Simple-Sew Pillows

Two accent pillows made from repurposed scarves
Dress up any room with these creative pillows that are easy on the eyes and effortless to make.

Oh, Sew Simple

The secret to fun DIY pillows is knowing the basics, then getting creative. Browse the ideas in the next slides for fun embellishments and techniques. If you're new to pillow making, or want to brush up on your sewing skills, here's how to make a basic pillow: Cut two squares of fabric to the desired size (include extra for seam allowances). Sew the two squares wrong sides together, leaving a 2-inch opening along one side. Turn right side out and fill with stuffing or a pillow form. Use a hidden stitch or fabric glue to close the opening. Choose a colorful and/or patterned fabric you love to ensure the pillow looks right at home for years to come.

Character Counts

Use vintage doilies or lace to add old-fashioned charm to a ready-made pillow. A tacked-on crocheted form sweetens the front of this plain pillow form. Be careful when working with vintage fabrics, as their age makes them more delicate and prone to fraying. A cursive monogram, hand-drawn using a fabric pen, gives the pillow even more character.

Gilty Pleasure

Hop on board the hot trend of using gold in home decor with this quick and easy pillow project. Simply gather a collection of mismatched buttons and spray-paint them gold. Stitch each button onto the pillow, making a heart shape. Hearts not your thing? Choose another simple shape to add texture and dimension to a solid-color throw.

Pillow Talk

This pillow definitely has a way with words. Start with an assortment of glass, iridescent, and pearlized beads in a variety of sizes. Cut the fabric and stabilizer to your desired pillow size. Use a dark marker to write a word on butcher paper. Place the fabric over the paper and use a vanishing fabric marker to trace the word onto the fabric. Iron the stabilizer to the back of the fabric, then use a beading needle and clear thread to sew beads onto the fabric to form each letter. Sew into a pillow and add piping along the edge, if desired.

From Paper to Pillow

Throw together this simple-sew pillow in no time at all. First, use a marbling technique to create a colorful, swirly design on a piece of paper. After that, scan the image onto the computer and send your design off to a custom-fabric printing service. When the fabric pieces arrive in the mail, simply sew them together and fill with stuffing or a pillow form.

Rock the Block

Outfit your furniture with these color-block pillows for a look that's right on trend. First, sketch a simple design on a square piece of kraft paper, then use those shapes as a template to trace and cut fabric to size. Stitch the shapes together and press the seams open. Cut the back of the pillow covering from solid-color fabric. Stitch the front and back pieces, right sides together, leaving a small opening. Turn right side out, press, and stuff with a pillow form. Whipstitch the opening closed. 

Stitch It Up

An embroidered design elevates this plain pillow from blah to beautiful. With its spindly form and distinctive blooms, the sarsaparilla plant comes to life in textural crewel stitches. Trace your desired pattern onto the center of the front of the pillow and follow the outline with embroidery thread. Choose thread colors that will match or accent your other decor.

Click here to download the pattern.

Map Quest

Tap into your wanderlust with a pillow featuring a vintage-look map. Find an image from an old atlas, or score a map of your favorite city or dream destination. Scan the image, or find free clip art online. Use editing software to create a mirror image of the map, then use an ink-jet printer and print it onto iron-on transfer paper. Iron the image onto light-color linen fabric, following the package instructions. Peel away the transfer backing to reveal the image. Use heat-set tape to adhere the accent onto a pillow.

In the Pocket

A pocket sewn onto the front of a plain throw pillow transforms the object into a sneaky storage space. Perfect for kids’ rooms and playrooms, the pocket can be used to store journals, books, and other small items. For a seamless look, use matching fabrics for the pocket and the pillow.

Masterful Mix

Cover a throw pillow with a patchwork of old feed sacks to pep up the personality of a neutral-color sofa. Scour thrift shops and secondhand stores to find the sacks, and use a sewing machine to adhere them together. Pair the vintage-look pillow with throws that sport modern prints to strike a pleasing balance.

Initial This

Since felted textiles don’t fray, they’re perfect for cutout shapes and embellishments like this pretty monogram. Cut initials from a felted wool sweater and secure them to a pillow made from wool felt. Simply stitch the letters onto the pillow and voila! A seat cover made from a cable-knit sweater pairs expertly with the felted pillow.

Personal Touch

A monogram adds a homemade touch to a plain pillow. Use felt or another easy-sew fabric to create the monogram. (This pillow, placed on a kid’s bed, features a simple circle and a large letter, but the sky’s the limit when it comes to creativity!) Affix the monogram to the center of the pillow form using fabric glue.

Dimensional Dots

Put a chair or sofa in the spotlight with this modern-look pillow. Layer felt circles and stitch them to the pillow front through the centers to create a graphic, lively look. Switch the direction of the seams to create another layer of dimension and texture.

Color Correction

Sew pillow covers from secondhand-store fabrics and old T-shirts to get a look that’s easy to update as your design tastes change. Choose patterns and colors that match your tastes to present a look that’s undeniably “you.” Use a neutral sofa and wall color to create a blank canvas for the collection of colorful throws.

Rain or Shine

Outfit an outdoor pillow with a waterproof cover made from an old rain jacket to create an object that’s both sturdy and stylish. Trim the rain jacket down to your desired pillow size and sew the front and back pieces together. Leave the zipper and pockets intact to hint at the cover’s previous life.

Easy Does It

Carefree, comfortable, durable -- what more could you ask from outdoor furnishings? Deck-friendly choices like these outdoor pillows stand up to summer weather while still looking fun and fresh. Construct the pillows using outdoor fabrics (you might even want to consider some laminated fabrics) and sew them to fit standard-size pillow forms.

Pillows with Fringe

Give store-bought pillows three-dimensional appeal with pleated edges and cute ruffles. Dress up a solid-color throw with ruffles down the center. Give a circular pillow a floral look with stacked ruffles. Add pizzazz to a square pillow with tiny ruffles around the edges.

From Scarves to Accent Pillows

To turn a colorful scarf into a fun accent pillow, add fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the scarf. For the pillow back, cut a piece of fabric the same size as the scarf, adding 1 inch to the width. Cut the back piece in half widthwise. Stitch a long edge on each half under 1/2 inch. Place the back halves on a work surface right sides up with the hemmed edges touching. Layer the scarf on top with the right side down. Stitch the pieces together around the outside edges to make a pillow cover with a hemmed opening in the back. Turn cover right side out and insert pillow form through opening in back. To add a flange, topstitch 2-1/2 inches from the outer edges.

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