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How to Upcycle Old T-Shirts Into Decorative Pillows

I am a mom to two teenagers and a little Chihuahua pup. I like to write about crafts, DIY projects, and recipes.

DIY T-Shirt Pillows

DIY T-Shirt Pillows

DIY Dorm Room Craft: Recycled T-Shirt Throw Pillows

If you know how to thread your sewing machine and sew a straight line, you will be able to make your own keepsake t-shirt pillows. Kids can make these too, and teens should be more than capable.

My kids have a trunk full of t-shirts collected over the years from special trips, gifts from family, sports teams, and special events. Does your teen have a stash of favorite t-shirts they no longer wear but can't bear to part with because they have some sentimental value? Instead of burying them in the bottom of a box with the chance of them seeing the light of day again next to none, repurpose them into easy-to-make DIY T-shirt pillows for your teen's bedroom, dorm room, or apartment

For this project, my teen daughter picked out four T-shirts that she has outgrown, choosing bright colors and fun designs that fit into the theme of her room.

Not only are these t-shirt pillows a great sewing project for teenagers to do, but they also make wonderful and unique gifts. Do you have a teen heading off to university this fall? Make them a special T-shirt pillow from one of their favorite childhood memories to remind them of home.

Follow along with the instructions below to see how easy it is to make these t-shirt pillows yourself. They are very simple to make, and it took me less than an hour to make all four. Happy crafting!

Supplies and Materials

  • T-Shirts
  • Thread
  • Polyester stuffing: We used polyester stuffing to fill the pillows. I like to fluff up the stuffing by pulling it apart before putting in the pillows. The stuffing looks more even and you don't get as many bumps.

Tools

  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Sewing Machine
Pick out your teen's favorite sentimental T-shirts.

Pick out your teen's favorite sentimental T-shirts.

Step 1

Go through your hoard of t-shirts and pick out one or a few that hold special memories or are cool in design. If you want, put them in the dryer for 10 minutes to get the wrinkles out. The ones we used were very wrinkly from sitting squashed in the bottom of a give-away bag for a couple of months.

Map out the area of t-shirt you would like appear on the pillow

Map out the area of t-shirt you would like appear on the pillow

Step 2

Decide on the shape, size, and design you want to go for, and take measurements with your measuring tape.

Measure and cut a t-shirt pillow pattern from paper

Measure and cut a t-shirt pillow pattern from paper

Step 3

Transfer your measurements to a large piece of paper or newspaper and cut out the shape. I used an extra-large pot lid to make a circle pattern. These are your patterns.

Pin the paper pattern to the shirt, making sure to go through both layers.

Pin the paper pattern to the shirt, making sure to go through both layers.

Step 4

Position the pattern on the t-shirt. Pin through both layers of material using straight pins, parallel to all four edges, so you can cut around the edges with a pair of scissors.

Cut around the pattern. You will be left with two pieces of material.

Cut around the pattern. You will be left with two pieces of material.

Step 5

Cut around the pattern and remove the straight pins. You will be left with two identically sized pieces of material.

Turn the material inside out and pin together.

Turn the material inside out and pin together.

Step 6

Turn the pieces of material inside out and pin them together using straight pins. Place the pins perpendicular to the edges so the sewing machine can still run over them.

Sew the sides together leaving a small opening for the stuffing.

Sew the sides together leaving a small opening for the stuffing.

Step 7

Thread your sewing machine with the same color thread as the t-shirt you are using. Starting at one corner, sew along the inside edge with a straight stitch, leaving about a 1/4" border.

Turn the material right side-out.

Turn the material right side-out.

Step 8

Continue sewing all four sides, leaving a 2" gap at the end for the stuffing. If you are using a pillow form, only sew up three sides, leaving one side open to insert the form. Turn the pillow right side out.

Fill the pillow with stuffing and sew the opening closed.

Fill the pillow with stuffing and sew the opening closed.

Step 9

Fill the pillow with polyester stuffing, feeding it through the gap that you left. Once you are satisfied with the amount of stuffing inside, it is time to close up the gap. Thread a needle and hand-sew the opening closed.

© 2014 Corrinna Johnson

Comments

Corrinna Johnson (author) from BC, Canada on October 16, 2014:

Thanks @neosurk! They are great way to repurpose old sports and concert tees for a man cave!

Roberto Eldrum on October 12, 2014:

Wow! I just found this hub on my Pinterest feed and am so glad I did. My tshirts have now found a second life. Thanks.

Jenn Dixon from PA on July 30, 2014:

How cool is this lens?! I need to give this a shot. Well done!

essayshub on July 30, 2014:

One of the fun projects to do in the future. I will share this with my little ones.

Country Sunshine from Texas on July 29, 2014:

This is a great idea! I have a lot of t-shirts I've been saving for a project. I had originally planned to make a quilt, but think this might be better.

Eugene Samuel Monaco from Lakewood New York on July 25, 2014:

A truly creative idea, I do like it!!!!

miningjack20 on July 25, 2014:

cool... i like this idea

crystalpearl25 on July 25, 2014:

Love this new idea. All the pillows look super cute.

Rhonda Lytle from Deep in the heart of Dixie on July 24, 2014:

This is so cute. The M&M pillow is the bomb!

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on July 24, 2014:

Great idea. I saw one where they make a quilt out of old t-shirts but the iron on pellon backing to give it strength and less stretch. Thank might be helpful with the pillows but would take out some of the soft stretchy feel.

ColettaTeske on July 24, 2014:

Thank you, Corrinna, for the great idea. I have a stack of those t-shirts. Enough for the quilt I've been planning and extra for some matching pillows. Coolness!

Faye Rutledge from Concord VA on July 24, 2014:

I love this idea! I have a few sentimental t-shirts I could for this myself. I've also seen quilts made from t-shirts. Thanks for the great DIY tutorial. :)

BarbaraCasey on July 24, 2014:

Oh nuts... now I'm wishing I hadn't given away my sewing machine when I moved. Great idea... very clear instructions.

bead at home mom on July 24, 2014:

very fun and great idea for extending life of t-shirts with still lots of life left in them...

Marie on July 19, 2014:

Very cute idea :)

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on July 18, 2014:

Great idea!

Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on July 18, 2014:

Not a t-shirt pillow, but I have made several others. My favorites: When my children were little, I made quilted pillows using fabrics that matched the decor in their rooms. That was especially fun, but because I did a LOT of handwork on them, it also took quite a bit of time, which is not always easy for a young, nursing mom with a toddler to eke out. I spent some wee-hours-of-the-morning time on those pillows, but for the years they served us, they were worth it.