Creative Pillow Ideas

Green rectangle pillow with three daisies sewn vertically to the front
Stitch up one of these soft, charming pillows and rest assured you'll be in high style. Glam up any pillow with fun, inexpensive flair from everyday notions.

Button Treetop Pillow

Pop the seam on a pillow and remove the stuffing for a flat work surface. Using embroidery floss, stitch buttons into a rounded tree shape. Cut a trunk from coordinating fabric and adhere it with iron-on adhesive. Restuff the pillow and stitch the seam closed.

Button Treetop Detail

For a less orderly look with more variety, use multiple shapes and shades of buttons.

Overlapping Ribbon Pillow

This project is so quick, you don't even need to remove the stuffing to make it. Cut lengths of ribbon to fit the front panel of the pillow and attach with iron-on adhesive in a lattice pattern. Don't leave the iron in one spot too long because the heat could melt the batting.

Overlapping Ribbon Detail

Add interest by varying lengths and colors of ribbons. Cut ends of ribbons at an angle and use a fray-stopper to keep ribbon ends neat.

Die-Cut Felt Pattern Pillow

Re-create expensive designer looks on the cheap using unexpected items. Dress up plain cotton pillows by attaching die-cut felt place mats using fabric glue.

Fabric Leaf Pillow

Using a pillow's quilted leaf design as a starting point, cut pieces of fabric to fit the shapes. Attach the fabric with iron-on adhesive, then tie a length of ribbon down the center, hiding the ends on the back.

Fabric Leaf Detail

Select ribbon with colors that coordinate with the fabric shapes.

Screen-Print Pillow

Screen-print graphic dots or other designs on a pillow. Make the fabric screen, prepare the pillow cover, and print.

Beaded Leaf Pillow

Accent an existing design using seed beads. Instead of sewing on individual beads, string a dozen or so on a length of thread. Stitch them in place. Use larger beads to accent surrounding patterns. Loop thread through each one several times to secure it.

Pretty Felt Butterfly Pillow

Rather than spend a fortune on designer pillows, make this easy-sew butterfly pillow from fabric remnants or embellishments. Here, an ordinary aqua accent pillow takes flight with pretty felt cutouts.

Spray-Paint Leaf Pillow

A single, leafy stem stenciled onto a basic pillow punches up a lackluster room. Start with a beige or cream-color linen or cotton pillow. Open a seam and remove the pillow form to work with the pillow on a flat surface. Create a large foliage stencil from contact paper. Attach it to the fabric using tape or straight pins. For straight, tidy lines, tape off the edges. Spray bright green fabric paint over the stencil. Let dry and remove the stencil. Replace the pillow form and stitch the seam closed.

Wool Applique Pillow

Turn an old wool blanket into an elegant pillow with applique.

Iron-On Transfer Pillow

Embellish a store-bought pillow using transfer paper. (Transfer paper works best on cotton fabric.) Using your computer, design and print a letter, number, or other motif to the desired size. Scan quilt fabric and print it onto fabric transfer paper (or ask a copy shop to copy the design onto transfer paper). Trace your printed design onto the transfer paper and cut it out. Remove the pillow form, then transfer the image to the pillow following the manufacturer's instructions. Replace the pillow form.

Simple Felt Applique Pillows

Make purchased pillows look like designer originals by decorating them with felt shapes. Cut felt into interesting designs, such as blades of grass or flowers and leaves, and then attach them with fabric glue.

Recycled Clothing Pillow

Repurpose outdated clothing into fun throw pillows. Cut two 16-inch circles, a 2-1/2 inch band to fit around the edge, and a narrow strip to cover the piping cord. With right sides together, sew the circles, piping, and band together with a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Leave an opening. Turn and insert a pillow form. Hand-stitch the opening closed.

Transferable Pattern Pillow

No motif is too intricate for your pillow. This pretty tree design was applied using transferable ink-jet printer paper. The process may cause a slight color change in the fabric. Add ribbon to mask the variation.

Painted Front Pillow

Decorate a plain pillow with paint. Remove the pillow form. Spray the back of a stencil with adhesive. Lay it in place on the pillow. Paint within the stencil with a light dabbing motion. Remove the stencil. When the paint is dry, accent the design with crafts gems adhered with fabric glue.

Grosgrain Ribbon Pillow

Turning a plain pillow into a piece of art is as simple as adding a few cents' worth of ribbon. Lay the ribbon in an interesting design, pin it in place, and then attach it with fusible web.

Fabric Overlay Pillow

Achieve a great look without a lot of money; add a fabric overlay to the front of a basic pillow. Cut a fabric square and stick it in place with fusible web. Hide the raw edges with decorative trim attached with fabric glue.

Pet Pillow

Give your pooch a snazzy spot to rest with an easy-sew bed. To successfully mix bold patterns, stick to colors of the same intensity. Here's how to sew a comfy cushion for your four-legged friend:

-- Cut two circles of washable fabric (cotton duck, canvas, and denim are good choices) 31 inches in diameter, which includes seam allowances; set aside.

-- Cut 4-inch strips of fabric for the gusset, piecing them short end to short end to equal the circumference of the circles (about 94 inches).

-- With right sides together, pin one long edge of the gusset to one circle and stitch together. Repeat with the other circle and the other long edge of the gusset, being sure to leave an opening for stuffing (polystyrene beads and high-density foam work well).

-- Trim and press the seams, then turn the cover right side out. Stuff, and then whipstitch the opening closed.

Fringed Edge Pillow

Create a sophisticated look by adding trim and an elegant design. Find flocked iron-on designs at fabrics stores. Press them in place. Decorate the pillow edges with loop fringe stitched or hot-glued in place.

Felted Pillow with Flowers

Give new life to old wool sweaters by turning them into pillow covers using a simple felting technique. To shrink the sweaters into a felted material that can be cut without fraying, wash sweaters in hot water, using high agitation and light detergent, then toss in the dryer. Cut two same-size rectangles and stitch them together to form the pillow cover. Finish with flowers you knit yourself, or purchase versions at a crafts store.

Belt Buckle Pillow

Turn old feed sacks into pretty pillows by sewing two pieces together, right sides facing, and leaving a small opening. Turn right side out, stuff the pillow, and slip-stitch the opening closed. Wrap grosgrain ribbon around the center and thread it through a vintage belt buckle.

Old Sweater Pillows

Old sweaters can make great new throw pillows. Cut the sweater straight across under the sleeves through both the front and back. Measure the width to learn what size pillow form will fit. Turn the sweater inside out and sew a seam at the top. Turn right side out. For bow closings, sew two equal-length ribbons just inside the open end of the pillow cover. Repeat for more bows. Insert the pillow form and tie. For a closed end, insert the form and hand-stitch closed.

Neck Roll Pillow from Towel

This neck roll pillow is simple to stitch. Fold a hand towel in half lengthwise and sew about 1 inch in from each corner. Pin a fabric circle into each end and sew in place. Finally, turn the towel right side out and insert a pillow form into the envelope like opening.

Converted Place Mat Pillow

Making pillows is a snap when you use a patterned two-ply place mat as your fabric. Cut a slit through one layer of fabric along the top back of the mat and stuff with batting, leaving the top few inches empty. Fold over the top flap and secure it with a button and a ribbon tie.

Cable-Knit Sweater Pillows

Grab old sweaters from the garage-sale box to make fun and functional pillows. Dad's sleeves should be big enough for small rectangular pillows, and anything with a zipper or buttons means you can stitch all four sides and still remove the cover for cleaning. If a button-up cardigan has a V-neck, make a contrasting pillow insert that will peek out from the neckline. Sweaters stretch, so the secret to a good fit is in making the sweater pillow cover 1 inch smaller all around than the pillow insert.

Vintage Brooch Pillow

Turn vintage clothes into chic accessories. Cut squares from old shirts. With right sides together and trim sandwiched between the layers, sew the pieces together, leaving an opening along one edge; turn right side out. Cut different-size circles from complementary fabrics, pin them together, and attach to the pillow with a brooch. Insert a pillow form and hand-stitch the opening closed.

Romantic Lace Pillow

Glam up inexpensive pillows with lace ribbons and trim, available by the yard at fabrics stores. Hand-stitch the lace to pillow fronts or adhere it carefully with fabrics glue.

Floral Fantasy Pillow

Adorn a solid-color pillow by stitching fabric flowers to the front.

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