Pillow Fight: DIY Outdoor Pillows

Every year, I tell myself I should make my own outdoor pillows. I’m no great seamstress, but I do own a basic sewing machine and if the @##$*)^$ machine cooperates, I can stitch a mean straight line. But I usually get lazy and just wait until fall when the already-made, overpriced outdoor pillows go on sale. This time, however, I found this outdoor fabric for $9.99 a yard. If I didn’t mess up–and just used the batting from my old pillows–I could get two 16″ square pillows to match my garden out of it!

hoto by Jennifer Cheung
Then my March issue of Sunset magazine arrived a couple days ago, and made me wish I had seen these gorgeous pillows before I jumped in on my little project. What a fabulous mix of colors and patterns! But mine were done and I wonder if this woman made these herself–or how much she is out for them. Did I mention mine cost $4.98 each?
In that same Sunset issue (do I sound like an ad?), fellow blogger Andrea Bellamy from Vancouver, who writes Heavy Petal, was featured. Click here to read the write-up on her “modernista yard.” She shared this graphic pillow, and had the sage tip that you don’t actually need to stick to the outdoor fabric, as long as you are willing to bring your pillows inside when it rains.
Sadly, I lack that discipline, and even my outdoor fabric pillows are relatively short-lived, about a couple years, max. And as I said before, mine were already DONE! Dang!

If you have the urge to make your own outdoor pillows for your garden, here’s how I made mine: First, find some stuffing (I bet you also have some old pillows hanging around) or buy inserts at a fabric store. Measure the sides from end to end, add about 3/4 inch to each side, then mark and cut your fabric. This is the tricky part: Pin “right sides” together (it still amazes me that I can easily blow that step),” and stitch up three sides. Turn it right-side out, stick in your stuffing, and hand stitch (use a slip stitch) the fourth end. Done! (Of course, you can add a fancy zipper or a pocket closure. But then you won’t be done as quickly as I was–about 20 minutes flat!)

 I know my taste isn’t for everyone. I wanted some bold color that tied my other colors together. So far, I made two outdoor pillows, and just bought another yard for a couple more. I was emboldened because I made it through sewing both pillows without having to change the bobbin or fix the tension–both of these have taken me hours to deal with in the past. And much cursing.
Be honest. Am I at overkill yet?
Too bad if I am…I went back to that same store, and they had this outdoor pillows fabric. Same $9.99 a yard. Cheapo me bought a half yard (two flowers worth). I was on a roll.

 In case you think I messed up because they are off center, well, you are wrong! I was getting all artsy on purpose! (You can’t tell here, but I backed these with the first crazy-colored print.) I like the way the green picks up the bamboo colors in the garden.

I know my faded Moroccan blue pillow has got to go, but it kind of neutralizes all that boldness.
 And from a distance you can’t notice how trashed it is.
If you don’t love my blinding color choices, there’s always the reality that these outdoor pillows are going to bake in the summer sun and fade like crazy! (I desaturated these using my Adobe Lightroom!)
UPDATE: Some readers have asked about the wicker outdoor furniture. It’s a line called Strathwood and I bought in online vis Amazon.
(Click on link or image)

Strathwood Camano All-Weather Wicker Sectional Sofa Seat, Center

8 thoughts on “Pillow Fight: DIY Outdoor Pillows

  1. It's not overkill at all, love it, both patterns! Very stylish!

    Outdoor pillows are overpriced here too, rip-off actually like alot of items that has the word 'garden' attached to it.

    I'd even go on to say carry on making more, I think a seating with lots of cushions is even more inviting 🙂

  2. ok, i'm so jealous of your sewing skills! i, too, have messed up the simplest sewing projects. but seeing you master these pillows sheds a little bit of hope for future projects! now, where did you say you got that cool, cheap fabric?

  3. They look awesome! The orange flower really brings it all together and the colors of the "wild" fabric look nice with the succulent planting. Your space looks welcoming. The idea of a variety of pillows like the Sunset picture is enticing…you've got the space, I'd go for it!

  4. Never having had the kind of outdoor furniture that requires a pillow I've never really thought about, or shopped for them. But if I ever did I would definitely consider yours top notch!

  5. You are so ready for summer! They turned out fabulous. Funny, because I've been thinking of dragging my old sewing machine out of mothballs.

  6. I just tore through the latest issue of Sunset, too! I have a serious love/hate relationship with that magazine. No matter what project I'm working on, I always want a redo after I read the latest Sunset.

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