Have you read the children’s book called I Had A Favorite Dress? It’s the cutest. In the story, the girl outgrows her favorite dress and turns it first into a new shirt, then a skirt, then a hair bow and so on. The illustrations are my absolute favorite, but the story is just as sweet.
Well, this is a story about Audrey’s favorite t-shirt that became much too small.
We just couldn’t bear to pass it on, so instead we turned it into a pillow.
Full disclosure: this is one of the worst pillows I’ve ever made. And that includes the ones I tried to sew back in college for our first apartment that were misshapen and way too under-stuffed (sorry roommate). The photos make it look a little cuter than it is in real life, but not all projects turn out amazingly and rather than toss it to the side (which I almost did), I’m sharing a project fail in my eyes that my daughter happens to adore. So we’ll keep the wonky, crooked, way too over-stuffed pillow and just remember that sometimes the best project intentions just don’t come out how you imagined them.
I’ll leave some tips at the bottom for how you might improve if you choose to make a pillow out of a beloved t-shirt as well.
Here’s what you’ll need:
t-shirt / fabric for back (I used this from Minted) / piping / pins / scissors / sewing machine / pillow form
Cut t-shirt into square (mine is 12×12)
Cut back fabric into square (again, 12×12)
STEP THREE: MAKE PIPING
- Fold your fabric on the diagonal to cut a bias strip. I used a rotary cutter and straight edge on a cutting mat, but you could mark with a pencil and cut with scissors. Cut a 2 inch strip. The length depends on how large your pillow is. You may need to cut a few strips.
- If you need more than one strip length, sew right sides together of two strips to make one long one.
- Place you piping in the middle of the strip and pin to hold.
- Using a zipper foot (I think that’s what it’s called), sew along the edge of the cording to hold. This is where I didn’t do things quite right because my cording wasn’t super tight. Not sure if I used the wrong foot or what. But you just make it work.
- Pin piping to pillow back.
- Stitch piping onto the pillow back. You can snip into the corners to help make a nice edge.
- Over lap the ends and you’ll get this:
Pin and stitch t-shirt to backing (right sides together and leave a gap in the bottom).
Turn the pillow right-side out and you’ll have this:
Stuff pillow with pillow form (I used a 12×12)
This is where I went way wrong … I should have used a down pillow form because I always like them better and I should have used a smaller size since the shirt fabric is so stretchy and doesn’t hold it all together the way a normal cotton fabric would. The piping feels a little too bulky for the pillow and I didn’t sew a perfect square. It’s just all a bit off.
But then I showed Audrey the finished product and she loved it.
So even though it’s not my best work, it sits proudly on Audrey’s bed declaring that she is made of awesome.
Which she most definitely is. The pillow, however, not so much.
TIPS FOR DOING THIS PROJECT BETTER:
- Make your pillow an inch smaller than the square you cut from the t-shirt. You can’t see it in the photos, but I had to leave a tiny bit of the sleeve/shoulder seam on to get a 12×12 square. I should have gone smaller.
- Learn how to make piping the right way. I’m not exactly sure what that is, but it must have something to do with the sewing machine foot. I need my mom.
- Go for a smaller piping size if you’re doing a mini pillow like this. What I had on hand was a bit overkill and it would have looked better with a smaller piping.
- Use a down-filled pillow form. In a slightly smaller size than the finished pillow.
- Sew a straight line.
Lessons learned. I’m just glad my baby likes it :)
Such a cute craft! My husband sells pillow forms of all sizes, and they’re made here in Tennessee. Just in case anyone is wanting to buy a pillow form. :-) His site is http://www.pillowcubes.com
Love this project! I make a lot of pillows, and actually, having the pillow slightly larger than the pillow cover is better because it keeps its shape better. It’s a pain to get the pillow into it, but the long-term result is better.
Great job; great project. And your little Audrey is as adorable as you. :)
I love that you posted this – imperfections make us human. The fact that your sweet Audrey girl adores it makes it irreplaceably special!! And I think it turned out darling :)
Oh my goodness, you’re hilarious and that waaaaay better than I most. Your last critique of yourself, ‘sew a straight line’ is one of my pitfalls for sure. I so appreciate you sharing this. Its beautiful and we love its wonkiness.
Thanks for sharing, imperfections and all. I think that is the best way to learn. We can be so hard on ourselves, but showing our children that we are learning and failing is wonderful. Last year I spent the entire Labor day weekend making my own herringbone pillows out of leftover fabric. They lasted a week before the seams started shredding, but I was proud of myself for attempting it. I learned a lot.
Nice work! I love the t-shirt… where did it come from?
The tshirt is from Old Navy.
She certainly is made of awesome to recognize how much love you just poured all over her. That pillow came out looking precious.
You should have a pillow just like this on your bed! I love that this maybe wasn’t your best project but you still threw it out there. It makes the rest of us feel ok because that’s how a lot of projects turn out all the time! Sometimes we strive to be perfect and in the end, imperfection is just so much more comforting! We all can relate. Thanks for that!
Wait one minute – your project is perfect as is… nothing is perfect in this world and the fact that you make beautiful things out of what many people would get rid of, is half of the beauty. Savor the moment you made your daughter (and the rest of us) smile and worry not about what you see as imperfect. We love it just the way it is!
Thank you for your constant inspiration to create!
Wishing you a very happy Fall!
I agree with everyone. Your pillow is PERFECT because your daughter loves it. The fusible interfacing I have had the best luck with for T-shirt quilts, pillows, etc is a fusible knit interfacing. If you fuse it to the knit with the stretches in opposite directions, you have no trouble & the pillow form will be OK without the added expense of a down one. My preferred brand was always ‘Stacys Easy Knit’ if it is still available. In fact, I bet you could turn her pillow wrong side out again & fuse it to the knit now & it would help – that is, IF you can get it away from your darling daughter long enough.
You would both enjoy the children’s book “Something from Nothing”, by Phoebe Gilman. She is a Canadian author and her books are awesome!!
So cute! I’m sure she’ll treasure this for always!
Love the project. Great Mom Award. Look at Audrey’s smile. So worth it! Tell me about her rag doll, please, on the bed next to the pillow. Did you make it?
I always enjoy your tutorials and decorating style, but more than anything, I LOVE your attitude! It brightens my day and it reminds me to not take myself or my projects too seriously. Keep on doing what you do!
Your daughter loves it so in the end this project was a total win!
Her Heartland Soul
I love that you posted your pillow even though it isn’t perfect. Sometimes blogs are filled with the “perfect” recipes, the “perfect” project etc. I know life isn’t perfect but it’s refreshing to actual see it. Audrey clearly loves it and that’s all that matters!
So many not-perfect projects around here!! xoxo
tshirt material just makes me want to pull my hair right out of my head. i made a tshirt quilt a few years ago with 36(!!!!) tshirts and it was soooo wonky. if you do this again, use iron on interfacing to stabilize the fabric BEFORE you cut it out and then it’ll basically be just like non-knit normal fabric. :)
Great tip. Although I can’t promise I’ll be making any more t-shirt pillows. Next time, I’m hiring my mom :)
I love this! I made three pillows from my favorite Ralph Lauren Polo Bear t-shirts. They were all too big and not something I was taking into the work world with me. I have one in my office and I bring the other two out for winter decorating (we used velvet for the backing).
Thanks for sharing!
Oh Emily, I just had to tell you how much I love this project!
I’ve taught 1st grade for 17 years, and I’m a mom. Whenever I draw something for my students on the board, they always say “you’re the best artist ever!” (I am definitely not.)
I know your sweet Audrey looks at that pillow and thinks two things: “My mom is the best artist ever!” and “My mom loves me.”
Thank you for sharing this project!
Use an iron on stabilizer and your t shirt won’t stretch!
“Sew a straight line”. Best TIP EVER!!!! and a while lot of humility!
This sounds like how a lot of my projects turn out :) I was also wondering, where is the Zeph 3:17 art from? That’s the verse we have for our son, I’d love to have something to commemorate it!
What a cute idea! Would you mind sharing your old tutorial on how your made Audrey’s doll? I really want to make one for my daughter. THANK YOU!!!!
Seeing your daughter’s huge smile while holding the adorable pillow you made for her says it all!!
The pillow is very cute – It a one-of-a-kind Designer piece in your daughter’s eyes. 25 years ago when I babysat a younger cousin we made pillows with liquid paint pens and a traced coloring book page on white fabric. She recently posted a picture of it on Facebok after unpacking from a move. It is horrendous, but she loved it so much because we spent time together creating it. For those who want to attempt this cute idea and are intimidated by piping, you can make a “frame” by sewing strips of fabric around the cut square from the shirt. It also helps to make the finished pillow a bit larger. You could even use the matching outgrown skirt or pants as the back piece or ruffle of the pillow.
Your pillow is great! Such a great reminder that done and enjoyed is better than perfect. I am a quilter and planning to make sports t-shirt/jersey quilts for my boys. One thing I have read over and over with knit/stretchy fabrics is to iron a stabilizer to the back which is supposed to help with the stretch. I haven’t done that yet but sounds like a good tip.
It does photograph really well! I really enjoy making things for my kids. They are much less picky and have lower standards then adults. Haha. I will have to do this with a shirt my soon to be 5 yr old has outgrown. Thanks for the idea! I love reading your blog.
I’m with Audrey – I think it’s beautiful! And, what a great keepsake for her. I still remember the trauma of outgrowing my favorite Palmetto jeans when I was about 7 – I definitely wore those bad boys far longer than I should have! ;o)
That is so sweet! And, a great idea!! My son (who is the same age as Audrey) always gets so excited and loves everything I make him. Makes the time you spend on projects so worth it, right?! Also, just bought that sweet buffalo check duvet for my little girl’s big girl room! Love it!!
Just wanted to add one more tip for you that makes sewing with knits/tshirt material so much easier that I learned when I made a tshirt quilt – they make an iron on iterfacing to keep the knits from stretching so it cuts more like home dec fabric and it has a nicer weight to it. Its super cheap and you can pick it up at any quilt shop/fabric store – Very cute pillow!!