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How to Make an Envelope Backing for a Quilted Pillow

This is a brief tutorial on how to finish a quilted pillow with an envelope backing. I know there are already tons of tutorials out there on this subject, so why am I writing another one? Because this one is specific to how to finish the pillow size of the Sweetbriar Rose Quilt pattern and will serve as a visual aid for anyone working on finishing their pillow. I couldn’t fit all the images to show this process without making the pattern extra long, so I thought a blog post would be the next best thing!

The pillow is the smallest size option for the Sweetbriar Rose Quilt pattern and finishes at 18 1/2” by 18 1/2” when pieced together. This tutorial picks up after the pillow top has been quilted and is ready to be finished.

For this tutorial, you will need the following materials:

  • The Sweetbriar Rose Quilt pattern. Click here to purchase.

  • A quilted pillow top (18 1/2” square)

  • (2) 18 1/2” x 13” rectangles of fabric for the envelope backing

  • A ruler (I recommend a 6” x 24” ruler)

  • Rotary cutter

  • Pins

  • Iron and ironing board

Fabric, ruler, and rotary blade laid out on a cutting matStep 1: Gather your two 18 1/2” x 13” backing pieces. On one of the 18 1/2” ends of the fabric, you’re going to create a hem by folding the fabric over 1/2”, press flat, and then fold over another 1/2” and press flat. You will create this hem on both of the backing pieces.

Highlighting the fabric hemIroning the folded edge of the hemIroning the hem folded over a second timeStep 2: Sew a close seam (1/8”) along the inside edge of the fold on both of the backing pieces (again just on one 18 1/2” edge of each piece).

Sewing the hemHighlighting the stitching on the backside of the hem

Step 3: Now the backing pieces are ready to be attached to the quilted pillow. With right sides together, pin one backing piece to the front of the quilted pillow with the raw edged 18 1/2” (opposite side from where you created the hem in Step 2) matching the bottom of the raw edge of the quilted pillow.

The backing pieces pinned lined up with the frontThen piece the second backing piece (right sides together) with the raw 18 1/2” edge matching along the top of the quilted pillow. Lay it down so that it overlaps the other backing piece.

The backing pieces laying over the backStep 4: Pin around the perimeter of the pillow making sure to catch the quilted pillow layers and the top backing layers.

The backing, pinned to the frontThe entire pillow and backing, with the pins arrayed along the edgesStep 5: Sew a 1/4” seam around the perimeter of the pillow. Make sure to back-stitch along the sides where the backing pieces overlap to reinforce the pieces to withstand the tugging of inserting and removing the pillow.

Sewing the backing onStep 6: Next, trim the corners, but be sure not to trim through the seam you just sewed!

Detail shot of the sewn edges on the cutting board, with a corner trimmedAll four corners trimmedYou’re almost done! Here comes the fun part. Open the space where the backing pieces over lap and turn the pillow inside out!

Opening the pillow to show the inside portionThe pillow, turned right side outUse a pointy tool (I used my Kwik Klip which I use for attaching pins when basting) to push the corners out.

A corner pushed out, next to a Kwik Klip toolThe front of the pillow, with all four corners pushed outAnd finally, fill with an 18” pillow form and display proudly somewhere in your house! Or you can create a pillow as a gift for a friend (makes a great housewarming gift)!

The pillow with fillingThe Sweetbriar Rose Quilt is my very first quilt pattern which I wrote in late fall 2020/early winter 2021 after attending Amber of Alderwood Studio’s premiere Pattern Writing Academy. While I’ve been quilting since 2018, I’ve grown more and more excited with each pattern I’ve followed and knew that I wanted to take the next step to designing quilts. I would highly recommend this course to anyone interested in doing the same!

Thanks for reading!