I think adding new throw pillows, either in a bedroom or your living room, can add so much to the look of the room. Making your own pillow slip covers is a great way to give the room a mini makeover, adding in more color or a season feel! However, what I love most about making pillow covers is that I can take them off and wash them.

This tutorial from Treasurie on how to make a cushion / pillow cover gives great detail for beginner sewers to feel comfortable in making this project. Check it out. OH! And if you want to take them one step further, check out a few ways to add appliques here or scroll to the bottom for other ways to embellish your pillow covers.

Not ready to make these yet? Save them on Pinterest for later…

This tutorial will show you how to make cushion covers in an envelope-style in 10 minutes and with just one simple piece of fabric. Have you got some tired cushions that are in desperate need of a make-over? New cushion covers are an inexpensive way to update your living room and to add a touch of color and warmth to a comfortable couch.

how to make cushion covers
How to Make Cushion Covers

Envelope cushion covers are removable and have a slit at the back with an overlap of fabric. This makes them easy to get on and off your cushions when they need to be washed and best of all there are no zippers or buttons to sew.

Intermediate and advanced sewers will be able to make these cushion covers really really quickly. But I promise even if this is your first time sewing, you will be able to sew cushion covers in this envelope style with ease.



You want to make your cushion covers in sturdy fabrics that can be washed. Choose decorator fabrics such as upholstery fabric, canvas, drill or duck or medium weight quilting cotton.

Fabrics such as velvet do look nice on your couch but won’t take as much wear and tear. So think about how much you will be using the cushion covers and whether they are just decorative.

I also like to choose fabrics that don’t squash easily. Linen looks modern and trendy but will get very creased if you plan on sitting on it every day.


Cushion inserts are available from most homeware and haberdashery stores in a variety of sizes. They are nearly always white with a non-woven cover and stuffed with polyester stuffing. You may even just remove your old covers and reuse what you already have.

Discount stores are also a good source of cheap cushion inserts. If you find a cheap but ugly cushion you can use this how to make cushion covers tutorial to recover them.

This tutorial will show you how to make cushion covers for any sized square insert.


Basic sewing supplies are needed such as rulers, scissors, pins, thread and of course your sewing machine.


Watch this YouTube video I made for you 🙂 It is only 3 minutes long so make a cup of tea and relax!


Before you start, have a look at this graphic. This will help you visualize a little better the steps we are about to take. Not much to do is there!

You will probably take the longest choosing and cutting your fabrics rather than sewing.

how to make cushion covers
How to Make Cushion Covers


Measure your pillow insert’s dimensions. Make sure you are measuring around the curve of your pillow and not just the finished width.

Because we are learning how to make cushion covers that are square, the length and width will be the same. If yours is a little rectangular, the formulas below will still work – just do your maths carefully.

how to make cushion covers


Cut your fabric in a rectangle with the following dimensions. Use a rotary cutter and mat if you have one to get nice straight edges.


  • Height – Add 1 inch (2.5cm) to the height for the seam allowance.
  • Width – Multiply the width x 2 (for the back and front) and then add 6 inches (15.2cm) for the overlap.

This will give a finished cushion cover the same size as your insert. If you like a really tight cover then reduce the height by 1 inch (2.5cm).

how to make cushion covers
Formula for how to make cushion covers


To save you some time and maths, here is a table showing you the most common couch pillow insert sizes. These are all square sizes.

PILLOW SIZE14 INCH (35.5CM)16 INCH (40.6CM)18 INCH (45.7CM)20 INCH (50.8CM)
HEIGHT15” (38CM)17” (43.1CM)19” (48.2CM)21” (53.3CM)
WIDTH34” (86.3CM)38” (96.5CM)42” (106.6CM)46” (116.8CM))


Step 1: With your fabric WRONG side up, press over the shorter ends by 1/4 inch (6mm). Press them over again by 3/4 inch (2cm).

step 1 how to make a cushion cover

Step 2: Stitch across the hems with a sewing machine straight stitch.

Now if you got to this part and thought oh-no I don’t have a sewing machine, don’t worry. You can hand stitch these ends and the seams in later steps with a backstitch or a running stitch.

step 2 how to make a cushion cover

Step 3: With the fabric RIGHT sides together, fold in the left and right hemmed edges so they overlap by 4 inches (10cm).

Try and get the overlap centered. Mine could have been a little more to the left.

You can double-check the width of the cover. It should be the same width as your insert.

Pin the overlap in place and pin the upper and lower raw edges.

step 3 how to make a cushion cover

Step 4: Stitch across the upper and lower raw edges with a 1/2 inch (12mm) seam allowance.

If you are using a fabric that frays you finish the seams with a zig-zag stitch or serger. This will help it last through multiple washes.

Step 5: Clip the corners. Turn your cushion cover the RIGHT way out and give it a good press on a setting suitable to your fabric.

Step 5
Stitch the upper and lower edges

Hooray! All finished and ready for your insert. How long did that take you? Mine took around 10 minutes including the cutting.

how to make cushion covers

Even if you are a newbie and it took a little longer, I think you’ll be really pleased with how easy and quickly you could make new cushion covers and update your lounge room.


Here are some ideas for embellishing your pillows. Now you have learned how to make a cushion cover the next ones should be fancier!

how to make cushion covers
Christmas Cushion Cover with Applique and Pom Poms Added
  • POM POMS – Add large, fluffy pom-poms to the corners
  • TASSELS – Add yarn tassels to the corners
  • PERSONALIZE – Personalize your cushion cover with an embroidered or appliqued name.
  • SEQUINS – Sew sequins on your DIY cushion cover
  • PIPING – Insert piping into the seams
  • EMBROIDER – Cushions look amazing with hand-stitched designs. This can be done before you sew the cushion cover or at the end. Use colorful embroidery floss in simple stitches such as running stitch.
  • YO-YOs – Make fabric yo-yos from all your fabulous colorful scrap fabrics and sew them to your pillow. This is an easy and exciting way to add some texture and design to a plain fabric.
  • TEXTURE – Cushion covers don’t need to be fancy. Make several cushions in similar colors with different textures. For example mix silk, faux fur and textured fabrics in monotone shades.
Joan Mantini

About Joan Mantini

After several years of being the Facebook page owner at Beginner Sewing, I noticed there was a desperate need to have a single go-to spot for members to be able to find answers to their common questions, get some useful tips & tricks, as well as find reputable places to purchase sewing products online. Taking my role as a trade publication editor by day, and combining it with my knowledge of frequently requested beginner sewing advice, I created www.beginner-sewing.com. An outlet that gives new sewists a free digital magazine geared for entry level sewing as an extra bonus!

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