Tutorial: Envelope Pillows with Piping

My beloved heavy-lidded Beatrice has resumed her rightful place above the sofa and all is once again right with the world.  I spent some time this last week reassembling this corner of our living room, which has been in chaos for the duration of the Great Painting Escapade of 2014 – seemingly forever.

red house west//envelope pillows with piping

More than a year ago I found this lovely blue and green floral fabric at a thrift store.  I brought it home, carelessly wrapped it around a pillow to see how it looked with the orange couch, and left it like that… dangling price tag and all.  Unable to withstand Beatrice’s disapproving stare any longer, I decided the time had come to get out the sewing machine and sew them up properly.

red house west//envelope pillows with piping

Requisite disclaimer: I am a beginning-level sewer (one who sews, not a pipe of effluvia), and this tutorial is presented in the spirit of ‘if I can do it, anyone can!’ not ‘prostrate yourselves and heed my masterful advice for I am the sewing expert of the universe.’

I have referred to this great envelope pillow tutorial over on Little Green Notebook for previous projects and in previous posts.  For these pillows I decided to modify it and upgrade by adding some piping.  I found this pretty navy color piping for $1.99 at JoAnn Fabric (I can’t find it online to provide you with a link, but it’s definitely available in stores).  One package was enough for one pillow, so I bought two.

red house west//envelope pillows with pipingA note on pillow inserts: I’ve had really good luck finding high quality down inserts at thrift stores.  I wash them in hot water and then put them in the dryer with tennis balls.  Way cheaper even than Ikea (and actually available here in town)!

Here are the steps for making simple envelope pillows with piping:

1.)  For a 17-inch pillow I cut a square that was 16.5 inches on each side (one inch smaller for a snug fit plus a half inch seam allowance).  I also cut two smaller pieces for the back of the pillow, 16.5 by 10 and 16.5 by 12.

2.)  I laid the square piece of fabric right side up on the floor and pinned the piping around the perimeter with the rounded part facing toward the center.  On the corners, I cut slits so the piping would form a nice curve.

red house west//envelope pillows with piping

3.)  To attach the two loose ends, I held one end in my hand and cut it at an angle, then used a seam ripper to peel back the fabric and expose the cord underneath.

red house west//envelope pillows with piping

I wrapped my angled piece over the other end (about a quarter inch) and cut the exposed cord so the two pieces fit together and lay flat.  For a really finished look you could fold the raw edge under, but I’m not worried about it fraying so I left it as is.

red house west//envelope pillow with piping

4.)  I put the zipper foot on my sewing machine so I could snug right up to the edge of the cord, and stitched the piping onto the fabric.

red house west//envelope pillows with piping5.)  I set the square piece with the attached piping aside and then pinned a nice, thick folded hem on the long side of the two other pieces of fabric (which will be the envelope flaps) and then sewed the hems.

red house west//envelope pillows with piping6.)  Next, I laid the square fabric with the attached piping right (patterned) side up.  I put the larger rectangle (the 16 x 12 piece) right side down on top of the square, lined up the edges and pinned them along the edge.  I put the small rectangle on top and lined up the edges; it overlaped the larger rectangle by about four inches.  When I sewed, I made sure to reinforce the edges where the flaps overlap since that will get the most strain when inserting the pillow.

red house west//envelope pillows with piping

I turned it right side out and used my finger to poke out the corners.  Here’s a photo of the finished back:

red house west//envelope pillows with piping

And here’s the front – I love how finished the piping makes it look!

red house west//envelope pillows with piping

I’m really happy with the way this part of the room is coming together.  It’s comfortable and colorful and increasingly eccentric.  You might take note that I’ve started bringing home lamps with a fervor formerly reserved for chairs.  The one in the corner was a birthday present (my birthday is still more than a week away, but I’m a strong proponent of the the birthmonth) and is a converted fish trap.  It makes the greatest shadows and provides the perfect warm glow for the dreary days we’ve been having.

red house west//envelope pillows with piping

Thanks for reading along!  Please let me know if I can clarify anything!

9 responses on “Tutorial: Envelope Pillows with Piping

  1. y2knina

    “I am a beginning-level sewer (one who sews, not a pipe of effluvia)”

    I die. You are too funny. And I DO prostrate myself before you because that amount of sewing is way beyond me (even if I had a sewing machine!) Nice job, and I love the fabric. And Beatrice, of course.

  2. Susan

    I think Beatrice looks just a shade of blue less disapproving. Hard to see her being truly jolly — more enigmatic. The couch is loving the medley of fabrics and lights.

  3. Katy Gilmore

    This is great Katie! Your corner looks so interesting and inviting, I’m impressed with piping, and delighted you are lamping up! Maybe from living in dark and cloudy climes for so long, I think lamps make all the difference- ones for eccentricity, ones for glow, and functional ones to read by! Will be fun to watch what you find and only a matter of time till there is a tutorial about rewiring (skill I wish I had!).

    1. k80bennett

      Thanks Katy! I’m definitely grateful for the warm glow of these lights now that the rain has come. I’ll do some thinking about that wiring tutorial!

  4. Carol Crump Bryner

    I’m very impressed by your envelope pillowcase. I always did the kind where I had to cut it open and re-sew it every time it needed washing. You’ve made such a lovely corner with the warmth of the couch and the elegance of Beatrice and the flowered cushions. I think the black and white striped throw is absolutely perfect there, and gives the scene a jolt of life. Really nice tutorial.

    1. k80bennett

      Thanks Carol! It is crazy how much more time I’m spending in this room (where I’m typing now) since putting some effort into it. It’s good incentive to keep trucking on the other spaces in our house (like the room missing a wall…) that still need some love.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *