Updated: Dec 9, 2020
On Episode 45 of The Sew Much More Podcast: 30 Minutes with Workroom Tech, Ceil DiGuglielmo and Susan Woodcock share tips and creative ideas for pillow corners. (Air date November 11, 2020).
You can listen to the podcast here or view the video recording below:
You will be surprised by how much there is to learn about a simple corner!
When sewing pillows, the most simple to make is a "knife edge" style, where front and back pieces are sewn together. An invisible zipper is the perfect closure for this style.
Adding welt cord to a knife edge pillow is a pretty detail and also provides a more stable and secure seamed edge. When turning the corner with welt cord, clip the seam allowance to allow ease for turning the corner neatly.
A boxed pillow is made by adding a strip of fabric (boxing) between the front and back pieces. This is similar to a seat cushion.
Learn how to sew a boxed pillow with a zipper closure by downloading Susan Woodcock's how-to instructions below.
Susan shared that she will sew all four corners first. This keeps the pillow from getting off-square as you are sewing from corner-to-corner. She also suggests marking the center on each side of the front and back pieces. After the corners are sewn, pin the center marks together and then sew. If you find that the fabric on top is growing or moving, flip the pillow over and sew from the other side to compensate. This technique is especially helpful for boxed pillows. The pillow below features cut out corners - sewing the corners first helped to keep the corners square.
Ceil recommended sewing the welt cord with the fabric on top to help prevent take up. But, it all depends on your machine and the fabrics you are using. If you find that the fabric is not feeding evenly on your machine, flipping the project over and sewing from the other side can help.
Pointy Corners vs. Tapered Corners
When making knife edge pillows (with or without welt cord) the corners will become pointy after the pillows are stuffed. This is commonly known as "dog ears". Cutting the corner with a tapered shape will eliminate "dog ears". A template, like the one available from Home Sewing Depot shown below is a helpful tool for marking and cutting tapered corners.
But not all pointy corners are bad! Many people prefer a pillow cut square and not with tapered corners. The two pillow corners below show the difference. You decide what's best!
Knife edge pillow cut square.
Knife edge pillow cut with a tapered corner.
You can create a wide variety of styles by incorporating simple sewing techniques on the corners. Create a gathered style by stitching across the corner, pulling the threads to gather and wrapping the threads around. If adding welt cord you can start and finish the cord at a corner without even joining it together. Easy!
Gathered corner pillows are a great style for adding a corner knot, ties, bows or buttons. Insert encased welt cord in the seam for bows or loops (shown below).
Adding pleats creates a very popular style known as "Turkish corners". You can add this detail to knife edge pillow with or without welt cord. See how to pleat the corners in the video below.
Susan's tip of sewing the corners first when sewing the front to the back is especially helpful. You want to make sure that the pleats meet at the corners.
Add individual flange pieces to each side, fitting between the pleated corners. This will give you a split flange that looks especially smart on Turkish corner pillows. You can also pleat a flange at the corners.
By adding a boxing strip and Turkish corners you can create a thick, plush pillow or cushion. Look for how-to instructions in the November/December issue of Drapery & Design Digital Digest.
During the podcast, Ceil mentioned the bow-tie flange pillow that Susan shared at the Workroom Weekend event. You can see this pillow style and download how-to instructions here: Cut-Out Flange Pillow
There are many more variations. Don't get sewn into a corner! Be creative! By adding small details you can turn an ordinary pillow into an extraordinary one.