How I made a button up pillow cover

My thoughts are with any readers currently hunkering down for a night with Sandy. I hope she’s kind and you and yours are all ok.

Although I’ve sewn all sorts of things this year, one thing that I’ve been delaying is sewing cushion covers. I don’t know why! I decided to take the Autumn Pinterest Challenge as the kick I needed to finally make an old pillow fit our new space a bit better.

So, inspired by this pin from Make It Love It…..


and this one from Sew Much Ado….



I made this!

The first pinspiration doesn’t actually have an opening behind the buttons (it’s a fake placket), so I read the second tutorial for a general idea of how to go about it and then winged it.

Here’s what I did:

(I apologise, this tutorial is a bit rubbish… as I was making everything up as I went along it’s a bit confusing to people who don’t live inside my brain… Maybe I’ll make another one with better pictures if I ever find another cushion I want to cover!)

1) First I ironed the old pillow cover so it was as straight as possible, then I held it up against the new fabric and drew directly around it with a fabric marker to create a template the for back of my pillow. I then added two squares extra all around for a seam allowance and cut it out.

2) I drew around the old pillow again for the front of the cover and again added the same seam allowance. Before I cut it out, I added some extra width to make button plackets with. To figure out how much extra I needed, I held my button up against the fabric to decide how wide I wanted the placket to be (five squares) so I added that, then an extra two squares seam allowance so I could turn it under the placket to enclose my raw edges (like a hem). I wanted a placket on both sides of the button opening to avoid puckering, so I doubled this figure (7 squares x 2 = 14 squares) and then added that extra width to the original cover size. (Still following?)

3) I cut out some iron on interfacing the total width of both my plackets (14 squares) and then ironed it onto the fabric, slightly off-centre on the pillow front. Then I cut down the middle of the interfacing and folded (and ironed) my two plackets into being.

See how this is five squares? The two squares seam allowance are tucked in the middle.

4) I top stitched down the edge of both sides of both plackets, then added button holes to the outer placket and hand sewed buttons in the same places on the inner placket.

4) Then I did my buttons up so the front cover was all in one piece and sewed the two sides of my cover together (right sides facing), then clipped the corners, turned it inside out and popped it on the pillow form.

This isn’t really clipped enough but I didn’t want really sharp corners.

5) Then, I fell in head over heels in love with it and spent the rest of the evening telling Mr V how much I liked our new pillow. He humoured me for about the first ten times I said this… But luckily my mum came over on Sunday and she always says things like “I can’t believe I gave birth to her! I’m so proud!” when I show her things I’ve made.

6) Then my mum went home and Mr V got really bored of me petting the pillow, so I spammed my blog with pictures of my new cushion:

(Hmm, should have plumped the sofa cushions before that last one)

(BUT, do you see how the cushion matches the cabinet curtain? Love.)

Budget breakdown – My fabric was an Ikea remnant leftover from the cabinet curtain so I’m calling that F-R-E-E (£7 per metre if we’re counting), the insert was from a cushion that we already owned, so also free (and looking at it, I suspect the person that made the original cushion made it for approximately 65p using this cheapie method as one side of the stitching is red), and even though I purchased the buttons ages ago for a different project, I never opened them so they get their full price of 99p for three. (If you suspect you’re local to me, email and I’ll tell you best source for lovely, cheap, wooden buttons).

So there we have it. What did you make for the Pinterest challenge?

With big thanks to Sherry from Young House Love, Katie from Bower Power, Carmel from Our Fifth House and Sarah from Ugly Duckling House for hosting the Pinterest Challenge!

Here are my other Pinterest Challenge posts, in case you missed them:

Summer 2011: I made a postcard hanger from an old frame

Fall 2011: Vintage printables in your shower

Spring 2012: Tiny house paper night light (free printable!)

Summer 2012: My first wearable garment – a halterneck denim dress

26 thoughts on “How I made a button up pillow cover

  1. Ainhoa Vega

    I love it! I have a couple of button pillows but they’re meant to be seen from the other side – I always turn them backwards, I prefer the back with the buttons to the button-less front!

    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      I was the same but even my ancient sewing machine (plus manual) made it really easy! I practiced a few times on scraps and then just went for it. I’d say marking clearly on the fabric really helps you line them up.
      Some RSS readers seemed to transfer automatically and others didn’t… I don’t think I had a huge amount of subscribers anyway so glad I took the plunge now! Feel free to pick my brain whenever (my email is but I did just fiddle with stuff till it worked so not sure how much help I’d be… 🙂

    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      Dooooo it! And if you’re scared of button holes (don’t be! they’re easy!) follow the first pin link to one with a fake placket (no button holes!)

  2. Gillianne

    I love this look. My problem: Current sewing machine lacks a button-holer, and I haven’t managed to work with the zigzag options to make a decent button hole. So… I now use convert clothing from thrift stores and our closets to pillow covers, using the existing buttons and holes. I’ve had great success with linen blouses and cardigan sweaters. So easy!

    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      That is so clever! The top pin I put here (the yellow cushion) doesn’t have real button holes if you ever want to make a cushion out of flat fabric.

    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      Yay! It’s definitely easy enough – if anything my instructions made it sound more complicated than it was!

  3. Janus

    Here I am, the man who writes about design concepts and how to plan your garden throughout the year and I’m commenting on homemade cushion covers. If that sounds patronizing, it’s not meant to be by any means as it’s these little things that make a home.

    First of all, when I saw the one you made yourself I said, “Hey that’s my old shirt”. Really I had a shirt not too long ago almost identical, so how ironic that you gave it the button effect. You sound very proud of your cushion covers so forgive Mr. V if he doesn’t enthuse with you, I’m sure he just has other matters on his mind :).

    Now I admit that I’m not going to have a try myself, but what I have done is forwarded your post to a good friend of mine, a lady that has a little craft shop and makes everything she sells herself and does very well. I’m sure she would be charmed by your creation and maybe we may see something similar from her.

    I have also forwarded the links for Makeit and Loveit and Sew Much Ado, as I’m sure between the three of you and your inspirations, she can create something interesting too.

    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      Hi Janus, thanks for your comment. I’m into home made little things for the home, so I don’t find it patronising.
      That’s so funny that you used to have a shirt just like this! I did look at Mr V’s old shirts to use but none of them would have looked right on the sofa.

    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      Thanks Brandi! I was way scared but buttons aren’t scary once you get going, and you can always bluff and not have real button holes! You can do it!

    1. Annabel Vita Post author

      Yes, very important to stock up in case of emergencies! Glad you liked it and hope stuff over there gets better enough for fabric shopping trips soon.

  4. Pingback: Annabel Vita » Vintage button giveaway!

  5. Pingback: Annabel Vita » New Home 611 sewing machine review and manual

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