Perfect night to get comfortable on the deck.
Projects, Sewing

DIY Outdoor Pillows

Finished results of pillows and placemats.

Time to bring some colour and comfort outside. We’re making outdoor pillows! It’s a great chance to have fun and use patterns and colours you might not use inside your house.

For my pillows I used an outdoor fabric. Advantages to outdoor fabric are it’s easy to clean, can be treated to be fade resistant, and/or also mold or mildew resistant. You can use same steps below to create indoor pillows or use indoor fabric for outdoor pillows. If you are using regular fabric outside, remember to bring them inside with you.

From cutting the fabric to zipping up the final pillow it took a 1 ½ hours to complete one pair of pillows.


You’ll need:                                                     These are the items you will need to create your outdoor pillows.

  • Fabric
  • Pillow Inserts
  • Zippers
  • Thread
  • Pins
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Stich ripper
  • Pinking Shears
  • Tape Measure
  • Sewing Machine – with a zipper foot


Start by deciding how many pillows you want for your patio or deck and then procure yourself some pillow inserts. Planning this out will help you when you calculate how much fabric you will need. Then it’s time to go shopping. Take the dimensions of the inserts before you go. I suggest measuring your actual inserts, don’t take the size on the package as being exact. When measuring, keep in mind you don’t want the cases to be too loose or bursting at the seams, they should fit in snugly.


Things to consider when calculating the amount of fabric you will need:

  • How many pillows you want.
  • Size of the pillow inserts – remember to add a ¼” (.64 cm) seam allowance to each side.
  • Width of the fabric – how many pieces can you cut out along the width of the fabric.
  • Pattern on the fabric – depending on the pattern you might want the pillows to have the pattern repeat in the exact same place on each, you may need more fabric depending on the repeat. Your local fabric store employees should be able to help you figure this out, if needed.

We’ll use my calculations as an example:

  • 4 pillows.
  • Inserts are 20”x20” (50cmx50cm) – It was more like 19” by almost 20”, I didn’t measure the inserts and had to take in my first set.
  • 60” (152cm).
  • The fabric didn’t have stripes or lines that needed to be matched. Pillow placement wouldn’t matter.


I’ll need to cut 8 pieces for my pillows and since two pieces can fit side by side on the fabric, I would need 0.50 meter for each pillow. I like to get a little extra just in case, so I purchased 2.25 meters. While you’re at the local fabric store, pick up 1 zipper for each pillow, they should be slightly shorter than the pillow, mine were 18” (45cm) long. Choose a colour that co-ordinates with your fabric and thread that matches the dominate fabric colour.

In theory you should always wash, dry and iron fabric before you start a project, but I hate ironing so I just skipped ahead. If I’m not working with the fabric right away, once I get home from the fabric store I try to find a place to lay out the fabric instead of keeping it in the bag so the folds don’t have time to become ingrained.

Lay the fabric out flat and trim the bottom edge, if needed, to make the fabric square. Using the measuring tape lay out the dimensions for your first piece. For my pillows this meant measuring up 20 ¼” (51.43cm) from the bottom and 20 ¼” (51.43cm) inches from the side (not including the salvage). You can mark these measurements with fabric chalk or a writing utensil that will not bleed through the fabric. If you’re feeling really brave you can mark where the lines meet and eyeball the cut.

 I have the pinking shears and the measuring tape ready to go.

Cut the pieces out using the pinking shears, this will help to keep the edges from fraying.

Take two of the cut pieces, line up the edges with right sides together and pin the fabric together on one end. This will be our zipper side. Sew a line from the edge 1” in length and repeat on the other side. In between these 1” stitches we’re going to sew a basting stitch. Set the stitch length on the machine to the largest setting. Sew the basting stitch then open up the fabric and lay flat with wrong sides facing up, open up the seam you just made and iron flat. Keeping the fabric wrong side up, take one of the zippers, place it right side facing down onto the open seam in-between the 1” stitches on each end and pin it in place.

Change out the foot on the machine to a zipper foot and set the stitch length to a smaller setting. Sew down the sides of the zipper and both ends, you will end to stop and move the slider around as it starts to get in the way.

The hardest part is over, things come together quickly from here. Use the stitch ripper to remove the basting stitch to reveal the zipper.

With right sides together again, pin together and sew the remaining three sides. Move the slider down at least half way so it will be easy to open fully when you are ready to turn the pillow case right side out. Cut the corners on a diagonal to reduce the bulk, make sure to not cut into the seam.

Cutting the corners to reduce bulk.

Turn right side out and push out the corners with your finger to make the edges crisp. They make tools for this, use one if you have one.

Pillow case turned right side out and the corners have been pushed out.

Iron once more. Stuff your pillow, repeat and enjoy.

Pillow after the insert has been fitted in.

As if that wasn’t good enough, I noticed that there was quite a bit of fabric left over and thought it would a nice touch to an outdoor table to have some matching placemats. I measured placemats I already had to get an idea of the size, they were 12”x18” (30.48cmx45.72cm)

Laying back out the fabric and taking the tape measure, I planned out the cuts and had just enough fabric to make four placemats that were 12”x18” with a ¼” seam allowance.

This is the back of one of the finished placemats.

Same as before I used pinking shears to cut out the pieces. Pinned and ironed down the seam allowance, to make crisp edges. Then sewed all four sides. It took an hour to from start to finish to create four placemats.

Four completed placemats.

Time for the best part. Grab a drink, put your feet up and relax.

The pillows and placemats add a lot of colour to the table.

If you make this project I’d love to see the results, please share them with me.


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