Why You Should Use Throw Pillow Covers

My thoughts on why you should consider using throw pillow covers or buy them when updating a room for seasonal change. Plus, learn a decorator secret about throw pillow cover sizing and inserts you may not know.

Toss pillows for sale at Home Goods.

Now that we are coming up on a season change, retailers like Home Goods, Target, and others are getting ready for those of us who enjoy decorating our home by changing up our decorative throw pillows seasonally or on a whim.

Toss pillows on display in the aisle at Home Goods in the colors yellow, blue and orange.

They must be expecting a huge buying season. :-)

When I was in HomeGoods recently, I was shocked at just how many throw pillows they have in stock. Six double aisles full of pretty pillows in every color imaginable that you buy as a whole – the decorative pillow cover and pillow insert inside.

Neutral color throw pillows on display at Home Goods

Some of the pillows have zippers so you can remove the covers, others are sewn shut.

Reasons Why You Should Use Throw Pillow Covers

Adding a new decorative pillow to a sofa, chair or bed is one of the easiest ways to freshen up your decor, without much commitment, but it does have a downfall.

Clothes closet turned into a throw pillow storage closet.

They start adding up and require their own storage closet! I recently purged my throw pillow stash and gave away more than a dozen pillows. I did keep all my pillow covers though.

If the amount of decorative throw pillows you own needs a storage closet all its own, it may be time to consider only buying throw pillow “covers” or making new easy-to-make pillow covers yourself to place over your existing pillows.

I use the term throw pillow for any decorative pillow that is not a bed pillow you use to sleep on. I know many refer to them also as toss pillows or accent pillows.

blue and green pillows on white sofa

No matter what you call them, these decorative pillows make us happy. Using them is like adding jewelry to an outfit we wear. They add pops of color and interest and even though we buy the pillows to add some pretty, throw pillows are also functional.

You can smoosh one to prop your back up, place one on the floor for your head when laying on the floor for a Netflix binge or to take a nap on the sofa. Some people even consider them as teddy bears for adults.

Olive green velvet toss pillow on a white sofa with tree bark colored cloth fabric next to it.

While out shopping at Home Goods, I had no intention of buying new throw pillows for my white slipcovered sofa in my living room, as I have plenty. The reason I had gone out shopping was to go to JoAnns Fabrics to look for olive colored fabric to make covers for my fall decor.

BUT… I ended up buying two more throw pillows!

HomeGoods makes it too easy! The olive green fur pillow in the above photo is one of a set that were exactly the color and texture I had in mind for my fall decorating scheme. The cost was less expensive and the fabric a better quality than buying similar fabric I would need to make the pillow covers myself.

This scenario got me to thinking, why don’t more manufacturers simply sell throw pillow covers and inserts separately… ALL THE TIME as the standard way of selling decorative pillows? They would sell just as well at Home Goods and take up less aisle space.

Is it more cost effective or just the way they have always been sold that manufacturers don’t even consider changing, or do you think there is another reason why there are not more pretty pillow covers being sold?

Selling more pillow covers over having to buy a brand new insert and cover would not only be good for the environment, but for our budgets and our storage closets as well.

red velvet pillow cover being placed on a pillow insert.

If you have throw pillows or inserts in the size you like, then you can simply add a new pillow cover over it and swap out the covers for the seasons.

Even for a pillow with a cover that is sewn on and can’t be removed or for a set of pillows that came with a sofa. As long as the pillow doesn’t have any trim or tassels on it, you can place a new pillow cover over it. You do not have to buy new pillow inserts for a new look.

2 Ways to Make Throw Pillow Covers

Making pillow covers is a lot easier than you may think.

To change up my sofa for fall, besides the olive green fur pillowsI bought, I also bought fabric yardage at JoAnns Fabrics that has a brown bark-like texture to it to make new pillow covers for the white 20″ x 20″ pillows I already own. (Fabric shown draped over a pillow next to my new olive green fur pillows I bought in the photo above.)

If you like to change your decorative pillows seasonally, then here are two ways that you can whip up some pillow covers to add new color and textures to your home for fall.

Neither pillow cover making method requires a pattern or zipper:

  1. Using a sewing machine: Easy to Make Throw Pillow Cover
  2. Using a no-sew method: How to Make a Large Accent Pillow Cover

Throw Pillow Cover Size Guide

When buying or making a throw pillow cover, the first thing you need to know is what size your pillow or cover is.

  • Measure your existing pillow, cover or insert. Take side-to-side as well as the top-to-bottom measurements.
  • Common square pillow sizes are: 16″ x 16″ | 18″ x 18″ | 20 ” x 20″ | 22″ x 22″ | 24″ x 24″

These sizes are the easiest to find to buy – see resources at the end of the post.

If your pillow or insert is not one of these sizes, you may be able to find some ready-made pillow covers, but making your own pillow covers will be the best way to change the pillow with a fabric you like without having to replace the whole pillow.

Decorator Tip:

What size pillow insert should you use when making or buying a throw pillow cover? This tip surprises many, but for a decorative pillow to look its best, here is a decorator tip:

The general rule of thumb: Use inserts that are 1″-2″ larger than your pillow cover.

So for example, with a 22″ square throw pillow cover, use a 24″ square insert. Using a larger insert makes for a more plump looking pillow.

Down-filled pillow inserts look and feel better than inserts made with synthetic materials of foam. They are easier to karate-chop or to press a finger in the center of the pillow to create a dimple.

Down filled pillow inserts are also easier to plump back up, even when they get old. Foam pillow inserts can get flat, fast.

What Type of Fabric to Use When Making a Pillow Cover

When making homemade pillow covers, the choice of fabric you can use is unlimited. The choice is more about your decorating style and season of the year.

Fabric yardage is the most common choice, but also consider any fabric you may already own in the way of bedding, quilts, tablecloths, napkins, and even dishtowels. Fabric is fabric, so don’t feel you have to use a decorator fabric.

Where to Buy Pillow Covers

Pottery Barn Fall Pillow Cover on a sofa

If you don’t want to make your own cover, you can find good deals for cheap pillow covers at the end of the season clearance sales. When I go to stores like Pottery Barn, I head right for the clearance section in the store.

I once found a beautifully textured fall 20″ x 20″ pillow cover that normally sold for $65 for $13! So it is worth taking a look. If you have a Pottery Barn outlet near you, you will find deals like this all the time.

Hobby Lobby, Amazon, IKEA also sell just the covers, as do a few other retailers, but it is a small percent. One reader, Dianne commented that the online store, Shein.com sells pillow covers for as little as $3.00. Worth checking out if you are in the mood to change your pillows for the change of season.

Below are a few pillow covers I found online that are currently available and affordable, except the monogramed one. It is custom made and unique – hence the price.

Pillow Covers I Found Online:

So if you like to change up the pretty pillows on your seating every once in awhile, remember that using throw pillow covers is a good thing since you can use fabric you love or already own.

But the best reason is that you will no longer need a large space to store dozens of pillow inserts when your decorative pillow covers are not being used. :-)

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21 Comments

  1. We needed a cheap form for a 16″X16″ case. We had pillows, just not the size for the cover we had. We went to Ikea to source one. They appeared to be sold out of the super cheap square ones @20″ x20″. In store, we found a cheapo bed pillow and used one (I think, SLAN $2.49) vs buying a proper form. Don’t be limited by shape. It helps, but It’s not 100% necessary.

  2. Hi, Diane; You are so right about the pillow covers.. seems to me that if I had a chance at some new pillow covers, my pillow inserts would get a lot more use and be more cost effective!
    Speaking of which, no one who accepts used clothing or household items wants the old pillows, particularly bed pillows, turns out they are next to impossible to recycle! Instead of trying to donate my old bed pillows, I took off the old ticking and found this lovely, white, pristine fluff inside! Now that might be a different story if I made a donation of “stuffing” for pillows – and I’ve stuffed 3 other toss pillows that I never even thought of reusing before. So check before tossing those toss pillows!

    1. Hi Linda –

      What a great idea. Crafters always are in need of stuffing for their projects. :-) You can even use it to add more stuffing to a flattened sofa cushion.

  3. I’ve used pillow covers all my life. My mother changed her pillow covers with the seasons. She made them by hand & sewed them closed rather than add a zipper….because for her it was faster. Then she would use a seam ripper & rip open a seam to pull them out, wash the insert & add a new cover.

    I’ve made a few covers myself but did not really have a nice selection until Amazon. I’ve paid as little as $1 up to around $8 for seasonal pillow covers from them. And they all fit in a small basket in my linen cupboard.

  4. Great post and so true!!! It’s hard NOT to be a pillow addict. Covers are def the way to go 👍
    I love your green pillow!

  5. I have what I call a “pillow problem”! I love changing them out, and I often make my own covers. I frequently just reuse the inserts, and if it happens to be inside of a pillow I made myself, 9x out of 10, I didn’t put a zipper on it. I hardly ever circle back around, so I just cut the old cover off of it. Etsy is also a great place to find pillow covers, and a lot of the shops have really great selections at super price points. Totally random, but I have the exact same striped beach towel that you have in your pillow closet up on the shelf. I have had it forever. Have a great weekend!

  6. Good information here.
    There is an incorrect word, CANT in the paragraph giving the two ways to make pillow covers. Word should be CAN. I learned proof reading in 1956 in a Catholic high school in Philadelphia. Smiles.

    1. Hi Nancy – Thanks for reading and catching the typo. :-) I wrote the post late last night and should have took more time to proof-read it. I hope you have a great weekend.

  7. In my town, throw pillows are scarce, which is probably a good thing haha. I have ordered pillow covers from H&M and the quality has been good & the price is very affordable. Our fabric store sells many pillow covers & often on sale.

  8. H&M and Hobby Lobby both offer pillow covers without the inserts, as does Pottery Barn. Hobby Lobby’s pillow covers are 50% off this week.

  9. Great info….I do have enough pillow inserts for different rooms in our home….so I only now order pillow covers, staying at the size of 18×18…. I can interchange how ever I like….we down sized so having a smaller home means a bit less storage…almost ever pillow cover I have has come from Amazon….the selections are endless…and a whole lot cheaper.

  10. I love the suggestion about shein.com. What a treasure trove of pillow covers. Thanks to you and your reader.

  11. Great post Diane. A fantastic source for pillow covers is Ikea. They have a large selection on line and are very inexpensive.

    1. Hi Vikki – Thanks for mentioning IKEA as a place to buy pillow covers. I told another reader that I haven’t been to an IKEA since I moved to SC. :-( I do miss taking a stroll around the store like I used to to when I lived in PA.

  12. Perfect timing as always, Diane! I have visited a few stores looking for covers with no luck. Ikea also carries pillow covers but nothing smaller than 20X20. I just went online to Hobby Lobby and ordered 4 covers, they are all 50 % off right now! I think we are in a mind meld…thanks!

    1. Hi Linda – :-) Sounds like we are on the same mind meld. I like to plan ahead and I also don’t want to spend too much or change everything for fall. Throw pillows are the easiest way to change the look and cozy up a room.

  13. If you are buying material to make toss pillow covers, buy some extra to make a matching bed scarf to complete the look. Shein, online, sells toss pillow covers for $3.00 each. They have well over 100 to choose from! Two pillow inserts and multiple covers makes a great Christmas present.

    1. Hi Dianne –

      I love Shein and have bought clothing and a tote bag on the site, but didn’t even think about checking there for pillow covers. Such a great price too. Thanks for telling me. I will add it to the post.

  14. IKEA sells the inserts and covers separately although I do wish they would make their inserts a little puffier!

    1. Hi Lisa – I forgot all about IKEA selling the inserts and covers separately. They are forward thinking for sure! Before I moved to SC, I lived near an IKEA and went there often for ideas and inspiration. There isn’t one near me anymore so I haven’t been in over 5 years. :-(