When you think of pillows, what comes to mind?
Is it the comfortable pillow you snuggle up with at night, the decorative pillow(s) plumped up and resting in the corner of your sofa, or a throw pillow you use to cushion your back or bottom on a hard chair?
Regardless of the pictures floating through your thoughts, pillows are a part of everyday life.
Throw pillows are an easy way to liven up your home but also make a great gift.
Note: The pillow cover I made in this tutorial is one part of a belated Christmas gift for my sister. I found the themed fabric on Spoonflower. I selected this fabric because it showcases a chihuahua that looks just like Walter, the little dog my niece and sister have.
To see the other part of my sister’s gift, check out Sew a Round Pillow Cover with Fringe Trim.
How to Sew a Square Pillow Cover with Pom Pom Trim
After following the directions in this lesson, you’ll have a pillow form covered with fabric and livened up with pom pom trim.
This project includes both machine and hand sewing.
Tip: Read all of the steps before you begin.
You Will Need
Square Pillow Insert – Standard polyester pillow forms come in different shapes and sizes. This tutorial focuses on a pillow cover for a square pillow but the size of the form isn’t specified. Select the size you want and calculate the amount of fabric and trim based on the cutting directions below.
Fabric – woven fabric for the pillow front and back. Before selecting the fabric, think about how the pillow will be used. If the pillow will get a lot of use, select a fabric that is more tightly woven.
Pom Pom Trim – also called ball fringe
Special Tool: zipper foot, this will help you get close to the pom poms when sewing.
Tips for Preparing Fabric and Trim:
- When you buy the trim, read the info on how to clean it.
- Prewash and dry the fabric and trim if there is a chance the pillow cover will ever be washed in the future.
- Press large wrinkles and creases out of the fabric before cutting.
Determine the width of the square pillow form from one side seam to the other.
- Fabric – 2 cutting options
- Option 1: Cut 2 pieces of fabric the same size as the pillow form. This will result in a covered pillow that is full and plump.
- Option 2: For a pillow that is slightly less full, cut 2 pieces of fabric 1-inch larger than the pillow form.
- What I did: I wanted a full, plump pillow, so I cut 2 pieces of fabric 14″ x 14″ because my square pillow form had a width of 14 inches. (If I wanted the finished pillow to be slightly less plump, I would have cut the fabric 15″ x 15″.)
- Pom Pom Trim – The trim should be a length that is a few inches longer than the perimeter of the pillow form. (The perimeter of my pillow form is 56-inches (14×4). I added an extra 3 inches to the trim for a total of 59-inches.)
Tip: Read all of the steps before you begin.
Taper the Corners of the Fabric
Tapering the corners of the fabric will leave you with fuller, plump corners on the finished pillow once the form is inserted.
- Fold the front fabric into fourths so the four corners are together.
2. Mark halfway between the corners and the fold on each side.
3. Where the four corners have come together, mark 1/2″ from each raw edge.
4. Trim the fabric from the halfway mark to the corner mark on one side.
Tip: Don’t cut off the entire mark at the corner. Leave just a little so you know where to cut on the other side.
5. Trim the fabric from the halfway mark to the corner mark on the other side.
The corners on the front fabric are tapered now.
6. Unfold the front fabric and lay it on the back fabric. Use it as a pattern to taper the corners on the back fabric.
Tip: If the fabric has creases from the folding, press them out before attaching the trim.
Attach the Pom Pom Trim
Note: Use the zipper foot to attach the pom pom trim to the right side of the front piece.
Tip: Set the stitch length on your machine to a longer stitch (4) to keep the fabric from puckering. This row of stitches will secure the pom pom trim to the front fabric.
Important: You’ll use a seam allowance of 1/2″ to connect the front and back pieces together in the next section, so right now use a shorter seam allowance when tacking the pom pom trim down. (I use the edge of my zipper pressure foot as my guide.)
Directions: Start along the bottom of the fabric. Line up the edge of the trim with the edge of the fabric. The pom poms should be on the inside of the fabric. Pinning or clipping the trim in place is optional.
When you get to close to the corner:
- Line up the trim so it is lying flat as it goes around the corner.
- Stop sewing about 3/8″ from the corner and pivot the fabric around the needle.
- Continue sewing until you get a few inches from where you started.
As you get close to where you started sewing:
- Stop a few inches from where you started.
- Overlap the ends of the trim.
- Cut the end of the trim so it overlaps the beginning of the trim, slightly. If there is a pom pom there, leave it connected.
- Fold under the end of the trim so it’s close to the starting point.
- Sew the end of the trim down. Backstitch over where the trim ends come together.
Connect the Front and Back
- Lay the front piece right side up.
2. Place the back piece on top, right sides together. If there is a pattern with direction on the fabric, make sure it is going the same direction on both pieces.
3. Line up the corners and edges of both pieces and pin or clip them together.
Tip: First clip the corners together. Then place a clip between the corners.
Finally, put a clip between the corners and the center clip on each edge.
Important: Make sure all of the pom poms are tucked in between the layers of fabric so they don’t get caught in the seam allowance.
4. You’ll need to leave an opening 7-8 inches long so you can insert the pillow form. Mark your starting and stopping points with the marking pen. I like to put the opening on the bottom of the pillow.
5. Set the stitch length to a mid-size stitch (2-3) and keep the zipper foot on the machine so you can get close to the pom poms.
6. Use a 1/2″ seam allowance and sew the front and back together with a straight stitch. The back of the pillow cover should be on top when you’re sewing. Start and stop on the marks.
You’ll pivot about 1/2″ from each corner.
Tip: Mark the pivot points to make them easier to identify when sewing.
7. Trim the corners to reduce bulk and turn the pillow cover right side out.
8. Push out the corners gently with a pencil eraser or other slightly curved object.
9. Insert the pillow form into the opening and adjust it until it fills the cover evenly.
Close the Opening
At the opening, you’ll notice the woven part of the pom pom trim is visible. However, around the rest of the pillow cover, the woven part is hidden in the seam allowance. You want all of the woven part of the trim to be hidden.
Warning: Clips work best for this next part, but pins do the job, too. Just be careful not to poke yourself!
- On the front of the pillow (the fabric panel that the pom poms are sewn to), slightly pull up on the sewn edge and adjust the fabric so you get a fold that covers the woven part of the trim. The fold should be in line with the fabric on the same side that is sewn. Secure it in place.
2. On the back of the pillow, fold down the raw edge of the opening 1/2″ and secure it with the front of the pillow.
3. Thread the hand needle, tie a knot and use a combination of the blind and ladder stitches to connect the opening between the front and back fabric.
Watch how I make a few stitches to sew the opening closed:
That’s It. You’re Done!
A Couple Pillow Cover Options
After reading through the directions for this pillow cover, if you either want a pillow cover you can remove or you don’t want to hand sew the opening, check out my post Pillow Covers for Outdoor Furniture.
In this post, I show you how to make an envelope pillow cover with a ruffle. You can easily follow the same directions but replace the ruffle with pom pom trim.
If you want to make a pillowcase for a sleeping pillow, check out my post on How to Sew a Simple Pillowcase.
One of my main goals is to support and empower you in the joy of sewing.
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