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My First Sewing Project: Napkin Throw Pillows

pillows and cat

(cat not included)

How many times have you perused the linen aisles of World Market or Pier 1 Imports and dreamed of gorgeous and extravagantly set dining tables utilizing all of the lovely textures and patterns of the dinner napkins? I know I have…countless times. For so many holidays and room décor themes these linen aisles have served as inspiration for me.

I knew moving to my “dungeon-like” base housing here in Okinawa, Japan (which we are very grateful for), that the place would definitely need some sprucing up to make it feel like our home. Base housing came with standard issued government furniture and needed some added character right away. I was in search of a job and needed a cheap way to do this while we were only a one income household. We were patiently waiting the arrival of our household goods from across the ocean but I couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to do something to make myself feel like I was at home and not in prison. Little did we know that it would take almost a year for our things to get here from Texas. With that, I knew that I would never have that store display dining room table that I always dreamed of. That kind of thing only happens in Martha Stewart’s jail cell or in magazines. My mom gave me the great idea of using the napkins that I always adored on the linen aisles to make throw pillows for the couch. Well hello Beth… apparently people have been doing this for years. Awesome idea Mom!…. but wait… I have to sew?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!! dun dun dunnnnnnnn! [the camera pans to a worried face as ominous music plays]

worried face

Let’s be real here, from 21st century woman to woman. Sewing seems a thing of the past… a lost art. This isn’t 1954 and we aren’t all at home polishing silver on Tuesdays and playing Susie Seamstress on Thursdays. Sewing ain’t easy and I was terrified. Luckily Whitney had a sewing machine (with bobbin already threaded.. which is a whole other monster in itself) and graciously let me borrow it for 4 weeks; three of which it sat on my dining room table collecting dust until I mustered up the courage to just sew the darn things.

Countless YouTube videos and curse words later, I had my pillows. The project was surprisingly easy and though my sewing skills only slightly improved, I became and excellent seam ripper! I had to start over several times but all in all I am super pleased with the end result! If Susie Seamstress came to my house for Bunko night she would totally snob my imperfect and haphazard seams on my two throw pillows, but I am 100% happy with them. My blood, sweat, and tears went into the creation of those pillows. No, literally. Blood, sweat, and tears. Some of which were donated by my dog’s stupidity. Halfway through the project she ate the entire contents of a 50 count straight pin box. Onto the vet and lets stop at the craft store on the way to get some more needles… bet she won’t do that again. Ok… moving on…….

What is even better about my pillows is that they cost me a total of 8 whole American dollars to make! Compared to the $20 and upward price tags that one typically gets slapped with, I think I came out ahead. I paid $8 for the two customized throw pillows I made (well $9 if you include the straight pin replenishment after the dog got hungry).

napkin pillow

So here is the run down:

I can give you a skeletal direction step list. YouTube will serve you just as well on this project as it did me. I am a visual person.

1.) I started with my standard sized napkins that I found at World Market on clearance for $2. I then picked out fabric from a scrap bin at JoAnn’s Fabric  to match the napkins and to be the back side of the pillows. You may choose to use just two napkins to make the front and back.

2.) I then laid the napkin and fabric out (after ironing) flat on the table and pinned them together. Be sure that the sides you want showing are facing one another. Trust me, I made this mistake… twice. Hence the seam ripping skills.

3.) I then just sewed a straight line on three sides. On the fourth side, I sewed 1/3 of the way in from both corners.

4.) After this, I turned the fabric the right side out and filled with stuffing.

5.) Finally, after stuffing to my desired fullness, I sewed the small 4 inch opening I had left.


And voila! I had my own fabulous custom throw pillows!

Throw pillows are a great way to liven up and change a space. Have fun with it and make a set for each and every holiday or season! I know I am… I will make some for Christmas next!

Hugs and smiles and until next time,



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