Napkins & Placemats & . . . Pillows?

On Monday, I teased you guys with a little sneak peek of our den which has undergone a bit of a transformation.  While I’m not quite ready for the big reveal (whew, there are still a lot of things to do!), I thought I’d show you guys how I jazzed up the sofas and added lots of color to the room.

I knew that I wanted new throw pillows on our sofas – the old Pottery Barn ones were fine, but I’d tired of the tan and red color scheme and started craving something a little more exciting.

Napkins & Placemats & . . . Pillows?

See?  Nice, but nothing to write home about.  But I knew that I didn’t want to buy 7 brand new pillows, which could easily have run at least $200 – ouch!  So, I got a little creative.

I was at Crate & Barrel the other day picking up a wedding gift for a friend when I spied these funky napkins and matching placemat.  It was instant love, and I knew they could be transformed into some awesome pillows for our den.  I stopped by the fabric store on the way home and snagged some gorgeous teal linen, and then I got to work!

Napkins & Placemats & . . . Pillows?

I spread the project out over a couple of nights and made 4 20 x 20 pillows and a long 12 x 36 lumbar pillow for the oversized chair.  I’m thrilled with how they turned out!

Napkins & Placemats & . . . Pillows?

Napkins & Placemats & . . . Pillows?

Here’s how you can whip up a brand new look for your space with just a few napkins and placemats:

1.  Take stock of what you already have. I priced out new pillow forms for my pillows and they ran about $10 a pop!  I did find a better deal at Ikea ($2.99), but I didn’t want to make the 45 minute trek to our local Ikea.  So, I just reused the old pillows and covered right over them!  They look just the same as new pillow forms, and it saved me some dough.  And when it comes to fabric, look through your stash of napkins, placemats, and leftover fabric to see if you have anything that you could turn into a pillow cover – not only will it make you feel awesome to find a use for your old fabric, but it can keep some extra coin in your pocket.

2.  Snag your fabric. In my case, I didn’t have any fabric or napkins on hand that struck my fancy so I bought some new goods.  When I bought the napkins and placemat, I already knew that my pillows needed to be 20 x 20, so I was able to make sure (before I bought them) that the new napkins were the right size to cover my pillows.  And have a little fun while you’re at it – pillows are a great place to take chances since you can make them so affordably, so play around with pattern, color and texture!

3.  Put it all out there. In the case of the lumbar pillow, I knew that I was going to use both the placemat and some of the teal fabric to create the pillow cover.  After I split the two sides of the placemat apart using a seam ripper, I laid one piece of the placemat across the middle of the original pillow cover – that way I could measure how much of the teal fabric I would need for each side.

Napkins & Placemats & . . . Pillows?

4.  Pin and sew. Once all the pieces were cut, I just pinned the teal fabric to each side of the placemat – at that point, I had two long strips, each constructed out of teal fabric then the placemat and then more teal fabric.  Then I used my sewing machine to create the seams and connect the teal fabric to the placemat.  The next step was to sew the two long strips together to create the pillow cover – you’ll want to pin the pieces together with the finished side of the fabric facing in:

Napkins & Placemats & . . . Pillows?

5.  Flip it. I sewed each of the 3 sides of the pillow and about a third of the way across on each corner of the fourth side – when I flipped the pillow cover right side out it looked like this:

Napkins & Placemats & . . . Pillows?

The whole reasoning behind leaving part of the fourth side open is that it lets you put your pillow into the pillow cover without having to sew in a zipper.  Alternatively, you could create an envelope enclosure, tie the unfinished side closed with ribbons, or close it with buttons.

6.  Finish it off. Now you can go ahead and shove your pillow into the pillow cover!  The last step is to hand sew the rest of the fourth side closed – and now you’re done!!  Go enjoy your fabulous new pillow.

Napkins & Placemats & . . . Pillows? Napkins & Placemats & . . . Pillows?

So there’s my quick tip on how to DIY your way into a spiffed up new space.  Got any tips for us?

This post is shared with DIY Day on A Soft Place to Land.

Related Posts with Thumbnails


  1. Oooh I love those placemats, I saw them at C&B the other day. It’s really cute and colorful!

  2. Averill says:

    Looks awesome, Liz! I’ve been toying with turning some of my Roberta Roller placements into pillows for my bench in my dining nook…after seeing your steller results, I’ll have to give it a go!

  3. Charlotte says:

    Liz, you did a super terrific job, both on the idea itself and in its execution! Both very clever and effective! I really liked your detailed but easy to understand directions also. Sometimes sewing sounds so difficult, but you make it seem like something we can all accomplish and still feel great about the result.

  4. christy says:

    Wow you are so crafty Liz! I Love the new look – I have no advice as I don’t know how to sew. But I do wish you lived you closer so you could make me some! hehe! Have a great weekend!

  5. Tonya says:

    I love the pillows! You did such a great job!

  6. m says:

    What a great idea!!!!

    m ^..^

  7. wow, this is my kinda project, love how the pillows turned out!

    happy DIY day


  8. There are so many pretty patterns for napkins that you can get a really custom look this way. I talked to the seamstress at the dry cleaner’s we use and she said that she would charge just a few dollars to sew up a pillow from napkins. A good way for non-sewers to make use of your advice.