This idea came from loading up old clothes to take to Goodwill – there were soooo many t-shirts! Some of these had little holes or were stained or were just gifts or promos that were never worn… (Would your Dad wear a bright orange shirt? Maybe, but ours ended up in the Goodwill box). Even the stained shirts can be used inside out or the stains can be covered with fabric paint or stickers. Small holes? No problem, just cover with an embroidered flower or fabric sticker and problem solved – it’s so cool when something that once seemed like trash is transformed into a beautiful pillow! The basic idea is SO simple and quick, requires NO sewing and you can decorate them a zillion different ways. The instructions show you how to make a fringed version and a no-fringe version, so go gather up some t-shirts and get cutting! Oh yeah, and do NOT cut up any of your Dad’s shirts without asking him first!!!
Level of Difficulty: Medium – For ages 7+ with minimal adult supervision. This craft does require a sharp fabric scissors – child-friendly crafting scissors may be too dull. If you have any questions, please click on Contact Us on our website and we will respond as quickly as possible.
Estimated Completion time: Approximately 30-60 minutes plus drying time IF you use fabric paints.
– Sharp Fabric Scissors – Craft scissors won’t cut it!
– 12” Pillow Form
– Fabric Marker
– No-Sew Decorative Elements: (Optional)
– Fabric Stickers
– Fabric Paint and Paintbrush
– Rhinestone Stickers
Before you begin you will need to decide whether you want to make a fringed pillow or a no-fringe. They take the same amount of time and are the same level of difficulty – it’s just which one you like best. And you need to know this before you start.
Step 1: Examine your shirt and decide whether you want to use the outside of the shirt or the inside. Old sweatshirts are nice and fuzzy inside and this makes a really soft pillow. Or maybe your shirt has printing on it that you don’t want on your pillow, this one could be turned inside out. Or one side may seem softer than the other. You want your favorite side to be FACING OUT for the Fringed Version.
Step 2: Lay your shirt, (favorite side facing out), on a flat surface and straighten out any wrinkles or folds. Make sure the front of the shirt is lined up with the back of the shirt along the bottom hem.
Step 3: Use your ruler to measure and mark an 18” square on the shirt. You want to measure from above the hemline on the bottom. Inside the 18” square you’ll measure and mark a 12” square. Make sure the 12” square is exactly in the middle of the 18” square so that there is 3” around the 12” square on all sides.
Step 4: Cut away everything from around the 18” square.
Step 5: Using the 18” square, begin cutting the fringe. Start along one side and cut through both layers of the shirt. Make a 3” cut from the outer edge into the line of the 12” square. Do this again every ½”.
Step 6: At the corners make a special diagonal cut and remove the excess fabric triangles on either side of this strip.
Step 7: Continue cutting 1/2” strips until you’ve gone all the way around the entire 18” square.
Step 8: Tie each pair of ½” strips into a square knot. A Square Knot is “right over left, then left over right”. This knot is good and strong. If you tie Granny Knots, or tie “right over left, then right over left again”, the knots will not be as strong and may come untied. Tie these nice and tight up to the 12” square line mark. Tie all the knots along 3 sides. The sides will bunch and ruffle a little bit, but this is okay, it adds “character”!
Step 9: Insert your pillow form into the opening and tie all the knots along the 4th side, enclosing the pillow.
Step 10: Decorate!! Here are just a few ideas:
Fabric or Felt Stickers – Adorable flower stickers – they’re so easy to apply and come in lots of different shapes and colors. These are also great for covering up little flaws in your fabric, like stains, little holes, etc.
Fabric Paint or Fabric Markers – Endless possibilities!!! Paint on words or a pattern or a picture of your dog – whatever you can imagine you can create! The “Zoe” example is made with both paint and markers. First, paint your name and the hearts. Then when it dries, add accents with fabric marker.
Two-tone – This pillow is gold on one side and orange on the other, so the fringe is two-tone. This was done by cutting one panel from one shirt and the second panel from a different shirt.
The No-Fringe Version
Step 1: This version has a nice knotted pattern along the edges. For this version you will start with your favorite side of the fabric on the INSIDE. Turn the shirt so that the side you want on your final pillow is on the INSIDE. Then follow the above Steps 2 thru 8.
Step 9: When you have 3 sides knotted, turn the whole thing inside out, so the fringe is now on the inside. Insert your pillow form into the opening.
Step 10: Now tie the knots along the 4th and final side. Each time you tie a knot, push the knot and fringe to the inside. The last knot or two can be a little bit tricky as the opening gets smaller and smaller, but just push and poke until you get the final fringe ends through to the inside.
When you’re finished go back to Step 10 (in the Fringed version) for ideas on how to decorate.
These “re-purposed” and recycled pillows are so quick and fun to make and there are so many ways to decorate… you’ll need to make a dozen for your bed and then start giving them away!!
Have Fun! Be Creative!!
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