Outdoor Pillows 3 Ways (& Envelope Pillow DIY)

Three Ways to Make Outdoor Pillows (click through for tutorial) Pillows make spaces fun. They add so much personality to the different rooms of our homes, but sometimes they get overlooked as an outdoor addition because we can get a little nervous about making sure pillows are properly weatherproofed. Well, have no fear! Here are three options you can try to feel confident about decorating your outdoor space. You actually probably have most of the items you need sitting around your house right now.

And once you know the different ways to create an insert for an outdoor pillow, you may want to customize your own weather-proof pillowcase to match your own personality and outdoor scheme. I’ll show you how to make a super easy envelope-style pillowcase so you can add your own insert and even remove the cover to throw it in the wash as needed (something I wish I could do with a lot of the outdoor pillows I’ve bought!).

Three ways to make outdoor pillows (click through for tutorial) 1. Reuse your stash of plastic bags!

Most of us have a reserve of plastic bags from different shopping trips, and they make the perfect (and super inexpensive) stuffing for an outdoor pillow. Just fluff each bag into a ball shape and keep stuffing until you have the right firmness for your pillow. You can either stuff each bag in one at at time, or you can put them all into one larger plastic bag first and then insert the bag into the pillow.

Three ways to make outdoor pillows (click through for tutorial) 2. Cover an inside pillow insert with garbage bags to waterproof the pillow.

For this method, you’ll want to get garbage bags (or tall kitchen bags) to cover an insert that is usually meant for the indoors. Try and buy a bag that has a bit of thickness to it to prevent tearing, and purchase an indoor pillow insert that is mildew resistant. To cover the pillow, put the pillow inside one garbage bag and fold in all the excess material. Flip the pillow upside down and put inside another garbage bag for added protection. Fold the excess material in again and simply use a stapler to keep the folded edges in place.

Three ways to make outdoor pillows (click through for tutorial)3. Use an outdoor insert that is especially made for the outdoors.

This option may seem a bit obvious, but not everyone may be a fan of the slightly different feel that stuffing or covering your pillow with plastic brings, and you may just want an insert that was made for the elements. Unfortunately, it seems that a good outdoor insert can be hard to find! Even though we have multiple options for fabric stores in town, I was surprised that none of them sell outdoor pillow inserts, and so I had to spend some time online finding an affordable option. Thankfully, this outdoor insert was just what I was looking for, and it’s also pretty affordable as well. Easy peasy. 

Easy Envelope-Style Pillow Tutorial (click through for instructions) Envelope-Style Pillowcase Tutorial

-cotton fabric (either outdoor fabric or a thick cotton/twill that you can waterproof)
-fabric scissors
-standard sewing machine
-straight pins
waterproofing fabric spray

Easy Envelope-Style Pillow Tutorial (click through for instructions) Cut your fabric into one 19″ square (for the front of the pillow) and two rectangles that are 19″ x  12″ (for the back of the pillow). Our pillowcase will end up 18″, but I added an extra inch for a 1/2″ seam allowance.

NOTE: I made an 18″ finished case for this tutorial, but you usually want to make your finished pillowcase dimensions 1″ smaller than the size of your insert so it fully fills out the case (so make a 17″ x 17″ case for an 18″ x 18″ insert, etc.). Adjust your dimensions as needed for your pillow.

Easy Envelope-Style Pillow Tutorial (click through for instructions) Take the two back pieces, and fold and pin a 1/4″ hem across the widest part of the rectangle on each piece. Fold the hem again another 1/4″, press the hem with your iron, and pin in place. Use your sewing machine to sew your hems flat with an 1/8″ seam allowance. 

Easy Envelope-Style Pillow Tutorial (click through for instructions)Lay your front fabric square flat (with the right side facing up) and place your two back rectangles on top of the square so that the edges line up and the middle hems overlap a few inches. Make sure the right sides of the fabric are facing each other, and pin the fabric in place around the edges.

Easy Envelope-Style Pillow Tutorial (click through for instructions) Use a sewing machine to sew all the way around the outside of the pillow with a 1/2″ seam allowance. 

Easy Envelope-Style Pillow Tutorial (click through for instructions) Once you’ve sewn all the way around, snip the corners of the fabric so that the corners will appear less bulky once turned. Flip your pillow cover inside out, and you’re ready to add your insert!

Easy Envelope-Style Pillow Tutorial (click through for instructions) Slip your pillow insert through the envelope slot opening in the back of your pillow, follow the directions on your fabric waterproofing spray, and set your new pillow outside where it belongs!

Three ways to make outdoor pillows (click through for tutorial) Three ways to make outdoor pillows (click through for tutorial) Three ways to make outdoor pillows (click through for tutorial) Don’t you love the color and fun that the pillows bring to our outdoor patio? Hope you’ll make your own outdoor pillows to brighten up your outdoor space this summer! xo. Laura

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman. Photos: Laura Gummerman and Sarah Rhodes. Edited with Stella from the Signature Collection.

  • Thank you so much for publishing this pattern. I made four pillows today and it was very straightforward and easy to understand.

  • I need to make some thin cushions for the chairs of a vintage iron patio set that I just got passed on. I wonder if the plastic bag filling would work on cushions that will be sit on. What do you think?


  • Oh, i just made some too. Mine are indoor pillow cases though, would love to try the outdoor ones!

  • such great ideas! I love how they look in your outdoor space!


  • Those green pillows are JUST what I want for our future outdoor space! I have been having trouble finding the pillow inserts, so I might have to use your suggestion. I’m still searching for a cheaper alternative though! Thanks 🙂

  • Thank you so much for the tutorial! It’s winter here in Australia, but I’ve been planning what I want to do for our outdoor area once the weather warms up and have been sourcing fabric to make a stack of outdoor pillows. This is much easier than how I was going to make them with zippers!! 🙂

  • This is my favorite way to make a pillow cover or sham! I use a little more fabric and make a very generous envelope closure so that the pillow can be used with either side showing without unsightly gaping open. This is handy when you use contrasting fabrics and want to change which side is up. I love how clearly your tutorial explains making these, too!

  • PS. Love your outside area! Those lights, that striped fabric, the wall plants… Swoon!!

  • I LOVE all of these bright colors! I’ve made these cases for inside pillows but never for the outside. What kind of waterproofing spray do you use? Does it work well? I never see outdoor fabric I like (plus its usually hella expensive) but with the spray, I might could make this work!

  • Looks awesome! Love the colour choice. I’m working on something similar for my patio and going with some sleek chevron prints. Great post!

  • These are brilliant ideas! The fabric you chose is also amazing. I want some even though it wouldn’t go with anything else in my house. HA! 😉

  • I love the pops of color and the fabrics you chose! Looks like a fun project. I would love to try these for my patio.

    -Sayeh, The Office Stylist

  • Pretty, pretty fresh summer colors! Pillows are easy to make and I love that these are re-purposed 🙂


    Laurali Star


  • LOVE!!! I must ask, is the bench DIY? What about the actual seat foam. Is it regular foam or water proof as well. I LOVE your back yard!!!


  • Stay tuned for a post on both of those things 🙂 – Jacki

  • Oh my goodness, the trash bag & plastic bag ideas are BRILLIANT!!!! Seriously been looking for an idea/post like this for over a year now! Can’t wait to do these!! THANK YOU!!

  • That plastic bag idea is brilliant! I first thought this tutorial may be too advanced for my sub par sewing but now im seeing a weekend project in my future!

  • These outdoor pillows look amazing and with the right tools not too difficult to make! I love how outdoor pillows add such personality 🙂

  • Every time I see sewing projects like this, I decide I’m going to buy a sewing machine but I haven’t actually done it yet. Stalking Amazon now.

  • Beautiful pillows! But I also LOVE that patio set up!! Plastic Bags…Who knew?!

  • I love pillows, I make them all the time. The trash bag idea is genius, I’m definitely going to try it. Thanks!

    XOXO JuJu

  • Hello,
    Random questions, where is Elsie’s bed from?
    I’m looking for a canopy bed, but not having much luck.

  • Wow, those pillows are so cute and fun! I love the way you sewed it too, looks great!


  • what a great diy! very simple! tkss!

  • I love outdoor pillows, but it sucks that you can never clean them and they get all gross — the ABM girls to the rescue! Love this DIY and that you have so many different options!

  • I have homemade cushions in my living room and I always get compliments on them!


  • I’m in love with this patio space! It is magnificent! The pillows add a wonderful pop of color as well.


  • These look wonderful! I am a big fan of bright colors and patterns. I’m currently waiting for swatches to sew DIY around the home. I love the reuse of plastic bags for waterproofing the cushions.

  • Love this! What a great addition to that patio! So so sweet and colorful!


  • Plastic bags as stuffing? Genius! How did I never think of this before?!

  • Love that fish eye fabric! So much so that I re-upolstered a chair in the same print, but a grey and cream colorway. (you can see the tiniest peek of the chair here: http://shaktidove.blogspot.com/2014/01/life-lately.html)

    My mom has been using plastic bags as outdoor stuffing for ages. Another trick is wrapping something in a plastic shower curtain liner and sealing it with duct tape.

  • Yep! You should be fine with a standard needle for most outdoor fabric, but you can also use a thicker needle if you have one (I always try and have a few needle options around).

    Laura 🙂

  • I am OBSESSED with this post. I think what I love the most about it is that you found an eco friendly way to use those pesky plastic shopping bags!! I always feel so guilty throwing them out when I don’t have a use for them. I’ve been wanting to make outdoor pillows for a while so this is perfect timing!

    Question: I’m like, 99.99899% sure I have the same sewing machine as the one on this post, is the standard sewing needle it comes with strong enough for the outdoor fabric?

  • I really love all the sewing tutorials that have been on the blog from Laura lately! They are awesome! Thanks so much!

  • Your patio looks beautiful!!!
    I love pillows. I would have them everywhere!!!;)

  • This came at the perfect time! We’re sprucing up our back patio and there’s nothing I love more than a bright pillow. It’s the easiest way to make an outdoor space feel comfortable and livable!

    – Lindsay from Dearest Darling

  • These pillows look very fresh! I actually was just about to sew some floor pillows! So this is perfect timing.
    Much Love, AnnCates xx

  • These look great! I can’t wait to make for my new home! I think I will try the plastic bag version =)

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