DIY: T-Shirt Pillow

This is Soccer Girl. MiniB saw her in a thrift store about three years ago and it was love at first sight. Even though the shirt was big enough for her to wear as a nightgown, she loved it and wore it as often as she could. 

Sadly, a few weeks ago the inevitable happened. She put the shirt on and the sleeves we used to have to roll up so she could find her hands no longer covered her wrists. We found a new shirt for her to wear, but I was reluctant to throw Soccer Girl into the donation bag. It’s been her favorite for so long, neither one of us were quite ready to let it go. Instead, we talked about it and decided that Soccer Girl needed to be upcycled into a squishy soft t-shirt pillow.

Making a t-shirt pillow is a cheap and easy way to re-purpose those shirts that you can’t wear any more but are too awesome or sentimental to get rid of. Mine took me 40 minutes and cost a grand total of $5. Here’s what you’ll need:

T-shirt, fiberfill and muslin

Since jersey is such a stretchy fabric, I worried about using it by itself as a pillow shell. I was afraid it would get all stretched out of shape over time and I suspected that wisps of stuffing would find their way out of the knitted fabric, hence the muslin. The muslin forms the body of the pillow and the t-shirt serves as a permanent pillow cover.

Objects in photo are squarer than they appear

Step 1. Square up the fabric. Though it pained me to do it, I cut off the sleeves, neck and curved bottom of the shirt. Then I measured and cut the muslin so it would be just a hair larger than the jersey. You want to cut the t-shirt first because it’s easier to make the plain muslin fit the shirt than the other way around. I decided to make the pillow form slightly larger so the jersey cover would stretch over it enough that it wouldn’t look loose and/or wrinkled. I just eyeballed the measurement, but it was about 3/16″ over in both directions.

Step 2. Sew up the pillow. There are a few different ways to do this. The most common are to either sew three sides and topstitch the fourth, or to sew everything but a hand sized gap and then hand sew the gap after stuffing. If you are just leaving a gap, be sure to put the muslin inside the jersey before stuffing so you don’t have to squeeze a whole pillow through a small hole in your stretchy fabric – so speaks the voice of experience.

Step 3. Stuff. As a rule of thumb, always put in more stuffing than you think you will need. You need to leave the top a little empty so you can sew the pillow closed without fighting to keep all the fluff inside and you need to stuff enough into the bottom to fill in that space. And remember to poke some into the corners so they aren’t floppy.

Step 4. Close ‘er up. Sew up your stuffing gap and squish, squash and roll the whole thing around to disperse the stuffing evenly.

Step 5. Love it forever.

*Note: Since jersey is so stretchy, it can be a real bitch to work with if you are not an experienced seamstress (and sometimes even if you are). If you would like to make life easier, you can sew each piece of t-shirt to each piece of muslin right off the bat and then make your pillow out of your fabulous new jersey/muslin hybrid. The drawback to this method is that it is harder to make the jersey stretch over the muslin, so it is slightly more prone to wrinkles in the finished product.

By [E]SaraB

Glass artisan by day, blogger by night (and sometimes vice versa). SaraB has three kids, three pets, one husband and a bizarre sense of humor. Her glass pendants can be found at if you're interested in checking it out.

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