How to Make Your Own Outdoor Pillows

Larissa Haynes
Written by Larissa Haynes
Updated June 20, 2016
DIY outdoor pillows on patio
You don't have to be a sewing pro to create these DIY pillows for your porch or patio. (Photos all courtesy of Larissa Haynes/Prodigal Pieces)

Spruce up your patio with this easy, budget-friendly DIY tutorial on making your own outdoor accent pillows.

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Your outdoor decor can create just as much of a welcoming feeling as the interior of your home. What better way to do that than to create that cozy feeling in a budget-friendly DIY style?

thrift store pillow bin

Thrift store finds

Head to the thrift store to find some pillows to turn into outdoor pillows to accent your patio and deck decor.

Yes, we're using thrifted pillows for our project because they are going outdoors and are so inexpensive compared to $10 for just a pillow form or bag of stuffing. That comparison cost doesn't include the fabric, thread or other notions you may want to add. So, grab a few to get this project started.

Here are the three I chose for my patio pillow update:

3 thrift store pillows

Materials You'll Need:

 Sunbrella or other type of outdoor fabric, enough to cover two sides of the pillow. (Measure pillow for dimensions, double it, and add 1 to 2 inches for seam allowance)

 Coordinating thread

 Thrifted pillows

Equipment Required:

 Sewing machine with standard needle

Sewing scissors

Hand-sewing needle

Step 1: Launder and prep

To get started, first launder your pillows. Once clean and dry, you can begin this project one of two ways. I choose to leave the pillows as they are with their original fabric intact; however, you may want to remove the outer cover, especially if it will show through your new fabric.

I like to leave the covers on for stability in the pillow and easy use during our project. If you choose to remove the outer cover, wait until you have your new pillowcase sewn.

pressing DIY pillow down

Step 2: Flatten pillow

Lay your fabric right-side down, and place your pillow on the fabric so that when you squish it down you have about an inch perimeter showing.

We will be using a half-inch seam allowance.

Pillow fabric cutout

Step 3: Cut out pattern

Cut out your pillow shape, and then use that same square to create a second square.

pinned pillow fabric squares

Step 4: Pin the panels

Lay your two square panels so that the right-sides are facing each other.

Pin the fabric panels together around the perimeter.

DIY sewing instructions for pillow

Step 5: Sew perimeter

To begin sewing, you are going to start approximately 2 inches in from the right-top corner, and end 2 inches in from the top-left corner.

This will leave an opening so you can turn the pillowcase right-side out and also fit the thrifted pillow in.

setting seam allowance on sewing machine

Set your sewing machine presser foot at the edge of the fabric. This will give you the half-inch seam allowance we are after.

Using a basic straight stitch, back-stitch to start, then sew around the pillow squares, removing pins as you go.

Make sure to back-stitch again when you reach your stopping point. The back-stitching reinforces your opening to allow the pillow to easy pass through.

Cutting corner of DIY stitched pillow

Step 6: Cutting corners

When you are done sewing, snip the corners as shown here.

This will help make your corners nice and square when you turn the pillowcase right-side out.

Step 7: Turn pillowcase inside out

Turn your pillowcase right-side out. Using a blunt object, gently push the corners out from the inside.

Step 8: Put pillow inside and pin

Insert your thrifted pillow. Pin the opening shut by folding the seam allowance into the opening and adding pins to hold it in place.

hand-sewing pillow close

Step 9: Hand-stitch opening

Lastly, using a hand-sewing needle and thread, use a blind ladder stitch to sew the opening closed.

You're done! Sit back and enjoy your crafty work. 

Finished DIY patio pillows

Once you get the hang of it, you can add welting, ruffles, etc. Feel free to mix it up and make them reversible, with each side made of a different coordinating fabric.

The possibilities really are endless.

Have a question? Leave a comment below and I'll be happy to help! 

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