You Don’t Need a Sewing Machine to Make New Pillow Covers

Around the holidays, I like to switch up my decor scheme just a touch, for added Christmas flair. I wanted to do a few changes this year, that might carry through into winter, so I wouldn’t have to take it all down right away. As I was searching for inspiration, I kept seeing images of cozy cabins festooned with tartan plaid prints and layered with Pendleton wool blankets and shearling accents. To capture a woodsy feel, but not go gung-ho log cabin, I bought some plaid flannel fabric at JoAnn, and made pillow covers.

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Possessing the ability to sew a straight line is such a game changer when it comes to quickly updating your home decor. You can make pillow covers, hem curtains and do basic upholstery too. I’ve had my sewing machine since I was a senior in high school. I’m not a talented seamstress by any measure, but I’ve got the straight line thing mastered.

After I cut my fabric last weekend, I headed down to my studio to set up my sewing machine. I got the bobbin loaded, the thread through the needle and positioned a pillow cover under the presser foot. And go! Only it didn’t. It got all hung up, and I tried and tried to trouble-shoot the issue, but I couldn’t figure it out.

I’m sure it is high time I had my sewing machine serviced, but I just don’t have the time to deal with it this month. What’s a determined decorator to do then? Well, I just happened to have some Stitch Witchery fusible web tape on hand, and to my great surprise, it worked like a charm! While I wouldn’t normally substitute sewing with this method, since I’m not planning on using these covers indefinitely, I wasn’t too concerned about long-term wear. This is also not a 100% no-sew project, because I closed up the pillow covers with hand-sewing. Here is what I did.

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Cut two pillow cover pieces one inch larger than the size of your pillow form. Example: My forms were 18″ x 18″, so I cut my pieces 19″ x 19″ for a 1/2″ seam allowance on each side. I use a Fiskars cutting mat, O’Lipfa Lip Edge Ruler, and Fiskars rotary cutter for this task. It makes very quick work of the job.

Lay your pieces right sides together. Pin around the sides.

Now cut strips of Stitch Witchery fusible web tape to match the length and width of your pillow. You’ll want them to overlap at each corner. My tape was too wide for the seam allowance I had planned on, so I cut the strips in half, length-wise. You’ll also need to leave a gap on one side, to slide the pillow form into the cover when it is finished.

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Sandwich the tape in between the cover pieces, making sure to keep the strips nice and straight and overlapping at the corners. Leave a decent-sized opening to put the pillow form inside. I think mine was around 10″.

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Heat up your iron, and press! Set your iron to wool, or another high setting. You’ll want to use either a damp pressing cloth, or a damp piece of plain cotton between your iron and the pillow cover, to protect your iron in case some of the fusible web tape escapes. Hold the iron in one spot for 10 seconds, then move on, until all the edges of  the cover are adhered.

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Turn the pillow cover right-side out. Now you can gently stuff your pillow into the opening. You can either sew it closed by hand, with a needle and thread, or try to add a strip of fusible web tape inside the seam allowance, and iron it closed. This can be difficult to do, with the pillow form inside.

And there you have it, a pretty simple pillow cover, no sewing machine required! I made three covers in all, in two different plaid prints. They joined two blue tweed pillows on the couch for a super cozy vibe. My cat Teddy can attest to that!

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