It took years before a decision was made.
Then it took months to complete the project.
However, it took only a weekend to complete the finishing touches!
What took years to decide was exactly what to do with the Adirondack furniture my sister gave me.
These chairs, footstools, and the matching table sat and weathered in the elements for years getting rougher to the touch as well as unstable. We just couldn’t decide what color to paint them.
Once we finally decided what to do, it took several months to do the work.
The finishing touch for the Adirondack furniture was making pillows with ruffled edges to add a little bit of visual contrast and physical comfort to the chairs.
[If you want to find out more about the story behind the Adirondack furniture, look for the links at the end of the post.]
Have you been wanting to add some finishing touches to an area of your home?
Are you in need of some pillows to add color or comfort to your outdoor space?
I invite you to learn from my experience and maybe you can do it in less than a weekend!
Making Pillow Covers with Ruffles for Outdoor Furniture
Sewing skills: straight line on a machine
In order to make pillow covers, you need to have pillow forms. You can:
- buy them ready to go
- use some you already have
- make some
I had three pillow forms, however, their original casing had torn.
I made new ones out of old sheets and reused the stuffing.
First, I cut 2 pieces for each pillow form that was the size of the original forms. I didn’t include anything additional for seam allowance because I wanted the pillows to be a little plumper than they were.
After that, I sewed the two pieces together almost all the way around the perimeter, stuffed them with all the stuffing that was exploding out of the torn pillow casing, and closed the small opening with a whip stitch.
Measuring Pillow Form
To get the dimensions of a pillow form, measure the width and length across the curve of the pillow.
Make sure when you measure, you are starting and stopping at the midpoint of the pillow. In the picture, it looks like the tape measure is going all the way to the table at the start, but it is actually at the seam line of the pillow form cover I made.
Measuring Front and Back of Pillow Cover
One side of the pillow cover (the front) will be the pillow form dimensions plus 1 inch for the length and width. (This inch will allow you to use a 1/2″ seam allowance when sewing.) So, if the pillow form measured 11″ x 15″ you would cut the front piece of fabric 12″ x 16″.
The fabric for the back of the pillow will actually be longer. Why?
To get the pillow cover on and off easily, I wanted the fabric on the back of the pillow to overlap (sometimes called an Envelope Closure).
To make sure there’s enough fabric to cover the pillow form fully, add an additional 8″ to the length of the fabric for the back side. So, for a pillow form with the measurements of 11″ x 15″ you would cut the back piece 12″ x 24″. (This includes the 1″ for the seam allowance and 8″ to make the envelope closure.)
Measuring for Ruffles
To determine how much fabric you will need for the ruffle, consider how big you want the finished ruffle.
Decide what width you want for your ruffles. Double that width. Add an inch for seam allowance.
For my pillows, I wanted about a 2″ ruffle showing. Keeping in mind a 1/2″ seam allowance, the fabric for the ruffle would need to be 5″ wide. This allows me to fold the fabric in half along the length so the width becomes 2 1/2″ (a finished 2″ ruffle with 1/2″ seam allowance).
The ruffle length is determined by adding up all the edges of the pillow and multiplying by 2.
Staying with the pillow form that is 11″ x 15″, all the edges added together would be 52″. By doubling this amount you will have plenty to work with and can cut off the extra when you get the ruffle in place.
I suggest measuring your pillow forms and determining how to lay out the pieces before you ever look at fabric. You might even go as far as to sketch one layout for fabric that is 42″ wide and another layout for 54″ wide fabric. By taking these steps first, you will know how much fabric to buy and don’t have a lot left over (like I did).
In addition, when you don’t have pattern pieces, drawing and/or sketching out your measurements and how you will cut your fabric helps you clarify accurate measurements and visualize the best way to cut your fabric when you are ready for that step.
For my pillows, I wanted two pieces of coordinating fabric so the ruffle and the main part of the pillow weren’t identical.
When running errands one day, I made an impulsive decision to look at fabric. Unfortunately, I found some I liked but hadn’t measured the pillow forms or determined how to lay out the pieces. So, I didn’t know how much fabric I would need.
The width of the fabric I liked was 54″ so I got a yard of each. This would be plenty to do the three pillows.
Preparing and Sewing the Ruffle to the Front
Cut all the pieces out and set the front and back of the pillow off to the side.
Take the two long pieces for the ruffle and put the right sides of the fabric together. Sew them along one short end. Press seam open.
Fold 1/2″ of one short end of the ruffle under toward the back side so the raw edge isn’t visible and press.
Fold the entire length in half and press. So, if the width of the ruffle was 5″ and the length was 100″, after this step the ruffle would be 2 1/2″ x 100″.
Taking the front of the pillow fabric, lay it with the right side up.
Attach the ruffle to the front of the pillow starting in the middle of one of the sides (not in a corner). Create a pleat (folding the material back on itself) every inch or so and pinning it down. Overlap the beginning and end about two inches. Cut off any additional length. Fold 1/2″ of the short end of the last part of the ruffle under so the raw edge isn’t visible. Press.
Sew the ruffle in place using a 1/4″ seam allowance.
Preparing and Sewing the Back (Envelope Closure)
Take the long back piece and cut it approximately in half. (Using the example above of a back piece measuring 12″ x 24″, after cutting, you would have one piece 12″ x 14″ and another piece that is 12″ x 10″.
On each piece, fold what will be the overlapping edges about 1/4″ and press. Fold and press again so the raw edge isn’t visible.
Lay the front piece of the pillow cover with the attached ruffles right side up.
Pin the shortest back piece on first. Right sides of the pillow fabric should be together. Raw edges should be lined up. The finished edge on the back piece should be in the middle of the pillow.
Lay the longer back piece on top of everything and pin in place. Raw edges should be lined up. The finished edge should be parallel to the other finished edge but will overlap.
Sew both pieces down using 1/2″ seam allowance around the perimeter of the pillow.
Finishing the Pillow
Turn the pillow cover right side out. Insert the pillow form and plump it up.
Add Comfort and Color with Pillows
It doesn’t have to take a long time to make your outdoor space a little more comfortable or have pops of color.
The steps to making a pillow cover with ruffles are straightforward. Once you make one, you won’t want to stop with your outdoor space!
- Select the size of your pillow forms
- Measure so you know how much material to get
- Measure the pillow form
- Determine the front and back cover size
- Determine the ruffle width and length
- Select material
- Prepare and sewing the ruffle to the front cover
- Prepare and sewing the back cover using the Envelope Closure
- Finish the Pillow
Note: The original post describing how I made the pillows is in the third link listed below. The section above on making the ruffled pillow covers is revised from the original content to include more detailed directions.
The Adirondack Furniture Story
Do you want to read about how we renewed the Adirondack furniture? You can find out why it took us months to get it done in the following posts from the School Year Challenge:
- Fixing the leaning chairs and first try with the table
- Painting the chairs
- Footstools, table take two, and pillows
Hello, I'm Nicki!
I'm a fabric lover who believes in the necessity of having a creative outlet. My goal is to educate and inspire others in sewing-related projects that are fun, functional, or both. Sign up to receive notice when new posts have been published.