How to sew a pillow

I've been hard at work sewing pillows for our living room (I've always wanted to replace the ones that match the sofa) and I thought some of you might like a little tutorial on how to make a simple envelope-back style pillow (aka no zippers required!). You should know that before starting on the first of these pillows, I hadn't touched a sewing machine since home economics in high school. My mom lent (and now gave) me her machine and it sat untouched for many months as I was totally intimidated. This is a great starter project because all the seams are straight!

I used Amanda's tutorial on CasaBrasi as a starting point, and adjusted the instructions to fit what I wanted.

This is for an 18x18 inch pillow.

First you'll cut a large piece for the front (19x19), plus two slightly smaller pieces for the back (each 19x15), which will overlap to form the envelope opening.

For each of the 19x15 pieces, fold the long edge (19inches) over toward the WRONG side (back of fabric) one inch. Iron into place, fold over one more inch, and iron again. You'll end up with these three pieces (sorry my fabric is solid, but this is WRONG side up!)

Next you need to stitch that folded edge so that it won't go anywhere!

Wrong side up, you'll sew a seam down the outer edge of the flap, and the inner edge.

When you finish that step, the RIGHT side of the fabric will look like this:

Next step is to assemble the pillow and pin it into place. You want RIGHT sides together, so lay the large front piece down with the RIGHT side up. Layer the two smaller back pieces WRONG side up, matching up the outside edges (the two flaps you just sewed will overlap in the middle of the pillow, like so:

After pining everything in place (tip: pin heads should be on the outside edge so they are easy to pull out while you're sewing - and pins should always be on the top of whatever you're stitching so you don't hit one on accident!), it's time to sew!

A half an inch from the edge, sew all around the perimeter of the pillow, pivoting at each corner. Take care when sewing over those thicker flaps, just take it nice and easy and make sure it all stays flat and smooth. Amanda recommends reverse-stitching back over those areas for extra reinforcement.

Once you're done with all the sewing (which should take 10 minutes, MAX), clip the corners before turning your pillow right-side-out (this will help the corners look pointy rather than bunched up):

After turning your pillow right-side-out, hit it up with the iron before stuffing in your pillow form (I like the down-filled inserts from Crate and Barrel).

And voila!

I just finished three of these square pillows and one rectangle (for the wingback) and as soon as I get all my inserts purchased I will be sure to snap another picture. Happy sewing!