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How to Make Fringe for a Pillow

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How to transform raw edges of tightly woven fabric to make a trendy fringed edge pillow cover. When placed on your sofa, the pillow will resemble something you bought at Target or HomeGoods.

You may not be interested in making a pillow cover, but let this post inspire you to try something you are thinking about making or doing, but are not quite sure will work. If you can think it… you can find a way to make it happen. I did and so can you.

The beautiful weather here in South Carolina has given me the energy to switch gears doing something I can control right now… freshening up my house for spring.

You know the children’s book… The Little Engine that Could? One of my favorite story lines is from this book when the little blue engine says… “I think I can… I think I can…” as she puts her mind and energy towards her goal. With her positive thinking… she has success.

Natural Spring Decor in Living Room

This positive mindset got me to thinking about how I could add vibrant green touches to my sofa in the way of 24″ x 24″ square pillows with fringed trim to match existing blue pillows already on the sofa.

I know that we are still probably weeks away from getting back to where I can get “out and about” to shop for the right weight of fabric to make these pillows. I didn’t want to let that fact keep me from my goal.

I like large throw pillows and made two new green pillow covers using cotton quilt fabric I had on hand. I wanted to make the new covers so that they would resemble this blue chambray pillow with fringed fabric edges in the photo above. I bought two of these pillows at Target two summers ago.

Two fringe edges pillows on a white sofa. One made in blue demin and the other in a pretty spring green fabric. Both have DIY fringe around the edges. Find out how easy this type of fringe is to make on the edge of fabric, even tightly woven fabric.

I wanted to introduce a leafy green color into the living room as another way to make the inside and outside of my house flow into one another. Green trees, grass, the lake and blue skies. :-)

I bought the green fabric to make a quilt one day. It really isn’t ideal for making a fringed edge pillow cover since the fabric is thin and has a very tight weave. But it was something I had on hand and I was determined to make it work …

“I think I can…. I think I can…”

Two large fringe edged pillows on a sofa. One green and one blue.

… and I did. I was able to fringe the raw edges of the green quilt fabric with some experimenting, a few pointy tools and an afternoon of my time. If I didn’t think I could or at least try, then how would I ever have success in anything I do?

I am not a seamstress, but I don’t let this stop me from using my sewing machine when I want to make something to decorate my house. The basic skill of being able to sew two pieces of fabric together in a straight line has allowed me to make quite a bit of home decor from drapes, tablecloths, pillows and more.

What is the Best Fabric To Use To Make Fringed Edges?

The best fabric to use when you want to fringe the raw edges is loose or medium woven fabric where you can see each strand of thread when you look closely at the fabric.

Showing the different weaves of fabric.
  • Loosely woven fabric like burlap is very easy to create a fringed border along the edges.
  • Medium woven fabric may require you to use a needle or toothpick to separate each strand to pull out, but it fairly easy to do.
  • Tightly woven fabric is a more challenging material from which to make fringe. This is the fabric I used. It took time and effort and the results are not as nice as they would have been if the fabric had a looser weave, but it can be fringed.

I thought I could… I thought I could make fringe for my pillow covers even with tightly woven fabric… see how I did it.

What would you like to make? Think of a way to make it happen.

How To Make a Pillow Cover with a Fringed Border

When making a throw pillow cover, here is a good guide for how much fabric you will need. My pillows are 24″ square. I used an existing pillow cover to make a pattern.

Fabric Yardage Calculator for Throw Pillow Covers

Dimensions (Length by Width)Amount of Fabric Needed for 1 Pillow Cover (Using 54-inch Wide Fabric with No Pattern Matching)
16 x 16 inches1/2 yard
18 x 18 inches5/8 yard
20 x 20 inches3/4 yard
30 x 30 inchesyard

supplies needed:

  • Fabric
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Pillow form
  • Existing pillow cover or pillow pattern
  • Sharp needle
  • If using tightly woven fabric: a stitch ripper, paint brush cleaner brush and a cutting board

Time needed: 3 hours.

How to Make a Pillow Cover with a Fringed Border

  1. Use Existing Pillow Cover as a Pattern

    I used an existing 24″ x 24″ pillow cover as my cutting pattern to make my pillows.

    I folded my fabric in half and then placed my existing pillow cover on top. I cut around the pillow cover leaving 1-inch extra fabric all around the cover. This extra inch will become the fringe.

    How to use an existing pillow cover as a cutting pattern to make a new cover.

  2. Place Cut Fabric WRONG Sides Together

    Once the two same sized pieces of fabric are cut, pin WRONG sides together so that the right side of the fabric is face out for both the front and back of the cover. Make sure if the fabric has a pattern that you pin it so the pattern is running in the same direction on each side.
    Lay pillow cover fabric wrong sides together.

  3. Sew 3 Sides

    Take the pinned together fabric to your machine and sew along 3 sides leaving a 1-inch border. Don’t sew the last side closed until you place the pillow form inside.

    sew front and back of pillow cover fabric together on a sewing machine

  4. Place Pillow Form Into Pillow Cover

    With 3 sides sewn together on the pillow cover, place the pillow form in and shake to make it fit while leaving one side opened.

    Pin the the opening closed making sure to keep the front and back edges of the fabric even as you pin the cover closed.

    Pin and close last side of pillow cover.

  5. Sew Last Side of Cover Closed

    Shake the pillow in the cover to allow room along the pinned edge so you can sew it closed on a machine. You may have to sew slowly as you keep the pinned seam free of the pillow as you sew.

    How to sew a fringe edge pillow cover closed.

  6. Begin Fringing Fabric Edges

    Starting on one side of your pillow, begin pulling the threads from the cut fabric edges. Continue removing threads until you reach the sewn seam. Repeat the process on all sides.

    If using tightly woven fabric like I did, you will need to use the point of a seam ripper and then a metal paint brush comb to remove the threads.

    See short video below to see more about the tools I used to fringe the raw edges on the tightly woven fabric.

    How to fringe cut fabric to make a pretty fringed edge pillow cover.

  7. Optional Assembly


    In the pillow cover making process, you can fringe the raw edges on the 3 sewn sides right after you sew them. Doing this will make fringing the 3 sewn sides of the cover, easier since it can be done without the pillow form in place. Once the pillow form is in place and you close up the last side of the cover with pillow form in place, it makes it a little harder to fringe the edges.

How to Fringe the Edges on Tightly Woven Fabric

How to make fabric pillow covers with  a fringed border.

I thought I could… I thought I could… make fringe for my pillow covers even with tightly woven fabric… and did it successfully

What would you like to make or create? Think and think of a way to make it happen, then do it.

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23 Comments

  1. Great post, your pillow suggestion is perfect! All information is very helpful for decorating the house and I also bought a pillow last day for my own room. It is also very helpful in decoration. Thank you for your beautiful and fabulous blog.

  2. Hi Diane! Thanks for the great post, your pillows look perfect! Another tip is that when making fringe from tightly woven fabric that might look less “lush”, you can sew another fringed strip between the edge of the layers to plump it up! I know, a lot of extra fringing and work, but it does make the fringe a lot fuller.
    My mother had a slant needle Singer machine and it’s the one thing of hers I wish I’d kept! They are wonderful machines, real gems.
    Happy sewing, be well.

  3. I must get a paint brush cleaner! And try my seam ripper too! I totally gave up on fringing many, very many years ago because of struggling with tightly woven fabric.

    You’re just brilliant!!

    1. Hi Sheryll – The wire comb brush cleaner is one amazing tool. I love that my paint brushes last for years when I use it along with moisturizing hand soap.

  4. The pillow turned out great! I haven’t used my sewing machine in several years. I’ve been thinking about getting rid of it. But when I see projects like yours I’m not. I love the idea of sewing and use to sew a lot more. (Home decor stuff.) We’ll see.

    1. Hi Sharon – I don’t sew as much as I used to either. When we moved to the lake, I took the machine out of the cabinet it came with. I gave the cabinet away so all I have it the actual machine. When planning my studioffice, I made a space for it on the long worktable so I still have easy access to it. I made a simple fabric cover for it so it looks nice too.

  5. Dianne what temperature do you bbq the flank steak? It looks good and I want to try it. Thanks Dianne!

  6. Lovely. “Where there is fear there is no creativity”. You my dear are fearless.

  7. Very beautiful green accent! When fringing really tight fabric it sometimes helps me to cut (very carefully) at intervals along the part going to be fringed towards the seam line. Takes a little time to do it carefully since you want it to be vertical to the edge, along the grainline so to speak. But is makes pulling off the threads easier, as shorter. Anyway, it works for me.
    Keep safe and happy.

  8. They came out great!!! The green is just the right touch and brightens the room ?. Love that you used what you had and made the fringe happen ?

  9. Diane, Hi! I have fringed fabric for years for table cloths. A fabric home decorator fabric store was going out of business so I purchase large wide pieces I liked and knew I could wash. If I really liked the piece I would get enough to fit table as each leaf was added. Fabric was only $1-$2 so it was very doable. Works great. When kids were younger they would help fringe. They thought it was fun, for awhile. Even had a group of friends for lunch apologizing for partially fringed cloth, they laughed knowing me too well and started fringing with the cloth on the table. Those are good friends!

  10. Your “can do” attitude is always inspiring…especially these days. Love the pillows, too. Stay well! ;)

  11. Diane! Is that your sewing machine!!??….LOL, my grandmother
    got me the same one for graduation. She bought it from the high
    school sewing department, as they were upgrading their machines.
    I loved my “new” Singer.. I had it for many years, sadly it just wore out.
    Love your blog. This put a smile on my face today!
    Linda

    1. Hi Linda – I get so many comments about my hand-me-down slant needle Singer sewing machine when it shows up in photos in my posts. It was Ed’s grandmother’s machine and is still humming along. It has been my only sewing machine for 35 years. Sorry to hear that yours wore out. :-( Thanks for reading my blog.

  12. HI Diane, I love this. I pulled out my sewing machine to make PPE masks and now I am waiting for elastic. But pulling out my machine reminded me of how much fun I had with my machine 20 years ago. thank you for this awesome tutorial. I am going to share it on the Weekend Edit on Saturday (what day is it?). Ha! laura

    1. Hi Laura – Sewing can be fun and with a little time and imagination… we can make anything. If the elastic you ordered doesn’t arrive soon, a quilter friend of mine who is making masks by the dozens told me you can also use ponytail holders if you can’t get elastic. They work perfectly. :-) Thank you for sharing my post on your Saturday post. XO