Mother Earth Living

Try This: How to Make Pillow Covers from Fabric Swatches

Turn designer fabric swatches into beautiful pillow covers with this easy home decorating project.
By Susan Wasinger
May/June 2006
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With a few simple stitches, you can make a roomful of pillows that look great together. Swatch books are usually designed to showcase fabrics that mix and match or share a common theme or color scheme. Once pieced together, the fabric strips and squares result in lively, sophisticated décor.

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Every year, upholstery fabric designers put out oodles of swatch books filled with beautiful, luxurious fabrics. At year’s end it’s in with the new, and out to the landfill with the old. Turn these doomed swatches into spirited pillow covers that give your rooms a quick, painless facelift. Ask for discontinued sample books at a store or showroom specializing in home-furnishing fabrics; they’ll be glad to see their trash turned into your treasure.

How to Make Pillow Covers from Designer Fabric Swatches

1. To make a pillow cover with quadrants of color, cut four squares of complementary fabrics. Piece together bands of fabric or frame a vignette by piecing fabric strips around the sides of a larger piece.

2. With right sides together, first pin, then sew the pieces into a large square with a sewing machine. You can use pinking shears to finish the edges and keep them from fraying.

3. The back of the pillow consists of two overlapping pieces of fabric that will keep the pillow form securely inside without zippers or buttons. To make the back of the pillow, cut two rectangles of cloth that are the same width as your pieced front but are each about five inches longer than half the length of the pillow front. Hem the two edges that will overlap. With right sides together, pin the two back rectangles onto the front of the pillow cover as shown. Sew around all four sides of the pillow cover.

4. Trim the seams and clip the corners to make them less bulky, then turn the pillow cover right sides out and stuff it with a pillow insert or an old pillow case filled with cotton batting, torn rags, sheep’s wool, lavender buds, buckwheat hulls or packing peanuts.

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