If you are unsure of what size of pillows to order, here is a brief explanation of pillow measurements that may help. The most important thing to remember is that pillow dimensions always refer to the pillow cover's width and length while lying flat unstuffed. Pillowcase measurements are taken along the seams from corner to corner and are almost always rounded up to the nearest whole inch.
Looking at the example below of this 20"x20" Sunbrella outdoor fabric pillow, you will notice that the actual measurements of the cover lying flat unstuffed are 19.3" x19.3". The dimensions of this pillow are rounded up and it is therefore classified as a 20"x20" pillow.
Now, if you look at the same pillow cover stuffed with a polyfill insert (image on the right), you will notice that if you were to take a straight measurement from corner to corner, the width and height would be closer to 18". Furthermore, if you were to take a straight measurement across the center of the pillow (as shown by the distance between the red lines), the width would be closer to 16.2".
These of course are just rough guidelines but hopefully you get the idea. Keep in mind that the measurements might not be rounded up in size if the dimensions are just a tiny bit bigger than the nearest whole inch. For example, if a pillow measured 20.2"x20.2", it may still be called a 20"x20" pillow. In general, the dimensions should be accurate within 0.7" of the measurements given.
When you are considering pillows for your sofas, chairs or beds, keep this sizing explanation in mind. Many people make the mistake of holding a tape measure across the center of a stuffed pillow and then assume that this dimension is the correct measurement of the pillow. If they order pillows based on this measurement, the chances are they will be surprised to find that the pillows they receive are actually much smaller than they wanted. The most common sizes of pillows for sofas are 18"x18" and 20"20". However, larger sofas and sectionals, especially those with deep seats or high backs, may be better off with 22"x22" or even 24"x24" pillows.
If you are trying to measure your pillows at home and your covers have zippers and removable inserts, take the inserts out before you measure your pillow. If your pillow is completely sewn up and you cannot remove the insert, pinch the two top corners of the pillow and pull the top seam as tight as you can while holding it next to a tape measure. If you cannot pull it completely straight, then add a little length to your measurement (usually 1/2 inch) to get an approximate size. You'll probably be pretty close.
If you are ordering pillows online and the exact size is really important to you, please give Pillow Decor a call (1-866-900-8488) and we will be happy to give you the exact pillow measurements of the pillows you are considering for purchase.
Did you know that almost all our throw pillows can be bought with or without the inserts? Here is how to order just the decorative pillow cover.