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Ruffle Throw Pillow Cover Tutorial

Ruffled throw pillows are having their moment!  Every major catalog is now selling ruffled throw pillows and I have to admit—they are pretty darling!  So I decided to learn how to make my own.  And now that I’ve made a few, I decided to share my method with you. These pillows require some patience, but they are not difficult to make at all. 

The most time consuming part is creating your ruffle. It usually takes me about 20-30 minutes to create the ruffle, so I will take that piece over and gently tug my threads while watching a TV show.  Not hard at all—just not something you want to rush.

This pillow even has a hidden zipper for a professional finish.  Impress all your friends with your on-trend pillows or make some for your handmade shop! 

I used Art Gallery fabrics in the following prints:

Sensescape Raw in Linen (the taupe and white floral)

Wreathed Serenity (the sage floral)

The linen was more challenging as the ruffle stitches are moving through a thicker fabric.  AGF Linen is superior quality, in my opinion, so my threads snapped a few times while I was pulling them through.  It took a few tries to get the ruffles right.

So, if you are trying this for the first time, I would recommend a quilting cotton to start.  The linen is beautiful, but you will need to be extra gentle when working with it.  Also, keep in mind that the linen is a wider width so you will need to adjust fabric requirements accordingly.

Pillow cover fits a 16" x 16" pillow insert.  Makes one pillow cover.

Supplies needed:

1 ¼ yard of quilting cotton fabric (AGF is recommended since it frays less)

(1) 16” nylon zipper 

Optional:  Glue stick for basting zipper (strongly recommended)

Cutting Instructions:

  • 16 ½” x 16 ½” square for pillow front
  • 16 ½” x 6” rectangle for pillow back
  • 16 ½” x 12” rectangle for pillow back
  • (4)  6” x WOF strips for ruffle

Sewing instructions:

1. Gather your zipper and the 16 ½" x 12" rectangle and your zipper.

Fold back the rectangle ½” along the 16 ½" side and press.  Pin or glue baste the fabric to the bottom side of the zipper.  The zipper pull should be at least a 1/2" away from the left side of the fabric when fully closed.  It's ok if the end of the zipper hangs off the fabric.  That will be trimmed later. (See the 2nd picture below to see the end of the zipper).


Watch a video here to see how to sew the zipper in.


Before you begin sewing, open the zipper ¼" of the way so you can begin sewing the fabric onto the zipper.  Backstitch at beginning and end.

Stitch 1/4” away from the folded edge.  As you get near the zipper pull, stop sewing, keeping your needle down.  Turn the fabric away to close the zipper back to the top.  (Refer to video above to see this step in action).

Put your fabric back the right way and continue sewing, until you get to the end.  Don’t forget to backstitch.

2.  Gather your 16 ½" x 6" rectangle.  Fold back 1” along the 16 ½" side and press.  Glue (recommended) or pin the raw edge of the rectangle along the top edge of the zipper. 

Next, cover up the zipper with the folded edge to create the flap.  With the zipper fully closed, use your nail or a hera marker to create a guideline along the top of the zipper ridge. Once done, open your zipper a bit to start sewing.  

Sew a seam 1/4” away from the zipper edge on top. 

Once you get close to the zipper pull, repeat the step of closing up your zipper so you can finish stitching.

Note: This set of stitches will be going through the zipper tape and the bottom layer of the flap. 

It will be visible so take your time and sew a straight line.  

Your zipper is now installed and the backing is finished.


3.  For the ruffle, take your (4) WOF x 6” strips and sew them together end to end to make a continuous strip.  I like to use diagonal seams as in binding, but do whatever method you prefer to create a long strip.  Approximate length will be 6” x 160”.

Fold and press your strip lengthwise. 

Take this strip to your sewing machine and change your stitch setting to the longest stitch length (usually 5 mm) to create basting stitches. 

You are going to want to leave about a 6" tail of threads at the end of your sewing, so don't trim or cut your threads until you have created this tail of thread at the end.

Sew two sets of basting stitches along the raw edge of the fabric.  I did mine 1/8” away from the edge and another set ¼” away from the edge.  Don’t forget to leave a long tail for easier pulling. 

Gather the top set of threads only and begin gently pulling to cinch the fabric.  Work in small sections at a time, cinching and then gently moving the ruffles to the opposite end of the strip. 

Watch a video here.

Keep working until all the fabric is cinched. 

Tuck in the raw edges on each of the short ends by about 1/4" .  Take one end and tuck it into the other with a 1/4" overlap of the ends. Sew the ends together using a 1/8" seam.  You will have a visible seam, but the ruffles will help hide it.  Trim any extra hanging threads.

You should now have a continuous ruffled loop.

4.  Lay your 16 ½ x 16 ½ square right side up on your surface.  Using clips or pins, carefully pin the ruffle with raw edges aligning with the square’s raw edges.  Be sure the ruffle piece is facing in towards the square.

Move/stretch the ruffling as needed to be sure it fits around the square. 

Next, take your backing piece and open the zipper halfway to allow for turning.  Place your backing piece wrong side up to create your pillow sandwich.  Pin along the raw edges.

Take your pillow sandwich to your sewing machine and sew using a ½” seam allowance. 

Once finished, trim your seam allowance down to ¼” all the way around.  Clip your corners for neater turning, being sure to not cut through your stitches.

5. Turn your pillow cover inside out.  If any of your ruffle basting stitches still show, just trim them with some small embroidery scissors.

Your pillow cover is now finished.

I hope you love making these sweet pillow covers.  I would love to see your work!  Don't forget to tag me @midlife_quilter on Instagram if you share pics.  And be sure to follow me on Instagram for more fun, free tutorials to expand your skills and make all the pretty things (especially the quilts!).

If you love this tutorial, consider buying me a coffee!  You can leave a tip at the link here.  Monies from this are used to support my website costs and enable me to create as much free content as possible.  Thank you!


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