Envelope Pillow Cover Tutorial (French Seam)

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Step by step directions are included in this envelope pillow cover tutorial, including how to finish the inside with a french seam.

Step by step directions are included in this envelope pillow cover tutorial, including how to finish the inside with a french seam.

It’s no secret that one of my favorite ways to refresh a room is to change out the pillows. It’s fast, easy and usually doesn’t cost a small fortune. Today I’m sharing an envelope pillow cover tutorial and you don’t need any special skills. It’s straight line sewing and the measuring part is actually simple. So fire up your sewing machines and let’s get started!

*Affiliate links included. Click HERE for my disclosure statement. 

Envelope Pillow Cover Tutorial

For two 20 x 20 Pillow Covers you will need 1 1/3 yards of 54 inch fabric. Find this Robert Allen Geometric HERE. 

Cut a piece of fabric 48 in. x 21 in. On your ironing board, press one of the short ends over 1/2 inch. Turn that edge over 1/2 inch again and press well.

Repeat this step for the other short end. Stitch both ends.

Step by step directions are included in this envelope pillow cover tutorial, including how to finish the inside with a french seam.

Lay your piece of fabric on a flat surface RIGHT SIDE DOWN with a measuring guide handy. If you don’t have a sewing ruler, a yardstick will do. Fold the bottom short end up 12 inches.

Step by step directions are included in this envelope pillow cover tutorial, including how to finish the inside with a french seam.

Fold the top end down 14 inches. The top edge will overlap the bottom edge. Pin the sides together. Using your presser foot as a guide, stitch both sides of the cover a scant 1/4 in. seam allowance. (Follow the arrows.) Remember your fabric is WRONG sides together.

Step by step directions are included in this envelope pillow cover tutorial, including how to finish the inside with a french seam.

Trim your threads and remove the pins. Turn pillow cover INSIDE OUT. Press side seams well.

How to Sew a French Seam

Now we are going to sew French seams. A french seam will ensure that all the raw edges are hidden INSIDE the side seams. By taking this extra step, the inside of your pillow cover will be finished off beautifully.

Sew side seams again at 1/2 in. seam allowance.

Step by step directions are included in this envelope pillow cover tutorial, including how to finish the inside with a french seam.

Make sure all your threads are clipped. Turn your pillow cover right side out. Press the entire cover making sure to hit the side seams well. Your final pillow cover measurement may be slightly less than 20 x 20, depending on how accurate you are with your seams. I usually wing it, so my measurements are not all that precise. No worries about the pillow cover fitting though…a slightly smaller pillow cover makes for a fluffier and fuller pillow.

Step by step directions are included in this envelope pillow cover tutorial, including how to finish the inside with a french seam.

You now have a pillow cover that will stand up to just about anything and is nice enough to give as a gift. When I first opened my online shop this is the way I finished the inside of my pillow covers. I didn’t have a serger then and could not bring myself to sell anything with raw inside seams. A french seam is so easy and offers a big punch in taking your sewing projects to the next level.

Just remember: WRONG sides together first. RIGHT sides together second.

Step by step directions are included in this envelope pillow cover tutorial, including how to finish the inside with a french seam.

Thank you for stopping by…let me know in the comments if you have any questions about the envelope pillow cover process. 

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  1. The envelope back and French seams will be perfect for my pillows I’ve been so apprehensive to make. The fabric is high end. Now I’ll be confident. Today’s the day!! Oh, and yesterday, I updated my front porch wreath using one of your designs. Your blog is always a joy. Thank you for your wide array of topics. A kitchen herb container garden is about to happen, too!

  2. Nancy Patefield says:

    I know this is a silly question, but I want to cover an 18” pillow so what are the dimensions for that? Thank you.

  3. So Awesome! Can’t wait to give it a try. I love French Seams more than serging.

  4. Betty White says:

    That is how I make all my pillow covers. So easy to do. Love the yellow fabric that you chose.

  5. Jackie York says:

    Love these pillows – but I love your yellow chairs even more! I have a pair of yellow wing-back chairs that are so dear to me. I bought them in 1979. Solid lovely, yellow – with gorgeous legs! My Sister-in-law (10 years my senior) laughed, and laughed at me. But I still love them and they still make me smile. My sister-in-law lives 2 1/2 hours away – thank goodness!! :) Thanks for sharing this pillow tutorial – I have always had a problem with pillows!

  6. Heather@15minutecheapskate.com says:

    That fabric is so cute! Love it!

  7. Just what this pillow-holic needed!

    My fear for sewing zippers initiated my research for envelope pillow covers. Let’s just say my adventures with Pinteret tutorials yielded a sizable scrap pile. giggle.

    Your tutorial is perfect! Honestly, within 45 minutes I was able to sew 2 new covers utilizing some Anthropologie napkins and a slight modification in the measures.

    Thanks so much for easy to follow instructions!

  8. Jane @ Cottage at the Crossroads says:

    If I had a machine, I’d make an attempt to make some pillows! I’m with you about freshening up for spring, and your pretty pillows do the trick!

  9. Joanne B. says:

    Lovely fabric on that pillow and nice and easy tutorial! I actually sewed a french seam once, by accident ! and loved that it hid all the raw edges and loose threads. Haven’t been able to duplicate it since ( not that I really tried) – so thanks for sharing the steps. Your comment about having the inside look good reminded me of my Mom, who was an avid home sewer and to this day, whenever I pick up a needle- even if it is just to sew on a button- I hear her telling me “the inside/backside is just as important as the outside”. And when I commented to her, just once, “that no one will see it so who cares?, she simply said, “Ah, but you’ll KNOW it and that’s what matters.” Love from mom, even tho she’s been gone 15 years. Thanks for the sweet memory…

  10. Will you share where you find your beautiful fabric?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Sandy there’s a link at the end of the post. The pillow fabric is Robert Allen. It’s an amazon link but you can find it a few other places. Try fabrics.com. Enjoy!

  11. Lori Swearingen says:

    The pillows are lovely! I completly understand how you feel about wanting to change everything. I think it’s natural to go through phases of “liking” and “disliking” your home. I’m right there with you…we are in the middle of sanding all of our trim and baseboards in the living room and hallway. Yikes, it’s such a mess but I know it’ll totally be worth it when we are finished. On a side note, how do you keep your home so clean? Lol…it always looks so crisp, clean and bright. Thanks for inspiring :)
    Lori Swearingen

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Lori! You have to remember that I have no kids at home. It’s just us and our little dog. I try to clean up the clutter once a week and it’s usually then when I shoot my photos! Thanks for your comment, Ann

      1. Lori Swearingen says:

        Kids definitely make a difference lol…
        It seems like there are always messes to clean up somewhere. Thanks for your reply.

  12. Last year I bought a sewing machine. I thought by doing that I would save so much money making envelope pillow covers rather than buying pillows for the holidays and such. My first pillow covers were for St. Patricks Day. For never sewing before I did a pretty good job.

    Heres the problem. I haven’t tried it since, so those 2 pillow covers cost me almost $200.00. Lol

    Love your post.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Oh this made me laugh out loud. Dust off the machine and try again!

  13. I just made a throw pillow this morning and your instructions are much easier than mine. Thanks for sharing, next time I’ll be making French seams.

  14. I’m sure that is easy to make if I just wouldn’t break out in a sweat just sitting in front of a sewing machine. Just give me a paint brush and I’m good!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Kim! Well you are a master at painting for sure and I talk myself out of it every time. Opening a can a paint is what makes me sweat!

  15. Beautiful new pillow. My grama made me a project and made sure to point out they had french seams. I had no idea what a french seam even was, now I know :)

  16. Jackie B. says:

    Perfect timing! I will be teaching a class on making simple throw pillows this Saturday! Thank you for your super easy tutorial! Your still my favorite blogger!
    Jackie B.

  17. Love the tutorial! Simple and fast. I plan to make these pillows this weekend. Also love your choice of fabric. Regards, Kim

  18. Beautiful pillows I love the tutorial. I am going to enjoy making some to “Update” our home. I so enjoy stopping by your site. I enjoy everyone of your posts. Your home is truly lovely.
    Blessings, Lu Ann

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Thank you Lu Ann…enjoy your sewing day!

  19. Good morning Ann This is off topic, but wanted to let you know that I finally made the Cranberry Citrus Bread that you shared in December. It is easy to make, it is moist, pretty…it is delicious. Gave away some loaves as gifts and they loved it, too. Recipe is a keeper. Thanks.

  20. Beautiful pillows.Thanks for the tutorial. I need to do a spring update for myself. I am like you, I would like to have a “budget friendly” update. I need to search for some fabric bargains!

  21. Your yellow pillows are beautiful Ann, and I love your yellow chairs too, so pretty.
    In fact, I just love this whole cozy corner with all your white ware on the shelves and
    your blue and white plates on the wall. I am a big plate user as well. Love the look.
    Anyway, thanks for always making your blog a fun and pleasant place to visit.
    Always enjoy coming here.
    Blessings, Nellie

  22. Adina Johnson says:

    Ann, thank you so much for sharing the French seam tip. I have a few pillow cover designs in mind for an upcoming vintage market that I wanted to make, but I do not have a serger and I wasn’t comfortable with the unfinished edges on the inside. I’m so excited to use your expertise to improve my sewing projects!!!! I love the blanket ladder with the beautiful blue blankets.

  23. jaine gayer says:

    I make this type of pillow all the time and I love how easy they are to do. I’ve been flirting with the idea of putting some fringe around the edge of the pillow. Can we have a tutorial on that, Ann?
    Beautiful chairs, btw.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Jaine!
      Regretfully I am not very good at trims or piping. I have tried but it just takes too much time…especially piping. I’m not sure how to accomplish the french seams with trim either. I would have to think about that one!

  24. Shirley@housepitality designs says:

    Great tutorial Ann…love that pillow and must say I so love seeing that corner of your room…always so bright and beautiful…love the blue and yellow!! Have a great day! Pinning!

  25. Hi Ann! Your fabric choices are beautiful, and I so needed this tutorial! About a year ago we bought a beautiful long bench at a resale shop and I’ve always envisioned it with lots and lots of pillows:) Thank you for sharing!

  26. Love your pillows Ann! I’m a pillow girl too. I love changing them out for the seasons and also that they don’t take much fabric! Great tutorial all the way around, but particularly the part on French seams. They can be so intimidating to new sewers but they are really easy and as you say, five such a professional look!

  27. I finally had time to do something crafty this past Sunday, and I really wanted to make pillows like this. Alas, I didn’t know how. So, I made the pompom Christmas pillows (hey, I’m early for Christmas – not late.) I will be doing this next Sunday! On another note, I want to embroider initials on some linen that I have. I can’t find any pre-made iron-on patterns that I like. (Walmart and JoAnns are my only local options.) Any suggestions?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Suzie! Since I’m not exactly sure what you are looking for it’s hard for me to help. I did a quick google search with the words “initial embroidery iron on pattern” and several good links came up right on the first page. Maybe you could find something online this way? Good luck!

  28. Edie Marie says:

    Nice tutorial Ann! I love changing my look with throw pillows. I always enjoy how you change the appearance of you decor!

    Blessings, Edie Marie

  29. Ann-
    Thank you for a very informative tutorial. Despite having sewn for years and making loads of pillow covers I have never finished my seams this way. What a great way to insure the edges are clean and sharp. With an ice storm yesterday preventing leaving the house, I now have my plans for today…I’m making an envelope pillow;–)

  30. mary k. kauf says:

    Love your detailed instructions for sewing,was always afraid to try,now I figure ‘ Why Not?” MKK

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Definitely go for it Mary!

  31. Pamela Porter says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. I have been wanting to offer pillow covers at the local craft fairs and art shows I’m starting to attend but didn’t want to put out something that I felt was less than perfect (stringy seams!). I, too, can’t invest in a serger so this is the perfect solution.