Introduction: How to Sew an Envelope Pillow Cover

Picture of How to Sew an Envelope Pillow Cover

We recently got a new couch and decided to cover some pillows to make it a little more comfortable. I bought two pillow forms from IKEA and decided to make some envelope pillow covers. Envelope pillow covers are my favorite - they fit well, look great, and sew up very quickly. :D

This is super easy and should take about a half hour per envelope pillow cover once you get into the swing of things.

Plus, these envelope pillow covers are washable! Yay!

Want to make a zippered pillow cover? I have an instructable for that too!

Step 1: Before You Start

Picture of Before You Start

Some words of caution:
If you plan to wash this pillow cover, wash the fabric beforehand in the way you normally wash. Otherwise, the unwashed sewn fabric can shrink in a hot wash or dryer later and cause seam rippage.

If you're in a hurry to get started, make sure to at least steam press your fabric.

You'll just need to wash it normally and hang it out to dry later! This will keep your pillow cover in nice shape. :D

Step 2: What You'll Need...

Picture of What You'll Need...
  • 1/2-1 yard of fabric. (I am estimating because I don't know how big your pillow is. We'll talk about that on the next step!)
  • matching thread
  • scissors (pinking shears will work perfectly!)
  • pen/pencil for marking
  • ruler of some sort
  • sewing machine
  • iron & board
  • measuring tape
  • sewing pins

And that's it! Pinking shears are awesome but not necessary.

Step 3: How to Measure for the Cover

Picture of How to Measure for the Cover

This is dead easy if your pillow has a cover.

Covered pillow:

  • take cover off, measure across and down
  • add one inch to each of these measurements

Uncovered pillow or pillow form:

  • use your measuring tape to conform to the curve of the pillow and take the measurements from seam to seam
  • add one inch to each of these measurements!

In this instructable, I'm covering a 16x26 inch pillow, so I'd consider my measurements to be 17x27.

We'll be cutting out three pieces all together, one for the front and two for the back. Many other tutorials just have you cut one long piece, but the I believe the extra seams make for a better fitting pillow. :)

Step 4: Measuring and Cutting Out the Pieces

Picture of Measuring and Cutting Out the Pieces

Since my pillow is 16x26, I'm cutting out one piece that's 17x27.

The other two pieces, I'm taking ten inches off the length - so they're 17x17.

For long pillows:

  • cut one piece that is your length +1 and height +1
  • cut two pieces that are your length-10 and height +1

Taking 10 inches off could be too much for some pillows - just make sure you have at least 4 inches of overlap with the back panels.

For square pillows:

  • cut one piece that is your length+1 and height+1
  • cut two pieces that are your length-6 and height+1.


To measure and cut:

  1. flip the fabric over so it's wrong side up
  2. use your ruler and pen to mark out the panels - this way you'll know things are square
  3. use pinking shears (or regular scissors if that's all you've got!) to cut the panels out

Step 5: Hemming the Back Panels

Picture of Hemming the Back Panels

Lay the fabric wrong side up on your ironing board. (If you're using a pattern, make sure you have it all lined up the right way!)

Go to the outside edge of one of the smaller panels and fold over 1/4 inch of the fabric. Press this down with your iron.

Now fold again by another 1/4 inch and press again.

Now you'll sew this hem down about an 1/8 inch from the inside edge. Backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitches!

Step 6: Sew the Back Panels and Main Panel Together

Picture of Sew the Back Panels and Main Panel Together

We'll be using a 1/2 inch seam allowance. :D

Take your main panel and lay it flat right side up. Then, take one of the smaller panels and place it wrong side up at the edge of the main panel. Once your edges are aligned, pin it to the main panel. Now lay the second panel down and pin it in place too.

Make sure to put extra pins in where the two back panels overlap - you don't want them to shift!

Sew all around the edges, backstitching at the beginning and end.

Step 7: Clip the Corners and Turn Right Side Out

Picture of Clip the Corners and Turn Right Side Out

Once the cover is all sewn up, press it well while it's still wrong side out.

Now you'll want to trim the corners! This will give you nice sharp corners when you turn the pillow cover right side out.

Now flip the cover right side out. Use a crochet hook, knitting needle or other pointed object to poke out the corners as well as you can.

Step 8: Stuff the Pillow in the Cover and Enjoy!

Picture of Stuff the Pillow in the Cover and Enjoy!

Big Dee approves.


KellyA5 made it! (author)2015-06-26

I just made a square one! I had to test out my new sewing machine. :) Nice and easy instructions. Thanks!

LisaD239 (author)KellyA52017-12-08

How cute!

LisaD239 made it! (author)2017-12-08

Here is the pillow I made from ticking fabric, along with a pillow I made from a bag of lead shot my Dad used to reload shells. He passed away recently, so these pillows sit in “his” chair!

HeatherJ66 (author)2017-03-11

Thank you for sharing this! It seems very straightforward.

I'm thinking of adapting it for a roundish pillow. Any advice or warnings?

Thanks again!

ConnerC1 made it! (author)2016-05-17

Thanks so much for this! When my brother asked if I could do something to cover his throw pillows so they all looked the same, I figured I could since I had done a regular pillow cover before... But I wanted some guidance on how to do the envelope and this was super helpful! Pictured is the first one I completed, it is actually for a smaller pillow than it is on, that is why you can see the pillow inside. My brother thinks they are great, too!

NL3313 made it! (author)2016-02-23

It took a while but I did it ?

Cooter87 (author)2016-02-08

Thank you for making this so simple!

Ali_Potts (author)2016-02-01

Hi Jessy, I love this and I'm going to give it a go....but I'm thinking or recovering a cushion that covers a whole armchair....the cushion is about 4 inches thick and not very squidgy compared with a scatter cushion - how much extra fabric do you think I should allow for a good fit!?

Eyeore1919 (author)2015-12-09

Easy to understand

Can you help me understand what you do when it's all stitched together? This is my first sewing project! I've got all my cuts (for square) now trying to figure out layout before I sew all together...the panels overlap each other? Like, pinned together on the main panel?

basaseg (author)2015-03-31

basaseg (author)basaseg2015-03-31

im trying to make one

joyce.wurdeman (author)2015-03-17

Easy to follow directions. Whipped up a couple of pillows in one evening. I used pillow form in mine. Easy to get in and easy to take off to laundry.

sweetgrass225 (author)2015-03-17

I want to cover my couch cushions, I hope that it will work for that as well. On my leather couch, the seat cushions are getting dirty so I want to make washable covers to put on them

Square cushion covers might work better! You can modify this dog bed pattern to make them. :D

Here's a ible showing how to I re-covered my old couch using that method:

Thank you very much for helping me, I do not know how to sew so this should be interesting.

You can do it!! It's all straight lines, really. :)

Let me know if you get stuck on anything in particular and I'll try to help!

mikeasaurus (author)2015-03-11

Those look amazing. I think I need new covers for my pillows now!

NiomiC (author)2015-02-12

Thank you for the excellent instructions. So easy to follow and worked perfectly.

erin.berger (author)2015-01-03

This is the first tutorial I found that was clear, thank you!!

Cookinkaren (author)2014-02-04

Jessie, Thank you for the very good instructions. I had 30 inch European pillows and have been wanting to make cases for them. Your instructions were perfect and I did deduct 1 inch to make the cover tight. It worked perfectly! I didn't have enough fabric for the whole cover so I used blue and white ticking fabric for the back and blue and white buffalo check for the front. My pictures are on my tablet and I am not sure how to get them on here. Sorry. Thanks Again! Karen

lisagary1982 (author)2012-03-22

Good work...

jessyratfink (author)maxcarroll2010-10-09

Oooooh! I love the print! They look fantastic! :D

paravou (author)2010-05-04

I took a long rectangle piece of fabric and just overlapped the selvages and serged down both sides. Your idea is good if you want to add a trim around the edge. I like it, simple and you can slip the cover off for cleaning.

diannaborders (author)2009-02-26

You rock! Thanks!!!

Doctor What (author)2008-11-20

PINK IRON! How very dare you.

jessyratfink (author)Doctor What2008-11-21

It's cute and dangerous! :D

Lithium Rain (author)2008-11-20


Goodhart (author)2008-11-20

I agree with Nacho, quite nice. Question, have you ever tried to simple double the length of the piece of fabric (plus an inch or so) and then just fold it over, eliminating one edge to sew?

jessyratfink (author)Goodhart2008-11-20

I have - but without those side seams it can lack structure and look really frumpy. :) Plus, it can be a lot harder to keep everything pressed and measured throughout the process. :P

Goodhart (author)jessyratfink2008-11-20

Ok, I was looking for your experience in that, which is why I asked instead of stating ;-) IIRC, the fold method was taught me in middle school, during my semester of Home Ec, when we did Gym bags. The heavier material might have helped however in keeping it even. Thanks...

NachoMahma (author)2008-11-18

. Very nice.

jessyratfink (author)NachoMahma2008-11-20

Thank you sir. :D

About This Instructable




Bio: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @makingjiggy to see what i'm working ... More »
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