How to Make Pillows With a Ruffle

By Barbara Thompson

Ruffled throw pillows give a feminine touch to any room and are fun to personalize. You can mix and match colors and prints on the body of the pillow and the ruffle to show off your style. Embroidery, applique, and fabric paints can really customize your pillows. Pillows are a great way to use leftover or imperfect quilt blocks or recycle shirts that have sentimental value. Whether you use a ready-made ruffle or make your own, ruffled pillows are easy and fun to create.

Make the Ruffle

Determine how large the finished pillow will be. Add the lengths of each of the sides of the pillow, then add 2 inches to the sum. If the finished pillow will be 14 inches square, you will need 14+14+14+14+2 = 58 inches of ruffle.

Adjust the fullness to suit your personal preferences if you're making your own ruffle. A good starting point is two to three times the finished length of the ruffle. So for a 14-inch-square pillow, you'll need a strip of fabric 58 x 2.5 = 145 inches long. This length does not have to be exact.

Decide how wide the ruffle should be. For a 14-inch pillow, a 2-inch ruffle looks nice. Larger pillows will require wider ruffles. Fabric choice and personal preference also play a part in this decision. The fabric strip needs to be twice as wide as the ruffle plus 1 inch for seam allowances. For a 2-inch ruffle, the fabric strip will be 5 inches wide.

Piece together strips of fabric until you have the desired length. To join two strips, hold the strips with the right sides facing and sew a 1/4-inch seam along the edge. Press the seams open as you go. Fold 1/2 inch toward the wrong side of the fabric on each end of the strip and press.

Fold the fabric in half lengthwise so that you have a long, narrow strip with the right side of the fabric showing on both sides. Press the fold. Depending on your fabric, you may need to serge or zig-zag the raw edges of the fabric to prevent fraying while you sew and gather your ruffle. Sew a 1/4-inch seam along each of the short ends of the strip to finish the edges.

Gather your ruffle to the desired length. One technique is to place the strip so that the long raw edge is even with the edge of the presser foot on your sewing machine. Set the machine to the widest zig-zag stitch possible and a longer-than-average stitch length. Lay a piece of dental floss, heavy thread, or baby yarn directly under the center of the presser foot so that the zig-zag stitch goes across, but not through the thread. Sew the length of your fabric in this manner. You can then pull on the center thread to gather the ruffles. Adjust the ruffles so that they are even along the length of the fabric.

Assemble the Ruffled Pillow

Cut two pieces of your main fabric 1 inch larger in each direction than the finished pillow. For a 14-inch-square pillow, cut two pieces of fabric 15 inches by 15 inches.

Lay one piece of the main fabric with the right side facing up. Lay the ruffle on top so that the decorative edge is facing the center of the pillow and the raw edge is aligned with the raw edge of the main fabric. Lay the other piece of the main fabric on top with the right side facing down. Pin so that the raw edges of all three pieces are aligned. Work with the corners to get the edge of the ruffle to lay as flat as possible. If you're making your own pillow with batting, rounding the corners may help with this. The ends of the ruffle should overlap by at least 1 inch.

Start about 3 inches from one corner and sew a 1/2-inch seam toward the corner, around three sides of the pillow, and a few inches down the last side. Stop several inches from where you started so that you can turn and stuff your pillow.

Clip the corners and turn the pillow right side out. Use a knitting needle or ball-point pen to push out the corners, but be careful not to poke a hole in the fabric.

Stuff the pillow or insert the pillow form and smooth. Use a needle and thread to whip-stitch the opening closed.

Things You Will Need

  • Pillow form or batting
  • Main fabric
  • Ready-made ruffle or coordinating fabric to make a ruffle
  • Heavy thread, baby yarn, or dental floss if making your own ruffle

About the Author

Barbara Thompson has a Bachelor's degree in Information Technology from Clayton State University and more than 10 years experience developing print and web-based training materials for various industries. For the last seven years, Barbara has worked in a public university system designing online college courses and developing training materials for faculty and students.