25 February 2014

DIY: no-sew envelope pillow covers (from cloth napkins!)

As part of my new-years-moving-into-spring-cleaning organizational spree, I recently realized that I was taking up an entire dresser drawer with unused throw pillows. An entire drawer! And ”unused throw pillows”, there’s a incongruous phrase – why would I ever not use throw pillows? You can never have too many throw pillows, so why did I stuff them in a drawer?

Well. Maybe because they were turquoise and green to match the old guest room duvet, and therefore matched nothing else in our house? Yeah, that.

Fortunately, I came across a few cloth napkins on clearance at Target – five bucks for four napkins sounds good to me! I thought I could turn them into pillow covers, thus making way for more throw pillows yay! as well as freeing up valuable storage space.

Rather than sew the napkins into pillow covers as I did last year, I decided this time to try my hand at making envelope covers with Heat & Bond. Centsational Girl Kate has an envelope pillow cover tutorial, but I ended up figuring it out on my own. Putting the pieces together was actually a bit more mind-bendingly complicated with Heat & Bond than it might be with a sewing machine, but not so complicated that I’d actually, you know, use my sewing machine.

If you don’t have cheap cloth napkins on hand, you could totally do this with plain ol’ fabric as well, but I do take advantage of the finished edges that come on cloth napkins. If you’re using plain fabric, you might want to tweak the measurements to create a finished edge!

Also, I started out with four 20” napkins and two 16” pillows, and I decided to make 15” pillow covers. That way, the pillow would look nice and full within the insert. However, that also means that you could totally make 17” inserts for 18” pillows, or 19” inserts for 20” pillows – you’ll just have to tweak the method below a bit. If you’ve got 16” pillows, though, the measurements will be spot on for you!

Ok, I think that’s enough disclaimers. Here we go!

First, I laid two napkins together with the patterned side facing in, like they’d be inside-out. I then trimmed two inches off both sides of the napkins, leaving a 16” wide piece of fabric with finished ends on only two side. (I lifted up one napkin so you could see the pattern, which was dumb because it totally blends in with my ironing board cover. Whoops!) My Heat & Bond is 1/2” wide, so a 16” square with 1/2” seam allowance on each side = 15” square pillow cover.

I suppose you could just trim 4” off one side, but I didn’t want a finished edge on one side and unfinished on the other (I thought it might make the seams look asymmetric when inverted, if that makes sense). Either way, you can discard those scraps.

Then, with the two napkins still face-down together, I cut 4” off one of the sides with a finished edge:

That left a 16” rectangle, with one finished edge.

Now, DON’T discard both of those 4” scraps – you’re going to need one of them! Make sure you keep one 16x4” scrap with a finished edge along one side. That’s going to be used for the envelope in a minute.

But back to those 16” squares. Use Heat & Bond (or your sewing machine, if you are fancy, which I am NOT) to adhere only the unfinished edges together, with the patterned side facing in.

Don’t attach any of the finished edges together – make sure you can still fold back the entire edge. You’re going to use that to attach the other half of the envelope! Here, allow my freakishly red and wrinkly hand to show you:

Finally, you attach that 4” “scrap” piece – and this is the mind-bending tricky part, at least for me. The unfinished, long edge of the scrap piece is attached to the finished edge of the BOTTOM 16” square. You’ll probably have to fold back the long edge of the TOP 16” square (like I showed you in the photo above) to reveal that edge of the BOTTOM square, and that’s fine. Heat & Bond those edges into place!

Then, the unfinished short edges of the scrap piece are attached to the sides of the TOP 16” square. You can leave that long edge of the 16” TOP piece folded over when you attach it.

And don’t attach the finished edge of the 4” piece to anything! (See how it’s open in the photo above?) That’s your opening to turn the whole shebang right-side out and insert the pillow!

Whew! I hope that made sense. Honestly, it took me a few tries (including ripping apart a few bonded edges) to figure out how to get it right! If you don’t get it on the first try, I’m sure it’s because I didn’t do a good enough job explaining it – but hopefully you can rip it apart and try again, too!

If you get it right, though, you’ll have an envelope pillow cover! When you insert the pillow, you’ll be grateful for that 4” piece that covers the gap, especially if you make your pillow cover a little smaller than the pillow like I did.

Personally, I’d rather have that gap edge along one side than in the middle of the back of the pillow, like you see with other envelope pillow covers. This way the pillows are a bit more reversible, or at the very least, you can use either side for a nap without getting a seam imprint down your face! Plus, they’ll be prettier in open-backed chairs if you put the open envelope edge at the bottom.

I ended up putting these guys on the ottoman in our living room, though. What was once basically a storage unit shoved under a window now looks more like a cozy reading nook!

And bonus: I’ve almost cleared out that dresser drawer of unused pillows. Tomorrow I’ll show you what I did with the others!


Marge said...

Very clever! I like the idea of having the opening along the bottom.