4 Pillow Closure Techniques

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of a sewing machine and a sofa must be in want of more pillows. Pillows seem to be such a widely loved sewing project, and with good reason. They are easy, fast, and offer endless options for personalization and experimentation.

A pretty closure is the perfect finishing touch to a pillow project.

A pretty closure is the perfect finishing touch to a pillow project.


While most people focus on the front while sewing pillows (which makes sense, since that's the part you see), there are also a lot of options to consider when thinking about the back of your next pillow.

The options for sewing a pillow back are varied. The first step when selecting a pillow-back technique is to consider how you'll use your pillow. Do you need to be able to take the cover off for laundering? Do you want something that is securely closed? Would you like a decorative closure or one that's simple and hidden?

Below are some pillow-back techniques from various issues of Stitch magazine. Try them out on one of the pillow projects from the Sew Daily store or use them as a jumping-off point for experimentations of your own.

Simple No-Opening Closure

This technique completely and permanently encloses your pillow form without any opening on the back. This is the ideal finish if you'll be filling your pillow with loose stuffing or if you're using a pillow form but don't need the cover to be removable.

1. For each pillow cover, sew the front panel to the corresponding back panel with right sides together, using a ½" (1.3 cm) seam allowance. Leave an opening in the center of the bottom edge for turning.

2. Trim the corners.

3. Turn the pillow cover right side out and press, turning the seam allowances to the wrong side along the opening.

4. Insert the pillow form and slip-stitch the opening closed.

Try adding ribbon ties to secure an envelope closure.

Try adding ribbon ties to secure an envelope closure.

Use buttons to add flair to a simple envelope closure.

Use buttons to add flair to a simple envelope closure.


Envelope Closure

The envelope closure creates a clean finished back that leaves an opening for inserting and removing your pillow form. It's perfect for sewing pillows that will need to be laundered, and it's a great technique to use if you want a pillow with an opening but don't want to tackle sewing zippers. Start with a back piece that's several inches wider than your pillow front and cut it in half.

1. Fold ½" (1.3 cm) to the wrong side along the edge you'd like finished and press. Fold an additional ½" (1.3 cm) to the wrong side along the same edge and press again. Repeat with the remaining back panel. Sew each hem closed near the inner fold.

2. With right sides together and raw edges aligned, pin the pillow front and back panels together. The hemmed edges of the back panels will overlap at the center. Sew completely around the perimeter.

3. Trim the corners diagonally to reduce bulk, pink the raw edges, and turn the cover right side out, gently working the corners out with a point turner or similar tool.

4. Insert the pillow form through the opening.

Envelope Closure Variations

1. Experiment with sewing buttons along one finished edge and button holes along the other to secure the opening. Mark and sew buttonholes along one finished edge after it's hemmed. Once the pillow is complete, insert your pillow form, mark button placement, remove pillow form, and sew on buttons. Depending on the fullness of your insert your pillow cover may not lie completely flat, so adding marks for button placement at the very end will keep the closure from pulling or gapping over a large pillow insert.

2. Try adding a contrast panel and ties to the standard envelope closure to take your pillow back to the next level (opening image, top left). Although it looks complicated, this technique is created by simply piecing two contrasting fabrics together on one envelope flap and closing with a separated set of ties.

Easy Zipper Closure

This closure creates a clean pillow back with a completely secure opening. Because the edges of the fabric around the zipper opening aren't finished, this technique is ideal for fabrics like felt that won't ravel. Start with a pillow back that's the same size as your pillow front and a zipper that's a few inches smaller than the width of your pillow back.

An easy zipper creates a clean, closed pillow back.

An easy zipper creates a clean closed pillow back.


1. Using a rotary cutter and rigid acrylic ruler, slice an opening for the zipper in the center of your pillow back, stopping a few inches from each edge.

2. Pin the closed zipper in place along the opening on the wrong side of the pillow back, with the zipper pull just inside the opening.

3. Using the zipper foot, straight stitch around the zipper opening, ¼" (6 mm) from the opening to secure the zipper, making sure the cut edges of the zipper opening are lined up. If necessary, open the zipper partially to keep the zipper pull out of the way while sewing near the end.

4. Open the zipper and leave open until after turning the pillow. Place the front and back right sides together, pin together around the perimeter, and then sew completely around the pillow. Clip the corners and turn right side out through the zipper opening.

5. Insert pillow form through zipper opening and close zipper.

These simple closure methods can be mixed and matched with any pillow project to fit your needs. With these techniques as starting points, you can modify, experiment, and make the back of your next pillow project as beautiful and unique as the front. Try them out on one of the quick and easy sewing patterns from the Sew Daily store!

Happy sewing!


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About StefanieB

I'm the Managing Editor of Stitch magazine. I live in Fort Collins, Colorado with one fat cat, one very active dog, and lots of books, crafting supplies, and video games.

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