Easy Trick: Make a Back for Any Pillow Size

I’m so excited to have Andy from A Bright Corner here sharing this guest post with this super simple trick for making a back for any size pillow. Pillows are the perfect quick-finish project. It’s so fun to make a cute pillow front, but I often used to get stuck just finishing the project (aka – making the back). I’m so glad Andy is sharing her tips for finishing those cute pillows!

Hi everyone!  Andy here from A Bright Corner.  I’m a quilt pattern designer, a big fan of scrappy quilting, and mom to two fun & creative boys.

I blog at A Bright Corner where I like to share tutorials and tips, and I also have an online shop where you can find my patterns – both PDF and paper versions.

And if you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I’ve been working on a little scrappy Christmas patchwork pillow to get me more in the holiday mood.  Nothing inspires me more than working with pretty scraps!

Today I wanted to share with you my easy trick for making an envelope backing for any size pillow.  

Pillows are one of my favorite ways to decorate for different holidays and seasons.  I have 4 or 5 that I swap out throughout the year- I use the same pillow inserts and just change the covers.   

When I first started making pillows I would just kind of make it up as I went.  I like envelope closures but I would usually get the measurements wrong so the finished pillow would either gape open at the back, or the opening would be too small and pillow insert wouldn’t fit.

So I’ve come up with an easy-to-remember formula that I now follow when I make pillows.  

And guess what?  You can use this little bit of math to turn anything into a pillow – a quilted panel, a cute tea towel, a mini quilt, table topper…you name it!

Whatever you’re making into a pillow, quilt it first and do any applique stitching that’s needed.  I’m starting with this Charming Lucy mini quilt.  It’s all quilted and ready for the next step.

For the envelope backing we’ll need 2 rectangles of backing fabric.  To figure out the size we need to do a bit of math– but don’t worry it’s easy stuff!

Measure the width of the pillow front.  Divide that number by 2. Then add 3. That number is the width to cut the rectangles.  

My pillow front measures 18” x 18”

18 divided by 2 = 9

9+3 = 12

So I will need to cut 2 rectangles that are 12” x 18”

I’ll show you one more example.  Let’s say you have a leftover quilt block that you want to turn into a pillow and it measures 20” x 20”

Divide that by 2 = 10

Add 3 = 13

So you’ll need two rectangles that are 13” x 20” to make a backing for your quilt block pillow.

Now that you have your backing rectangles, here’s what to do next –

On one long edge fold under ½” and press, then fold under another ½” and press again. Top stitch along the first fold to secure it in place. Repeat for the second backing rectangle.

Place the pillow front right side down on the table.  Layer the two backing rectangles right side up with the finished edges overlapping in the middle of the pillow, and the raw edges lining up with the raw edges of the pillow front.

Pin all the way around the pillow.  

Then using a basting stitch, baste around the entire pillow about ⅛” in from the edge.  This will hold all the layers together as you add the binding. The basting stitches will be hidden under the binding.

Now make yourself some quilt binding and bind the pillow as you would a quilt.  If you need a great binding tutorial, Amy has one here on her blog.

Once the pillow is bound, add the pillow insert and it’s ready to be used!  Want more pillow inspiration?

These are some of my favorites that I’ve made recently, and if you’d like to know how to make any of these pillows, click on the links below to be taken to the tutorial!

Winter Star Pillow tutorial

Charming Lucy Mini Quilt and Pillow tutorial

Christmas Patchwork Pillow tutorial

Summer Leaves Pillow tutorial


Thanks again, Andy! Such a simple and useful tip! If you’re looking for some fun Christmas Pillow ideas, I’ve got a good list here.

Also, be sure to check out Andy’s super popular post about How to Organize Your Sewing Room. She has SO many useful tips!

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  • Reply
    December 7, 2018 at 6:43 am

    Love this – short and sweet! Thank you!

  • Reply
    Pat S
    December 7, 2018 at 9:30 am

    Thanks for this. I’ve had less than stellar results with envelope backs and usually just put in a zipper. That isn’t always practical, though, so I will definitely give this a try.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2018 at 6:40 pm

    Thanks for the tips! And so many pretty pillows! I think I might have to make one or two…..

  • Reply
    Judy Chastain
    December 8, 2018 at 10:54 am

    I have to remember this formula! I’ve always made my pillow backs too small. Thanks Amy and Andy!

  • Reply
    December 17, 2018 at 10:09 am

    Can you show the back of the finished pillow?

  • Reply
    January 25, 2020 at 9:36 pm

    Thank you for this tutorial. I’ve pinned it.

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