Friday, September 30, 2011

DIY t-shirt pillows

This year, all my sister got for her birthday this year was a bunch of old t-shirts! Practically devastating for a girl who starts counting down her birthday from 364 days away.

Never fear, I know better than to let her down on her day! I got so excited about this project months ahead of time and look how cute they look after being re-purposed into pillows!

There's one pillow for each of her schools-- high school, freshman year of college, and the school she just transferred to {which happens to be *my* college and how this whole idea came into play!}. In a major closet cleaning I realized I needed to part with a well loved shirt from my college days, but instead of tossing it, I decided it'd be fun to transform it and give it Laura when she moved down to Springfield. And then I came upon the other shirts and knew I needed to make a trio.

I'm new to crafting and sewing, so I googled ways to make pillows and I decided I wanted to try out a few different methods so each pillow will have a different look. I'll explain a little about how I made them-- I promise it is *so* easy because if I can do it, you can too!

First, the no-sew method. I watched this video for a general idea. Basically, you just need to make two boxes. One that will be the actual pillow perimeter and the next is a larger rectangle {about an inch bigger on each side}. Cut around the the larger rectangle and then cut strips stopping at the inner rectangle. The lady in the video used 2 inch strips, but I used about half-inch strips just because it was a small pillow and I liked the look better.

Lastly, just tie all but a few knots. Stuff and finish tying and  you're ready to go! It took me about an hour or so total. I could have used the same grey shirt for the back, but I thought purple backing would be cute {and it is} and it was around $1 at JoAnn's.  I did use some hot glue some of the seams where stuffing was poking out, but you can't tell. Tip: the longer the strips, the easier it is to tie. You can always go back and trim them down.

This is a t-shirt that was Julie's. Super cute shirt, but it had a hole in the back. It was destined to be a pillow! This was actually a very thin shirt, so before I did anything with it, I sprayed it {inside out} with starch spray a million times, or like six or seven. Made a huge difference. This pillow is just a basic pillow. I cut around the design, had it sewn inside out {I outsourced this job to Mom due to my lack of sewing machine}, turned it right side out, stuff, and then finished sewing it together. I did a pretty miserable job doing the closing stitching... but it's a cute pillow nonetheless!

Lastly, my labor of love pillow. This was a charcoal grey t-shirt, size small {from ya know, back when I actually wore size small t-shirts}. The trouble with small shirts is that the design goes right up to the sleeve, which didn't leave any room for the seam. And the location of the Missouri State and the bear would have made for such an awkward shaped pillow. So with this pillow, I cut out the design and hand-stitched it to a black fabric and then, with inspiration from this blog {a baby bib tutorial, no less!}, I decided to cut little slits along the outline so that it would make frayed edge. I did the lettering first. 

As I started to do the bear, I decided I wanted to add a layer of the maroon behind it to add to the fraying part. I wish I would have done it to the lettering as well, but like I mentioned I hand-stitched and it took forever. I couldn't undo all that work only to do it again!

And then lastly, this pillow was sewn together right side out so that I could make the edges frayed. The key with getting the edges frayed after cutting the slits is to wash it. Also, make sure to purchase flannel material- it frays the best. I picked out a fleece material because it was soft, not thinking how it would fray and it turns out-- it doesn't fray at all. I did add strips of the original shirt to give an extra fluff to the edge.

So anyway, this was a super fun project and the pillows look cool in her apartment. I spent about $5 on fabric, but that's because I chose for the backs to be a different color. I easily could have used the back of the shirt. The black I used for the front of the Missouri State pillow is left over from what I bought for the back of the Mizzou pillow. I cut up one of our old {flat and frumpy} pillows and used it as the filling and it fit the three pillows perfectly.  


  1. I was wondering what you had given her, you mentioned a few times that you were working on it.

    Looks great! Very cute, and Grandma Trickel would be proud of your re-use. Maybe if you want to make more of these she could help you obtain some cool thrift shop T-shirts.

  2. Great DIY, Amy!

    You're being featured on this coming Tutorial Tuesday



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