Archive for Monday, April 9, 2012


Remnant Rehab: Save a sentimental T-shirt as a pillow

April 9, 2012


A hand-me-down T-shirt that didn't fit makes a comfy pillowcase.

A hand-me-down T-shirt that didn't fit makes a comfy pillowcase.

We all have loads of T-shirts, don’t we?

A lot of them commemorate certain events, so we don’t always want to let them go. I have a few I keep though rarely wear — one from my high school swim team, another from my time at the University Daily Kansan.

I also have some hand-me-downs: a University of Chicago shirt, where my dad got his MBA, which I wear to bed; and a University of Arizona shirt from my mom, proclaiming her alma mater.

You’ve probably seen the T-shirt quilt idea before, in which you cut out the designs from the front of the T-shirts you want to save and stitch them together. It’s a neat idea, if you have a lot of shirts.

But if you only have one or two shirts you want to save, like me, and/or you’re pretty certain even a T-shirt quilt would take you a decade, like me, here’s a smaller-scale project for you: make a pillow.

Mom’s U of A shirt doesn’t fit me, but I didn’t want to get rid of it. Because the design is circular, I decided to make a round pillow.

This involves a bit of geometry you wouldn’t have to worry about if you made a square pillow, but it truly wasn’t that hard or time-consuming.


  • T-shirt
  • tailor’s chalk or marking tool
  • measuring tape
  • scissors
  • pins
  • thread
  • sewing machine
  • round pillow form


  1. Look on the pillow form to see what size it is in diameter; mine was 14 inches. You can make your front piece the same size or up to an inch bigger.
  2. Figure out the center of your design and place the end of the measuring tape there. From the center, measure half the diameter, i.e. the radius (in my case, 7 inches), to points at the top, bottom, left and right of the design. Then, using the tape as a compass, hold the chalk at the same measurement and move it in a circle, connecting the marks.
  3. Cut out the circle, and make sure not to catch the back of the shirt when cutting.
  4. Smooth the shirt out and use the circle cut-out from the front of the shirt as a template: Trace the edge of the top half of circle onto the back of the shirt, and extend the line an inch on the bottom, then draw a line across to connect the semicircle. This leaves extra fabric to cover the whole back of the pillow form.
  5. Cut the front of the shirt away. Fold the back of the shirt on the line across the bottom of the semicircle. Cut out the semicircle through both layers, then cut apart across the fold. You’ll have two semicircles.
  6. Fold the straight edge of one semicircle down half an inch, wrong sides together, and pin. Repeat on the second semicircle. Then sew a straight line across this hem on each semicircle.
  7. Lay the front circle right side up. Place the top semicircle aligned with the top of the front piece, right sides together, and pin around the edges. Align the bottom semicircle with the bottom edge of the front piece and pin edges. The top and bottom semicircles should overlap.
  8. Starting at the overlap on one side, sew around the edge of the circle with a 1/4-inch seam allowance. With a small seam allowance and the stretchiness of the jersey, it’s not necessary to clip the curve.
  9. Flip the pillowcase right side out through the opening in the back and insert the pillow form. Jersey stretches quite a bit, so it should be easy to get your pillow form into the case.


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