Repurposed Shirt Pillow Cover

DIY Repurposed Shirt Pillow CoverHappy Friday! Welcome to On Sutton Place and an easy tutorial on how to make a repurposed shirt pillow cover from a men’s button-up shirt. This is a fun, fast project and the only sewing skill you need is the ability to sew a straight line! Actually, if it’s not exactly straight it doesn’t even matter. Pillow covers are very forgiving. Most flaws or imperfections go unnoticed after the cover is stuffed with an insert. 

I raided my husband’s closet and chose two blue shirts he hasn’t worn in forever. Another great source is your local thrift store. Many times there are racks and racks of button-up shirts for just a few dollars each. Begin by placing the shirt on a flat surface and straighten it out as best you can. Make sure it’s buttoned up.

Repurposed Shirt Pillow CoverThe next step is to make a template or pattern. I have tried many different ways to cut out patterns and the easiest by far is to simply trace a template. This method eliminates the need to pin the pattern to the fabric.

Repurposed Shirt Pillow CoverMost men’s shirts measure about 22-24 inches across the chest. In order to leave yourself a little wiggle room, the biggest pillow cover you should attempt is 18 inch. I have found that the two best sizes are 18 x 18 and 12 x 16. Poly inserts in both sizes are readily available at discount and craft stores. To make the template, use cardboard or poster board and cut out a square that measures 19 in. x 19 in. This will allow for a 1 in. seam allowance on all four sides. Place the template on the shirt taking care to center the buttons. Trace around the template and cut out. Helpful Hint: make sure to place the template high enough so the pocket isn’t cut off!

Repurposed Shirt Pillow CoverYou will have 2 squares measuring 19 x 19. Place the squares right sides together and pin.

Repurposed Shirt Pillow CoverSew a straight line around all 4 sides. Remove the pins and finish the raw edges with a serger or pinking shears. 

Repurposed Shirt Pillow CoverUnbutton the front of the pillow cover, turn and press. It’s best to leave the front buttoned until after the sides have been sewn. It’s very easy to unbutton it even while it’s inside-out.

Repurposed Shirt Pillow CoverOnce you have your templates made these pillows go together very quickly. I recently completed a project for my cousin and these shirt pillow covers played a major role. Barbara, my cousin, lost her husband to a freak infection a few years ago. He was in perfect health and in his early 50’s. Just last month, Barbara became a grandmother for the first time. It was bittersweet because she was so happy for her son, yet it seemed unfair that her husband wasn’t there to share her joy. She asked me to make something for the new baby from shirts that had belonged to her husband.

At first I wasn’t sure what to do. That pile of shirts sat on my sewing room floor for weeks. I finally had to just begin and see what I could come up with. A higher power was with me during the hours it took to complete that project. The end result was 2 baby quilts, 2 shirt pillow covers and 3 Christmas stockings. It had been years since I had quilted anything, but I guess once you learn something like that, you never forget. 

There was nothing but the collars left from the 8 shirts Barbara gave me. Barbara said on the day of the baby’s baptism there were many tears shed when she presented her son with the gifts I had made. Good tears though. Even though he was gone, her husband was able to share in that special day.

Thank you for stopping by…and for listening. I’ll be back tomorrow with our Pinterest Blitz party. I’m also working on a post that will help you make pillow covers just like the pros! See you soon…

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Repurposed Shirt Pillow Cover

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Thoughts from my friends...

  1. says

    I love this idea! I’ll have to admit that I got a little teary when I read the story behind your project.

    I’m forever donating gently used shirts like this and can now reuse some of them for pillows.

    • says

      Thanks Paula…I got teary when I wrote it. There’s something about a baby that melts your heart. Thanks for stopping by…hope you are having a great summer! ~Ann

  2. Joyce says

    What a special gift that was! I loved your story. This is an example of the very reason I am drawn to your blog…your genuine character comes through naturally. No razzle dazzle, just real life stuff. I like that.

  3. JulieinTN says

    IS NOTHING SAFE? I just love your repurpose shirt pillows. My DH is a plaid guy, so I have wonderful shirts to choose from anytime.

    Ann, since I am a quilter, when we shop DH always asks me “Would this make a good quilt” … You should see the looks we get! Love it.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Carole says

    I was very moved by the story about your cousin’s husband. What a lovely idea to use his shirts to create all those wonderful gifts. I’m going to try to find a couple of shirts to do this project (will have to hit the thrift shop though; the men in my life are 11 and 7 years old!). I have saved a bunch of my late brother’s ties. Any ideas for using them? A pillow cover, or…..? Let me know what you think.

    Thanks so much for your wonderful blog. I always enjoy hearing from you.

  5. says

    I’ll have to try this. I did something similar for my grandchildren. One of them gave me his favorite hoodie and asked me to make him something. He said “surprise me”. I made a pillow with the zipper and pockets in front. The others loved it so much, before I knew it I had 4 more to make. :)

  6. Jeannie says

    Ann, even before I got to the end about using these as gifts I was thinking of a dear friend who lost her husband to cancer this spring, and that I wanted to do one for her! Thank you for such a lovely idea!

    • says

      You are welcome! I think it’s a fitting way to use favorite shirts or pieces of clothing. Keeping them stored in a bin somewhere, not used,doesn’t do the memory justice. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

  7. Penny @ The Comforts of Home says

    I can just imagine how wonderful it was to have all of those memories from the shirts. That was a great idea. This tutorial was so easy to understand. Thank you!
    p.s. one of my recipes is in competition for a magazine piece….if you have time, can you stop by my blog before Sunday evening for a link to the site to vote for me? Thanks!

  8. Pondside says

    The idea is great, and I love the look – but best of all, Ann, is the wonderful inspiration you received to make such a meaningful gift for your cousin. There’s a lump in my throat.

  9. says

    Beautiful story of repurposing the shirts. I’ll bet the baby quilts were beautiful. Great tutorial and great pretty pillows. Thanks.
    xo Babs

  10. Donnamae says

    What a touching story Ann. Like the pillow idea…looks simple enough, even for a beginner. Did you take pics of the quilt? Enjoy your weekend! ;)