Free Directions to Sew Envelope Pillow Covers

Throw pillows on daybed
Lived In Images / Getty Images
Project Overview
  • Skill Level: Beginner

These step-by-step directions are designed to save you the expense of purchasing new pillows when you just need a new cover. The envelope design of these pillow covers makes easy removable slipcovers for your throw pillows, and no need to find or install a zipper. Always preshrink your fabric first so that your finished pillow covers stay the same size after washing.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Marking tool and ruler or tape measure
  • Scissors or a rotary cutter, ruler, and mat
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron


  • Pillow form or old pillow to recover
  • 3/8 yard 45"-wide fabric to cover a 12" square pillow
  • 1/2 yard 45"-wide fabric to cover a 14" or 16" square pillow
  • 5/8 yard 45"-wide fabric to cover an 18" square pillow


  1. Cut the Fabric

    Cut 1 rectangle from your fabric the size listed below corresponding to the size of the pillow insert:

    • 12" square pillow: 12" x 28"
    • 14" square pillow: 14" x 32"
    • 16" square pillow: 16" x 36"
    • 18" square pillow: 18" x 40"

    Note: The cutting directions do not add a seam allowance so that the finished pillow cover is a little smaller than the form and creates a plump pillow with no extra space.

  2. Mark the Rectangle

    Measure the distance listed below in from each end along the longer top and bottom edges. Use a marking tool, place a pin, or finger-press a crease to mark the point.

    • For a 12" pillow, mark your fabric 8" in from the short ends.
    • For a 14" pillow, mark your fabric 9" in from the short ends.
    • For a 16" pillow, mark your fabric 10" in from the short ends.
    • For an 18" pillow, mark your fabric 11" in from the short ends.
    Debbie Colgrove
  3. Hem the Ends

    • On each short end of the fabric rectangle, press under 1/4" and press under 1/4" again to enclose the raw edges.
    • Hem both short ends, using a seam guide if needed for neat, straight stitching.
    • Press well.
    Ends of the pillowcase being hemmed.
    Debbie Colgrove
  4. Fold on the Markings

    Fold your fabric right sides together, at the markings you made on the long edges. There should be a 3" overlap on the back of the pillow cover. Pin along both long edges.

    Match the sides and Pin in Place
    Debbie Colgrove
  5. Sew the Seams

    Sew the seams on each folded side using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Use your preferred seam finish to prevent fraying.

    Sewn Seams with a Seam Finish
    Debbie Colgrove
  6. Turn Right Sides Out

    • Turn the pillow cover right sides out, being sure to turn out the corners.
    • Press and fill with the intended pillow or pillow form. If there are protruding corners on your covers, you make want to take the insert out and trim or resew the corners.
    • Add tassels to the corners by hand ​sewing them in place, if desired.
    Pillow Back with a Pillow Inside
    Debbie Colgrove