Perk Up Pillows with Embellishment Techniques

When you’re looking for a quick sewing project for your home or a gift, a pillow is the perfect solution. Whether you make a simple pillow cover from scratch or purchase a plain one, you can add a personal creative touch with a variety of embellishment techniques.

easy handmade pillows ready for embellishment
Marimekko fabric pillows by Kristine Lundblad.

Take these easy directions for making two pillows, from Quilting Arts Assistant Editor Kristine Lundblad. She used a remnant of Marimekko(R) fabric for instant panache. But you could use a simpler pattern, a solid fabric, or pieced fabric to make your covers, then embellish as you wish.

Simple Pillow Directions


  • Two 18″ pillow forms or polyester stuffing
  • 1½ yds. fabric


1. Cut four 18″ squares of fabric. (These dimensions are for well-stuffed pillows. If you like a looser fit, cut your fabric squares 19″-20″.)

beaded fabric embellishment
Imagine Kristine’s basic pillows with beaded
embellishments like the example above.

2. Place one fabric square on top of a second square, right sides together. Sew around 3 sides using a ¼” seam allowance. Clip the sewn corners.

3. Turn the pillow cover right side out. Gently push out the sewn corners. Fold in the raw edges of the opening by ¼” and press lightly.

4. Push the pillow form into the cover. Close the opening by whip stitching by hand or carefully machine stitching close to the folded edge.

5. Repeat with the other pair of squares.

Embellishment Ideas

Depending on the embellishment techniques you’re using, you can add them before you sew the fabric squares together, or after. Here are some ideas for embellishing your pillows creatively:

Beading. Sewing beads in a pattern of your choice or to emphasize the fabric pattern is a quick and easy choice.

Appliqué: Try sewing embellishments like colorful wool felt onto your pillow front.

Stamping and screen printing: If you already have screen-printed fabrics, use those. Otherwise, stamp or print the fabric before stitching the front and the back of the pillow cover together.

sewing embellishments ribbons
Ribbons like these from Kaffe Fassett
for Renaissance Ribbons make easy
and beautiful fabric embellishments.

Embroidery: Hand-stitch a word, small flowers, or a freeform design on your pillow front to personalize it.

Ribbon appliqué: Embellish your pillows with beautiful ribbons. Just iron a length of lightweight adhesive tape to the back of each ribbon. The iron-on adhesive eliminates the need for pinning the ribbons to the fabric and also prevents the ribbons from shifting when sewing along the edges.

Need more ideas and how-tos for fine embellishment techniques? Check out the video tutorials on Craft Daily.

P.S. What’s your favorite way to embellish a pillow? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

Other topics you may enjoy:


Embellishing, Hand Embroidery, Quilting Daily Blog, Quilting Techniques, Sewing Techniques