. All you need to do is cut the strips the length you need them to be, remember 1” smaller than your pillow insert, and sew them together lengthwise till it is the desired width, mine used exactly 7 strips. 

With a quick search on Instagram or Pinterest, you can find all kinds of inspiration and ideas for what pattern to choose. 

Step 2: Create your pillow top and make your “quilt sandwich.”

Now the fun begins! Sew all your pieces together for your pillow top using whichever pattern you chose. 

Once you have your pillow top pieced together, then you will make your “quilt sandwich.” The sandwich will have three layers:

  • Pillow top
  • Batting- cut 1” larger than your pillow top.
  • Backing fabric (This will only be in the inside of the pillow so don’t use a special fabric, I just use white broadcloth). -cut the same size as your batting.

Pin or spray baste the three layers together. Now you’re ready to quilt. Yay!

Step 3: Quilt as desired and trim edges to ensure your pillow top is square. 

I decided to do straight-line quilting on this pillow top. The seams work great as a guide for this type of quilting. This is a beginner-friendly type of quilting. I love the modern look of it as well.

Once you have finished your quilting, trim all the excess batting and backing fabric and make sure your edges are square. 

Sit back and admire your work so far — you just finished quilting your beautiful pillow cover!

Step 4: Attach the zipper to the backing fabric.

In this example, I used a hidden zipper on the back of the pillow cover.

As I mentioned before, if you would rather not do a zipper, this tutorial can easily be adjusted to create just an envelope-style pillow cover.

Cut the pieces the same size as I recommended in the supplies section, but instead of inserting a zipper, just hem the two edges that will come together in the middle of the pillow.

We want one piece longer than the other so they overlap nicely, whether you use a zipper or prefer doing an envelope cover. To adjust this to another sized pillow insert, I would take the length of the pillow top and divide it by two. Then add ½” to the bottom piece (for the hem), and 3 ½” to the top of the piece (for the hem plus 3″ overlap). 

So, for example, if you are making a cover for a 20″ pillow insert you will cut:

  • Bottom: 10″x 19″
  • Top: 13″x 19″ 

You can hem them by ironing the edge over ¼” and then fold it over again and iron. The double fold will ensure there will be no fraying when you wash the pillow cover. Topstitch over the fold, and there you have clean hemmed edges. The rest of the edges can be left alone since they will be concealed in the binding

Be sure that your finished backing piece is the same size as your pillow top.

When you have confirmed that both your pillow pieces are the same size, then you can put them together, right sides out. Your pillow top will be on the top, facing out, and the zipper will be on the back just as it will be when the pillow is complete.

Tip: I like to do a ⅛” basting stitch on the perimeter of the pillow. This will ensure the layers won’t shift while you are attaching the binding. 

Step 5: Bind the pillow.

Since my pillow cover is a 17” square, I am going to multiply 17×4 to figure out the length of my binding. I also like to add 6” just to make sure I have enough binding. 

17×4= 68+6= 74”

So this means I will need a little less than two strips from a typical quilting cotton fabric, which is usually 42” to 44” wide. Width for binding should be 2 ½”. Sew the strips together, and then iron the long strip in half to create your binding.

Sew the binding onto the pillow top first with a ¼” seam, then flip it over and either stitch it by hand or sew using your sewing machine to the back of the pillow cover. 

Step 6: Stuff the cover with your pillow insert and ENJOY!

Congratulations! You finished an entire quilt project!

I hope you enjoyed my tutorial on how to make a quilted pillow cover and you now have the confidence to make your own! This is such a fun and versatile project that you can literally adjust and create whatever size pillow you want or need.

These would make fabulous gifts too! The possibilities are endless for this new skill you have learned! Happy Sewing!

About the author: Miriam Ronne is a lover of all things quilting and sewing. She is a self- taught quilter and is constantly learning and broadening her skill set to create one-of-a-kind quilts! When she's not behind her sewing machine you can find her playing with her fur babies or trying her hand at other crafty things.

3 thoughts on “A Step-By-Step Guide To Making A Quilted Pillow Cover”

  1. Thanks for the great tutorial. I have been quilting for a while, but new to making pillow covers. Your method of binding the edges instead of just using a classic seam is game changing. Love the look.

  2. Thanks so much, Jeri! I love the binding look on pillows too. Best wishes on your own pillow covers!

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