Remember those fun, red-orange pillows I made to add a little pop to the family room?  The ones that spurred the Modern Americana design theme?  Well, I am over them.  I like (notice I did not say love) red, but I just can’t live with it.  I thought I could in small doses, but it always feels out of place for me.  When I have a red item I cannot help but think how much better it would be in a yummy shade of blue or green.

Thankfully pillows are easy to swap out, so that is what I did.  I made some new envelope pillow covers in a gorgeous green-gold ikat fabric I found at Hobby Lobby over Christmas break.  I loved it, but had no place for it at the time.  I had already devised the Modern Americana plan.  Once I realized I did not love the red, I realized how much I would love the green instead.

I used my two-seam envelop pillow method to create the new covers, but I thought I would re-share the tutorial with some additional pictures and tips.  And afterward we will get to some lovely after shots of the new color scheme emerging in the family room.

How To Envelope Pillow Covers:

1.  Cut your fabric to size.  For an 18 x 18 inch pillow, cut a rectangle 18.5 inches by at least 44 inches.  This will result in a 6 inch overlap for the envelope on the back of the pillow.  UPDATE: When I made the red pillow covers I mentioned my preference for a larger overlap on the back of the pillow.  I may an exception to that preference when the fabric was $39.99/yard.  Even after 40% off, the 6 inch overlap is enough.

2.  Hem both short edges of the fabric.  Fold the fabric over 1/2 inch and then over again another 1/2 inch.  Iron and stitch.

3.  With fabric right side up, fold over one side toward the center.  For the 6 inch overlap, make the fold about 12″ from the hemmed edge.  For the larger 16 inch overlap, make the fold 16 inches from the hemmed edge.  UPDATE: When deciding which side of the fabric to fold over first, remember it will be the hem that will show once the pillow is turned right-side out.  If you have an allover pattern, select the neater looking hem.  If you have a directional pattern, make sure you fold over the correct side that should appear on the back of the pillow.

4.  Now fold over the other side, so the resultant folded fabric measures 18 by 18.5 inches.  The easiest way I have found to do this is to use a yard stick.  Lay the yard stick on the fabric and line up the 18 inch mark on the fold.  Fold the other side of the fabric over the yardstick.  Slide the yardstick along to make sure your fold is even.

5.  Just two seams left.  Sew a 1/4″ seam along each side of the folded fabric.  I prefer to use my serger for the side seams, especially on a fabric like this which frays and unravels easily.  You could also use an overlock stitch on your sewing machine.  Or simply sew and then trim the seam with pinking shears.  UPDATE:  For this step, I like to pin through the overlapping layers of the pillow about 4 inches in from the side.  See the yellow pinheads in the image below.  This secures the layers while I am serving or sewing.  Placing the pins 4 inches from the edges allows me to zip through the serger without pausing to remove pins.

6.  Turn the pillow cover inside out.  You will have a perfect 18 inch square pillow cover with an envelope closure on the back.

7.  Stuff the cover with your 18 inch pillow insert.  Stuff it through the envelope opening and then push it under the inside flap.  Fluff the pillow and you are done.  UPDATE:  Here are pictures of the stuffing process.  Sometimes it is hard to envision how an envelope pillow works if you have never seen one.

Stuff the pillow insert in through the opening on the back of the pillow cover.

Now squish it in and force it under the inner flap.  It looks ugly here, but don’t worry it will look better soon.  Just get that pillow form in there.  You can be rough with the pillow, but be gentle with your newly stitched cover.

Lastly, tuck in and smooth our the inner flap.  Ahhh, much better.

I cannot explain how lovely I think these pillows are in the family room.  They feel right.  Here is how the look next to their teal chevron friends:

The same weekend I made these new covers I spotted this guy at the Room & Board outlet.  He was only marked down to $49.99 from $69.99, but he was calling to me.  The colors were perfect to go along with the other pillows, I love a good horizontal stripe, and the navy stripe helps tie in our navy trellis rug.  It was meant to be, so I looked beyond the price tag.

Altogether I feel like we finally have a cohesive look and a respectable number of pillows for this super long (101″) sofa.  BONUS: The new pillows echo a similar color and pattern as the quatrefoil drum shade in the kitchen.

So, I can’t really call this Modern Americana anymore.  Red is kind of key to the Americana part.  I think I am going to call this “Midwest Summer”.  Think fresh green leaves and sparkling lakes.  How would you describe it?  What is your favorite part of this look so far?

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27 Responses to Envelope Pillows Revisited

  1. lesley says:

    I went through a red stage. A few years back Pottery Barn had their slipped covered couches in red and I went for a knock off. We lived in a red barn, yep a barn. And let’s just say I have had my fill of red. Now I want nothing to do with it. I am a fan of teal, navy, green, etc. all the way now. I don’t even really care for orange. But I try to keep an open mind, it’s just hard. Orange and red just seem to stress me out so I try to avoid those colors. Blues and greens seem to really calm me. I know I sound insane but colors really do evoke different emotions from different people. :)

  2. Hilary says:

    So sad :( I love red. It’s my favorite color. I use it all the time in my decorating because it makes me happy. Your old red pillow made me want to do a little jig, in fact.

    But, the good news is that you’re forgiven. Because the green looks great, too.

    • lesley says:

      Hilary, Isn’t it funny how certain colors make people feel different ways. I went through a stage where I loved red. Now I moved into a house with a red dining room and can’t wait to paint over it. I think one day red may be my color again, just not right now. We (red and I) need a break. lol

  3. Oooh. I love your new fabric. I’m a green girl myself so I like the new pillow better than the red. I thought the Americana idea was pretty cool though. I’m finding that I have to be surrounded by the colors I love or I feel off somehow. Thanks for the tutorial on envelope pillowcases. I tried a hidden zipper for the first time, but would like to try the envelope technique.

  4. Rebecca says:

    I’m so into teals and greens right now. LOVE your sofa! I’ve been looking for a gray one and yours is perfect. Where did you get it and is it comfy?

    • Jackie says:

      Rebecca, it is the Andre sofa from Room & Board. We think it is comfy enough for us, but it is a tailored sofa and not super deep. So if you like deep and cushy, this would not work. For us we love the length of this couch to fit 4-5 people at once when we have company or when my 6’2 hubby wants to lay on the couch. We also found having the round ottoman on casters is great to pull up to the couch to put our feet up.

  5. Linda Grimes says:

    I love your new pillows. Beautiful color palette. Thank you for the tutorial.
    I am not a red person either. However, last summer I bought two red modern swivel chairs at Scandinavian Design. I don’t know what came over me. I repeat, I am NOT a red person. Although I have been feverishly trying to make them work, I am having a hard time living with them and every day I think of taking a picture of them and putting them up for sale on craigslist.

  6. Hiren Modi says:

    Very nice. This is my first comment on your blog. Professionally, I’m in different industry. But, I love to read different sewing patterns and tutorials which help me to draft unique piece for me. I’m quite eager to read future post on attractive sewing projects! BTW thanks for sharing.

  7. Pam the Goatherd says:

    I LOVE red! Thankfully so does my husband. We have a black, white and red color scheme in both our kitchen and bathroom. In fact, as I was looking around at the kitchen remodel that we are putting the finishing touches on I realized that we don’t have enough red accents for my liking. Red energizes me.
    Your blue/green color scheme would put me to sleep! I think that’s why I plan to use a green/gold/cream color palette when we re-do our bedroom this summer.

  8. Lauren H says:

    Love the new green ikat pillow covers! Your envelope pillow cover idea has invaded my brain and every time I’m out I think “I must find some fabric to do those envelope pillow covers!” Oh, and I’m jealous- no Hobby Lobby for me :(

    • Jackie says:

      Lauren, no need to be jealous about Hobby Lobby. I do not have on near me and can only go when we travel to Dallas :(

  9. Hm… the pillows looks great, but the rug is my favorite part of this room. It’s so saturated and dramatic. Totally sets the tone!

  10. Rachel at Crafty Homemaker says:

    I love the pillow covers…I’m making fall and christmas themed covers for my house…and having little ones does the 1/4″ seam hold up in the wash, I was thinking of increasing it to a 1/2″.

    But this tutorial is great and simple…I can’t wait to add button holes to the flap and add some pop to them :)

    • Jackie says:

      Hi Rachel. I normally serge all my pillow seams with an overlock stitch, hence the 1/4″ seam allowance. If you don’t have a serger or sewing machine with an overlock stitch, a full 1/2″ seam allowance would probably be stronger. I would also trim the seam allowance with pinking shears to prevent fraying in the wash.

      This tutorial is definitely perfect for whipping up some quick holiday pillows. You make it so much, you’ll start making them as gifts!

  11. Audrey says:

    Thanks for the tutorial! I love both the red and the green! The room is great and is an inspiration to new home buyers like myself, searching for ideas. I do have a question about the covers,is there any way to make them reversible? Thanks!

  12. Amina says:

    I love the combo of the blues and greens. I agree that it’s a more relaxing palette than when the red is part of the mix. Looks fabulous! Thanks for the details about the envelope pillow covers. That’s what I was searching for when I came across your blog.

  13. Susie says:

    I LOVVVEEE your blog! So inspirational. I’m totally motivated now to make some pillows. I just bought some yellow chevron fabric that I love, and am going to make pillows for the white futon I have in the office, but now I’m struggling with what kind of fabric to get for the big bay window which is directly above the futon. Any thoughts on what complements yellow chevron? The walls in the office are light blue. Thanks in advance!

    • Jackie says:


      My two go to colors to mix with yellow are grey and turquoise (both also go well with light blue). As far as patterns, you need to mix it up. The chevron is a very geometric pattern and needs something more organic to go with it. Look for a bold floral or an ikat print. Avoid using other geometrics or stripes with a bold chevron.

      Hope that helps!

  14. Amelia says:

    I just got done making one of these in a black and white small chevron pattern. It turned out great. This was the easiest of these tutorials that I could find. Thank you so much!

  15. Marcie says:

    I recently ran across your blog. I think I’m in love. Teal and lime are my favorite colors and appear throughout my house <3

    Thanks for posting your pillows. It finally gave me the kick in the pants to stop waiting to get matching zippers, etc and just crank out the pillows that have been waiting to be made for years. Four were finished before naptime ended :)

    You certainly have a new follower!

    • Jackie says:

      Welcome Marcie! So glad the pillow tutorial worked out for you…I am a big fan of any project you can start and finish during a nap time.

  16. Elizabeth T. says:

    What a beautiful room. I like the mix of the geometric with the softer lines, very personalized look that makes a great statement. Where did the rug come from?


  17. Tara says:

    Just wanted to let you know I followed your tutorial and love my new pillows! This was my very first sewing project ever and your clear instructions and pictures were very helpful. I was afraid to use my sewing machine that I received as a gift 1 year ago. Now I have confidence to try many more things. Thank you!

  18. Marlene says:

    WOW…this looks like the easiest pillow covers ever! I just made window toppers for my living room windows and wanted an accent pillow in the same fabric to mix with the other ones. I will DEFINITELY be trying this.

    How does this work with tapestry fabric?

  19. Sandy says:

    I do not have much experience in sewing and I followed your tutorial and it was so simple! Figuring out how to run my machine was harder than sewing the actual pillow cover. I will be making several to add to my collection. Thanks for writing such a great tutorial :)

  20. I know just what you mean about the feeling that red gives you. It’s my mother’s favorite and she loves to decorate with it, but it just makes me feel so overwhelmed. I love subdued greens and calming blues. I actually have a lovely sagey/limey green chevron pattern I’ll be using to try out this pillow cover technique, and I cannot wait to get started! Thanks for posting!

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