DIY Custom Throw Pillows on the Cheap

I recently made some DIY custom throw pillows on the cheap in one afternoon, and I’m going to show you how you can, too. When I was growing up, most of my clothes came from the dining room table.  I would pick out things that I loved in Seventeen magazine, and then my mother, who spends her spare time either sewing or gardening, cut them out on the table and sewed them for me.  Whenever I saw something I liked, she would always say, “I can make that for less,” and she did.

Custom pillows 2

So now when I see custom pillows I tell myself that I can DIY them for even less, and I do.  You can, too, if you follow these simple suggestions.



Fabric swatches - The 2 Seasons

1.  Buy  designer fabric samples or remnants. – You might remember this post from last summer when I bought a bunch of fabric samples for 50 cents each at a  local fabric/upholstery shop.  That was not typical, but if you regularly stop in fine fabric stores, you might be able to score some remnants.



Custom pillows

I like a fluffy but tight pillow, so, I always cuts the fabric to a 19 inch square for a 20 inch insert.  This allows 1/2 inch seams all the way around and makes a fluffy pillow.



Custom pillows

2.  Use painter’s drop cloth as the backing. – I keep an unused painter’s drop cloth in my fabric cabinet to have on hand for various sewing projects.  You can get one here.  They come in different but huge sizes, are neutral in color, are thick and durable, and are a great value for the dollar.  I make an envelope back so pillow forms can be inserted and removed easily.  When cutting out the fabric, I fold the pillow top in half and then put it on top of two layers of the drop cloth with the hemmed edges on the outside.  They will be the center part of the back.  I then cut the backing three inches larger than the front so there will be room for a nice overlap in the back.



Custom pillow directions


Put the right sides together and sew all the way around.


Custom pillows

To avoid saggy corners, I sew them on the diagonal.


Custom pillows


Then I trim around the seam to get rid of any excess fabric.  Turn the pillow and iron all of the seams.  This is important so it will look finished.





3.  Use down/feather inserts. – This is probably the most important step for two reasons.  First of all, throw pillows that look the best are usually down/feather.  Second, these inserts can be taken from one pillow and put in another.  That means you can just fold the pillow covers and store them away.  Although down inserts (here) are an investment at first, if you use them over and over with different covers for different seasons, then they are worth the price.



 Custom pillows

4.  Consider buying a sewing machine if you don’t own one. – Although it is an investment at first, a sewing machine will pay for itself many times over.  Jordan and I pretty much just sew straight lines, but we both have a basic portable machine.  However, by being able to sew straight lines, we can make pillow shams, European pillows, drapes and curtains, napkins, table cloths, placemats, duvets, and dust ruffles.



In just about two hours I made four pillow covers.  Considering the fact that I already owned the pillow inserts and the drop cloth, I guess we could say they cost me 50 cents each.  I have the other three folded away in my staging area and will pull them out and add the inserts when I decide it’s time to freshen things up.


I hope this post has been an inspiration to you to make your own pillow covers.  Thanks for stopping in.


Take care.


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  1. says

    Gorgeous pilllow Janette…and I love how you used a beautiful linen backing…my mom would do the same thing….we see a dress in Seventeen and she would try and duplicate it the best she could..and she did….back then, it was less expensive making a dress, etc…nowadays, if you watch the sales and have discount coupons, it seems to be less expensive to buy a dress!…and I do not see many people making them anymore….

    • says

      I agree Shirley. I think that spending time in fabric stores trying to match a pattern to the right choice of material was instrumental in my creativity today.

  2. says

    You have some great tips, I’ve never done an envelope style cover, and I’m going to try that next time. thanks for sharing the how-to. LOVE that wonderful Toile with the checked chair. and thanks for joining in for SYS!

  3. says

    Thank you for the tutorial…and sewing the corner on the diagonal. I will do this the next time. One thing I also do…is make covers for nice pillows that I have. It gives me a new look…and I still have the older pillow for another season.
    Love your pillow fabric too!