I chose to make these slip covers button-on style so I can easily remove them for washing (multiple cat household = need to wash pillows a lot). This particular style is pretty on both sides, so you can simply turn your pillows over for a different look. You'll need the following:
- a pillow (duh)
- fabric- enough for one square slightly bigger than your pillow plus one rectangle slightly wider than your pillow and several inches longer.
- matching thread
- sewing machine (preferably one that does buttonholes)
- pins (optional if you're one of those rebels who likes to sew without them)
- iron-on interfacing (optional; I used a fabric that needed some extra support)
Step 1: Wash Your Fabric. Yes, Seriously.
A couple of tips for washing your fabric-
- Zig-zag stitch or serge the cut edges of your fabric so that it doesn't become a huge frayed mess in the wash. See photo above for an example (photo is of a different fabric, but you get the idea)
- Wash your fabric on the same settings you intend to wash your pillow cover on. If you plan to dry your cover on high heat in the future, dry your fabric that way. Remember, you want to get all the shrinkage out of the way before you start sewing.
- Cottons, linens and some other fabrics will permanently wrinkle if you dry them completely in the dryer. No amount of ironing will get dryer-set wrinkles out of these fabrics. Instead, take them out of the dryer while they're still somewhat damp (not wet; just damp) and immediately iron the snot out of them. See above photo.
Step 2: Cutting Out Your Pieces
I'm working with a 20" square pillow, so I'll be using those measurements to figure out sizing in this instructable. Obviously, you'll want to adjust your figures to reflect your pillow's measurements.
I've decided to work with a 1" seam allowance. Since my pillow is 20" square, I've cut out one 22" x 22" piece of fabric. I'm using a lightweight linen which wrinkles horribly, so I've ironed a 20" x 20" square of iron-on interfacing to my fabric. I'm hoping that the interfacing will keep the fabric relatively wrinkle free when I have to wash this in the future. Will it work? Who knows?
The other side of my pillow will have two pieces of fabric that button together. To that end, I've cut one 22" x 18" piece and one 22" x 7" piece out of my fabric. 18" + 7" = 25", so what gives? Each of those pieces will have an inch folded back from one edge, plus they'll overlap by one inch. At that point, the total size of the two overlapped pieces will equal 22" x 22", so we're square. Apparently I only took a picture of the shorter piece, so you'll have to use your imagination.
Step 3: Fold, Press, Stitch
Now we'll clean up the edges where the two pieces will overlap. Fold down 1" of fabric to the wrong side at the top of your your 22" x 18" piece. Iron well. Topstitch about 3/4" away from the edge.
Fold up 1" of fabric to the wrong side on the bottom of your 22" x 7" piece. Iron well. Topstitch about 3/4" away from the edge.
Step 4: Buttonholes
Decide how many buttons you want. On the folded and stitched edge of your small rectangle of fabric, mark where you want to put your buttonholes. Use a disappearing ink fabric pen, chalk or some other removable method to make these marks. Stitch your buttonholes with whatever method your machine allows (1-step buttonhole, 4-step buttonhole, ah-what-the-heck-lets-wing-it buttonhole, etc.) or hand stitch (oooh, fancy).
Soak each buttonhole with Fray-Check so that the inner edges will stay somewhat neat when you cut them open. Try to keep the Fray-Check to just the buttonhole, as it may mar your fabric. Don't sniff the Fray-Check; that stuff is wicked strong. I like to flip the fabric over after doing the front so I soak both sides of the buttonhole. Wait for everything to dry before proceeding.
Step 5: Buttons
When the Fray-Check is dry, carefully cut open the inside of your buttonholes. Try not to cut past the bar tacks at either end. I like to poke a hole at one end, then use tiny scissors to cut open the rest.
Lay your short buttonhole piece so that the finished edge overlaps the finished edge of the larger rectangle by 1". Poke a pen through the center of each buttonhole to mark the placement of your buttons. Guess what's next? Go sew on your buttons! See my Instructable on how to sew on a button by machine quickly and easily.
When you've got them all on, button up the two pieces and have a celebratory drink. Buttons and buttonholes are annoying, so you've earned it.
Step 6: The Home Stretch
Now you've got two halves of a pillow cover. Put them together right sides together and sew all the way around using a 1" seam allowance (or whatever seam allowance you added on). When done, clip off each corner at a 45 degree angle just a liiiiiitle bit away from the stitching (see photo above). Then clip a little more away as shown in the second photo above. This ensures that when you turn the cover right side out, all that excess fabric you just cut off won't end up all bunched in the corners.
Unbutton (a bit tricky as it's inside out, but totally doable) and turn your cover right side out. Use a chopstick or knitting needle to push out the corners so they look nice. Stuff your pillow inside, re-button, and admire your work!