How to Make an Envelope Pillow Cover Using a Sweatshirt

Hone your sewing skills with this simple envelope-style pillow DIY for a project you'll be proud to display.

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Skill Level: Kid-friendly

This one-of-a-kind envelope pillow cover will add instant charm to your bed or couch, and it's surprisingly easy to sew together. Our step-by-step instructions make it easy to repurpose those vacation T-shirts and college sweatshirts just sitting in your closet. The pillow cover's envelope design makes it simple to remove and wash as necessary. It's a great gift for recent graduates, sports fans, or anyone who would appreciate a personalized gift.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Fabric pencil or marker
  • Fabric scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing needle or sewing machine


  • Sweatshirt
  • Kraft paper
  • Cotton fabric
  • Sewing thread
  • Pillow inserts


  1. sporty gray sweatshirt with heart graphic
    Jay Wilde

    Prepare fabric

    We used a sweatshirt for this quick and easy craft project, but you could easily use a T-shirt with these directions. Before you begin, choose a cotton fabric in a coordinating color or pattern for the back of the envelope pillowcase. We purchased 1/2 yard of fabric for an 18-inch pillow cover and found that using stiff cotton, such as canvas, worked best.

    Use kraft paper to create a pattern the size of the pillow form. Mark the top center of the pattern.

  2. cutting marked section from sweatshirt
    Jay Wilde

    Mark and cut sweatshirt

    Lay shirt flat on work surface. To make the shirt body lay flat, cut off the sleeves and waistband, if needed. Mark top center of the shirt design. Center pattern over the design, aligning the marks, and pin in place. Trace with marker and cut out. This will become the front of the envelope pillow cover.

  3. folded and pinned fabric for throw pillow
    Jay Wilde

    Cut and press backing

    Cut two pieces of stiff cotton for the back of the pillow cover. The width of the back pieces matches the pillow front (ours is 18 inches). For the length of pack pieces, use this equation: (front length +6)/2. Ours is (18+6)/2 = 12, so we marked and cut two pieces that each measured 18 x 12 inches.

    With one back fabric piece right side down on your work surface, use a sewing gauge and iron to fold up and press 1 inch of one 18-inch edge. Fold the raw edge into the pressed fold to create a 1/2-inch fold. Pin in place.

    Editor's Tip: Many sewing projects are constructed with "right sides together," which means the wrong side, or back, of the fabric is facing out. Once complete, you turn the item right side out and the raw edges of your seams are hidden inside the finished project.

  4. Sew the pillow

    Machine-stitch 1/4 inch from fabric edge, securing hem. Repeat for the second back piece. Lay front piece right side up on your work surface. Lay back pieces right side down, matching outside edges and overlapping hemmed edges in the center (this is your envelope opening). Pin together around edges. Stitch pinned outside edges with 1/2-inch seam allowance. Stitch with the cotton side up; the sweatshirt material stretches if it's on top.

    Cut the corners at an angle, careful not to cut the stitching. Turn the cover to right sides out and iron, avoiding any decals or designs that might melt. Stuff with a pillow insert (look for one that's 2 inches larger than your pillowcase) and display your handmade throw pillow!

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