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Making DIY Outdoor Pillows

Give your patio a pick-me-up without breaking the bank with cozy DIY outdoor pillows using durable, weather resistant fabric in coordinating colors. 

Blue outdoor pillows on a chair.

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Making Outdoor Pillow Covers

Summers here in South Western, Ontario are pretty short lived. It seems we wait all year long for just a couple of hot, Summer months. And although I want nothing more than a relaxing backyard oasis to enjoy the sunshine in, I have a budget to consider. That’s where DIY projects come into play! 

Partnering with Canvas Etc to use their high quality awning material to make these simple outdoor pillow covers. I chose royal blue and navy blue colors as it matches my backyard color scheme the best. The fabric is ideal for harsh outdoor elements, featuring UV protection, is waterproof and mildew resistant. 

Blue outdoor pillows on a chair.

Tips for Sewing Outdoor Fabric

Fabrics that are coated in a waterproof finish, such as polyurethane like the one I’m using for this project can be tricky to sew with. It’s not as straightforward as other non-coated woven fabrics and you may come across certain challenges. Here is a list of challenges and solutions when sewing outdoor fabrics:

Issue:

Fabric sticks as you sew; does not glide smoothly between the presser foot and feed dogs

Possible Solutions

  • Use a teflon (plastic) presser foot or add scotch tape to the bottom of your standard metal foot
  • Rub candles on your seam line before you sew over it. The wax will make the fabric glide more freely.
  • Use longer stitch lengths, like 4.0
  • Cut narrow strips of tissue paper or parchment paper or printer paper or wax paper to work as a stabilizer and sandwich the fabric in between the paper to help the fabric glide more smoothly. Tear the paper off after sewing the seams.
  • Add a bit of talcum powder to the surface of the coated fabric to reduce the grabbiness of the fabric
  • Use a sharp needle, one that is intended for heavier weight fabrics, such as US16 but keep in mind the bigger the needle the larger the holes it leaves behind in the fabric
  • Use silicone spray on the needle plate but wipe down your needle frequently with rubbing alcohol.
Issue:

Needle is left with a gucky, sticky coating during and after sewing

Possible Solutions

  • Use lots of alcohol wipes/rubbing alcohol & cotton balls to wipe off the built up coating
  • Use longer stitch lengths, like 4.0
  • Oil the needle using Sewer’s Aid or similar product
Blue outdoor pillows on chairs.

Last month, I shared the tutorial for making this hanging hammock chair so now along with these DIY outdoor pillows, I feel like my backyard oasis is really coming together. I used a bunch of extra pillow inserts I had from old throw pillows to stick to my budget. Alternatively, I could have made my own pillow inserts in different sizes similar to how I made these DIY pillow forms

Materials Needed:

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Materials needed to make outdoor pillows including fabric, scissors, pillows, and ruler.

How to Make Outdoor Pillows:

Cutting

Use weights or clips to hold the material while cutting. Pins will leave holes in your fabric that could allow for the fabric to leak.

Measure the pillow insert to make a pillow cover to fit over. 

Measuring the pillow insert.

Measure and mark the fabric to the size of the pillow form, adding ½” seam allowance around the perimeter.

To make color blocked pillow covers, divide the front pillow cover in half widthwise. Measure and mark the fabric, adding ½” seam allowance around the perimeter.

Sewing

As with cutting, avoid using pins on the fabric as it’ll leave holes. Instead hold pieces together firmly in your hands as you sew.

Use a sharp needle in the smallest size possible that is able to stitch the fabric without skipping. Since the bigger the needle, the bigger the hole it leaves in the fabric. Also, use a polyester thread or a specific outdoor thread, something that is strong, durable, UV and mildew resistant.

Join the two sides of the front cover if doing a similar color block design. Match RIGHT sides together and stitch with a ½” seam allowance. 

Sewing the blue fabric together.

If finding fabric sticks and not gliding smoothly, see tips above. Sandwich the fabric in between layer of tissue paper and sew. Hold the fabric firmly to avoid differential stretch as you sew.

Adding a layer of tissue paper between the fabric and sewing.

Lay the FRONT and BACK pieces RIGHT sides together and sew along all three edges with a ½” seam allowance. 

Sewing along the edge of the fabric.

Tear off the paper after sewing.

Removing the tissue paper after sewing.

Sew the final edge partially closed leaving enough of a gap to squeeze the pillow insert into.

Leaving an opening gap in the fabric.

Before turning the piece right side out, consider adding a waterproof sealant to the seams to avoid water seeping through.

Clip the corners and turn the pillow cover right side out, poking the corners out with a pair of tweezers and then stuff the pillow insert inside.

Inserting the pillow insert into the blue pillow case.

Lastly, sew the opening closed with an edgestitch.

Sewing the fabric closed.

Make as many outdoor throw pillows as you want or need. For now, I’ve made these three pillows for the chairs in my backyard, which makes the space much more cozier and inviting.

Blue outdoor pillows on chairs on a deck.

More DIY Outdoor Patio Ideas

Looking for more budget friendly DIY ideas to give your outdoor space a pick me up? Check out these creative outdoor projects.

Like it? Pin it for later!

Blue outdoor pillows on a chair with text overlay.

Making DIY Outdoor Pillows

Jane and Sonja
Give your patio a pick-me-up without breaking the bank with cozy DIY outdoor pillows using durable, weather resistant fabric in coordinating colors.
5 from 1 vote

Materials
  

  • ½ yard Canvas Awnings Fabric Solution Dyed, 60″ Width, navy blue or royal blue
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Sewing machine and matching polyester or outdoor thread
  • Pillow Insert in any size
  • Ruler Measuring Tape and wax

Instructions
 

Cutting

  • Use weights or clips to hold the material while cutting. Pins will leave holes in your fabric that could allow for the fabric to leak.
  • Measure the pillow insert to make a pillow cover to fit over.
  • Measure and mark the fabric to the size of the pillow form, adding ½” seam allowance around the perimeter.
  • To make color blocked pillow covers, divide the front pillow cover in half width wise. Measure and mark the fabric, adding ½” seam allowance around the perimeter.

Sewing

  • As with cutting, avoid using pins on the fabric as it’ll leave holes. Instead hold pieces together firmly in your hands as you sew.
  • Use a sharp needle in the smallest size possible that is able to stitch the fabric without skipping.
  • Join the two sides of the front cover if doing a similar color block design. Match RIGHT sides together and stitch with a ½” seam allowance.
  • Sandwich the fabric in between layer of tissue paper and sew. Hold the fabric firmly to avoid differential stretch as you sew.
  • Lay the FRONT and BACK pieces RIGHT sides together and sew along all three edges with a ½” seam allowance.
  • Tear off the paper after sewing.
  • Sew the final edge partially closed leaving enough of a gap to squeeze the pillow insert into.
  • Before turning the piece right side out, consider adding a waterproof sealant to the seams to avoid water seeping through.
  • Clip the corners and turn the pillow cover right side out, poking the corners out with a pair of tweezers and then stuff the pillow insert inside.
  • Lastly, sew the opening closed with an edge stitch.
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