Recycled Pillow Covers

So, Harley and I have accumulated a large number of geeky t-shirts over the last few years.  Inspired by one of those ‘clean up your life by reducing clutter’ type posts, we decided to cull some of the shirts (given that I had nearly enough shirts to wear a different one every day for a month).

This resulted in a pile of shirts that I didn’t mind giving away to various charities/opportunity shops, and some that we really wanted to hang onto.

I briefly considered the idea of creating a duvet cover out of them, but there weren’t really enough, and I wasn’t sure whether it would stretch and become easily deformed.  Harley suggested that perhaps cushion covers would be an option.  Given that our existing collection of cushion covers was getting rather tattered, it seemed like a good plan.

The cushions were about 40cm/40cm and this was within the available size range of the shirts.

1: My first idea was to make the cushions look like stuffed t-shirts.

The first step was to cut the bottom of the shirt off 45cm from the top of the shoulder – the rotary cutter was awesome for doing this.

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Then I stitched the arms closed along the seam lines.

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The next step was to close the neck.  I used a piece of the bit of the hem that I had cut off as an insert, which I sewed into the neck.  This was a bit tricky, but could have been worse.  I had to sew the front in, then turn it around and sew the back in to stop it getting all misshapen – I wanted it to make a smooth lining for the collar.

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I decided to put a zip along the base of the shirt.  Because the zip is built on a woven binding and the shirts were stretch, I thought it would be a good idea to use some iron-on interfacing to reduce the stretch.

Stitching in the zip was a standard procedure.  I used a 25cm zip, centered in the middle of the edge, as I wanted the edge of the pillow to be neater.  However, trying to join the edges neatly around the ends of the zip, was a bit tricky, and I ended up having to redo the seams several times, as I ended up catching the zip tapes the wrong way a couple of times.

This was the finished product:

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But everyone thought the whole sleeves and neck on the cover looked silly, so it was back to the drawing board.

I had to unpick the sleeves, turn the shirt out and find a new process.   For the side seams, I found the closest point that the sleeve insets came to, and sewed up the sides at that point.  Once that was done, I cut across the top at the lowest point of the neck and sewed it up as well.

That was the first one completed.  The second shirt I approached in a similar way – sewing up the sides and neck first, followed by sewing the zip in the most complicated way possible across the base of the t-shirt.  The edges of the bottom seam, I sewed up in the same way as before.

The third shirt, I approached differently, because I realised that there had to be a better way to get the zip in.  This time, I started by cutting out one square 45x45cm around the design on the front and a second square from the back of the shirt. I then ironed on the interfacing and sewed the zip onto the bottom edge of each of the pieces.  I then sewed together the remaining edges of the bottom side of the square.  It was then really easy to sew around the remaining three sides of the square, turn it in the right way, and stuff the pillow insert into the new case.  I’m definitely going to use this approach for the remaining pillows!

Here are the first three pillows.

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