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DIY Throw Pillows…Can I? Should I?

By April 7, 2010Art, Interior Design

{via Apartment Therapy}

{via The Stir}

{via Design*Sponge}

{via Unplgged}

If you know even the slightest bit about Neil and I you know those last three would be DEAD ON appropriate for our living room.

Here’s the thing. I love DIY, but I’m my own worst enemy. I can talk myself out of anything, especially something I’ve never attempted. Last fall I bought a sewing machine, and I have yet to pull it out and use it. I’m not stupid, I’m not incapable, I’m irrationally afraid of screwing it up in a worse-case scenario type of way. There I said it. And while we’re on confessions, I eat artichoke hearts out of the jar. I know.

The issue? Our sofas are green. All three are the same shade of green. I didn’t buy them all. I can only claim one, Neil bought the other two that currently reside in our front room. Yes, we both picked the same shade of green. That’s a whole other topic. They look boring. Painfully boring. Neil doesn’t think so because his couches have red pillows that he picked out whereas my couch just has the pillows that came with purchase.

It’s true they are complimentary in color and match the artwork we have on our walls and throughout our home, but they are dark — almost completely disappearing against the couches. They are all 1-color, and it always looks like Christmas in our living room. It feels predictable, dare I say campy? Like this is the home of a retired couple and not twenty-somethings? Like I said, I’m my biggest critic.

So I’m writing this to throw myself at the feet of the DIY Gods I know are out there to ask for advice. I think I can easily make a few pillows myself. I can’t justify over $100 spent in pillows, and it’s a square, isn’t that like the easiest thing to sew?

It’s tough. We’re in a rental, there aren’t a lot of variables in our control, but I think if I can at least update the pillows and redo those end tables (what color do you think is best by the way?) that it will make a vast difference. The rug…well as long as my cats are raging bulimics I think we’re stuck with a less than gorgeous situation there.

So help me! Do you have suggestions on colors to look for and use, and…what about the tables? Any great tutorials you’ve found?


  • Erin says:

    Go for it! (Says the girl who inherited her grandmother’s sewing machine, had it serviced so it’s in tip top shape ready to go and hasn’t even removed it from the case since she returned from the store that fixed it…5 years ago.)

  • Do it! I made a pillow in college and it was surprisingly easy! Reading this post made me a bit inspired to make pillows for my friends for the holidays this year. I usually bake them a treat but pillows would be a nice change. 🙂

  • Jessica says:

    Allison, that is a great idea! And if I get good enough I probably won’t get the stink eye when they open it lol.

  • Samantha says:

    I’ve made quite a few pillows in my day, and they have turned out very nice, but let me warn you about some things.

    1) Unless you buy cheap fabric, fabric costs will add up. I only use quality fabric because you can really tell a difference and it’ll hold up longer.
    2) Filling! Don’t get the cheap, cottony filling. Ask a sales rep what they recommend, because when you use that cheap stuff, it looks like you stuffed your pillows with cotton balls.
    3) If you’re doing slip covers for the pillows you already have, then you’ll have to hem the entire bottom side of the pillow by hand or do a special backing so that the pillows can “slip in”…does that make sense? Hemming by hand is not something I am particularly good at so you can always tell where I was stuffing.
    4) Read a manual…or find a template or some sort of guide online to help you with sewing a pillow…seam allowance is an issue, stitch width is an issue, thread type is an issue, and needle size is an issue…I did not do this when I taught myself to sew and I have cried over many a project.

    That said, pillows can be a lot of fun, but I just want to warn you that they can cost more to make than to buy sometimes. You may already be well educated in all of this…in which case, I look forward to seeing your pillows! Also, don’t forget that cats love to lay on fabric that has been laid out to measure..and put their mean little claws right through it too!

  • Jessica says:

    It would be really cool to do something both removable and washable, but I don’t know if I’m that skilled yet. I learned my lesson last time around with that stuffing, definitely a good point. The cheaper “fill” is lumpy and flattens out in no time. That being said, even if they aren’t perfect, I’m not looking for an entirely permanent solution as this is a temporary living situation and something more permanent may call for something different. If for anything it’s just fun to try …and I’m trying to convince myself of that lol.

  • Christa says:

    Do it! Use a fabric that has the green of your couch, but also other fun colors – if you’re not scared of pattern, which you shouldn’t be!

    You can use the tutorial I posted on twitter to make a split back cover so it will slip over you current pillows, or just buy stuffing and stuff them yourself if you want totally new pillows. Pillow forms can be pretty expensive.

    E-mail me if you have questions. I have faith in you!

    Oh, and the end tables… Creamy white? Or chocolate brown? I guess it depends on the look you are going for. Painting is definitely easier than re-finishing, IMO.

    Have fun!

  • Christa says:

    PS: the stuffing I got is great – no lumps and fluffs back up. I can tell you what kind it is later if you want to know. 🙂

  • Jessica says:

    I’d definitely love whatever brand you found, since you’re local and I can probably source it easier. I thought about maybe installing a zipper on the bottom. My mom used to do that and then you can fluff up/add or replace stuffing as necessary.

    As for the tables, I was thinking a deep chocolate too. I think it will make the couches pop out as the brighter pieces and with brighter, color-variant pillows, it will give the room a little more depth and diversity.

  • Samantha says:

    Yeah, I say either split back or zipper bottom…although I’ve never tackled a zipper before.

  • Jessica says:

    I haven’t either, this first pillow might be a total fux up lol.

  • Rachel says:

    If you don’t, I totally will!

  • Jessica says:

    We should craft it out Rach, You can supervise me to prevent an emergency room visit!