Four ways to finish the edge of a pillow

You've created your cushion front, but now what do you do? How to transform fabric into a quilted cushion cover? Today we're going to show you four different ways to finish or bind the edge of your pillowcase. Choose the one that suits you best !

Recently I've been having a lot of fun making seasonal pillows for my home. Most of the pillows I've created are quilted, and today I thought I'd share with you a few ways to finish the edge of your pillows.

quilted pillow with 5 pumpkins outdoors

The edge of a pillow is usually called the “flange” and there are several ways to add more detail to this part of a pillow. I've used a combination of them over the years.

quilted pillow with 5 pumpkins outdoors

One of the things I've been enjoying sewing lately is Riley Blake Designs Bench Pillow Kits of the Month. If you're not familiar with them, Riley Blake has created twelve boxed kits for creating quilted bench cushions. One for each month of the year.

quilted pillow with 5 pumpkins outdoors

Each pillow kit was designed by one of their fabric designers. I designed the “Carve Time Out for Fun” pillow kit featured in this post. Most of the pillows have a seasonal theme and all feature a combination of traditional quilting techniques.

All pillow covers are the same size, so you can purchase one pillow form and then swap covers all year long!

You can find the kits at many quilt stores and on Etsy.

How to Finish the Edge of a Pillow

There are many different ways to sew a pillow, as well as many types of fabric. The pillows in this item are not made with upholstery fabric but rather with quilted cotton.

The pillow fronts are made using the same technique you would use to make a quilt. Think of them as a simple mini quilt. Since you need to sew a backing onto the pillowcase, this gives you a few options for finishing the edge of your pillow. Many of these pillows feature an envelope back, but you can also add a zipper to the back of your pillow if you wish.

Option 1: simple knife edge

Reading cushion with ribbon tie

The reading pillow pictured above features a simple knife edge detail. A knife edge refers to a seam or sharp, flat edge found on the sides of the pillowcase or pillow cover.

Steps to Building a Reading Pillow on a White Cutting Mat

This edge is made by sewing two pieces of fabric together with a straight seam, then turning the fabric right side out so the seam is hidden on the inside.

woman sitting next to a pile of pillows

This is the easiest way to finish a pillow. If you're making a quilted pillow cover with this technique, all you need to do is quilt the front of your pillow, cut off the excess batting, then sew the back to the pillow.

Option 2: Bound Edge

Another way to finish the edge of a pillow is to bind it using the same method you would use to bind a quilt.

quilt as you go patchwork pillow

This ‘quilt as you go' cushion cover is finished with a bound edge.

quilt as you go patchwork pillow

First, quilt and cut the front of your quilted pillow. Next, decide what type of support you want for your pillow. After that, to add this edge to a pillow, sew the cushion cover and back pieces together, wrong sides together. I like to baste the pieces together before adding the binding around the edge.

quilt as you go patchwork pillow

You can then sew the binding to the front of the pillow and hand sew the binding to the back of the pillow as shown above.

You can also sew the binding to the back of the pillow first, then machine sew the binding to the front of the pillow.

two black and white pillows on a couch outside with a Halloween quilt

Giant Sawtooth Star Quilted Pillows feature this binding technique.

Option 3: Piping inserted into the seam

Adding piping to the edge of a pillow is one of my favorite ways to finish the edge of a pillow. Many people are intimidated by piping, but it really is so easy to sew!

Red, green and white patchwork Christmas cushions on gray bench

Check out our full tutorial on how to sew piping if that's something you'd like to try. I'm sharing my special “trick” for making the piping look good on the outside of the pillow!

Patchwork Christmas pillows on white table

Option 4: “False” flange edge

I don't know if this is an “official” technique, but it's a technique I like to use. This is similar to the technique I used to finish the edge of a minky baby blanket.

pumpkin pillow on sofa outdoors

This is the technique I used to add the striped fabric detail to the exterior of the Pumpkin Bench Pillow Kit (this fabric is included in the kit and is intended to be used as pillow binding).

To create a pillow with this type of edge.

  1. Cut 2 ½” wide strips of fabric and sew them together until you have enough fabric to cover the entire perimeter of your pillow.
  2. Fold the 2 ½” piece of fabric in half lengthwise and press.
  3. Cover the front of your pillow and cut it to size.
  4. Baste the folded fabric around the perimeter of the front pillow piece with a ¼” seam allowance. The raw edge of the folded fabric will be flush with the raw edge of the pillow front. Fold the fabric at the corners as you would to create a traditional quilt binding.
  5. Pin the pillow back to the front of the pillow, right sides together. Sew in place with a ¼” seam allowance. Make sure you don't catch the extra fabric in the corners as you sew.
  6. Turn the pillow right side out and press.
quilted pillow with 5 pumpkins outdoors

When you turn the pillow right side out, the edge of the folded fabric will become a “fake” flange around the edge.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of pillow finishing techniques; another one I like to use frequently is a tousled edge.

If you have a favorite pillow finishing technique, let us know in the comments section!

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