How to make a T-shirt pillow

This week our Jill of All Trades, Jill Washburn, shows us how to turn a keepsake T-shirt into a pillow.  

First, choose a T-shirt with a great design that means something to you. If you're going to make a 16" square pillow, like Jill did, make sure that your shirt is big enough, and your design is small enough, to fit. Otherwise, you'll need to adjust your pillow size accordingly.

The first thing that you need to do is cut the front of the shirt away from the back, so that you have 2 separate pieces of fabric. Once you do, it's time to iron on the facing. You'll want to add facing to the inside of both pieces of fabric. Jill used a mid-weight fusible facing (Pellon 931 TD). Make sure the adhesive side of the facing (the side with the little bumps) is against the T-shirt fabric.

**TIP**  Your shirt will most likely be stretchy width-wise. The facing will stretch in one direction. Try to iron the facing on so that the direction of the stretching of the facing and the t-shirt do not line up. It's not horrible if they do line up, but it can lead to stretching while you're trying to sew it, which can make it trickier. If you can iron it so the fusing stretches vertically, and the t-shirt stretches horizontally, it makes the sewing easier. Because t-shirts tend to be stretchy, you may want to spot press the facing in almost a stamping motion, rather than sliding the iron across the fabric. Jill says she got better results this way. 

Next, cut your squares. For a 16" pillow, you'll need 17" squares, which leaves a ½" seam allowance. Make sure your design is centered, or placed where you want it to be, on the square.  Once your squares are cut, sew the 2 pieces of fabric together. You'll have the "right sides" facing one another and the sides with the fusible facing on the outside. You may want to pin the 2 pieces together to make things easier. Jill sewed up one side, across the top, and down the other side.  

Once that's done, you can turn it right side out, and then insert your pillow form. Once you have that the way you want it, just turn the bottom edges in and sew the bottom shut. You can run the edge through your sewing machine, or you can hand stitch it.

If you'd like to put a zipper in, make sure you watch Jill's extra tutorial video on installing zippers. They're not as scary as some would have you believe. They are easier to do, however, if you install the zipper before you sew up the other sides.  

There you have it!  Keepsake pillow. Done!!

PROJECT RATING:  Medium to Medium+  (It helps if you know your way around a sewing machine.)

To watch Jill of All Trades take you through the project, just click on the video player above.