Sew Simple: How To Make A Pillow From Two Cloth Napkins

Duuuuude. I got back on the proverbial sewing machine horse. What? You haven’t heard that expression. Whatever. The point is: Sue the Napkin is now Sue the Pillow! Or more accurately Sue The Pillows (yup, I made two of them).

Here are my materials:

  • Four Sue The Napkins (I originally got ten when we found them on clearance at Crate & Barrel, but I picked up four more so I could make two pillows using four of them and still have ten leftover to use as dinner napkins).
  • Oh Brother (my trusty sewing machine, more on him here)
  • Two old pillows to use as the “inside” of my new Sue pillow covers
  • A needle and some brown thread to sew one edge of the pillow shut by hand (that way I can easily seam rip that last portion to free the pillow inside and make a different cover down the line if I’d like).

I’ll spare you every detail, but I basically just stacked two napkins on top of each other with the good printed side touching (and the back of the fabric showing on the top and the bottom of the stack) and used my sewing machine to sew three of the four sides completely shut while it was all inside out like that. I even turned the corner and did about an inch or two on each end of the remaining fourth side while they were still inside out on the machine. Then I removed the napkins and turned them right side in, stuffed a pillow inside my little napkin envelope (which now had the printed side facing out), and stitched the remaining expanse of about 10″ closed by hand with my brown thread (which blends in surprisingly well).

As I’ve mentioned complained about before, I’ve ironically never had an issue with sewing by hand (it’s like painting by hand or demo-ing by hand, both of which I can do – I only have issues when I rely on a maniacal robot sewing machine). But as much as I whine about the ol’ new sewing machine, it did me right for my little pillow party. Am I a professional seamstress? No. Can I sew three straight lines without ending up with a birdsnest-looking-pile-o’-thread? I did this time. Strike up the band! Cue the fireworks!

And on the surprisingly-not-as-annoying-as-I-thought-it-would-be side of things, it only took me about four commercial breaks during Modern Family to whip up both pillows (so maybe about 12 minutes total? I was watching last week’s episode by the way, so don’t ruin this week’s for me).

Then I just stitched them closed during Bethenny Ever After (this took me much longer than it should have because I kept stopping to stare at the screen and guffaw at my imaginary BFF). But all in all, they look a lot less demented much better than I expected. Actually – dare I say it? – like real pillows.

Oh and as pretty as the pillows look when they’re all fluffed and photographed for the blog, more often than not they really look like this. Because Burger makes it a personal goal of his to squish every pillow in the house into an ugly little blob. But he’s cute so we deal with it.

Sometimes he even stops to nuzzle Sue, as if to say “you’re my favorite napkin-turned-pillow too.” It’s always nice to get pillow validation from an eight pound chihuahua.

So that’s the tale of Sue The Pillow(s). Have you guys sewn any napkin pillows lately? Did you die over the whole Gloria hair-rings/earrings thing on Modern Family last week? Me too. Can’t wait to watch this week’s episode tonight.


    • says

      Heather, I’m with you – my pillows, even throw pillows, need to be washable. But I am horribly impatient with sewing, so my mom has helped me out and sewn some pillows with a zipper for toss-in-the-washability.

  1. Elizabeth says

    What an easy and great idea! I’ve been looking for a way to re-vamp the pillows on my couch- and what a perfect solution. Watch out napkins everywhere- you are about to become pillow covers!

  2. says

    Especially awesome when Gloria thinks they won’t be mad because she did both ears and not just one.

    The pillows look great. I have never sewn anything but ribbons on my toe shoes. And that is NOT a pretty story. ;)

  3. Ashley Watson says

    I absolutely love this idea.. and i am so going to try it! That saves will save me so much money.. pillow are expensive these days!

  4. Sandy says

    The pillow looks fantastic!!! You did great. Doesn’t it make you want to turn every napkin into a pillow now? Burger is too cute by the way. He reminds me of my shitzu Simon that loves his, mind you, his, not ours, pillows! Squishes the hell out of them too.

  5. Krystal says

    While I admit that Gloria’s hair-rings/earrings mix up was hilarious, months later I’m still cracking up over baby cheeses/baby Jesus confusion…and the “gargle”. Oh, and you didn’t miss much considering last night was another rerun :(

    • Alicia says

      Beat me to it, I was about to say the same thing. RERUN. And I just got started watching this show too, so I was sad to see that because of course I already saw that one.

    • cameron says

      Oh good! Not that I’m some crazy fan of reruns, but the ABC affiliate in Georgia was taken over by news coverage of the crazy tornado madness, so I’m glad to hear I didn’t miss anything good.

  6. says

    I love the idea of using napkins! I always find cloth napkins in stores and fall in love with their patterns, wishing I could buy the actual fabric. Also love how well that blue pillow looks next to it – the stitched pattern in the blue one next to Sue’s printed pattern. Looks great!

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