DIY Leather Pillow Tutorial & How To Sew A Zippered Pillow Cover (The EASY Way!)

These leather pillows are one of my favorite projects to date.   There is just something so satisfying about taking an unwanted item that was destined for the thrift store and/or dump, and turning it into that perfect something that you were unable to find.

DIY Leather Pillow Tutorial vintagerevivals

If you remember a couple of weeks ago I shared this post (that has the best title of my life.  I mean, I know I will never top So…I Skinned A Couch.  It is one for the ages.)   For those unfamiliar with this tale,  I bought a couch off of Craigslist with the sole purpose of cutting it apart to make pillows.  Strange?  Yes.  Welcome to Vintage Revivals.


Did you know that if you make a pillow with leather on both sides it is the equivalent of laying down on a floatie?  You know floaties like the orange things you put on kids arms while they are swimming? It will take an hour for all of the air to drain out of your pillow…and 2 days to fill back up.

I wanted my pillows to be really slouchy and a little saggy and really used looking.  A floatation device was not a good look for this project.

This simple fact left me at a crossroads.  I could try and match the fabric to the leather and fake it.  Or I could embrace the change of plans… what do you think I did?

DIY Leather Pillow Tutorial


This is so much more than embracing.   This is a full contact body hug,  the kind that lasts 15 seconds too long… with a bit of uncomfortable breathing.

I was a little concerned with the whole sewing through leather thing.  But with the right needles it was like buttah.  They make needles just for this type of job.  They are called Leather Needles.  Mind Blown.

Start by literally skinning a couch.  Leave the leather as intact as possible.

Cut roughly the size of your pillow out of the leather (you may have to piece it together, which makes it all the more awesome. FYI.

DIY Leather Pillow Tutorial

Fine tune your cut so that it is a perfect square.  My pillow insert is euro size (26×26) AND I wanted it to be shluppy so I made it 29” square and allowed for a 1/2” seam.

DIY Leather Pillow Tutorial

Cut the contrasting fabric to the same dimensions.  I LOVE using  Duck Cloth for throw pillows.  It is a really thick canvas that comes in about a billion colors at Joann’s.  It usually runs $10.99 /yd,  so use a 40% of coupon to save a bit of cash!  You are also going to want to snag a coordinating zipper.  Don’t be scared.  Zippers are easy.

The easiest way to sew a zipper into a pillow!  No skills required!!

DIY Leather Pillow Tutorial


Place right sides together.

DIY Leather Pillow Tutorial


Turn your machine to the longest stitch length.

DIY Leather Pillow Tutorial


Sew your 2 pieces together with 1/2” seam allowance.

DIY Leather Pillow Tutorial


Press your seam open and for goodness sake, the leather has already been tanned,  take care to not tan it more.

DIY Leather Pillow Tutorial


Pin your zipper facedown in place.  Now, I am a rule breaker at heart and sometimes just cant bring myself to do things the right way.  Feel free to pin your zipper the whole way down, or if you are a rebel looking for a cause you can pin it at the top like me.

DIY Leather Pillow Tutorial


Sew and backstitch over the upper part of your zipper a few times to tack in in place.

DIY Leather Pillow Tutorial


Now with your sides still separated sew down one side of the zipper and then the other.  Make sure your zipper stays lined up with the center seam.

DIY Leather Pillow Tutorial


When both sides of your zipper are sewn in sew a horizontal stitch at the bottom of your zipper,  just like you did at the top.

DIY Leather Pillow Tutorial


Now unpick the stitch between the leather and the canvas and TADA!  There is your zipper!  This is the best kind of magical surprises.

DIY Leather Pillow Tutorial


Line up the right sides together again, and stitch the remaining 3 sides.  Unzip the zipper a little to get it started and the finish unzipping it when everything is in place.

For really sharp corners cut off the excess before you turn it right sides out.

How To Sew a Pillow


Turn it right side out,  clip your threads,  stuff,  and enjoy!

DIY Leather Pillow Tutorial

Leather Pillow Tutorial

DIY Leather Pillow Tutorial www.vintagerevivals    Pillow from Homegoods,  Antique Kilim Rug

I actually made 3 of these cute guys for my bed,  but couldn’t wait until my wicker headboard was done to show you how great they turned out.

So what do you think?  Was it worth a couch dying?


  • Anngela 30.07.2013 at 05:12

    LOVE the contrasting pink :) Can you please source the other pillow & awesome rug!!?? :)

  • soitwasweekend 30.07.2013 at 05:25

    It was definitely worth a couch dying!
    Looks awesome, also with the pink!

    And I'll be forever thankful that you showed how to sew a zipper the easy way – that's just a great idea. Thanks!

    Love, Midsommarflicka

  • Rand and Tracy 30.07.2013 at 05:56

    Zipper mind blown. A million thank you's!!

  • Jenn Leigh 30.07.2013 at 06:13

    Kill that couch! This is awesome, especially with the pink!

  • Leslie Stewart 30.07.2013 at 06:21

    Gorgeous! Love them. Fabulous as always!
    House on the Way

  • Rita@thissortaoldlife 30.07.2013 at 06:42

    But I'm dying to know…what did you do with the rest of the couch?

  • Lauren Bierman 30.07.2013 at 06:47

    Looks great! Where did you get that other pillow?

  • astr!d 30.07.2013 at 06:54

    yes i love this!! although every time you wrote 'skinned a couch' i kept having awful flashbacks of silence of the lambs. (creepy) but i love the rough leather with bold happy color- it makes a good contrast!!!

  • Shannon 30.07.2013 at 06:59

    I love this! Definitely glad you paired the leather with the pink canvas! :)

  • kcadreeb 30.07.2013 at 07:00

    That is so so pretty! I may have to give it a shot… my couch needs new pillows bad!

  • Christine @ Let's Get Crafty! 30.07.2013 at 07:14

    Great tut! I might actually try this! Where did you get the tribal pattern pillow in front of the leather pillow? I've always loved tribal prints but always have a hard time finding them.


  • Tashia 30.07.2013 at 07:28

    Um, I totally love this! That pillow is amazing, but the pink really makes it!

  • jessicamichelle 30.07.2013 at 07:33

    freaking. phenomenal.

  • Becca 30.07.2013 at 07:35

    This turned out awesome! I love that you did bright pink on the back side of the pillow.

    Ladyface Blog

  • laura 30.07.2013 at 07:40

    Oh dear, I've been sewing for so long and had no idea that was a way to install a zipper. that is SO FREAKIN' AWESOME!!!

  • Chelsea Seidler 30.07.2013 at 07:53

    All I can say is BRILLIANT!!!

  • Tanya Runkle 30.07.2013 at 08:04

    Sewing on leather and putting in a zipper, you rock! Totally worth the couch sacrifice :)

    xo, Tanya

  • Hannah 30.07.2013 at 08:09

  • Kelli @ Life at 818 30.07.2013 at 08:18

    love it – totally worth the couch dying ;o)

  • Cheryl Brodzinsky 30.07.2013 at 08:24

    I'll admit, leather isn't normally one of my favorites. But I love how this pillow turned out! Definitely worth skinning an old couch to get this!

  • Christina 30.07.2013 at 08:36

    It was totally worth it! Those came out great, and I love your coordinating color choice. Awesome job Mandi! …and I love the rest of what's going on in the pic. Love the MCM sofa, Aztec design pillow, Vintage Kilm Rug, and Potted Fig Tree!!!

  • Lil 30.07.2013 at 10:16

    Oh, honey. That couch was already dead. You didn't hurt it a bit! It looks like it might have good bones though…any chance of a nice reupholstery job in the hands of the right person?

    Love that last photo…so simple and pretty.

    Love your blog.

  • undomestic mama 30.07.2013 at 10:19

    I love that you paired with a neon-ish pink. So unexpected and fun.

  • Laurel 30.07.2013 at 10:35

    Omg, your genius knows no bounds! What a clever upcycling idea! Can't wait to see the finished room!

  • Gwen, The Makerista 30.07.2013 at 10:58

    the leather and pink is SO GOOD! pillowcases can be so easy to make and they make such a difference, don't they?! It's my favorite thing to switch up a space and save some money by doing it myself!

  • Lauren Martin 30.07.2013 at 15:09

    UMM THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! for this tutorial…a sewing tutorial that ACTUALLY shows the steps clearly and with photos. No giant leaps in the process. :) These turned out great, you are great at what you do.
    Lauren M.

  • Aleisha 30.07.2013 at 17:50

    okay, WOW! i think this is probably one of the coolest ideas ever! love it!

  • Cjko 30.07.2013 at 19:49

    Totally worth the couch's sacrifice. They look amazing. Thanks for the tutorial. I stay away from zippers because I always mess them up. I thought it was because I don't like to carefully pin everything either but maybe this will help!

  • Kelly Griglione 30.07.2013 at 21:10

    What a FAB-U-LOUS post! Wonderful photo tutorial, completely out-of-the-box project, and it looks like a million bucks!!

  • Angi Solle 31.07.2013 at 06:14

    Not only do I absolutely love how this pillow turned out, but how you write your blog posts always make me laugh the entire time I read them. Your blog is great!

  • Andi of My Beautiful Adventures 31.07.2013 at 17:46

    Looks sooo good!

  • Mrs. DeVore 01.08.2013 at 03:10

    love how it contrasts with the pink!

  • { amy } 01.08.2013 at 06:58

    SO in love with this! I think the pop of pink might be my favorite part:) Such a great contrast to the leather!

    xo, amy |

  • Heather at Happy Chippy Junk 03.08.2013 at 12:19

    I know the Welfare Square DI has a big bin of leather cushion cover rejects for rather cheap!! FYI.

  • Julia Konya 05.08.2013 at 23:31

    AmAzInG!!! This rules and now I want a purse like that!!!! I really do and with the awesome pink!

  • Stephanie 14.09.2013 at 18:28

    Awesome. love it. Also love the couch..can you source it please?

  • Nicole 24.09.2013 at 04:40

    This is so fun and creative! Loved the sewing zipper tip too.
    Unrelated question since you’re a spraypaint and leather whiz…. Ever spray painted leather? I’d love to update a couple ottomans on the cheap until we move and wondered if any brands are particularly flexible and adhesive. Many thx!

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  • Em 16.01.2014 at 00:41

    Couldn’t you have used a leather jacket or a bag? To waste a couch like that is a false economy for 3 cushions. It only makes sense if you think about the money you spent and not about what happens when you just throw the rest of the couch away. This kind of recycling isn’t environmental it’s just selfish.

    • Janine 14.09.2014 at 07:58

      Do you know how many couches end up at the dump anyway? Most people who thrift couches – myself included, more than once – have another couch at home that goes straight to the land fill.

      I love this project. In my mind I’m singing some made-up song now – “I did it all for the leather, for the leather, for the leather…” It’s late, I don’t even know.

      Seriously impressed with this. Perfect contrast.

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  • Anna 24.03.2014 at 19:45

    Love the pillow! What kind of sewing machine are you using?

  • Steph 31.05.2014 at 12:02

    Pinned this for reference recently as I’m reupholstering a lounge (for the very first time) and knew I’d have to sew zippers (for the very first time!). I’ve just finished a zipper using your very clever technique and it worked beautifully, nowhere near as daunting as I thought it was going to be. I was so excited that I jumped straight on here to share my success! Thank you for sharing 😀

  • anna 29.07.2014 at 17:26

    What kind of sewing machine do you use for your projects? I am on the hunt for a sewing machine, and wanted to know if you had any recommendations.

    • Mandi 29.07.2014 at 17:31

      Hey Anna!
      I have a singer industrial. They are the gray ones. I bought it at Joann’s and like it!!

  • sharee 02.08.2014 at 04:47

    i love this!!! and skinning a couch…genius! love your blog, you are hilarious! and i am so jealous of your homegoods, the one in orem, ut just isn’t the same!

  • Erin 18.08.2014 at 23:31

    Will you please please please tell me what you used for filling and where you found it?

    • Mandi 18.08.2014 at 23:54

      Hey Erin!
      I usually search Homegoods first for clearance pillows with down inserts! That is what I did with these guys!

  • Aloi (guiltlessreading) 22.08.2014 at 15:52

    Well the couch was dead. So that’s not even an issue 😉 Love this project. Must skin me a couch now!

  • Allison 26.08.2014 at 15:34

    I love the couch the pillows are on!!!

    Needing new couch for living room.

    Where did you get it??


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  • Alyss Bowen 05.10.2014 at 21:21

    love love love this idea. Stylish leather and a comfy cushion combined – hello perfection.

    Love reading your blog and seeing what things you’re creating next!


  • Amy 01.12.2014 at 07:21

    I’ve heard it isn’t good to backstitch when sewing leather. (Those holes are permanent — they don’t “self heal” like woven fabric — and too many stitches can effectively “cut” the leather.) The pillow looks great — myself, I would’ve chosen a fabric closely resembling the leather, so it didn’t draw the eye, but hey — I’m a big fan of pink, so it’s all good. 😉 Also, I routinely find leather skirts for a few bucks at my nearby thrift store, so I’m thinking I’ll do that before I’d buy/skin a couch. (Fewer left-over parts to worry about disposing.) If you can save a couch from the landfill, though — do it! Thanks for the tutorial — enjoyed it! :)

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