Remember, you are making a square or rectangular pillow, not a parallelogram. Please block your canvas back into shape before you sew your needlepoint pillow backing. Click here for instructions for blocking needlepoint canvas. Once you have done this we recommend that you spray the canvas with a fabric protector. This will help prevent it from soiling.
Most needlepoint is washable (unless you have used synthetic fibers), so you will probably want to choose a backing fabric that is also washable. Make sure it is a durable fabric, like an upholstery velvet, faux suede, or similar.
Pre-shrink the backing fabric. It is always a good idea to wash and dry the backing fabric (if you have chosen washable fabric!) before you sew it. This will prevent it from shrinking and mis-shaping the needlepoint pillow backing later on down the track if you ever need to wash the entire pillow cover.
Trim the needlepoint canvas to approx. 1" away from the needlepoint stitching. Cut the backing fabric to this size.
Lay the needlepoint on the needlepoint pillow backing fabric with right sides together. Pin around the edges to secure.
NB. If you want to trim your pillow with a fringe or insert a tassel, then you will need to insert this now, between the pillow backing and the canvas.
With the canvas facing up, stitch either by hand or machine, between the outside two rows of needlepoint stitching. (This will put one row of needlepoint into the seam allowance and ensure the pillow is strong and there is no canvas showing.) Try to gently curve the corners rather than coming together at right angles. Stitch all four corners, but only three of the sides - leave one side open for stuffing the pillow, but make sure you back stitch well at both ends so the stitching is secure.
Trim the seam to about 1/2" all the way around. It is now also a good idea to zig-zag the raw edges together - except where the opening is, where you should zig-zag them separately.
Turn the pillow right side out and press out the corners so it looks "pillow-shaped". Squeeze the pillow inner (the one you have already gone and bought, or made!) into the pillow through the hole you left for this purpose. Manipulate it around until it sits nicely in there, especially focusing on getting the inner into the corners so that your job looks professional.
Satisfied? Now turn in the seam allowance on the open edge and hand sew the opening closed.
There, you now have a nice needlepoint pillow backing.
You can also send your pillow away to a service who will finish it for you. Find out about our finishing service.
If you want to put a zipper into the backing fabric, or into one of the pillow seams, instructions for this are beyond the scope of this website. We suggest you consult a sewing or home furnishings book. There is sure to be one at your local library.