Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Envelope Pillow Tutorial by Tracey Pereira- Sewing 101 week

I'm so happy to have Tracey, from her blog Chubby Mummy as my guest poster for today. She's an amazingly talented quilter (and all around sewer) who's work I've often admired. I love reading her blog because it's funny, candid, and full of great sewing and quilting information.

She's put together an outstanding tutorial (complete with video's). And I was thrilled she decided on pillows because I desperately need new ones for my sofa!

So without further adieu I'm handing the reins over to Tracey:

I have always loved sewing ever since I was a child. I don’t remember exactly when I started sewing but I do remember feeling very frustrated when things didn’t go right … but then I was daft and tackled projects well beyond me! I’ve some 40 odd years of sewing experience under my needle now so it is with the benefit of hindsight that I can suggest this to all you new sewers. Start your sewing journey with simple projects. Build on your skills gradually and remember its only fabric! If it goes wrong, don’t panic,just try again another time!

Good luck with your sewing.


Ps Send me piccies if you make the pillow cover in this tutorial !

Envelope Pillow Cover by Tracey Pereira

This project is for a Envelope Back Pillow Cover designed to fit a 16” pillow form.

Skill level: Beginner

Fabric Requirements : ¾ yd 42” wide fabric (70cm 110cm wide )

Notions: 16” Pillow form, Thread

Time: 1 -2 Hours

Suggested Fabrics:

When it comes to fabric the world is your oyster! There are a myriad of patterns and colours to choose from let alone fabric types, so where to start? Personally, I would avoid fabrics like satin or velvet to begin with. They look great as pillows but they aren’t the easiest of fabrics to work with so I would suggest a quilting or lightweight decorator /drapery cotton. They are relatively cheap and easy to work with. They also wash and press easily too.

Step 1 : What will I need?

For this project you will need:

1 ready made pillow form 16” x 16” (41cm x 41cm)

3/4 yd of fabric 42” wide ( 70cm x 110cm)

1 spool matching thread

1 pair of scissors (or rotary cutter)

1 tape measure

Dressmaking pins

1 working sewing machine

1 Iron

Some ‘me’ time and a bag of chocolates! (essential!)

Step 2: Cut Fabric to size

Front Pillow : Cut 1 off 16.5”x 16.5” (42cm x 42 cm)

Back Pillow : Cut 2 off 16.5” x 13.5”(42cm x 34cm)

Step 3 : Hem raw edges of BACK pillow panels

The back pillow is made from two 16.5” (42cm) x 13.5” (34cm) panels.

There is a left panel and a right panel.

HINT: Check you know which panel is which! If you don’t you may find you have hemmed the wrong edge!

Working the right panel: Identify the long left hand edge (measures 16.5” (42cm). Fold over this edge 1 and press. Fold again to conceal the raw edge. Press.

Working the left panel: Identify the right hand raw edge. Fold 1” twice as above. Press.

4: Sew Left and Right BACK Panel Hems

Machine stitch back panel hems close to the edge. Use your pressor feet to help you get a nice neat line of sewing.

See my video clip for a tip about sewing machine feet.

5. Layout the envelope back : Right Back Panel

With rightsides together place right back panel on top of front panel aligning 3 edges (top, right and bottom).

Sewing Jargon : Rightsides together is a common sewing term that means put the pretty side of your fabrics together. The pretty side is the right side. The wrong side is identified by its absence of print (usually). Be aware though that it is not so easy to identify the right side of a Batik, homespun and some plain fabrics because both sides look the same! To stop any confusion later I suggest placing a sticker or piece of masking tape to the right side of each piece before you continue if you have chosen fabric like this.

6. Layout the envelope back : Left hand panel

Now take the left hand back panel and place it face down over the front and right hand back panel. Match the raw edges on 3 sides - the top, left- side and bottom

Check the layout again before you sew!

7. Sew around all 4 sides

Using a ¼” (6mm) seam allowance sew around all 4 edges.

Sew off the ends on each side as in the photograph. There is no need to stop and turn the corners because we will be rounding them off in a moment

8. Mark Radius corners

To create the rounded corners find a circular object … cup/saucer/tin/reel of tape …. And use this as a template to create the radius corner. Mark with a pen.

Watch my video clip for hints on this and using the crayola marking pen.

9. Sew on the marked line

Starting about 1” (25mm) away from the start of the marked radius sew onto the pillow at 45˚ so the thread tails are at the outer edge of the pillow. (This avoids the need to tie off any thread ends). Continue sewing ON the pink line and continue for 1” beyond it. Sew off the pillow at 45˚ so thread tails are at the outer edge again. Repeat for all 4 corners.

10. Trim excess fabric

Using your scissors trim off the excess corner fabric. Repeat for all 4 corners.

Zigzag around the outer edge to neaten and prevent fraying.

Your pillow is now complete and just needs to be turned rightsides out!

Well done!

11. Turn pillow rightsides out and press.

Turn the pillow cover rightsides out. Using a pin tease the fabric out of the seam area to create neat corner and sides.

Use pins to hold in place before pressing. (remove the pins one at a time as you press around the pillow)

12. Stuff your pillow

Push the pillow form well into the pillow cover and use your hands to find the inside of the envelope back. Pull this out and push the pillow form underneath the flap.

It can be a bit of struggle the first time you do this but show the pillow form who is boss! Push the form well into the corners of the pillow cover.

TIP: Feather pillow forms are much nicer than the polyester fibre filled ones in my opinion. If you aren’t allergic to feathers and don’t mind paying extra for them they do make a lovely plump cushion that keeps its plumpness better over time.

13. Yeah .. its finished. Now enjoy your handi work!

Happy Sewing!

Thanks Tracey! If you'd like to check out more of her projects you can find her blog and shop here and here. Join me tomorrow for the next installment of Sewing 101 week.

And If you missed yesterday's post be sure to check out the great beginner videos that have been helping me get started.


  1. I love your new look but, I am in the process of finding a cutting table, one that doesn't kill my back, do you cut on that table opposite your sewing machine??? I would love to know. http://sewingmachinejudge.com/sewing-machine-the-easiest-way-to-use-it/


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