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Cheap Pillow Covers To Make in Minutes

How to Make Pretty Throw Pillow Covers in minutes without a sewing machine.

Over the years I have lessened my visual dependence on the most basic of all decorative accessories… the throw pillow.  Note that I said “visual” dependence, not comfort dependence.

Decorative throw pillows are one easy way to create and add visual eye candy and color to a room.

decorative-pillow-covers made-using-cloth-napkins

Pillows make a room look happy and loved.  You know when you are in someone’s home and they have a few pretty throw pillows about that they care about how their home looks.

Throw pillows have also become the subject of many a joke from the male category of our species who just don’t get why so many decorative pillows are needed on a chair, sofa, bench, or bed.

Since I bought a new sofa back in the summer that is a little deeper than the previous one, I see my friends and family actually grab a pillow to use instead of placing it out of the way or on the floor when they sit down.

A throw pillow helps different shapes and sizes of people find a comfortable spot to snuggle into. 

Throw pillows on the sofa are also needed when you want to lay down and enjoy a Netflix binge. Having a pillow to place between the arm of the sofa and your head is always a good thing.

Pottery-Barn-room-blue-and-white

As I have been slowly adding decorative items to my living room now that I have all the furniture in the room figured out, I am starting to add more blue and white elements to the room.

My sofa is white, but I like the look of this room from the Pottery Barn catalog. It is casual, comfy, yet pretty and says, “come on in and hang out”. I have two brown chairs like this room does and like how the color mixes with the blue and white scheme.

I always enjoy taking a spin around stores that sell decorative accessories. Pottery Barn sells decorative pillows and throw pillow covers separately.  They are all very nice, but pricey.

Most of the covers alone are in the the $35 dollar range. Add a pillow form to that and you can spend up to $60 or more for a pillow.

Whipstitched Edge decorative throw pillow at Kirklands

Recently while out shopping, I saw this pillow with decorative whipstitching around the edges at my local Kirkland’s. It was $25.

A more doable price, but an idea came to me when I saw this pillow and I knew I could make something similar in my own style for about $8 that would be perfect for adding some blue and white accessories to my living room.

How to make inexpensive throw pillow covers using napkins

All I needed to do was head to the kitchen linen aisle at HomeGoods, Pier 1 Imports, or Target to find an array of colorful cloth napkins that sell for around $3 – $4 a piece or less.

Blue-Striped-Whipstitch-Pillow

I was doubly inspired to put my idea into action when I found this similar pillow online that has blanket stitching around the edges. Blue and White Whipstitched Pilllow

How to remove a pillow form from a zippered pillow cover

Time to make my own since I already had the pillow forms from the red pillows I use at Christmas. All I needed to do was make new covers for them using blue and white napkins and something to hand stitch big stitches all around in the way of embroidery floss, yarn, twine, or ribbon.

The best part about making these napkin pillow covers is:

  • They are 75% already made for you since you use cloth napkins that already have finished hems.
  • You don’t need a sewing machine, only a large-eye sewing needle. EZ-Peasy basic sewing stitches that many of us learned in Home-Ec class way back when. I made my two pillow covers in an hour while watching a movie.
  • Budget friendly.  You can buy napkins for about $4 a piece or less at places like HomeGoods and Pier One Imports.
  • When you tire of the cover you can simply snip the stitches and the napkins will come right off ready to be re-used again as a napkin since you didn’t have to alter them at all.
  • Can be made over an existing pillow, (not only a pillow form)  if the napkin is opaque enough to hide the colors of an existing pillow.

How to Make Decorator Throw Pillow Covers Using Cloth Napkins

How-to-make-a-throw pillow-covers-using-cloth-napkins

I chose to use yarn for one pillow cover and three strands of embroidery floss for the other and used the blanket stitch to sew the napkins together around the two pillows covers I made. You could also do a simple overcast stitch or whipstitch as shown in the pillow I saw at Kirkland’s in the photo above.

How to make a pillow cover using cloth napkins
 
supplies needed: 
  • Two 20-inch square napkins. I found the overlapping circle napkins at HomeGoods. The blue and white grid napkins are from Pier 1 Imports.
  • 18″ – 20″ pillow or pillow form
  • 1 skein embroidery floss in coordinating color to napkins
  • Large-eyed needle
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Iron and ironing board
How to make a throw pillow covesr using cloth napkins

1. Place one napkin on work surface right side down. Place pillow form on top and then place second napkin on top right side up, making sure if there is a pattern on the napkin that is is running in the same direction as the bottom napkin.

Pin the napkins together at each corner using straight pins.  Check to make sure pillow form is a good fit for the size of the napkin.

If it looks too big, it may be fine since you will be able to smoosh the pillow a little once it is sewn inside the napkins.

Napkins being made into throw pillow covers

2. Remove pillow. Press napkins with iron if needed to remove creases or wrinkles.

How-to-sew-two-napkins-to-make-pillow

3. Sew 3 sides of the napkins together using a blanket stitch, overcast or whipstitch. I used white yarn for this pillow.

how-to-sew-a-blanket-stitch

How to Sew a Blanket Stitch

4. Pull needle through to front at #1. Insert needle at #2 and come out again at #3 holding the thread under the needle as you pull the stitch tight.

If you are new to simple hand sewing stitches, here is the best blanket stitch tutorial I have found that will help you understand how to start, add new thread and stop the stitches to close up the cover.

How to sew napkins together around a pillow

5. After finishing 3 sides, place the sewn together napkins on work surface and put pillow inside. Pin open side and then stitch closed. Remove pins.  Fluff pillow to fit perfectly inside the sewn together napkins.

pillow cover using cloth napkins and blanket stitch to attach together

I bought the napkins for this pillow cover at Pier 1 Imports. I used 3 strands of embroidery floss to sew this pillow cover.

One strand was too thin. Instead of evenly spacing the stitches, I followed the lines on the pattern to create unique spacing that coordinates with the napkins.

Blue and white pillows in living room

So now I have three blue decorative throw pillows on my sofa that not only look pretty, but can be punched, folded or smooshed to make anyone sitting on the sofa… comfy.

blue and white napkin covered pillows

Do you have any pretty napkins hidden away in a drawer or closet in your house that you could make a few throw pillow covers to add a splash of new color or pattern to your sofa, chair, or bed?

Blue and White Circular Pattern Napkins – Bought a few years ago at HomeGoods

White and Blue Grid Pattern Napkins

Wall Clock

Blue Velvet Pillow

Light Blue Throw – It is vintage IKEA back in 1985.

White Crock with handles behind sofa

Moss spheres on pedestal behind sofa

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27 Comments

  1. Hi Diane, I’m realizing that you have to find the right sized napkins for the size pillow forms sold (brainstorm, huh?!) I was thinking of using travel sized pillow forms to make these covers, but I doubt I’ll find dish towels that would fit those. Hmm….

  2. Another great idea and tutorial. I love blue and white also. Will definitely be making some new throw pillows.Keep sharing your good posts.

  3. Diane, thanks SO much for sharing this. At a time when we are reusing and repurposing, and very much wanting to exit “consumption madness”, the idea of using napkins in this way really is genius. When I have purchased expensive throw pillows or spent hours sewing them I ‘ve felt compelled to live with them for a long time. Your idea is freeing – new throw pillows are possible often and, when disassembled, become napkins for the dinner table!

  4. It’s not limited to men… I don’t get throw pillows, either! :D But I can’t stand overly stuffed pillows, so maybe if throw pillows were flatter I’d be able to tolerate them better… for the most part, they’re just a pain. But these ARE awfully pretty, and this was such a fabulous tutorial that I’m tempted to try some out! Using napkins and whipstitches–genius!!

    1. Hi Mariele –

      Over the years I have edited the number down to 3. I move them one to a chair when needed. When I saw the whipstitched pillow at Kirkland’s I was immediately reminded of a pillow to sit on that I made in Girl Scouts. It was the project where I learned to sew the blanket stitch. My mind associates stuff like this to come up with new ideas. :-)

  5. This is a great idea to add the blanket stitch, for Christmas I bought placemats that were 2 sided, had a front and back panel. I unstitched a bit at the bottom, stuffed them with Polyfil and then restitched them by hand. I found a nice variety of them at great prices. They are not very big after stuffing them but do make a cute accent pillow.

    I noticed your beautiful clock from Kirkland’s on the wall. Do you love it? Do you recommend it?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Dianne –

      Great idea to use placemats to make accent pillows. I bet they looked very festive for the holidays. I love the Kirkland’s clock. It runs on a battery that I have had to change once since owning the clock. If you have the space and like the styling of the clock, I would highly recommend it. They do have a smaller version of it also. So does Wayfair.

  6. Oh love love the blanket stitch on the pillows and thank you for sharing and giving inspiration to try

  7. Thanks so much, Diane! What a timely tip, for me at least, as I was about to attempt turning a rag rug (recently bought on clearance sale) into an accent pillow cover! I wasn’t sure if my sewing machine could handle stitching through such thick material, so I think that your idea of using the blanket stitch will be the perfect solution. Besides, it helps give the outside edge a more decorative touch, for much less money and fuss than buying trim. I will have to do the sewing while watching a good movie (or home decorating show)!
    I love the idea of using napkins, too! I am going to have to be on the look out for some that would work for my color scheme.

    1. Hi Phyllis –

      I made pillow covers using rag rugs for my oldest daughters college dorm room about 5 years ago. They were thick and very hard to sew, but doable with some determination. You can see it in the last photo of this post:

      https://inmyownstyle.com/2012/09/how-to-make-a-pillow-cover-without-using-a-sewing-pattern.html

      They looked nice on her bed. Hand stitching the napkins together with a large decorative stitch is soooo much easier than have to sew trim or cording. :-)

  8. Another great idea! I was just looking today at an old, but good quality, throw pillow and debating about how much I would be willing to spend for a new cover. I have many pretty cloth napkins I have bought over the years and rarely used. I’m definitely going to try this!

  9. Just love the post! Thank you Diane for such a great idea, easy instructions and the encouragement that I can do this….. Blessings.

  10. Another great idea and tutorial. I love blue and white also. Will definitely be making some new throw pillows. Haven’t done the blanket stitch in a very long time. Sounds fun!

  11. Thank you Diane. I think I might be able to do tnis, ha. I am heading to the stores, lookout. I love those pillows by the way, so pretty. Let the imagination run wild!

  12. What a great idea! Throw pillows can be so expensive and the if you want to change out for the season, even with just buying covers it can get pretty costly. I definitely will keep this in mind!