This is a comprehensive guide on DIY throw pillows covers: where to buy fabric for pillow making, how does it cost to make a pillow, and different ways to make your custom pillow, depending on your skill level. By the end of the post, you’ll get a good idea on how to make designer pillows at a very low cost.
Decorative pillows can be expensive, no matter custom made or store bought
We all LOVE throw pillows! They are fun and add so much personality to our home. Whenever I hear about tips decorating tips of easy ways to style your home, adding decorative pillows would come up all the time. It is without a question that how much impact it adds to a space.
However, pillows can be expensive. For store standard sized throw pillows, it usually ranges from $20 – $80 per pillow depends on the size and brand.
Custom made throw pillows are one of a kind. However, custom pillows can cost a lot more since you have to pay for expensive upholstery fabrics plus labor.
What’s more, you are not just buying one pillow and be done with your space. To bring in the texture and layers, you probably will be thinking at having 10+ pillows for your home(bedroom, living room, home office, etc). Sometimes you might want to change them seasonally. Things get expensive when they add up!
So after looking at pillows online and in store, I have decided to make as much DIY custom pillow as possible to cut on the cost, plus it is guaranteed to fit my home decor style. My current pillow collection is 20% store bought and 80% DIY. And I’m very proud of my unique custom throw pillow collection!
Another big pro for making your own pillow covers? You can add zippers or any openings of your choice! In fact, some store bought pillows are completely sewn closed, so there’s no way to wash the pillow cover by itself.
How much does it cost to make a pillow?
First of all, let’s break down the cost of a DIY decorative pillow. Throw pillows are usually made of two parts: pillow cover and the pillow insert. In addition, based on the style of a pillow closure, there’s additional cost of zipper, button, etc.
Pillow insert is hidden inside, so depending on the stuffing you are looking at, they can range from just a few dollars, up to $50 for a large dawn pillow insert. I typically spend less than 10 dollars on them (Hi Ikea!) For the cost analysis, I’ll focus on the pillow cover only.
For the throw pillow cover, that’s where the cost will vary the most, and where you can save the most money(good news!).
The soul of a throw pillow is the cover. So finding pretty but affordable fabric is the key to save cost when you are DIYing your own custom pillows.
Typically if you are buying fabric by the yard, you are looking at $8: $6 for a little more than 1/2 yard of fabric + $2 for zipper. If you are looking to make designer pillows, look for upholstery fabrics. Those fabrics are thicker, more durable, and often has a nice texture. A designer style DIY pillow will likely cost $10-$20: $10 for half a yard of fabric + $2 on the zipper.
I used to buy fabric from online or local fabric stores, but recently fell in love with creative ways to source fabrics locally. Seeing and touching the fabric in person is just so important to me, when it comes to home decor fabrics.
With my creative(and affordable) ways of sourcing fabrics, my pillow cover costs are about $5 – $12.
Where to buy fabric for pillow covers?
Fabric for pillow making
Below I have listed my go-to decor fabric sources for pillow making and the cost breakdown (if you would like to have zipper as the opening, add $1-3 to the cost per pillow). Most of those pillows are used in my dining room and living room. Check them out if you want to see those DIY pillows in a space.
Shopping pillow fabric by the yard ?
Fabric by the yard is the most traditional way to source home decor fabrics. It is my go-to source in terms of buying fabric to make clothes, but not so much for home decor purposes. Here’s the main reasons I don’t shop fabric by yard for making my own pillow covers:
- They tend to be more expensive. Shopping fabric by yard tend to be more costly compared to my other three creative sources. They are usually around $10 – $30/yard.
- When I shop in local stores, there’s not a lot of pretty decor options; for online purchase there are many choices, but it can be hard as I cannot see and touch those fabrics in person. And I have to pay for shipping for buying only less than a yard of fabric
- I need to be constantly “on the hunt”, meaning that looking though tons of fabrics to find something looks classic and versatile for my home. On the contrary, the three other sources I mentioned below are more of the premium selection. Think about this: The designer at Pottery Barn, Target, and other stores has hand curated a selection of fabric that they think will work great for most of the homes. So picking from their curation is way easier than picking from the wild.
My go-to fabric source for pillow covers: #1 Tablecloth
Tablecloth is probably the most affordable home decor grade fabric you can find. I bought this 60″ by 104″ stripe tablecloth for around $16! With that much fabric, you can make 5 medium sized throw pillows! That is $4 per pillow.
gray stripe | natural linen | villa stripe
My go-to fabric source for pillow covers: #2 Dish Towel
Dish towel is a great fabric for DIY pillows as it has so many options! This IKEA dish towel set is only $3.99 and you can make 2 medium sized pillows or 4 small lumbar pillows. That is $2 per pillow.
dish towel sources:
IKEA blue set | IKEA beige | lemon set
My go-to fabric source for pillow covers: #3 Napkins (20 x 20)
I love buying pretty napkin from Pottery Barn and make them into pillows, such as this one. I bought two of these during a sale and made them into a pillow. They costs me under $10. It is more money than dish towel and table cloth, but I have to say: It is made of very durable linen and the pattern is just stunning! It has become my favorite throw pillow in my home, and interestingly Pottery Barn have the same fabric pillow retail for $50! You can literally save $40 by sewing those two napkin together and add a zipper!
20 x 20 napkin source:
shibori dot gray | french stripe | weaton strie
Other creative sources to find home decor fabrics
Besides the above three ways to source pretty home decor fabrics, There’s a few other creative ways to find fabrics for your custom made pillows:
- Fabric Placemats: I have seen some really cute fabric placemat at Target that I am going to convert one into a lumbar pillow!
- Window Curtains: Similar to table clothes, curtain would make a great decor fabric source. Most of them are medium-weight fabrics.
Things to look for when shopping fabric for pillows
Choose medium to heavy weight fabrics for your pillow. For home decor purposes, you want them to be very durable, so lightweight won’t hold well. And I would recommend to buy home decor fabrics instead of garment fabrics(those are more flowy, lightweight and fragile). That’s why I like to buy table cloth, dish towel and napkins, as they were made for home decor use.
Color and pattern
Rather than making a dress, your DIY pillows will probably be on display most of the time. So pick color and pattern that match your home style.
How to make your own throw pillows
I remember when I first learnt sewing, the beginner projects are always making decoraive throw pillows. Now I understand why – Making throw pillows is one of the easiest sewing project but with great results. With a well selected fabric for pillow making, you can make designer pillows at 10% of the cost!
I have made two DIY throw pillow tutorials, both with step by step written instructions and videos:
How to make throw pillow with normal zipper
This DIY pillow tutorial is about how to make decorative pillows that look chic and expensive! I used a zipper as closure so it is not only easy to clean but also looks well-made (just like those ones from Serena & Lily)
Read written instruction.
How to make tasseled pillow with invisible zipper
This DIY throw pillow features using invisible zipper. I also added tassels to jazz it up. The invisible zipper installation is my simplified version so you don’t have to struggle with the traditional tedious installation but still have a very hidden zipper closure!
Read written instruction.
DIY pillow summary
Hopefully after reading this post you have a good understanding of how much does it cost to make a pillow, and where to buy fabrics for pillow covers.
My biggest takeaway from this experience is with a little hunting and time, you can make designer pillows at a very low cost, much lower than buying in a store or getting it custom made outside.
Have fun making beautiful pillows and decorating your home!
Read more on DIY home decor
How to Make Bench Cushion with Removable Cover
Affordable Custom Roman Shade Hack
Kenneth Adkins says
Your post was very helpful and I believe I can do this!
happy to hear that!
I love all your posts! You are so talented and helpful! Thank you for sharing great tips and tricks!
thank you so much molly!
I love your ideas! I have been doing the same type of thing. A linen shower curtain has been made into a dress. Woven rugs have been transformed into pillow shams, wall hangings, baskets and handbags. I think I will now be looking for pretty kitchen towels and napkins!
Thank you Kandis for your awesome ideas! I would need to try some of your smart hacks one day 🙂
I thoroughly enjoy making my own pillow covers. What wonderful ideas ideas for alternative fabric choices. Thanks so much.
So glad I found this site. Video was GREAT! and tips on what to use for pillows WOW
so happy to hear you like this post Harper 😀