Make Your Own Throw Pillows

Making your own throw pillows is easy, fun, and creative. With these tips and instruction you can learn how to decorate your home with box-edge and knife-edge throw pillows.

Throw pillows are so much fun to make and allow for many personal and creative touches. All you need in order to make a throw pillow is a little time, some fabric, a measuring tape, pillow forms or foam, thread, a needle, and a sewing machine. Of course, you may want to add a zipper, buttons, snaps, and beads and trims to this list also. The possibilities for creative touches are nearly endless.

A few basics about throw pillows are important to know. Pillows can be made in any size and shape, but there are really only two basic kinds of pillows. There is the box-edge pillow and the knife-edge pillow.

A box-edge pillow is one that has the same thickness from the center of the pillow to the edges of the pillow. It has a side depth also, that must be covered with a strip of fabric in addition to covering the top and bottom. A knife edge pillow is the thickest at the center and then tapers down to a narrow edge at the sides. Sometimes the pillows are called "one side seam" and "two side seam" pillows. There are pillows that are called "bolster" pillows that come in a circular and wedge form and they too fall into the category of a box- edge pillow.

The knife- edge pillows are probably the easiest to make, so we will begin with instructions on how to make them first. If you want to make a rectangular knife edge pillow, measure the knife-edge pillow form across the length and width and add a 5/8 inch seam to all edges If you want to make a knife-edge circular pillow, measure the circular pillow form across the diameter. Then add a 5/8 inch seam allowance to all edges.

Knife-edge pillows have only two pieces of fabric to them. Measure out the size you need and cut two identical pieces of fabric. (If you have more than one pillow form of the same size, I would recommend making a paper pattern of the dimensions in order to save time and to be more accurate when cutting the fabric.) Put the two pieces together, with the right sides facing each other. Sew a 5/8 inch seam around ¾ of the fabric, leaving an opening to insert the pillow form. Turn the fabric right side out. After the pillow form is inserted, close the opening with a blind stitch with needle and thread.

You have a couple of choices to use with closures for your knife-edge pillow if you don't want to finish the edge with a slip stitch. You can cut across the center of the back piece of the pillow and insert a zipper before you sew the top and bottom pieces together. If there is a zipper in the back, the top and bottom can be sewn all the way around on the box strip, as insertion of the form won't be necessary before completing the closure. Then the pillow form can be inserted into the back and later, if you would like, the cover can be taken off to be washed, or changed for seasonal decorating, etc. You can also close the backs with buttons and button holes or snap closures. If you choose a zipper or button closure on the back side of the pillow, you will need to finish the seams across the back so that no raw edges show. You can finish the seams by turning the raw edges under a quarter of an inch to the wrong side of the fabric and sewing them close to the edge. Then add the closure of your choice.

To accessorize the knife edge pillow, you can add a ruffle, ribbon bands, decorative buttons or beads, or tassels in the corners. To make a ruffle, cut a three inch wide (or more) strip of fabric about four times the diameter of the pillow form. Fold the fabric in half the long way, with wrong sides together and press with an iron. Then run a basting stitch on the raw edge and gather the fabric, by pulling on the end of one of the sewing threads until the length of the ruffle matches the diameter of the pillow. Insert the raw edge of the ruffle between the two sides of the pillow fabric and sew it when you sew the top and bottom pieces together. The ruffle should be inside the fabric pieces as you sew. When you turn the pillow inside out, the ruffle will be showing on the outside and the raw edges will be on the inside. If you use a finished lace, you do not have to do the gathering yourself, but it is sewed into the pillow in the same way.

Sometimes knife edge pillows are held together with a "tuft". Tufting is when you put buttons in the center of the pillow (for one tuft) or in several places on the pillow (for multiple tufting). The buttons are sewed on with a long needle and carpet or quilting thread for strength. When there is a button on the top, a corresponding button is placed on the back side. You can also tuft with thread alone to get a "quilted" look to your pillow. If you tuft your pillow, you will not be removing the cover for washing.

If you choose to make a box-edge pillow, you will begin by measuring your pillow form for its length, its width, its height and then around the form for length of the boxing strip. Make sure you add your 5/8 inch seam allowance on all sides of your measurement. If you are making a circular box-edge form, measure the height, diameter and then around the form for length of the boxing and add your 5/8 inch seam allowance to the edge of each measurement. For the bolster forms, you measure the diameter of the ends, the width of the bolster and then around the bolster, adding the seam allowance to the sides of each measurement.

You will then cut a top, a bottom, and a boxing strip out of fabric, using the measurements you made. A zipper is usually added to the boxing strip in a box-edge pillow before the top and bottom are sewn to it. If you do use a zipper, you will need to cut a separate piece of fabric for the boxing to be added to the other portion of the boxing. The zipper portion will be added to this separate piece and therefore it will need to be slightly wider in order to accommodate the zipper placket. It is possible to make the box-edge pillow without a zipper though. You can hand sew the opening with needle and thread in a manner similar to the knife-edge pillow.

Sew the top piece of fabric to the boxing edge with wrong sides together. Then sew the bottom piece of fabric to the other boxing edge with wrong sides together. Then pull the right sides through the opening of the zipper or the edge you left open to insert the pillow form through. Insert the pillow form and close the zipper or stitch the opening closed.

You can add the same accessories and tufting to the box-edge pillow as you can to the knife-edge pillow. You can also add cording or braid to both pillows. You can buy cotton cording in a variety of widths. Cover the cord with matching or contrasting fabric and stitch the fabric against the cord on one side, leaving about a half inch of fabric extended beyond the stitching. When you sew the top of the pillow to the boxing (as in box-edged pillows) or to the other side (as in knife-edged pillows) you will sew in the cording in the same way that you added the ruffle or lace.

Making throw pillows is really quite simple and easy to do. It doesn't take much time and the possibilities for variety and decoration are nearly endless. Try making your own fabric design by quilting various fabrics together to serve as your pillow fabric. Embroider your fabric or use the material from making curtains or upholstering furniture. They make wonderful gifts and nice additions to your own home.

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