Introduction: Make Outdoor Pillows With Washable Covers!

About: My love of making things started young, with a mom who was always coming up with projects and a dad whose tool collection still gives me envy. I got my love of bright colors from mom and my love of working wi…

Nothing says ready for summer like a well-decorated patio. This year, we got some new cushions for the pool lounges, so we needed new pillows to match. However, we're still trying to be cognizant about not browsing around stores too long (with the pandemic and all), and we also wanted the pillow covers to be removable and washable, which most outdoor pillows you find in stores don't have. With that, we decided to make our own outdoor pillows--complete with zippers and fabric protection--so we can keep them looking pristine throughout the years.

While sewing in a zipper seems daunting, it's really not. We'll show you how easy it is to make these awesome outdoor pillows. We actually made four of these in around two hours from start to finish.


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Fabric (we used 2 yards of a cotton print)

Thread -

Scotchgard Heavy Duty Water Shield -

Zipper -

Straight pins -

Sewing machine -

Outdoor pillow inserts -

Foam board -

Utility knife -

Yard stick -

Cutting mat -

Rotary cutter -

Fabric Shears -

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Step 1: Measure and Cut Fabric

The success of your project hinges on how well you cut your fabric, so take the time to go through all of these steps. Washing the fabric ensures that any shrinkage happens before you cut, and creating a template will make it super easy to make several pillows at once.

Gather the following materials: fabric (2 yards), measuring tape, cutting mat, rotary cutter, pillow inserts, foam board, utility knife, and yard stick.

Follow these steps:

1. Wash and iron your fabric.

2. Measure your pillow inserts using a measuring tape.

3. Use the yard stick and utility knife to cut a template out of foam board.

Note: our inserts were 18" wide, and we decided to make our templates 18"x18" as well. This way, when we sewed the pillows with a 1/2" seam allowance, the pillows would be nice and full.

4. Lay your fabric out on your cutting mat and place the template on top, ensuring that it is straight with the pattern.

5. Use the rotary cutter to cut enough pieces for the number of pillows you have. We were making 4 pillows, so we cut 8 pieces of fabric.

Step 2: Sew in the Zipper

The thought of needing a zipper in a sewing project made me want to change the whole project plan. That was before I realized how easy it actually is to insert a zipper. In this section, we'll show you exactly how easy it is! You may want to watch this in the video (included in the intro to this Instructable). The zipper install starts at 2:30.

Gather the following materials: fabric cuts, zippers, straight pins, sewing machine (with zipper foot attached).

Follow these steps:

1. Lay one piece of your fabric "right side" up (in sewing terms, that means the print facing up).

2. Lay the zipper face down at the bottom of the fabric.

3. Pin the zipper in place.

4. Take the fabric over to your sewing machine and pull the zipper pull back a couple of inches from the end.

5. Using a zipper foot, sew a few stitches and then back stitch to lock the thread in place.

6. Continue stitching along the outermost side of the zipper until you get to the zipper pull.

7. Pause with your needle still in the fabric, lift the foot, and pull the zipper pull until it has cleared the foot.

8. Put the sewing machine foot back down and continue stitching along the outermost side of the zipper until you get to the end.

9. Backstitch for 2-3 stitches to lock the thread in place.

10. Lay the second piece of fabric right side up on your table.

11. Place the first piece with the zipper sewn wrong side up (that is, print side down) on top of the other piece.

12. Line the zipper up with the bottom of the fabric and pin in place.

13. Repeat sewing steps above, remembering to backstitch and getting the zipper pull out of the way.

Step 3: Pin and Sew the Sides

Whew! That wasn't sew hard, was it (see what we did there)? Now that the zipper is installed, the rest is really a piece of cake!

Gather the following materials: fabric pieces sewn with zipper, straight pins, sewing machine with regular foot attached.

Follow these steps:

1. With the right sides of your fabric facing each other, line up all the edges.

2. Pin the corners first to ensure that everything stays perfectly aligned.

3. Insert a pin where you want your zippers to end (on each side).

4. Pull back the zipper some to ensure that you'll be able to open it the rest of the way when you flip them right side out (after they're sewn).

5. Take the fabric to your sewing machine and ensure that you now have your regular sewing foot attached.

6. Sew around all edges, using a consistent seam allowance (we used 1/2" on this project).

7. Snip the extra fabric from the corners (that way, you'll have nice, square edges when you stuff in the inserts).

Step 4: Protect the Fabric

We're almost done! Hasn't this been easy so far?! Now we just want to add an extra layer of protection on the fabric since they'll be staying outdoors.

Gather the following materials: Scotchgard Water Shield, sewn pillow covers, clip hangers (optional)

Follow these steps:

1. Flip the pillows right side out.

2. Get into a well-ventilated area.

3. Coat the fabric with the water shielding solution, following the instructions on the bottle.

Tip: I'm impatient and wanted to do both sides at the same time. So, I used clip hangers to hold the pillow covers up and did both sides at the same time, hanging them to dry.

4. Once dry, just stuff in the pillow inserts!

Step 5: Put Outside and Enjoy!

Woo hoo! Now you have some awesome outdoor pillows in the fabric YOU chose (and I bet you spent a lot less than you would have buying pillows from a store. Now just get out there and enjoy the outdoors, chilling on your deck or patio.

If you liked this project, please head over to for more tips, tutorials, back stories and more. And if you’re interested in checking out more of our video tutorials, check out our Instructables profile or head over to our YouTube channel.

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