How to Make a T-Shirt Pillow

Aysha Schurman (guest contributor)

Do you want to add some new décor for your home at little cost? Do you want to empty your closet, which is full of old clothing? You can accomplish both tasks with this creative sewing project: making adorable T-shirt pillows. Most older children, teens and adults can make a cute pillow with ease, even if they don't know how to sew. The material is handy, the activity is simple, the task is fun, and the result is great.

  • Sewing the T-shirt can be tricky since the fabric tends to be thin and stretchy. Keep the material very straight, but not stretched out, while sewing. This can help prevent puckering and bumps. Sew slowly, making sure that the line is staying straight and even with the weave.
  • To prevent the material from moving while you are stitching, pin the sides of the T-shirt together. Use small, thin, strong pins so that you can really secure every inch of the stitch you will be making. Make sure not to bunch the fabric with the pins; it still needs to lay flat.
  • Make sure your thread is not too thick or too delicate. Avoid any heavily coated or textured threads; these will just cause an uneven seam. Simple, strong, cotton-based threads are best.
  • The material for T-shirts is a stretchy, cotton fabric, so you may need to add a second seam. Stitch a seam just outside of the old one, toward the open edges for reinforcement. If you'd like a clean top seam and a pillow cover you can easily remove, add a zipper to your sewing project.

For your T-shirt sewing project, keep in mind these few things:

Once you master those techniques, then you're ready to create some T-shirt pillows!

Basic T-shirt pillow
For a simple T-shirt pillow, cut a matching square or rectangle shape from the front and back of the shirt. Make sure it has at least a circumference at least 3 inches larger than the pillow form; this leaves room for stuffing. Turn the piece inside out for stitching.

Carefully, and slowly, sew three of the four sides with a sewing machine, with all seams about 1 inch from the edge. Turn the form inside out again so that the correct side is showing and stuff the pillow in. Fold the hems of the extra T-shirt fabric into the case and hand sew shut, using a very small stitch.

T-shirt-shaped pillow
For a pillow shaped like an actual T-shirt, turn the shirt inside out and sew the arms and neck closed. Then stuff the shirt with pillow filling, leaving about a 2-inch hem of fabric at the bottom. Make sure the shirt is stuffed full, but not so much that the fabric is stretching. Fold and roll the hem up into the pillow and hand sew closed. This makes a perfect pillow for reading in bed.

Long T-shirt pillow
If you'd like a long, narrow pillow, a T-shirt still works. Sew up the arms and neck of the shirt and stuff to desired shape. Then cut the shirt off about 2 inches below desired edge of pillow. Fold and roll hem into pillow and sew shut.

Tied T-shirt pillow
The easiest tied pillows don't even involve any sewing! You'll need a round, long, thin pillow. For a small pillow, just cut the shirt off below the armpits and use the bottom part. Then wrap the shirt around the pillow so that it's tight and smooth. Tie the excess shirt at each end with a tight, big ribbon. The excess shirt now looks like a frilly decoration.

Cut two large rectangles out of the shirt and sew two opposing sides together. Slip the pillow form into the fabric and tie each end securely and tightly with a large, pretty ribbon. Fluff up the extra material, or add some beads and extra ribbon for an adorable effect.

Quilted T-shirt pillow
Don't neglect your small, ripped or stained shirts. You can still use them to make cute, crafty pillows. Just gather a bunch of these shirts together and use the good, old art of quilting to make the correct-size pillow casing. Cut out the usable parts of the shirts and carefully sew them together.

Use shirts of similar material, weave and thickness, otherwise the stitches will look poor, the pieces will stretch differently, and the pillow won't last long. Once the panels are quilted together, just follow basic pillow-making steps to finish it off.

"Seriously ugly" T-shirt pillow
Dying or tie-dying is perfect for transforming a particularly ugly shirt. Or sew on beads, buttons, ribbons, bows or piping to create a fresh look. Use some craft paint and make a cute design on the shirt before stuffing the pillow in.

Iron-on or traditional patches can be added as well to make a fantastic-looking pillow. Or use stamps, sponges and lace with some paint or dye to create neat patterns. Try hand- and footprint designs, make potato and apple stamps, or just soak the shirt in some bleach.
- If the shirt is already covered, don't be afraid to remove some embellishments. Carefully cut off embroidery or sequins. Scrub off painting or silk screen. Use patches, beads, buttons and so forth to cover up the missing decoration.

From simple to elaborate, there are many different types of T-shirt pillows you can learn how to sew. So gather up those faded and outgrown T-shirts, get creative, and whip up some unusual accessories for your couch or bed.


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Controlling Stretchy Fabric
Try using adding machine tape as a base to pin your stretchy fabric to. Use lots of pins as the author advised. Keep the tape on the bottom and tear off when done. Use and even feed foot if you have one.
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