Pillows make spaces fun. They add so much personality to the different rooms of our homes, but sometimes they get overlooked as an outdoor addition because we can get a little nervous about making sure pillows are properly weatherproofed. Well, have no fear! Here are three options you can try to feel confident about decorating your outdoor space. You actually probably have most of the items you need sitting around your house right now.

And once you know the different ways to create an insert for an outdoor pillow, you may want to customize your own weather-proof pillowcase to match your own personality and outdoor scheme. I’ll show you how to make a super easy envelope-style pillowcase so you can add your own insert and even remove the cover to throw it in the wash as needed (something I wish I could do with a lot of the outdoor pillows I’ve bought!).

1. Reuse your stash of plastic bags!

Most of us have a reserve of plastic bags from different shopping trips, and they make the perfect (and super inexpensive) stuffing for an outdoor pillow. Just fluff each bag into a ball shape and keep stuffing until you have the right firmness for your pillow. You can either stuff each bag in one at at time, or you can put them all into one larger plastic bag first and then insert the bag into the pillow.

2. Cover an inside pillow insert with garbage bags to waterproof the pillow.

For this method, you’ll want to get garbage bags (or tall kitchen bags) to cover an insert that is usually meant for the indoors. Try and buy a bag that has a bit of thickness to it to prevent tearing, and purchase an indoor pillow insert that is mildew resistant. To cover the pillow, put the pillow inside one garbage bag and fold in all the excess material. Flip the pillow upside down and put inside another garbage bag for added protection. Fold the excess material in again and simply use a stapler to keep the folded edges in place.

This option may seem a bit obvious, but not everyone may be a fan of the slightly different feel that stuffing or covering your pillow with plastic brings, and you may just want an insert that was made for the elements. Unfortunately, it seems that a good outdoor insert can be hard to find! Even though we have multiple options for fabric stores in town, I was surprised that none of them sell outdoor pillow inserts, and so I had to spend some time online finding an affordable option. Thankfully, this outdoor insert was just what I was looking for, and it’s also pretty affordable as well. Easy peasy.

Envelope-Style Pillowcase Tutorial

-cotton fabric (either outdoor fabric or a thick cotton/twill that you can waterproof)
-fabric scissors
-standard sewing machine
-straight pins
-waterproofing fabric spray

Cut your fabric into one 19″ square (for the front of the pillow) and two rectangles that are 19″ x  12″ (for the back of the pillow). Our pillowcase will end up 18″, but I added an extra inch for a 1/2″ seam allowance.

NOTE: I made an 18″ finished case for this tutorial, but you usually want to make your finished pillowcase dimensions 1″ smaller than the size of your insert so it fully fills out the case (so make a 17″ x 17″ case for an 18″ x 18″ insert, etc.). Adjust your dimensions as needed for your pillow.

Take the two back pieces, and fold and pin a 1/4″ hem across the widest part of the rectangle on each piece. Fold the hem again another 1/4″, press the hem with your iron, and pin in place. Use your sewing machine to sew your hems flat with an 1/8″ seam allowance.

Lay your front fabric square flat (with the right side facing up) and place your two back rectangles on top of the square so that the edges line up and the middle hems overlap a few inches. Make sure the right sides of the fabric are facing each other, and pin the fabric in place around the edges.

Use a sewing machine to sew all the way around the outside of the pillow with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Once you’ve sewn all the way around, snip the corners of the fabric so that the corners will appear less bulky once turned. Flip your pillow cover inside out, and you’re ready to add your insert!

Slip your pillow insert through the envelope slot opening in the back of your pillow, follow the directions on your fabric waterproofing spray, and set your new pillow outside where it belongs!