Knock Off Ballard Designs Cowhide Pillow

Leave it to me to sew a winter pillow in the middle of summer. But with a little bit of fabric scraps and some creativity on my sewing machine I was able to make a Knock Off Ballard Designs Cowhide Pillow for a fraction of the retail price. After all, that’s what knock off decorating is all about right? And I even have a step by step how to if you’d like to make your own cowhide pillow too.

Ballard Designs Cowhide Pillow Knock Off

This pillow was something I pinned a long time ago because I just loved the look of it. The various colors and textures are the right touch for a little excitement on your couch. I think changing up pillows each season is fun and although I don’t get to do it very often {apparently 2 seasons too late}, there are so many options for buying pillows or making your own.

This was the original image from Ballard Designs and ironically since we are into summer now, the pillow isn’t even listed on their site anymore! Maybe it will be again come fall? I know it was a winter item.

Ballard Designs Cowhide Pillow

In addition to some beautiful cowhide rugs, I’ve seen these types of pillows in chevron or fish scale patterns too. My fabric stash in the basement was calling out for me to make something with it and with a little cutting and lots of sewing, I had my own cowhide pillow. Here is how I did it.


  • Fabric scraps – They can be any color or fabric you like but home decor fabric will work best
  • Scissors or rotary cutter – A cutting mat is optional
  • Straight edge
  • Sewing machine with desired colored thread
  • Fabric for the backing of the front and for the back of the pillow – A zipper is also optional if you’d like to put one in.

1. Gather up the fabric you’d like to use for this.

The possibilities are really endless, I could imagine all kinds of combinations of colors and patters, or even just a simple 2-3 color pillow. The way I made this is to make the cowhide pattern on the front of the pillow and then add a solid fabric back with a zipper. I ended up inserting a pillow I already had.

I got free fabric books from a local warehouse that was closing that sat in the basement for months. I didn’t know what I could make with such small pieces, but this pillow was perfect.

I cut out the fabric from the books, trimmed off the zig zagged edges and started cutting to the size I needed. My pillow size was 18 square so I decided my pieces would be 1 inch by 3 inches to replicate the cowhide look.

Cowhide Pillow

2. Cut all the pieces to the size you need.

Here you can also start to match up the colors you’d like next to each other on the pillow since there are so many pieces, I thought it would be a good idea to stagger the colors and textures.

I could see using larger pieces because it would be less to cut and perhaps easier to handle, but my pieces were 1 x 3 inches, again to get the look of the original pillow. I cut my scraps to 3 inches wide by however long they were out of the fabric book. Yours could be any length too.

Sewing tip: Get a clear ruler and rotary cutter so you can easily measure the fabric and cut it quick. These are found at most craft and fabric stores. Don’t forget if you use a rotary cutter to use a cutting mat!

Cowhide Pillow

3. Once you have your pieces to the same width, put them in the order you want them next to each other on the pillow.

Then you begin to sew them together.

To get the cowhide look I used the zig zag stitch on my sewing machine. It was at the widest setting so I would be sure to capture each fabric as the needle moved back and forth. Practice this on scrap fabric first before you do it on your good pieces.

You don’t sew these to anything underneath, you’re just sewing them together side by side. The zig zag stitch will join them. As soon as you finish sewing two together, add the third to the list and so on. Soon you’ll have a long row of pieces zig zagged together. I made my lengths the length I needed for my pillow front. So these were 21 inches wide to allow for seams. So since my pieces were 3 inches wide I had 7 pieces sewn together side by side. Make sense?

Cowhide Pillow

 4. Complete sewing together as many rows as you have fabric.

This is hard to determine how much fabric this is, but it ended up being a lot more than I originally expected. I guess you could determine how much based on square inches? I didn’t get that fancy about it, I just sewed lots of rows together knowing I’d be cutting them up anyway.

Cowhide Pillow

5. Cut your rows lengthwise to the height you want for the pillow front.

For me this was 1 inch. Think about this before you do it. You could have 3×3 pieces or any other combination really, but for the cowhide pattern again, I wanted my pieces like long little bricks of fabric. The cutting mat helps to see how much to cut too. You’ll end up with about 6 strips of each fabric combination. This is what you want.

Then I arranged them in the order I wanted. At first I had them all lined up {on the left of the below right picture} then I realized I had to stagger them to get the “hide” look {on the right of the below right picture}, I loved it! Definitely how I wanted the design.

Cowhide Pillow

6. Take your other piece of fabric that is the size of your pillow and start sewing your rows to it.

This was not a patterned piece of fabric, in fact it can be muslin or some other kind of backing. I used an off white piece I had left over from putting the bottom on the red chair I reupholstered.

Then you sew one row of your sewn together fabric rows onto that fabric backing. This is to anchor it to the piece and set up how all the rest of the rows will be sewn on. It was also to give the pillow some weight, since I didn’t want all those precious little pieces of fabric to come apart someday, the backing piece gave it some stability.

For this first row I just sewed a straight stitch. Then for all the rest of the rows I used the zig zag stitch exactly like I did for when I sewed the pieces together before. This gives you zig zg stitches around all edges of the fabric, which is what gives it the cowhide look.

How to sew a cowhide pillow

When you put the rows next to each other, remember you want to stagger where they are sewn on. I placed my row a half “brick” length down from the one next to it. For me this was 1 1/2 inches, although I didn’t measure it, I just eye balled it.


Then you’ll have all of your fabric sewn together and will have completed the front of the pillow.


 7. Then you can sew your pillow front and back together.

To do this place the right sides of the fabric together with the zipper in between {left picture}. You’ll sew on edge of the zipper to the back of the pillow {middle picture} and then sew the correct side of the front of the pillow that you just put together to the other side of the zipper. You’ll end up with both correct sides of fabric sewn to the zipper {right photo}.

Cowhide Pillow

8. Last you sew the pillow sides together and put in a zipper.

To sew the pillow all together, sew two sides together, right sides facing as you have them, open up the zipper about half way, and then finish off the last side by sewing it together. You’ll have an inside out pillow with the zipper open just a bit. You can trim off any inside edges {middle photo} then turn our pillow inside out and stuff it! {right photo}.

This was just my method of putting in a zipper, it’s along the edge of the pillow although there are lots of ways to hide zippers and such.


And finally you have yourself one good looking pillow! What do you think? Will you ever try the cowhide look? Have any fabric scraps you’ve been trying to use? This may be your chance! You know what they say, cowhide is all the rage this winter, uhh summer 🙂

Here is a close up of the zig zag stitches so you can see them. I love the way it came out. It’s my favorite pillow and is now residing in the living room. I used white thread for the stitches because I knew it would contrast well. I could see different combinations of thread too.

Cowhide Pillow


Knock Off Cowhide Pilllow



Ballard Designs Cowhide Pillow Knock Off

P.S. Come back Friday for a Minted giveaway!


Sharing with Show Me What Ya Got at Not Just a Housewife, Creating with the Stars Knock Off Link Party at East Coast Creative


  1. I seriously love this!!!

  2. What a wonderful idea! I also appreciate the tutorial. Thanks bunches.
    When my youngest daughter, Laura, was about 10, I used a discarded wallpaper book, and together we re-papered an old dollhouse. We got the vintage dollhouse when she was 5, at a basement sale. It was sort of hidden behind some sheets the owner used to cover things that WEREN”T for sale. Laura was smitten with the dollhouse, and begged me to ask the owner if it was for sale. I asked the owner, embarassed, and to our delight, this sweet older lady smiled at my little girl, and told her that her own girl was grown up and lived far away, and her grand kids weren’t interested in it, so we could buy it– for $5.00!!! Plus it was full of furniture! What wonderful memories we now share of redecorating and playing together, due to the generous heart of a stranger. Now my own grandsons and granddaughters play with the house, for which I’ve bought three ethnically diverse families from ebay. = ^ ) Wee Granny Cathy


  1. […] some fabric scraps that are too small for a sewing project? Make them into a cowhide pillow like Jessica from Décor Adventures did! Jessica used free fabric sample books to make a one-of-a-kind cowhide pillow, complete with […]

  2. […] project ideas, come see mine here. I’ve recently finished a birch tree fabric table runner, a knock off cowhide pillow, and an ottoman. Or in the sewing project […]

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