Monday, April 18, 2011

Fancy Schmancy Pillow Slipcover

I confess.  It has taken me a ridiculously long time to get around to posting this.  This was a spur of the moment, hey-what-if-I..., type of thing that turned out way better than I dared to hope.  In fact, I'd say this handy dandy pillow slip has upstaged the chair slip she was meant to accompany.  {We won't mention that to the chair. ;)}

Once upon a time, I had a lovely 16"x16" pillow from HomeGoods.  She was pretty and fancy with her braid and tassel trim.  Enter the cutest puppy on the face of the planet.

Look at his adorable puppy cuteness!  I miss that speckled nose of his.  Here he is in all his distinguished adultness...

We jokingly give him Eeyore's voice..."Nobody loves's all about the baby now."  Poor Baxter.  

Anyway, I digress.  As an adorably cute puppy, Baxter had an affinity for pillows.  If I turned my back for a second, he just couldn't resist attacking the pillows.  And turning my back for 30 minutes was all he needed to make a few choice "alterations" to the trim on my pillow.  We're just lucky he didn't actually eat the trim.

But I couldn't bear to throw out my pillow.  Green and blue are my favorite colors and this was one of my favorites.  Eventually, Baxter's alterations were so great that I ended up lopping off the tassels myself and just leaving the braid in place.  So this was the state of my pillow when I remembered I still had it in a closet somewhere.

I double checked my measurements, which I highly recommend because my pillow technically is 16"x16.5".  Not a perfect square.  And had I just gone off my memory of "oh it's a 16x16" my cover wouldn't have fit in the end.  And I would have surely cried.

Once I double checked my measurements {remember the old adage "measure twice, cut once"} I added an inch on each side to allow for 1/2" seam allowance and made my cuts using leftover fabric from our breakfast nook roman shades {thank you Mom!}.  

Working with stripes is a curse and a joy.  The curse comes when you need to match your pattern.  The blessing is you have built in straight lines to cut on.  This is where I was patting myself on the back for using stripes.  {And yes, I was cursing the stripes later.}

Next I folded my pleats and pinned them.  At first I was trying to be super exact, measuring out each pleat exactly.  After about 4 or 5 I realized, this does not need to be exact.  Eyeballing works fine and saves my sanity.  I'm pretty good at eyeing things for spacing.  If you aren't, you might want to measure out your pleats.  Also, this is where I began to realize stripes aren't always fun.  I had to be careful to make sure my lines matched up while pinning.

A close up of the pinned pleats.  

After my pleats were pinned, I topstiched down both outer edges.  Again, I had to be careful to make sure the stripes matched as I was stiching.  Thus, I sewed with the pins in {yes, I know this is a huge no-no}.

After I topstiched down the sides, I measured to find the middle and topstiched straight down the middle.  Here is where reverted to singing the praises of stripes.  See how I just lined up the foot of the sewing machine with the stripe?  It was a wonderful guide and I started patting myself on the back again.

You can see the effect of the pleats.  And I almost stopped here.  It was pretty enough.  I was just messing around so I didn't really need to continue.  But my inspiration for this project was an episode of Sewing With Nancy {I hear you laughing...but seriously there is nothing on TV in the middle of the night when you are up nursing your yes, I watched PBS instead of infomercials} and she made it look so easy....I had to give it a try.

So I went back and carefully pinned in the opposite direction.

And then topstiched in the opposite direction.  And voila!  Here you can see what a difference it makes.

Here are both sides topstiched in the opposite direction.

Then I matched up the fabric I cut for the back of the pillow and stiched along 3 sides with the right sides together.  I hemmed the edges of the 4th side and left it open.

I thought the fasted way to end my project would be to just stitch it closed.  *Ahem.*  And then I broke 2 needles consecutively.  Moving on to plan B!

This is a jar of vintage buttons my Granny let me play with as a little girl.  I went shopping in my button jar and found these...

I sewed them on the inside of the edge of my pillow and consulted my sewing machine manual to learn how to make button holes.

Voila!  Here is my pillow all neatly tucked into her new pillow cover.

And here are her fancy schmancy pleats!

What I love about this pillow:

1) Let's fact it, she was free!  I already had the pillow and the fabric and you just can't beat free.

2) She's pretty front and back.  I go back and forth flipping her around depending on if I want my chair to look fancy or casual.

3) Since she matches every room in my house, when I get bored with her in my bedroom, she can visit the living room, the study, even little Matthew's room if she wants!

The one drawback:

I mentioned she is made from leftover drapery fabric.  She is a synthetic suede and is dry clean only.  {Wah Waaaaa}.

Overall I'm super pleased though.  Now go out and make yourself one!

Post Edit: In re-reading this I realize I didn't explain how to measure and cut your fabric for your pleats.  For my pillow I cut one square 17"x17.5" {remember my extra inch for seam allowance} and then for the pleated front I cut 17"x the existing length of the fabric.  This allowed me extra fabric to fold into pleats.  A very important thing to know!  Because if I had just cut the fabric 17"x17.5" like the back I wouldn't have had enough length to make pleats.  Hope this helps!


  1. That looks so good, I love it! You are quite the seamstress!

  2. Thanks Bethany! I'm really not that great at sewing yet...this is just one of those projects that looks harder than it is. :) I think the owl you made Norah is adorable and was probably much more difficult!