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’m working on a post that will help you make pillow covers just like the pros! See you soon…

Repurposed Shirt Pillow Cover