upcycle old shirts {pillow covers}

As it turns out, this fun little project was a success to the detriment of our donation pile.  Sorry Asiento!

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When I was getting our donation box organized, around the same time I was getting our rooftop bedroom set up, I was drawn to a couple of blue shirts my husband had in there.  Apparently I didn’t see a need to take a pic of the shirts other than just in a pile with the pillow forms.

The blue one was a regular polo shirt and the light blue one with the sail fish images was a Tommy Bahama style shirt.

Here is the tale of how a novice sewer lady took two old shirts and made a few pillow covers.

I started by just cutting and ripping the shirts to get rid of all of the seams, buttons, collars, etc.

I laid my pillow form on my fabric, eyeballed an inch or so bigger and cut the fabric to size.

TIP!!!  If you like a snug fitting, full looking pillow DON’T cut your fabric much bigger than your pillow form.

Once I had the two fabric panels cut to size, I folded one in half, held it secure with my knee and cut it in half.
Unlike the hockey bag pillow I made for my dad, which will never be washed ever, I wanted to try my hand at envelope closure pillows so I could remove and wash if so desired.  Hence the need for the extra cut, I didn’t want any of the fabric seams to be on the front side of the pillow cover.  Make sense?

For the Tommy Bahama style shirt fabric, I didn’t need to cut any of the pieces in half because my lengths of fabric worked out that I wouldn’t have any seams in the front of the pillow cover.

Once you have your lengths of fabric to size, just sew your pieces together to create one long strip of fabric.
Hem one of the edges with a little fold over and sew technique and then place your pillow on the fabric with one edge lined up with your one seam.
Ok, apparently after the above picture I decided I wanted the other edge of the pillow lined up with the seam in the fabric.  Not sure why exactly.

Then just fold your fabric over your pillow form.  Note how close to my pillow height my fabric is, I do like a snug fitting, full looking pillow.
 And mark you fabric with pins.
I don’t have any pics of the final pillow cover still inside out, but from here you just sew your second edge hem (where you have pinned in the pic above) and a straight line along the top and bottom.
Voila!  That is that.

Now, I didn’t take any pics of the not-yet-embellished covers either … except for this little experimental disaster I made with the leftover scraps of both shirts.  Hey tacky pillow cover … what up?!?  No, you will not be seeing the light of the rooftop bedroom.
But check out that straight sewn line, if I do point it out myself.  Because there were also many a sewing moment that went a little more like this …

… and this.
So, right now we are celebrating the small victories.  And tomorrow we’re embellishing these babies.

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Do tell, have you seen an easier pillow cover project?  We’re talking a few cuts, a few pins, sew a few lines and done.  And my favorite part … NO MEASURING.  :)

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About Karah

I'm Karah and I'm so glad you're here! I'm a small town girl from the North East who finds myself moving around with my husband and pups every few years and constantly on a journey to make the most of every space we find ourselves in. That little space between what has been and what will be. It'd be so cool if you'd like to join us for the ride.
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27 Responses to upcycle old shirts {pillow covers}

  1. Anne says:

    Cute! I try to avoid sewing since I have to do it all by hand. Fusing tape is a girl’s best friend…

  2. Love the swim pillow! Before you know it you will be making all kinds of things, I bet. Good job!

    • Karah says:

      hahaha, I found myself in a fabric store looking all around thinking “could I make a skirt with this?” and “maybe this would make a cute tank top”. :)

  3. Great job! I love those pillows.

  4. Marilyn says:

    Karah, these are awesome…they look fun and beachy! :D

  5. AWESOME! What a great idea. They are so cute!!

  6. Bravo on your small victories! And now you have a new pillow to link up to my next Pillowpalooza party! Woo hoo!

    They are so cute. Can’t wait to learn how you embellished them too …

    :) Linda

  7. Whoohoo! Way to use what you’ve got, and actually make them look cute! I probably wouldn’t get so lucky! :)

  8. Amy says:

    these are so cute!! love the idea of using old T-Shirts. I don’t have a blog to share any ideas of my own (yet), but I’ve become obsessed with upcycling old mens (a couple womens) button up shirts as pillow covers! Just cut out the front and back of the shirt, leaving the front of the shirt buttoned up, centering the buttons on the back panel. Place your 2 squares right sides together the buttons & button holes make the back of the pillow, so you can undo & pull out the form to wash the cover, its genius! very easy to do. :)

    • Karah says:

      Amy! That is genius!!! I might need to try it, what a great idea … now to just pick a shirt of my husbands he won’t know is missing. hahaha :)

  9. Karen says:

    Great pillows! Soon you’ll be sewing stuff you can’t imagine doing right now. It becomes addictive and each success builds on the last.

  10. Lorrie says:

    Adorable pillows, I love your rosettes!

  11. I am so impressed by a straight seam line. I’m not being sarcastic. I aim for mostly-kinda-straight in my sewing, and rejoice when I achieve it.

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  13. these are totally cute! awesome stuff!

  14. Michele says:

    Excellent tutorial! Thanks!

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  19. Debbie says:

    So simple, yet the perfect use for old shirts! Love it, and am pinning.
    Debbie :)

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