If you’re constantly looking for ways to use your infinite fabric stash, you’ve come to the right place! I’m always thinking of ideas to use up my fabric scraps because a fabric stash can easily become a pile, then a tower, and pretty soon it’s taking over a good third of the room… I’m no hoarder but I feel it’s a crime to throw away perfectly good fabric, even if there’s just a few awkwardly shaped pieces left. Who knows when you’ll need them? In the spirit of craft-y friendship, I want to share this DIY boho pillow project to contribute to the radical lowering of your own fabric stash.
This boho pillow design lets you use your gorgeous fabric scraps too small to make up an entire pillow. If you can find a 5.5″ wide band of fabric, some tassel trim, and cotton cord to add the decorative braids on the front, then you’re good to go! The best news? It’s zipper-free! I’m fond of envelope-style pillows. It’s so easy when you don’t have to fuss over sewing a zipper. The back of the DIY pillow consists of 2 flaps holding in the pillow inner. This design has a sweet surprise, scroll down to find out the pretty secret at the back of this pillow!
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For this DIY Boho Pillow, you’ll need…
- Cotton or linen fabric scraps in a neutral shade
- Colored or textured fabric (like velvet)
- Beige tassel trim
- Cotton cord
- Painted wooden beads
Step 1: Cut the fabrics
For this project, I used several fabric scraps. The front is natural linen while the back is a white cotton fabric. For the sidebands, I’m using a peach-colored ribbed velvet.
To start, cut a 10 by 19″ (25.5 x 48cm) rectangle into the light cotton fabric and two 5.5 by 19″ (14 x 48cm) shapes into the velvet. These will make up the front of the DIY pillow.
For the back, cut two 10 by 19″ (25.5 x 48cm) rectangles. All these dimensions include a 1/2 inch allowance for sewing.
Then, prepare the tassel trim: cut two 19″ (48cm) lengths. You’ll sew this trim into the sides of the pillow. If the trim is made of a natural material, like cotton, you can iron it to make it stay flat.
Step 2: Sew the pillow front
To sew the front of the DIY pillow, lay your 2 velvet shapes right side up (the nice side of the fabric). Lay your 10 by 19″ cotton rectangle on top of the velvet, making sure the right side is facing down (the side where you haven’t drawn with chalk or pencil!). Next, arrange the velvet fabric so that the side edges are aligned with the edges of the cotton fabric. The velvet shapes will overlap slightly in the middle. Now, pin the fabrics together.
Place the fabric stack on your sewing machine and sew down both long edges with a plain straight stitch. This will join the cotton fabric with velvet on each side so that you get one large fabric square.
When you’re done sewing, cut the extra fabric as close to the seam as possible.
Next, open your fabric square and lay it flat on your work table. Iron the 2 seams, being careful with the temperature. Cotton can be ironed at high temperature but watch out for the velvet which is often synthetic fabric that can melt!
Step 3: Braid the cotton rope
To decorate the front of the pillow, cut twelve 25″ (63cm) lengths of cotton rope. Place them in groups of 4 at regular intervals on the cotton fabric and pin them in place. You can play around with the placement to see what’s visually pleasing for you. I chose to put them at 2 1/4” (6cm) intervals.
I used a 4 strand braid, spreading the ropes and bringing the far ropes towards the middle over and over again, like in the pictures above. If you’re not comfortable with this type of braiding technique, you could do a 3 strand braid or twist the ropes together.
Once you’ve completed the 3 braids, lift them up out of the way and draw a line in pencil or fabric chalk down the front of the pillow, right under each braid. Apply a line of glue down a line and press the braid in. Repeat for the other braids until they’re all securely glued the cotton fabric.
Step 4: Sew the DIY boho pillow flaps
Now for the back flaps – at this point, you’re probably glad you don’t have to deal with a finicky zipper! Before you start, cut four 12″ (30cm) lengths of cotton rope.
Then, lay the two 10 by 19″ cotton rectangles flat on the table, wrong side up (the side with pencil showing!). Take one rectangle and, on one of the long edges, mark out 6″ (15cm) intervals. So you should have 2 marks along this edge. Next, pierce the fabric where you put the marks with a bamboo skewer or another sharp object, like the tip of your sewing shears.
Push a needle threader in the hole from the wrong side toward the right side of the fabric. Thread in a piece of cotton rope and carefully retract the needle threader through the hole, bringing with it the cotton rope. Repeat this for the second hole.
Once the 2 pieces of rope have been threaded, fold the fabric allowance over and pin it. Repeat the same steps for the second cotton rectangle. The 2 rectangles will meet at the back of the DIY pillow and the cotton ropes will allow you to tie the back flaps shut, keeping the pillow inner safe inside.
Place your 2 back flaps pieces under your sewing machine and hem the fabric along the long side you’ve prepared, sewing in straight stitch down the edge and over the cotton rope (slow down over the bump!!).
Step 5: Add the tassel trim
Place the back flaps pieces you’ve just hemmed flat on the table, right side up. Position the tassel trim you prepared earlier on the other long edge (not the one with the cotton ropes). Pin the trim to the cotton to make sure it stays in place while you sew.
Make sure the trim is within the allowance while the tassel should be outside of the allowance. For example, my trim is 3/8″ and the allowance is 1/2″ so the trim could be hidden in the seam and the tassel would still hang on the side of the pillow.
Now, sew down the edge to secure the trim with a large zigzag stitch. Repeat this step for the other back flap.
Step 6: Sew the DIY boho pillow pieces
To sew the pillow pieces together, start by placing the pillow front right side up. Place the 2 back flaps, wrong side up, on top of the front piece. Pin the fabric stack.
Sew around the pillow right on the line of allowance (1/2 inch away from the edge of the fabric). Use a straight stitch but set your sewing machine to reduce the length of the stitch (to 2 or 3) to make sure the seam is stronger and able to withstand the pressure of the pillow inner.
When you’re done, cut the 4 angles close to the seam. This will allow you to achieve crisp corners by removing the bulge of fabric. Now, pull the DIY pillow inside out and press it with your iron. Again, mind the temperature – it would be too bad to melt the fabric when your pillow is almost ready!!
Step 7: Add beads to the back flap ties
Finally, turn the pillow over and slide in a few beads on the cotton ropes. Tie a knot and cut the ropes short right after the knot. I found some amazing painted wooden beads from Amazon, they look really good when you mix up the designs!
As pretty as this DIY pillow is, the beaded ties at the back are my favorite part. I keep turning the pillow over because I love this pretty detail!