With Darth Vader this time! (See my Yoda pillow cover here.) This was for a 6-year-old boy's birthday. Lots of boys in my life are digging Star Wars right now, which is nice because I'm digging it, too. :-) He got some Star Wars LEGO sets for his birthday this year, so I thought I'd augment those with a pillow. I asked his mom if he'd prefer Yoda or Vader, and she said Vader. The Darth Vader panel looks kinda retro with the flame-y lettering and the cheesy lava in the background, but the character after all was born in the late-1970s. Overall, I'm liking this vibe. (And, you know what, I don't think I ever realized just how skeleton-like Vader's mask has always been.)
Note: I hesitated to call this a tutorial because 1) it's so simple and 2) lots of tutorials for envelope pillow covers are all over the internet. However, because it had been a month since the last time I made a pillow cover, I felt like I needed a refresher. And since I liked the way I did it last time -- French seams and all -- I thought it would be a good idea to put together a more thorough post on making a pillow cover, at least for ME in the future, hence the use of the word "tutorial." If you have any questions or would like to point out any confusion with my instructions, let me know in the comments or via email. Thanks!
Envelope Pillow Cover Instructions
For a 16" x 16" square pillow form*
- 17" x 17" square of fabric for the front
- 17" x 22" rectangle of fabric for the back (if your fabric pattern is one-directional, make sure that the fabric dimensions are 17" wide and 22" tall)
* If you want to use a different-size pillow form, remember to add an inch to both the wide and the tall dimensions for the seam allowance. For example, for a 20" x 20" pillow form, your front fabric dimensions will be 21" x 21", and your back fabric dimensions will be 21" wide x 26" tall.
1. Cut your back rectangular fabric in half width-wise. You should now have two pieces measuring 17" x 11" each. These will overlap to make the "envelope."
2. Hem the bottom of the top piece: fold and press to the wrong side by 1/4". Fold again and press by 1/2", and pin. Edgestitch at the inside folded edge (i.e., sew close to the edge). Hem the top of the bottom piece in the same way. Don't forget to backstitch at the beginning and end of your seams.
This time I double stitched my hems, about 1/4" apart, for extra security. I sewed the first seam with a smidgen more than 1/4" seam allowance, and then I edgestitched the second seam. See a closeup of how it's supposed to look here.
3. Wrong sides together, align the bottom back piece with the front fabric. Pin along the bottom edge.
4. Wrong sides together, align the top back piece with the front fabric, overlapping with the bottom back piece. Pin along the top edge. Then pin along the sides, making sure to catch all three layers when you pin the overlapped back pieces. Pin the middle of the envelope for more security while sewing.
5. Sew around the edges with a 1/4" seam allowance, creating four separate seams (one on each side) that stop and start about 3/8" from the edges. You need to backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam. To speed up the process, you can use the "chain piecing" method wherein you don't snip the threads before before turning the corner and starting the next seam. (See photo below.)
6. Trim the edges down to 1/8".
7. Once all four sides are seamed, flip the pillowcase inside out and make sure the corners are opened out (there should be a hole at each corner; see photo below). Press the edges flat as close to the seam as possible. You can use the dull point of a knitting needle to help with this.
8. Sew along the edges continuously with a 1/4" seam allowance, pivoting at the corners and backstitching at the beginning and end of the seam. After that, snip the unseamed corners to reduce bulk, making sure not to cut into any seams. (See photo below.)
9. Flip the pillowcase right-side out, use a knitting needle to help push out the corners sharply (though be careful not to poke a hole through the fabric), stuff the correct-size pillow in there, and you're done!
I really love how clean the French seams look. Although I put this tutorial together mostly for me, I hope it proves useful for you, too. May the Force be with you on your sewing projects. :-)