how to make a pillow from a tea towel

here’s a fun, quick, and super easy tutorial for you!

i made a throw pillow out of an anthropologie tea towel!  if i bought an antrho pillow i’d be paying upwards of $100, but instead i paid $18 for a tea towel and it only took about 15 minutes.

this is also a fun tutorial if you’ve never sewed a zipper before.  it’s actually really easy, and i’ve taken a gazillion pictures to show you exactly how.

how cute is this towel? i love all the stitching (i swear its gotta be hand done), and the colors are fab.

when you’re choosing a towel for this project, its extra fun if there’s a print on the back, too.

so let’s start, ok?

fold the tea towel in half, length wise.  be sure to line up all the edges.

then cut straight through the fold line, making 2 equal pieces.

trim off all the hemmed edges.

lay the  pieces right sides together, lining up all the edges.  most importantly, if your towel has stripes like mine, be sure that all the stripes are lined up.

ok, here comes the sewing part.  take the short edge of the front piece of towel and lay the zipper on top, matching the edge of the zipper to the edge of the towel.  be sure your zipper is a little longer than the short edge of your towel.

the top of the zipper needs to be facing the top of the towel piece.  you can pin here, but it’s not necessary.

so here’s the regular foot on my sewing machine.

switch it out now for a zipper foot.  my girl gussy likes to sew her zippers without one, but i like to use the zipper foot.  it allows you to sew nice and close to the zipper teeth.

with the zipper fully zipped, start sewing 1/4 inch in from the edge (called seam allowance), and also start sewing about 1 1/2 inches down from the top.  this will make sense later.  sew all the way to the end of the towel.

see where the scissors are pointing?  that’s where i started sewing.  then i opened the zipper just past where i began my stitch, and stitch from the top of the towel down until you just cross over the first stitch.  the reason you do this is because if you want a nice tight stitch close to the zipper teeth, even with a zipper foot you might bump into the zipper when sewing.  so if you start stitching below it, then go back and stitch above it, you should be good.

this just shows finishing the stitch from the top of the zipper.

then get out the back piece of the towel.  put towels together, right sides facing each other.  stitch the same way as the first side with the zipper.

here’s what it looks like after the zipper is attached.  next step is to press this so the fabric lays flat.

with the zipper foot still on, i like to give a top stitch tight to the edge of the fabric.  this looks more professional and also gives added strength to seam.

see?  so nice!

this step is super important!  unzip the zipper about 1/3 of the way.  if you don’t do this, then you’ll sew the pillow shut, and have to rip out your mistake.  so just open the zipper and save yourself some time!

now line up all the edges, being extra careful if yours has stripes like mine.  i pinned, just to make sure the stripes stay lined up, but its not necessary.

ok, you want to see that cute pincushion a little closer?  here you go – so cute, right?  toni gave it to me after she was a vendor at a boutique at my house a couple years ago. i love it!

ok, now put the regular foot back on your machine.

start at the zipper, back stitch over it, all the way to the edge, then around the 3 sides of the  pillow.

snip the corners, and all the threads, and if the zipper goes past the seam edge, trim that as well.  since you were so smart and left the zipper partly open, put your hand through the opening and turn the pillow right side out.  gently poke out the corners, stuff a pillow in, zip up, and you’re done!

now that wasn’t too hard, was it?

i love how well the new pillow goes with my old pillows!

all this,  for only $18!  now i’m off to find more towels to make some unique pillows for my couch!


  1. 1

    love it! supercute tea towel. :) it looks great with your pillow spread!

  2. 2

    Oh my gosh that towel was so cute and it’s awesome as a pillow too! Definitely bookmarking this for when I learn to sew later this year!

  3. 3

    oh this is amazing, thanks so much for sharing!! there are so many beautiful t-towels out there, I havent been buying because I cant display their gorgeous images…now I can !!! thanks so much and thanks for sharing how to do a zip……I have been putting off learning that one xx

  4. 4

    I totally love this, now i just need to get myself a sewing machine and teach myself how to use it, so that I can make one too!

  5. 5

    What a simple and brilliant idea, Thankyou! Going to bookmark this for when I have more time (and can find my mini sewing machine somewhere in the cupboard of chaos…)

  6. 6

    Wow! This is SO amazing. You did such a great job :)

  7. 7

    wow! you made that look SO easy! there’s a reason i buy your stuff. haha.

  8. 8

    i. love. this.

  9. 9

    Honestly, how do you get so creative?!?! so cute!

  10. 10

    thats so stinking cute! what an adorable tea towell. i will now be on the look out. that would make a cute little gift:)))

  11. 11

    I LOVE IT! Glad I found your blog! I really covet that owl towel/pillow!

  12. 12

    Great toot, zippers scare me, but you make it look soooooo easy. Love, love your tea towel, way to cute to only be a towel, and you’re right, it goes so well with your others! I will never look at tea towels the same :)

  13. 13

    I have made pillows out of placemats, I will for sure have to try sewing a zipper on my next set!

  14. 14

    Omg! Love this cute Owl Towel, Would make the perfect pillow for me nursery!! eek
    must try to make a pillow this way. Thanks for sharing.

  15. 15

    O.K., I don’t have a crafty bone in my body, but I think I’m going to try this. I absolutely LOVE the towels at Anthropologie, and I also can’t stand how expensive throw pillows are. Plus, you make it look so easy!

    P.S. I’m linking up to this on Saturday!

  16. 16

    I love to make these too and with how cheap you can find tea towels(whether flea markets or regular stores) its alot better than buying overpriced pillows. I always wait to use a coupon or for 1/2 off sales @ Joanns and such to get my pillow forms. Otherwise those can be an expense in themselves.
    Anyways, great project and I love your color choices;) Have a great day!

  17. 17

    What a beautiful pillow!! There are so many pillows out there- but for SO much money. Tea-towels are so much more affordable, and with this handy tutorial I will finally be able to buy all those cute tea towels!! :)

  18. 18

    What an awesome idea!!!! I love it!!!!

  19. 19

    love, love, love the tutorials! i love to make pillow covers out of two placemats. add a little bit of flower action and it is cutie, too!

  20. 20

    darling pillow! just a warning…I bought this exact tea towel and when I washed it all the dye from the thread blead all over the towel and it was ruined. so be careful when it comes time to wash it! looks so adorable as a pillow!!

    • 21

      Add salt to cold water, let sit in salt an hour. I always soak most everything in cold salt water FIRST, its for 2 reasons… 1…it helps from fading, not just bleeding color. My masks I make, all get hand washed in hot salt water, with a pinch of amway loc, since I’m breathing next to it. I don’t sell it, but it is my go to, I wash all my lettuce, veggies, fruit, rasins, yes they taste better and swell up nice when making bread, you should see the dirt i wash off them, farm eggs… 2… salt softens the water so you need way less soap.

  21. 22

    Can I just say I’m so glad I found your blog. I love this post. I just started sewing and I’m obsessed with pillows and tea towels. I love the pillow you made here. And such a great tutorial. Cute pillow:) I”m going to swim around your blog a bit now.

  22. 23

    I love it! I need to invest in a sewing machine..or maybe you should add a few in the shop!

  23. 24

    I might actually be able to do this. hmmmm. I have some vintage tea towels in a box. I may just get up the nerve to give it a try this weekend.

  24. 25

    I’ve done it before with their napkins so you think I would have put 2+2 together on a tea towel-no I haven’t:) now ive got a new project! Love it!

  25. 26

    Oh My Goodness Lindsey!
    I was hanging on EVERY word and PICTURE of this tutorial!
    Can’t wait to learn to sew!
    Getting my new machine very soon!
    How did you know I was wishing for a good close~up shot of that adorable pin cushion! ;o)
    That pillow is beyond cute.
    LOVE all the FUN pillows you have on your sofa!
    They totally make the room.
    Thanks for sharing your sewing skills…what a GIFT for someone like me learning to sew!

  26. 27

    Oh, how cute is that! I really wish I knew how to sew. I think I just need to buy a sewing machine, sit down and experiment =)

  27. 28

    awesome tutorial! i’ve done that same thing but just made an envelope back with ties….this is cleaner! (if i could just over my fear of zippers!!)

    i have that tea towel…..have you washed it? i was an idiot and washed and dried in my machines, and the pretty stitching started to unravel :( so hand wash and air dry!!! :)

  28. 29

    adorable! I would have looked at that and only seen it as an $18 towel, never a super cute, super inexpensive pillow cover.

    now I need to get to anthro…

  29. 30

    Thanks so much for this post! I have the hardest time with zippers! LOVE the pillow!

  30. 31

    ooooh – cool! i’ve never done a zipper before. they scare me. i think i need a new sewing machine first. i don’t have a zipper foot and hate to invest in new feet when i want a new machine, anyway. what kind do you have? I’ve been asking a few people to decide what i really need.
    anyway, that owl would look fab on my couch. i think a trip to anthro is in order. husband won’t be pleased :)

  31. 32

    I heart this. You are awesomesauce. Now, I really need to learn to sew.

  32. 33

    *love* I might need to stich an owl now for my couch ;o)

  33. 34

    Super cute towel and pillow! :)

  34. 35

    you little booger!! :) little pillows and some special aprons using anthro sale tea towels were going to make their big reveal at queen bee market! great minds think alike. I have the owl one for an apron…but was hating cutting the back off!

    I saw a girl in berkeley last year whose whole booth was products made from anthro tea towels. it was small, but darling!

  35. 36

    Oh, you do great tutorials!
    After 8 years away, I’m not far from pulling out my sewing machine again. This gives me hope. I haven’t done zippers in forever.

  36. 37

    You are too cute! Lovely, absolutely lovely! And it matches perfectly!

  37. 38

    That is SO lovely! I bought some lovely tea towels from Paris & this would be a lovely way to put them on display! :)

  38. 39

    I really love this! What a great idea!

  39. 40

    That is inspiring. What a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

  40. 41

    This is such a cute idea! I would have never thought of it. I love how you can take them off and rotate them with other pillow covers. I have a whole stack of hand embroidered tea towels that are just going to waste. Going to have to give this a try!

  41. 42

    That is just the smartest idea ever! I love it!!

  42. 43

    You are one very talented lady. That pillow is fabulous!
    Shelly xo

  43. 44

    Very pretty, great idea!

  44. 45

    That’s cute!

  45. 46

    Too cute..Thank you for the tutorial..

  46. 47

    Love this idea!

  47. 48

    Love this…what a great idea!

  48. 49

    Very cute indeed but I am dying over your pincushion!

  49. 50

    I love this tutorial so much I had to feature it on my blog today. All credit to you, of course. You have a wonderful blog! Have a great weekend! Here’s the link to the post:

  50. 51

    That is so freaking adorable!!

  51. 52

    Looks great, way to go.

  52. 53

    This towel is ssoooo cute!!!!!!!!! I love it!!!Thank you so much for sharing how to sew a zipper!!I don’t know, there is an issue between zippers and me, something is not right hehehehe!! I love your idea of turning a towel into a cushion cover.
    Have a great weekend:)

  53. 54

    What a great idea! I didn’t even know there were tea towels that looked like that, but what a way to cut costs and make something super cute and trendy.

  54. 55

    Hello! I found your blog through a bunny trail that I believe started at Design*Sponge; I love the design and feel of your blog-very cute!

    What a great idea for pillows! Thanks for posting such great pictures to go with the tutorial. I’ll definitely be keeping this project in mind for the future!

    Happy Wednesday,

  55. 56

    I have a phobia of zippers! This is perfect. Haven’t attempted one… yet. This makes it look doable. I got a little confused with the scissors picture, but iIt will probably make sense once I’m in the thick of it. Thanks!!

  56. 57

    Antique tea towels would be great to make these pillows. Can’t wait to get to a flea market.

  57. 58

    Looks fabulous! Your tutorial is presented very well; easy to follow. Looking forward to tryi g this project.

  58. 59

    Love this so much! Great pictures and instructions for the zipper, too. Thank you! I’ve added a link to your tute over at Sewing Tutorials Library.

  59. 60

    I saw this on Pinterest! I actually own this actual tea towel and have it hanging in a frame- but it might become a pillow! Thank you for sharing!

  60. 61

    Can you believe I googled tea towel pillow and found my way here, first in line for your toot. I have a few lovely towels that I don’t use to dry anything, and I really wanted to show them off. Great instructions. thanks again, I am going to find it in pinterest and re pin if I can
    Carylanne in TX

  61. 62

    What a great idea! And that Anthro towel is the cutest!

  62. 63
    Elise Hinkley says:

    Putting a zipper on my cushion cover seems a little less scary after viewing this tutorial – thank you so much!

  63. 64
    Jennifer Anderson says:

    I have a few lovely tea towels that friends have given me as souvenir’s from their holidays. They are too good to use as tea towels but cushion covers would be great. Thanks so much for the idea.

  64. 65

    Thanks for the detailed instructions! I am teaching myself how to sew again after 30+ years! I thought you might like to know that I pinned your blog post. You also might like to know about a vintage fabric giveaway I’m hosting on my blog:

  65. 66

    hello!,I love your writing so so much! percentage we keep in touch more approximately your post on AOL?
    I require a specialist in this space to solve my problem.
    May be that is you! Looking forward to see you.

  66. 67

    Great.. Thanks for sharing

  67. 68

    these sound so amazingly refreshing! and i love that you used green tea; i tend to eat popsicles most during the afternoon, aka when i need a jolt of caffeine to get me through the rest of the lover

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