Riley Blake Designs recently released a new fabric line by Bella Blvd, based off our Snapshots collection. We asked a few extra designers to play around with this new collection, and I volunteered to try my hand at a fabric project as well.
I should start out by letting you all know that I am NOT a sewer. I made one of these pillows a few months ago, and I’m pretty sure that was first time I had ever used my sewing machine for something other than paper. That being said, this ruffled pillow is something very do-able, as long as you know how to do a straight stitch on a sewing machine.
I had seen a lot of “envelope” pillow covers on Pinterest, and decided to try that method. It’s so easy to do, and I love that you can switch out the covers for a new look, instead of buying and storing new pillows all the time. To start, you need to know what size pillow you’ll be covering, whether you purchase a new pillow insert from the craft store or chose to cover a pre-existing pillow. I’m using a 16” pillow insert for this project.
You’ll start by measuring your pillow insert and adding 1 inch to the height and the width. My pillow is 16” square, so I cut a 17” x 17” piece. Cut that from your material, which will now be your front panel. I choose to use plain white fabric for the main part of the cover. The ruffled fabric will get sewn onto that white fabric.
Next, we want to cut the panels for the backside of the pillow. You’ll want to take the width of the front panel and divide it in half, and then add 3 inches to the total to get your needed width. The height remains the same as the front panel, but the width will be different. And you’ll cut two of these panels for the back. My front panel was 17” wide; divided by two gave me 8.5”, to which I added 3”, and my total width was 11.5”.
For each of the back panels, you will want to take the length that will be overlapping (should be the longer edge, which is the same height as the front panel), fold the edge over about ½” and sew the seam down. Once that’s done, you can put all three panels to the side.
Now it’s time to make our ruffles. I chose a handful of the new Snapshots fabrics from Riley Blake Designs to use on this pillow. You’ll want to be sure your strips are at least double the size of the pillow in length. So for my 16” pillow, I made sure my strips were at least 32” in length. Ruffling them will make them a lot smaller (I speak from experience!). There’s two different ways you can create your fabric strips.
I love to simply tear my fabric strips. It’s quick and easy to do, and I love the look of the frayed edges. I did do a little measuring, just to insure that my strips were about the same width. I placed my fabric on my cutting mat, and made small cuts into the fabric every inch and a half. You could always go wider or narrower (1 inch, 2 inches, etc), depending on what you like.
The small cuts give you a spot to start tearing. The first time I thought to try tearing fabric, I thought for sure it wouldn’t work. It’s so easy to do. I just held up the fabric, grab my 1 ½ inch piece where I made the cut, and pull down, tearing the fabric towards me. It’s crazy how straight it actually tears, if you just tear straight down. You’ll have lots of loose strings, so just pull those off your torn strip and toss them.
If you’re not into the torn strips, you can easily just cut straight edged strips of fabric. I highly recommend purchasing a rotary cutter and a large, clear ruler. I only recently got mine, and I’m not sure how I ever tried to cut fabric without them.
When it comes to ruffling the fabric strips, I’ve heard there’s an easier way than how I’ve been doing it (my mom informed me!). But here’s how a non-sewer, who is winging this fabric stuff, went about it. I simply ran each fabric strip thru my sewing machine, using a straight stitch, ruffling up the fabric as I fed it thru.
I went pretty slowly, so that my “ruffling” didn’t get too messy or crooked. And it’s definitely not the neatest ruffling job, as some sections are more bunched up and some aren’t. But it’s totally fine for me.
Next up, it’s time to pin the ruffled fabric strips to the front panel. I played around with the fabric strips, until I came up with a pattern that was pleasing to my eye. I arranged the strips fairly close to each other, even overlapping each other just a tad. If you end up with a gap, you’ll just need to make another strip to fill it in. I got lucky and had just enough, totally by guesswork.
I then pinned each strip in place, using about 5-6 pins per strip to make sure they stayed straight and evenly spaced.
Then it’s time to sew the strips. I did a straight stitch along each fabric strip, roughly going over the stitch that was already there to “ruffle” the fabric, and pulling out the pins as I went along. I didn’t worry about making my stitching super neat, and I didn’t even worry about changing thread colors. Although you could change thread colors, if you like your thread to match the fabric.
Now we need to pin the back panels to the front panel. You will want to have the right sides facing inward. Lay your front panel down, ruffled fabric strips facing up, and then lay one of the back panels on top, along one of the side edges, with the right side facing down.
Then lay the second back panel on top, along the opposite side edge, so that it’s overlapping the first back panel. Make sure your sewn edges are in the center of the pillow, and not on the outside edges.
Pin the entire cover, around the edges. Use enough pins to keep it all together, since there is some bulk from the ruffled fabric. Then sew around the entire pillow cover, about ¼” from the sides.
Next, you’ll need to turn it right side out.
And there you have it. A fun ruffled pillow cover.
All you have left to do is stuff your pillow insert inside the cover.
Here’s a look at the back of the “envelope” style pillow cover. I haven’t made many pillows in my lifetime, but I do seem to remember leaving one end open and having to hand stitch it closed once the pillow insert was inside. This is such an easier way to do things.
While a decent amount of time did go into this fabric project, it was really very simple to do. And making these envelope pillow covers, without the ruffles, would be a super fast project. And would look cute with any of these fabrics.
We've been featuring fabric projects, all using the new Snapshots fabric collection, all this week. So head over to the Bella Blvd blog to see a variety of fun projects from earlier this week.