diy throw pillows, part 1: the graphic pillow

My husband and I bought this great "As Is" couch. There is quite the story that goes along with this couch, but that's for another day. Despite being "As Is", our couch came with four really nice throw pillows. However, they had more of a "safe" design that did not fit in with my design vision. My design style preferences are contemporary, and I'm not afraid of color. They are genuinely nice pillows, though, so I decided to sew covers for them. I have a love affair with bold, graphic prints and textures of all sorts, so designing these pillows was quite fun.

In the end, I made three types of pillows. This post is a tutorial for sewing a basic, removable cover for a pillow insert. I chose two different graphic patterns and made one cover out of each. For the remaining two pillows, I made two different types of covers out of thrifted t-shirts. Tutorials for each of those pillow covers will be in separate, subsequent posts.

What you'll need:

1 yard of fabric - see note below
coordinating thread
pillow to insert into the cover

Note: You could probably get away with 2/3 to 3/4 yards of fabric, but I like having extra in case I make a mistake. I used a sturdier home decor fabric for a couple of reasons. One, I liked the larger prints of the home decor fabrics. Two, I liked the thickness of the home decor fabrics, because I wanted to make sure that the color of the original pillow wouldn't show through. If you're using a plain, white pillow insert, a thinner fabric would be completely fine.

Cut the fabric to size.

Step 1: Wash and iron your fabric.

Step 2: Determine the dimensions of your fabric cuts. Start by measuring the size of your pillow form. Mine was 19" by 19". The pillow will have a back with an overlapping flap allowing for the insertion and removal of the pillow form. The dimensions of your pieces will be as follows:

Front: [length + 1" seam] by [height + 1" seam] 
Mine: [19" + 1"] by [19" + 1"] = 20" by 20"

Back, bottom flap: [length + 1" seam] by [4" exposed + 4" overlap + 1.5" seam]
Mine: [19" + 1"] by [4" + 4" + 1.5"] = 20" by 9.5"

Back, top flap: [length + 1" seam] by [(height - 4" exposed) + 1.5" seam]
Mine: [19" + 1"] by [(19" - 4") + 1.5"] = 20" by 16.5"

Step 3: Measure, mark, and cut out your fabric. I thought I would be all smart and make the pattern at the flap match up. My efforts failed, so I won't describe the needlessly complex process. Apparently I'm not that crafty.

Hem the edges of the flaps.

Step 4: With each back piece, lie it right side down, and pick one of the long sides. Fold up the edge 1". Pin. Press. Unpin and unfold.

Step 5: Fold the edge up 1/2" to the pressed crease. Fold the edge up another 1/2" to create a hem. It should be once again folded along the pressed crease. Pin and press.

Step 6: Sew the hem with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Sew the cover.

Step 7: With right sides together, pin the back and front edges together as shown. Arrange the overlap so that the smaller piece is on top and will therefore be on the underside when reversed.

Step 8: Sew around the edges of the pillow using a 1/2" seam allowance. At the overlaps, back-stitch (or turn around the whole piece) for reinforcement.

Finish the pillow.

Step 9: Turn the pillow right side out, and put it on your pillow form.

Step 10: Admire your work!

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