• Jennifer Nilsson

Quick And Easy Accent Pillow From Vintage Napkins

Updated: May 24

(This post may contain affiliate links. See my full disclosure here.)

Learn how to quickly and easily sew a sweet accent pillow from vintage napkins with this tutorial.

handmade white and blue accent pillows made from vintage cloth napkins

After 6 long years of renovating the second floor of our 1800’s farmhouse, we officially have bedrooms to sleep in! And this means it is time to decorate, and man, am I loving this part!

My design style is not exactly your typical modern farmhouse aesthetic. It’s more like – farmhouse meets cottage meets lodge. I am a firm believer in creating to your own bliss and not necessarily fitting any certain style guides.

For me this means vintage mixed with new, lots of handmades, with a few antiques thrown in. One of my favorite ways to check all those boxes is by upcycling thrifted finds. And this little tutorial for sewing accent pillows from vintage cloth napkins fits this bill perfectly.

Vintage Sweetness!

While thrifting, I came across this pretty little lot of five vintage linen napkins with hand-embroidered detail and delicate crocheted edging. At only $1.79 for all five pieces, I knew I needed to bring them home for my vintage inspired décor!

vintage linen napkins with hand embroidery

All were crisp with minimal age marks. One of the five napkins had a very small hole in it, so I decided this one would be perfect on our lamp stand in the hallway.

linen napkin on table with lamp and plant

The other four were matched together and with a few quick stitches and a bit of stuffing, became beautiful accent pillows for our bed.

These particular napkins were made of linen, but any material would work well. Choose matching patterns, sizes, and material with minimal wear and aging for best results.

pillows on bed

Here is how I made this easy vintage napkin pillow and how YOU can make some too! As my napkins had that lovely edging and I wanted to preserve it in the detail, I sewed these with the WRONG sides facing. The directions will reflect this below.

Tools and Materials needed:

  1. 2 to 4 matching vintage cloth napkins with finished edges (2 for one pillow, 4 for 2 pillows)

  2. thread to match the background color of your napkins

  3. straight pins

  4. sewing machine

  5. scissors

  6. polyester fiber filling (be sure it states “for pillows” on the packaging)

  7. iron


Wash and dry your vintage napkins in whatever way is appropriate for the material and age. The set of cloth napkins I am using are linen with hand details. I soaked in lukewarm water with mild detergent and allowed to dry before using. As some creases remained, I ironed with gentle steam so I had smooth material to work with. You may choose to iron before or after sewing.

When your napkins are clean and ready, place two cloth napkins together, matching the sides as evenly as possible, with WRONG sides facing each other.

Two of mine did not match perfectly. So I gently stretched the shorter piece as I pinned it into place, matching all sides.

two cloth napkins on top of each other

Using straight pins, pin together every 2″ or so.

two pieces of material pinned together

Using a quarter inch seam allowance (generally the space from the needle to the inside edge of the pressure foot) and a straight stitch, sew around the napkins being sure to leave a small opening (3″ to 4″) in the middle of one side for stuffing, and removing the straight pins as you come to them. NOTE: I like to start and end with the opening, backstitching a few inches to start and finishing with a backstitch to secure.

The napkins I used for this project had a tiny row of eyelet on the border. I stitched directly on the eyelet.

vintage napkins being sew together to make a pillow

Now that you’ve stitched all the way around, gently stuff your pillow, being sure to start with the farthest corners and work your way toward the opening. TIP: use small amounts of stuffing (1 cup or so) at a time and gently “fluff” the filling before inserting into your cover. This will help keep lumps out of your finished project.

a pillow cover made of vintage napkins being stuffed with filling

Fill evenly so that the pillow is full but NOT tight. Once filled, pin the opening closed. And starting and ending with a backstitch – just over the backstitching from before – sew the opening shut.

sewing the opening of a pillow cover closed made from vintage napkins on a sewing machine

If needed, use your hand to hold the pillowing filling down and away as you sew.

hand holding material as it is being sewn

Once closed, fluff and place in that perfect spot to enjoy!

decorative pillows on a bed made from vintage linen napkins

This post is included in A Stroll Thru Life’s “Inspire Me” round-up ♥

Like this project? PIN IT for later!

#DIY #pillows #sewing #vintagenapkinaccentpillow