How to Taper Pillow Corners
Sewing your own decorative pillow is a fun and easy DIY and is a great first-time sewing project. There’s a trick to achieving attractive, 90-degree corners on your pillows, and surprisingly, the secret is to NOT cut square fabric panels. Trimming a wedge of fabric from each corner results in a great-looking pillow and allows more stuffing into the corner for a fuller, plump corner as well. Keep reading for our tips on how to cut a wedge from each corner to create a perfectly square finished pillow.
The pillow on the left was not tapered and you can see the dog ears at the corners. The pillow on the right has nice tapered corners.
It might seem like a geometric faux pas, but believe it or not the secret to sewing perfectly crisp, square corners on your pillows is to taper the corners before sewing the two pieces together. That’s right, if you don’t taper the corners of your fabric squares, here’s what will happen: When you sew the pieces together, flip the assembly right side out, and then stuff the pillow, your pillow will not have nice-looking corners. Your corners will actually stick out and your pillow will appear to bow as the sides curve in toward the center. If using a pillow insert, the insert will not reach the pillow corners, resulting in floppy, flat corners commonly known as “dog ears.” The dog-eared corners become even more obvious if you add a cording trim around the pillow.
But there’s no need to panic! We’ve got the solution with a handy mathematical formula we’ve created for removing dog ears from pillow corners. This formula works on all pillow sizes, from throw pillows for your couch to oversized pillows for lounging on the floor.
Let’s show how the formula works in our example pillow. Our pillow measures 18 inches square. So 18 divided by 4 equals 4-1/2 inches. You’ll trim a wedge from both panels, so stack your pillow panels right sides together and place a mark 4-1/2 inches from each corner on all four sides.
Since our pillow falls within the range of a throw size pillow, we’ll mark 1/2 inch inward from the pillow corners.
Then draw a diagonal line connecting these marks and cut out this wedge of fabric from all four sides of your pillow.
Pin the two panels together and then sew your pillow panels using a 1/2-inch seam allowance, leaving a space wide enough for stuffing or inserting your pillow form.
Once the two panels are sewn, trim the excess fabric in the corners before turning the pillow right side out. Trimming the excess fabric is not necessary, but it does take out some of the bulk at the corners and is our preferred method. Once you’ve turned your pillow right side out, use a tool with a point such as a small ruler or a pen with its cap on to thoroughly push out the corners for nice, sharp corners on your pillow. It’s as simple as that! Now insert your pillow form or stuff with fiberfill, sew the opening closed by hand or using your machine, and you’ve got a beautiful pillow with perfect corners.
Now that you know how to remove the dog ears and taper your pillow corners, check out our pillow video tutorials and start sewing your own pillow today! “How to Sew a Throw Pillow” (300186XHT) will show you how to DIY a pillow perfect for your couch or favorite armchair. Want a big, comfy floor pillow? “How to Make an Oversized Floor Pillow” (300210XHT) is just what you need. Both of these blogs have step-by-step written instructions as well as video tutorials. So whether you like to work from written instructions or follow along with a video, you’ll be on your way to making beautiful pillows with helpful how-tos from Sailrite.
And best of all, this technique can be used on many different pillow types, including pillows you sew closed, pillows with an installed zipper, and even envelope-style pillows. So grab some fabric and supplies and make that pillow you’ve been thinking about. When you’re finished, be sure to post your photos to your favorite social media platform using the hashtag #Sailrite so we can see how great your pillows turned out!