Monday, February 03, 2014

one way to make a pillow form

I've decided that it is pillow week here at crazy mom quilts. All pillows, all week. Yes, I'm feeding my obsession. :)

I get a lot of questions about pillow forms, so I thought I would share an easy tutorial for them. I think the store bought ones are overpriced and kind of wimpy, so I like to make my own. It is easy, quick and you can make them any size you want. Plus, you will have a much better product in the end.
First, you need some heavy weight fabric. Decorator weight fabric, light weight canvas, heavy linen, or even denim works well. I'm not too picky about what I use. I usually watch for a sale and stock up at that time. Make sure that the fabric feels good. I don't use quilting cotton because it's just not sturdy enough.
Determine your pillow size, then add 1/2" to that measurement. I'm making a 20" finished pillow, and I'm using a 1/4" seam allowance, so I cut two squares at 20.5". (If you want to use a 1/2" seam allowance, add 1" to your finished size.)
Place the fabrics right sides together and pin all the way around. I like to double pin at the start and stop points, just to remind myself to leave an opening. (If you look at the photo above, I placed x's where I double pinned.) Leave a 5" opening.
Trim the corners.
Turn your piece right side out. Poke each corner out using a blunt tip scissors, the end of a paintbrush, a knitting needle...whatever you have available.
Now it's time to stuff. I use poly fiberfill because it's cheap and it works pretty well. All that poly gets hidden beneath layers of cotton anyway. Make sure to pull it apart into smaller pieces before you stuff it in.
For the corners, take a skinny string of leftover batting, ball it up and shove it far into the point. I tried this for the first time today and it worked very well! It seems like the poly fill likes to bounce right out of the corners, but the batting stayed snug. This gives the corners better form.
The key is to stuff it just enough. If you overfill it, the pillow will be hard. If you don't fill it enough the pillow will be flat. You want it just right, because picking out hand stitching and adjusting the amount of stuffing is a drag. (I know all too well.)
At this point I usually squish the pillow from the center of each side and wiggle it around a little bit to smooth out any lumps or bumps.
Fold in the raw edges, finger crease, then clip (or pin) it shut. I use clover wonder clips for this step. (If you don't have any wonder clips, get some. They will be a great addition to your sewing notions.) Hand stitch the opening closed.
And you are done!!! Super easy, right? I LOVE making these! When I make pillow covers, I make the finished size 20" as well, and it's a perfect fit every time.
Like I said, you can make them any size you want. I made a few pillow forms that were 36" square, for my kids' giant pillows. (These have quilted pillow covers on them, just to clarify.) I used the same technique for the pillow form above, but I cut two 36 1/2" squares for these. I filled them with poly batting, because my friend had given me a giant roll. You can read more about that in this post. I wouldn't recommend purchasing poly batting as a filler, but if you have any on hand that you want to use up, this may be the place to do so.

So, that's how I make my pillow forms. If you have any questions, I'll try to answer them in the comments.

I'm curious, do you make or buy your pillow forms?

Happy Monday to you!

45 comments:

Debbie Leschisin said...

Thanks for the pillow form tutorial. And thanks for the tip on using batting strips for the corners.

John'aLee said...

Love those colorful pillows on the couch!!

Cheryl Arkison said...

I buy mine - IKEA FTW. And I reuse the forms instead of having a million pillows.

Liz Rehrauer said...

I never make a 90 degree turn at a corner in almost anything. Waaay back when I was learning to sew, someone said to stitch near to the end and take 3 or 4 stitches at an angle to the corner then turn completely and sew down the side. You never end up with a point you can't fill.

charlotte said...

I buy mine, but I try to get them either with a 50% of coupon or a sale.

Dominique said...

Buy. I stock up on forms when they are on sale. Maybe I should start making them.
And thanks for the tip Liz Rehrauer!

Rose E. Glasses said...

I am a longarm quilter from since waaay back when. I take left over quilt batting cut to your pillow cover specifications. I sew the quilt polyester or cotton batting into pillow forms, then I stuff it with the loose (or small pieces of pulled apart) batting and whip stick the pillow form opening shut. This way, I get to use batting scraps and I can change my pillow covers as I want.

I just love your blog and all you share!

kervei said...

Oh, I buy.... But I make and switch covers..... Sewn, crocheted and combined.. With cats and this boyfriend of mine, it is essential it's washable... :)

Love,

Ilse

Menton quilter said...

Oh goodness thank you Amanda Jean!!! This is what I have been waiting for! :)

Heidi [Banks of Frog Creek] said...

Great tip about the corners... Thanks!!

simplecraftylife.com said...

I'd love to make some proper pillows, and having the freedom to make them any size because you also make the form is a great idea. I go through a fair bit of fibrefill for softies, which I stuff pretty firm.

I wonder, could I use off-cuts from other fluffy projects (woolly jumper up cycles, leftover quilting scraps etc.) to stuff in the middle of the form, with fibrefill around it? Would that make the pillow too heavy?

Thanks for the inspirations. ;)

Lisa said...

I've never made any but will definitely try some. I usually buy decorative pillows at macys when they're on clearance and use a coupon so i get them super cheap and definitely better quality than the blank forms from the craft stores.

Lisa said...

I've never made any but will definitely try some. I usually buy decorative pillows at macys when they're on clearance and use a coupon so i get them super cheap and definitely better quality than the blank forms from the craft stores.

Julia said...

Thank you for this post! The timing couldn't be more perfect. I've inly ever bought pillow forms but I was wanting to make a few for my sister as a birthday gift and i love your tutorial. Thank you thank you!

Anne said...

Excellent! Thank you.

Kimberly said...

Great tutorial! I buy down pillow forms at the thrift store and then wash them. Usually less than $5 for a down pillow. Yay!

Jeneta said...

GREAT idea double pinning where you stop and start. I can't believe I have never thought of that! You are so right - the bought pillow forms are so wimpy. They are quite costly in Australia (except at Ikea, but they are so flat you need two). I usually buy a $5 ugly cushion from Kmart to use. That solves the wimpy issue, but limits me to the size of the cushion. What a great idea to use a ball of batting in the corner! I'm all about cushions at the moment too, so you are completely making my day!

A Quilter's Mission said...

Thanks about the heads up about making your own pillow form. Who knew?

Granny Maud's Girl said...

I buy some and I make some. One local fabric shop has nicely filled ones - not too limp. I also use whatever I have to hand to make my own. I've saved an old feather doona (duvet) to reuse its remaining feathers. I am dreading the day I have to get the feathers out of it and into a pillow form without a huge mess. I may shut myself in the bathroom to keep the chaos contained.

Concha de Aromadetela said...

Me gusta lo que haces. Esos cojines, todos, te han quedado muy bonitos, alegres y coloridos. Felicidades. Un beso

margaret said...

thanks for the tutorial, I was a bit surprised you did not have an inner to stuff so you could wash the outer one when necessary.

CrazyCatLady said...

I have bought my pillow forms up until now -- thanks for the hints and tips!

maybe said...

Yes, I use an inner lining to stuff poly fill with and an outer form with bold prints. That way I can wash the outer layer easily.. Also I sort of make curved corners, thus eliminating pointed corners. Thanks for the clear tutorial. Rohini

Jodes said...

For the big ones, I use Eurpoean pillows. Much better than the same sized cushion forms!

Linda said...

I have always purchased them because I'm usually short on time. I did stuff Lexi's big pillow. I used a combination of poly-fil and that shredded foam stuff. I won't get the shredded foam again. What a mess that was... It gets all static clingy and sticks to everything but where you want it to be. Ugh...
I might have to give this a try, though. I found a few orphan blocks the other day and sewed them up. I thought they might make a cute pillow. Guess I need to get over to Mill End and see if they still have any decorator weight stuff left.

Judi said...

I buy my pillows. I have been wanting to make my own, but not being a "sewer" and being new to quilting, I have shied away from the task. In fact, I just finished buying 3 new cushions for my family room. I would LOVE to quilt covers myself. Make my own pattern....choose my own colors....oh, the dream come true. Thanks for your tutorial; one day I shall try this....I gotta admit it makes me nervous just thinking about it. But, I overcame public speaking, and if I can do that, which I did, the world is my oyster!! (and I have never had oysters either).Yet. Have a good day and thanks again for the tutorial.

Sheilaf said...

Thanks for the tutorial, great. Another idea for the filling is to buy a sofa cushion from the damaged section in Ikea. I paid $5 for one and lost count of how many pillows it made. Once it was used up, I still had the canvas to make another pillow form.

Tina Craig said...

I've made pillow forms with batting scraps instead of fabric. Cut 2 squares of batting, stitch around and stuff with polyfil. Having a layer of batting behind an unquilted top makes the pillow softer and less lumpy.

Diane said...

great tutorial and some great tips in the comments too!
I've bought some and I make them too! I used leftover cotton batting to make the form for stuffing, never thought to use fabric, even though now that I think a bout it, the pillow forms that came with my couch are fabric covered...
How does Hubby feel about "Pillow Week" or did you get another couch?

Lea said...

Thanks so much for the info, I am planning to make some pillows and this will be very useful! I love the idea of repurposing batting int the corners, too!

mailergoat said...

Lots of great ideas here! I love the tips to stuff the corners with batting, and even use batting for the pillow form itself to give it more structure/softness.

My tip is to avoid handsewing -- when it comes time to close it up, I pin where I want the stitch line to be, then smush the filling toward the middle and pin parallel to the opening about three inches in to hold the stuffing out of the way. Then machine stitch along the unsewn edge, as close as possible to the fabric fold (kind of like a topstitch line, about an eighth of an inch away). Then take out the pins and smush the filling back toward the edge where it belongs -- it's happy to get the space back and goes back easily. Stronger and faster edge than hand (my) hand-stitching, and it'll be inside a pillow cover anyway.

Julie Crooks said...

I buy mine as with my arthritis, I just cannot handle that hand sewing up the opening. I make envelope-back covers.

I buy mine at IKEA for $1.49 or still sealed ones at thrift stores. Or with the 40% off Joanns and Hobby Lobby coupons.

Julie Crooks said...

I'll also add that sewing twice around a pillow form or cover is most helpful. If not that, then at the very least, double stitching the corners so the seam doesn't "pop".

Lana said...

GREAT TUTORIAL! I have a friend that I am sending her your site...she just started sewing and wanted to make some pillows!
This is awesome...I don't buy either...too much moola I could spend on FABRIC!

Aliceart said...

Sometimes I make them, and sometimes I buy the down alternative ones. It depends on what I'm wanting for that particular use.

I do use old quilting fabric that I no longer like (or was given to me). To make it work I make inserts the same way you do, but use two layers - one of fabric and the other leftover batting. The batting can be pieced if needed. It makes it come out smoother, and more substantial.

amandajean said...

simplecraftylife.com,

I would recommend using those for a floor cushion or something along those lines, but not pillows. Otherwise, yes, I'm afraid that the pillow would become too hard and lumpy.

hope that helps!

AJ

amandajean said...

Margaret,

this pillow IS my inner. I will cover it with a quilted cover, which is easily washable. sorry if I wasn't clear about that. :)

AJ

amandajean said...

Margaret,

this pillow IS my inner. I will cover it with a quilted cover, which is easily washable. sorry if I wasn't clear about that. :)

AJ

amandajean said...

Diane,

Ha ha ha! No, I didn't get another couch. I'm busy filling up the one we have downstairs. My husband will be thrilled. :)

AJ

Mary said...

I have done both over the years. I always use a 1/2" or 5/8" seam and for floor pillows I do a double seam. Raising three sons and being the go-to house for nieces and nephews on the weekends quickly taught me the need for tough pillows. If you make a lot of pillows you might look into buying some foam pieces in bulk. I am recovering/refreshing a couch. Found a great place to buy bags of 30lbs or more.

Kasey said...

Love the pillows on the couch! What size squares did you use on the purple patchwork cover?

Kasey

Stepfordmom75 said...

I like the idea of making these because the ones I find in the stores are flimsy. A question though...
I found 3lb bags of "stuffing" on amazon.com. Approximately how many 20" forms would YOU get out of one?

I am trying to figure how the pricing would compare.

Cindy Mizer said...

Great idea. Thanks for the tutorial

Emily Carnes said...

Great tutorial! I loved what you said about stuffing it "just enough" - I always wondered about that. (I tend to "under stuff" because I like a soft pillow) Nice to see your technique, next time I go sew shopping I'm definitely getting some of those clips!!

Thanks for sharing

Emily @

backtothecraft.blogspot.ca

Stepfordmom75 said...

Yippee! I just found actual pillow ticking at the salvage store nearby for just $2.99 a yard to make these with! Thanks for sharing!!