Pillow Talk: DIY Holiday Pillow Covers

I usually keep the same throw pillows on my couch year-round, but something got into me this fall and I went all out with pumpkin, leaf, and plaid pillow covers. When it came time to take down my fall decorations and put out winter, it seemed incredibly un-festive to go back to my every day covers. So, the hunt for holiday pillow covers began.

The thing that I love about pillow covers is that you can change them out whenever you like for a completely new look, but the actual pillow stays the same. Which means storage between pillow makeovers is a cinch since you’re storing a cover, not an entire pillow form. And, it means you can wash the covers with ease (something I can’t say for most throw pillows). Plus, you don’t need to go out and purchase actual pillow forms. Most of my pillow forms are just old throw pillows with dated designs that I decided to dress up and cover with something new.

To start off my winter collection, I found some cute snowflake pillows at Marshalls and Homegoods.

Pillow Talk

These stores typically do not sell just the covers, but if you look carefully, you’ll notice that many of their pillows have zippers sewn in that will allow you to remove the cover at home and place it over your pre-existing pillows. This is what I did, and then set the inserts aside for a future DIY project (also great for making cute pillow covers and gifting to friends!).

At that point, I decided: (1) this endeavor was getting a bit pricey (I have a LOT of pillows on our couch), and (2) I stumbled across this gorgeous pillow on Etsy and fell in love. You might recognize it from my 2014 Home Decor Holiday Shopping Guide.

Merry and Bright PillowI’m all about Etsy and supporting artists and small businesses, but I couldn’t help but think that I might be able to make something similar for a fraction of the price.

With some positive reinforcements from my oh-so-crafty mom, she helped me create these babies:

Pretty cute, right? I will say that this DIY takes a lot of patience and a steady hand in the painting department, but it was totally worth it in the end.


Black fabric | scissors | measuring tape or yard stick | pencil | large object for circle tracing | white fabric marker | iron & ironing board | pins | silver marker | sewing supplies (I used a machine, but this is do-able by hand if you’re willing to put in the time) | 4 tassels

1. Cut fabric into 3 separate pieces. 1 piece that will be the front of your pillow cover and 2 pieces that will overlap to form an envelope closing in the back. The pillows I was trying to cover are 20” by 20”. I cut my front piece to be 21” by 21” to give me an extra inch of fabric and the envelope pieces for the back to be 21” by 14” each.

2. Set aside envelope pieces and focus on front piece. Iron to remove any wrinkles in the fabric.

3. Place the front piece of fabric with the “good” side of the fabric you want to show facing up. Find a large circular object that is an appropriate size to trace for the outer wreath in the design. I used a large serving bowl. Place the object in the center of your fabric and trace it using a pencil. I found that if I pressed hard enough, I could see the lead on the black fabric.

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4. Pick up your large circular object and move it slightly off center. Retrace a second circle. Pick up the object and move it one more time to retrace a third circle. I found this worked best if I moved it once to the right of my original circle and once to the left.

5. Now that you know where your wreath will be, you can position your lettering at its center. To make sure my lettering was spot on, I took a screen shot of the original image I was trying to imitate, and printed it out. I then used this technique (lead transfer) to transfer the image onto the fabric.

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6. Now the fun part begins—trace over the images you’ve outlined using a white fabric marker.

A couple of tips about using a fabric marker:

  • The more you use it, the duller the tip will become, so make sure you complete the most detailed parts of your design first. I started with the “AND” in the middle, then did the “MERRY” and “BRIGHT,” and ended with the outside wreath made of circles.
  • It will constantly seem like you’re running out of ink. Just cap the marker and give it a good shake before starting again. It also helps to have scrap paper around. Place the marker on the paper and compress the tip until the ink starts to flow. This will only take a second or two, and the ink should start flowing steadily.
  • After you shake the marker and mix the paint up inside, be careful when you reopen. I opened mine over my fabric multiple times, which lead to a fine spray of white paint getting onto the fabric.

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7. Top off the design by adding mini leaves throughout the circle wreath. I can’t decide if these are supposed to be branches and leaves or Christmas lights, but either way, they’re adorable.

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8. Let dry overnight.

9. Heat your iron. Take the 2 envelope pieces of fabric and on each one, fold the edge of one of the 21” sides over towards you once, and then twice, with each fold being about ¼”.   Iron over the fold.

Help! For assistance with your pillow cover assembly, watch this step-by-step how-to video:

10. Run the fold through a machine to secure a finished edge. I sewed two lines here – about 1/8” apart. Repeat so each envelope piece has one of its 21” sides finished in this manner.

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11. Place both envelope pieces upside down on top of your completed front piece. The front piece should face up. The envelope pieces should face down, with the finished sides meeting and overlapping in the middle.

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12. Pin pieces in place.

13. Using a measuring tape or yardstick, measure 20” around your square to mark your sewing lines. You should have a 20” square in the middle and an extra ½” on each side. I used a silver sharpie to clearly see my markings.

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14. Place one tassel in each corner of your pillow cover prior to sewing. The tassel should be “inside” your pinned pillow cover, with only the tassel’s top loop peeking out the corner. Use additional pins to secure in place. Make sure all other pieces of the tassel are tucked inside the pillow cover so they do not accidentally get sewn into your seams.

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15. Sew over your markings to complete the 20” square. Remove pins as you go. Make sure to reinforce corners and the edges where your envelope pieces overlap. These are the places most likely to experience strain.

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16. Turn the pillow cover inside out.

17. Use a hot iron to set your seams and iron out any remaining wrinkles.

18. Place cover on pillow and enjoy!

Our Festive Family Room

Note: If you have difficulty keeping your envelope closure shut, you can always sew on buttons or a zipper. I cheated and used sticky Velcro squares instead. I used 3 sets of squares on the edge of the envelope closure to keep it secure.

When I was all finished, I loved it so much, I decided to make a second one that said “Let It Snow!” I used the same design and just free-handed the change in lettering.

Happy Crafting and * Happy Holidays! *



4 thoughts on “Pillow Talk: DIY Holiday Pillow Covers

  1. Pingback: With Love, From 2014 | With Love, From California

  2. Pingback: Pillow Talk: DIY Love Pillow Cover | With Love, From California

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