Hooked Rug Pillow Finishing – Just One Way

When I first started making pillows,  I was intimidated by the finishing process because I was not the most skilled person at hand sewing, but I found it to be much easier than I expected.  I took some photos of one of my earliest pillow projects just to document how I personally am finishing pillows these days.  I know there are many other ways, but I find this to be really simple and my customers really like the results.   Here is the finished pillow:

And here is the hooked piece – 15″ x 15″ – from which it was made:

(Editing note:  I have since found this next step to be optional – do what works best for you!) The first thing I did was press back the edges so that they would lie flat against the back of the piece, with the aid of a damp washcloth, just as you would when you are steaming your finished mats:

Once pressed, I put the hooked part on to the backing I want to use.  For some pillows I use quilting cotton for the backs.  For this piece, my customer wanted hounds tooth check wool.  I place the hooked piece over the backing and then cut the backing approximately the size of the piece plus the serged edge.

You will want to have the right side of the backing positioned so that it’s on the “outside” – just as the pillow will be when finished.  I then pin it in to place.  With the hounds tooth check it was very easy to keep everything nice and square, because when I started stitching I just picked a stripe and followed it.  My previous project had a paisley back, which is more forgiving in terms of angle of application to the back.

Now comes the part where you really have to decide what’s most comfortable for you.  I turn the pillow “case” face up and stitch from the top side, folding the back fabric in and using the same stitch I would use if putting on a corded wool or cotton tape binding.  I also start somewhere pretty far down on a side, go up over the top, and then back down to the bottom, which, of course, I leave open to stuff.  I miter the corners as needed as I go around.  You will find that your stitches are invisible, or very nearly so, using this method:

Once you get to the bottom, you may fill the pillow with whatever you’d like for stuffing.  I have been using pre-made pillow forms.  In this particular case I used a 16″ x 16″ pillow form in my 15″ x 15″ case – it made for a nice fluffy pillow.  When you have your stuffing positioned the way you want it inside the pillow, you are now ready to just stitch the bottom shut.  This can be challenging if your pillow is really full, but yes, you’ll get through it!


Here is a blue version with paisley I finished about a week or so ago:



I hope this helps for those of you new to pillows to see how easy this can be.  You can do cording and other methods, but I really like this because it makes the entire front of the pillow hooked, and actually involves less hand sewing than you would do on a typical mat binding.

Happy hooking and please share your ideas and photos with us!      ~ Beth

9 thoughts on “Hooked Rug Pillow Finishing – Just One Way

  1. Thank you so much! This is exactly the info I needed. I am relatively new to using a sewing machine. Can you tell me which stitch you used and will any thread be ok? Much appreciated. Lovely hooking!

    • Hi Emily – Thank you! The stitch used to attach the pillow back to the hooked front is done by hand. You really can’t use a sewing machine to do that stitching. I will be doing a video soon on the binding stitch, which is the same stitch used for both attaching rug bindings and attaching pillow backs. The thread you want to use for this hand process is anything that will be very strong and not break when you pull it tightly, which is necessary during the process.

  2. Love this tutorial… attempting to finish my first hooked pillow. I am wondering if a binding stitch is similar to the whip stitch? Thank you, Chris

    • Hi Chris. I really need to make a video of the binding stitch. It’s different than a whip stitch. Basically, you need to stitch the pillow back, just as you would a twill tape or other type of binding, very tightly to the front or you will see linen peeking out between the front and back. You also want to use a very strong thread so that it doesn’t break when you pull tightly on it to bring the front and back together. Basically, you’re going to want to bring your needle up between two of your edge loops, make a stitch to the backing, then go back under and come up two loops over, make another stitch, and continue. In other words, a stitch every two loops, except at the corners where I think it’s good to go every loop while you go around. I know this is probably hard to visualize. I have been meaning to make a video of binding for quite some time and will try to get to it early this summer. Thank you for your comment! – Beth

  3. Thanks very much, Beth, for the quick reply and very useful information. My fav way of finishing is to do exactly what you’ve described but to attach a strip of wool rather than twill tape and using the binding stitch. Little did I know that I was doing the binding stitch all along (lol) but thanks to you, I’m on my way. Happy hooking and all my best, Chris

  4. I’m trying to find Hooked Rug Pillow supplies or a kit; its been years since I have used my tools and I need a refresher. Where can I order supplies from? Thank you so much for any help you can offer. Diane

    • Diane, my shop has everything you need for rug hooking. While you could just click the “shop” tab at the top of the page, here is a link to take you directly to the Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ParrisHouseWoolWorks I can kit any pattern in the shop. Some are particularly nicely sized for pillows, but almost any, within a certain size range, could be made in to pillows. You can also use the contact tab to send me a note about specifically what you are looking for, or email me at parrishousewoolworks@gmail.com. Thanks!

  5. Hello: Pillows take a lot more handling than wall hangings or rugs. Does anyone ever experience their loops going back into the pillow or coming out? Thank you. Paula

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