Simple Envelope pillow tutorial

Simple Envelope Pillow Tutorial

Do you have a quilt block or mini quilt that you would like to make into a pillow?

This super easy tutorial will help you do just that! It will also work for making a non quilted pillow or even covering an old pillow you are tired of as well! I’ll show you how!

I recently made this cute mini quilt top and decided rather than finish it with quilting and binding for some wall decor, I would much rather have it for an adorable pillow. I already had a pillow form just ready to be used and the sizing all worked out pretty well.

I knew I didn’t want to mess with zippers or buttons and wanted it to be as quick as possible. I have so many other projects I just can’t wait to get going on! So I searched for a simple envelope pillow tutorial and found a few, but figured I would share what I learned and what I changed right here for you!

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What exactly does “envelope” mean?

This back of this pillow self closes with layers of fabric, instead of using a zipper method or being completely closed where you are unable to remove the insert when you want to wash your pillow top. It basically acts as an “envelope” style opening where you can slip in your pillow form easily! (This won’t work for stuffing a pillow unless you plan on using a whip stitch to close the entire back of the pillow.)

You might choose to wash your fabric or top first to account for shrinkage. I did not. But if you want to read up about prewashing fabric, I have a previous blog post that discusses it right here.

Let’s Get to this Simple Envelope Pillow Tutorial!

The first thing you want to do is decide what size pillow form you need. My pillow form or insert came from IKEA and they are very reasonably priced with down feathers as well. So fluffy and shapeable. Which is what I prefer rather than stiff well formed pillows. Go with what you want!

My insert is 20“ x 20”. Click here for the one I got. (not an affiliate link)

Tip: Keep your project and pillow form sizes in mind when deciding your sizes.

Your top piece, or my heart top for reference, needs to be 1” larger than your pillow form size. Since my form is 20“ x 20” my heart top needs to be 21” x 21”. You can see it here.

If you need to trim or add a border to your top piece go ahead and do that so that you are 1” larger than your pillow form.

Next item you will need is the backing for your pillow. Choose a coordinating fabric of your liking. I am using Moda Grunge which I love! You will cut this out to match your top except for on the length you will add 6”. If you have a particularly overstuffed pillow form (most aren’t) then add another 1” or 2”.

For example: For my pillow I cut the backing piece 21” x 27”.

Once you have your backing piece you will cut it right in half across the short measurement. So after I cut I have two pieces that measure 21” x 13.5” that I cut from my 21” x 27” piece. Make sense so far?

Along where you cut your backing in half fold the edge over once at about 1/4” and iron. Now fold it again and iron. Starch definitely helps here and don’t worry about being exact on the 1/4”. Just use approximate measurements. Do get it as straight as possible though as one of these seams will show on the back of your pillow when you are all finished.

Get Ready to Sew – Yep already!

Sew along the edge that is closest to the rest of your fabric. This is so the fold stays stitched down and lays flat. I backstitched at the beginning and end but that is really optional. See below where I placed my seam.

Stitching close to the edge
Right side after stitching

(I use Aurifil thread exclusively – I absolutely love it. Click here to learn more!)

Do the same to the other side of the backing and then press or set your seams.

Tip: Set your seams on the backing before moving forward. This helps everything be flat and in place before proceeding!

Setting a seam simply means to press with your iron over the seams you have sewn.

Bringing the Top and Back Together!

On your work table lay out your top FACE UP. Place one of your backing halves FACE DOWN on to the top.

Just like shown here. Match up your edges to the edges of the top.

Repeat for the other piece of backing. Place it FACE DOWN to cover the other part of your top. It will overlap a few inches over your other backing half. Can you envision the envelope starting to form?

Again match up your edges to the top.

Pin these together all the way around your pillow. Because next we sew again!

You’re Almost Done with this Simple Envelope Pillow Tutorial

Sew at 1/2” seam allowance all the way around your pillow top.

I like to make my corners a bit more reinforced. So I start at the corners a little before the 1/2” and back stitch.

I also don’t turn the corner with my needle down. I begin a new seam with back stitching at each corner. This is likely not necessary, but I feel like we really use our pillows rough around here and I want them to have extra strength at the corners.

I also like to backstitch over the seams that creates our envelope. This will be the area with the most stress as you take your pillow form in and out of your new pillow case.

Again, set your seams with your iron. All the way around!

(If you are curious about my particular iron, you can see it here at the Fat Quarter Shop) It is one of my favorite items in my studio

Clip each of the four corners. I forgot to snap a picture, but clip about 1/4” away from where the two lines intersect or the corner of your seam an each corner. This reduces the bulk of fabric and makes your corners more pronounced.

Your pillow should look like this now and you can peek inside the envelope and see your beautiful top in there!

Now just flip it inside out and stuff your pillow form inside. Use your hands to work the corners up into each corner and fluff the way you like!

All finished and ready for use or gifting!

I hope that this Simple Envelope Pillow Tutorial helped step you through making a pillow! Be sure and join my Facebook Group (link below) so I can see your lovely creations too!

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  1. Love this site and so helpful I quilt very little because I always never could get it right on curtain things. It was frustrating and just give up. The pictures are great for me that’s how I learn. Thank you, and I read about the printfriendly. Com so I’m going to use that my self. Ready to explore more of the site.

  2. Your tutorial is great with really helpful photos — but I was unable to print it out, which is really the only way that it’s usable. Is there a place on your site where you can click to download a pdf?
    Thank you : )

    1. I’m so glad you found the photos helpful! It’s the best way for me to learn for sure! I don’t have a PDF of this, but I recently learned about a great website where you simply just paste in the web address you want to print and it creates a printable document for you! Go to and paste in (or copy it from your address bar when you have the page open) and it will create your document. I actually just tested it out as well, and it works pretty easy! You can also sometimes press Control & P on windows or Cmd P on Mac to print a page. However it often prints ads and sidebars, so my first option to try would be for sure! Thanks!

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