a cheater’s pillow tutorial

Before all the holiday festivities began, Chris gave me the best gift – an entire day alone in the studio to finish up projects. I was up to my elbows in fabric, paint, and sawdust. He knows the way to my heart.

There are a few ‘supplies’ I tend to gather when I find them at a great price…vintage pillowcases, trims, tablecloths and fabric are among those items. They are great to have on hand for the rare chance I am able to just start making something. I am not a shopper, so if I can avoid shopping I do.

This fabric is actually a Pottery Barn duvet cover. It was on our bed 9 years ago. I moved on to a simple cream one, but held on to this one for the day I would find the perfect new use for it.

Kids snuck in, but I kept working. How do they always find me? My favorite game is hide and seek. I realized two years ago I can crawl on top of our dryer, which is stacked on the washer. If I move a box in front of me, I have a good 10 minutes before they find me. Now I just need to figure out how to get my coffee and a cookie up there with me. I digress.

I buy stained table clothes all the time. I use them for several different things…today I will use them for pillows.

And now a warning: If you are my mom or any other person who knows how to sew, you should stop reading now. There is sewing taking place below without a ruler, straight lines or any technically correct method.

If you don’t know how to sew and want to make a cheater’s simple pillow…I give you my pillow tutorial:

They may not be worthy to sell or give as a gift, but thrown on a bed they look mighty inviting.

And here is that 9 year old duvet cover on my Craigslist couch!

I have several other project posts from the studio…my desk, coffee table, etc. I might just post them all next week. Or I might weave them in over the next few weeks. I don’t know what I am cooking for dinner, so I better work on that first!

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  • Tonya - Your studio looks like a vision of heaven to me! Love it.

  • Rachel Schindler - This is the best pillow tutorial I have come across. Thank you.

  • Ashley - Love this! thanks for sharing

  • seriously sassy mama - I can never find old linens at any o the thrift stores I go to. i guess it is time to start venturing out of my comfortable radius. Like the tutorial. It would be great for my girls for a place in their room to read and stuff.

  • Sharon @ Discovering Blog - Boy, you have such a great eye for throwing colors together. I love how everything just invites you to throwing yourself down and relaxing and hanging out.

  • Elizabeth - Your studio looks fantastic!! What a great space!!

  • Haley - That is my kind of sewing! I love how you mix patterns.

  • Megan - Oh I love this! It looks so cute! I do not know how to sew and have been really wanting to cover some pillows so this was really helpful :)

  • Lennie @ Jackson Valley - Love the pics! Your space looks amazing!

  • KathiJ - I have been making cheater pillows for years. It’s the ONLY way!
    p.s. I’ll bring your coffee and a cookie to the top of the dryer – you deserve someone to bring it to you. :)

  • Audrey - You are going to laugh at this question I’m sure but….I’ve always wanted to make my own pillows but I can’t sew, nor do I own a sewing machine – do you think it would work using the “no-sew iron on” stuff?! Anyone done this before? p.s I do so love the blog, you’ve been inspiring me for a couple of months now!

  • carolina - jajaja, last night I made two pillowcases the same way. I lost my scissors, my ruler, everything and take the cutter put the pillow over the fabric to mesure. They look very good. A confession every time I saw that floral fabric I remember you, (I think is from Amy butler, the one with a flower and light blue or turquoise background) is like “Ashley’s fabric”. Do you post about your coffe table? I’m intrigued. Regards.

  • Elise - I used this exact same process when making pillows for a Christmas gift! It’s foolproof!

  • Trish - Ashley you may not sew pillows “right” but I think that method is pretty clever. Great job:)

  • hannah elise - i’ve missed your diy posts! love it, i’ll definitely try this tutorial sometime :)

  • Gina - Wow!! The duvet cover looks great on the couch and the pillows are cute too!! I have the same cover and it use in the fall/winter then change to a different one for spring and summer. I have had it for 10 years and have been looking for a cream replacement. Have a good day!M

  • mandi@herbanhomstead - so many things in the post cracked me up! You crawling on top of the dryer with a cup of coffee and a cookie! The warning “if you are my mom” hahaha! Love it! Everything turned out wonderfully, btw. I’m still dying from the lines on your Craigslist couch!

  • Jenny - LOVE the couch-the couch itself and the cushions that you covered So bright and cheerful!
    Your studio is looking so great. :)

  • Cara Louise - I love seeing all the little bits of vintage thread crochet you have waiting to be used… although it makes me ownder sometimes what will happen to all my thread crochet one day…

  • Christine - How beautiful! I love it. I have a number of vintage table cloths from my mom/grandma…what a great use for them!

  • Seamingly Sarah - That’s just about how I do a slip pillow cover. You might want to try a walking foot for your sewing machine to help when sewing hems or whenever you fold fabric over and sew. It moves the top fabric as the dogs feed the fabric along on the bottom. You’ll have to google “dogs” on a sewing machine. I can’t think of how best to explain that term to you right now. It is a lovely reuse of fabric though. It makes me want to go find some vintage tablecloths and pillowcases!

  • Deidre C. - Thanks so much for this tutorial! I’ve been putting off making a few pillows for my daughter because it seemed like it would be too much work, but this looks super easy! I’ll get on it right away now!

  • Julie L - Love it Ashley! I just bought some fabric today with the intention of crocheting on the edges, for pillows, baby blankets, etc. You just made my life more simple with your quick pillow tutorial, now I can make then a bit bigger than the pillow insert and crochet around, or maybe just add some crochet flowers! I am a much better crocheter than I am a seamstress. I love your teak couch and the cushion recovering you did!

  • kiley - oooh, it’s SO fun seeing your studio come together! thanks for sharing with us!!!

    btw, i *know* how to sew and i still like to do some things via your method ;)

  • dee - i love the pillows.they look great and the fabric is unreal.-love dee x

  • Jennifer - Did you make that pallet bed? I know it was in your daughter’s room or maybe this is another. Tutorial for that please ;)

  • Susan Harris - I love the pillows, and the tutorial! You are such an inspiration to so many of us out here– fitting in family and messes and tradition and letting us see your wonky edges. I have those, too. Not just when I sew, but in my life. Thanks for helping us all celebrate not being Martha!

  • Gina | Listening in the Litany - To funny! I’ve had a pile of new fabrics sitting on the arm of my sofa for days for just such a project but haven’t had a chance to look up a tutorial. I was so happy to find yours in my inbox this morning. Thank you!

  • Madi - I love your “cheater” pillow, and I love sewing sans straight lines and rulers!

  • pam jordan - Great ideas! Your blog called under the sycamore was striking as I just finished te reading the Harbinger by Johnathan Cahn! Have you read it? Regardless it was quite a coincidence! Enjoyed your blog! Thanks! Pam

  • brooke - oh my goodness!!! I think that is Serafina pattern!! I’ve been looking for some to recover a chair…or anything really!! i love that fabric!! :) Love your non sewing self :) I’m the same!!

  • emilyonthemoat - Let me start by saying your blog and the encouragement it brings me as a mom, woman, daughter, believer has been wonderful these past few years. Thank you for sharing your life with us. I’ve been wondering this for a while and have a similar project I am working on…what did you use for the base cushion of your mid century couch?

  • AshleyAnn - Emily – it is a old piece of memory foam from our bed I cut into two pieces and stacked! Also…thank you for those kind and encouraging words!@

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