So you have probably read or seen on Instagram that my daughter and I had a weekend getaway with some fabulous bloggers in Chicago. Well, we took some time to see the city, too, and you know what vacation means to kids, right? Souvenirs! We took the Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co. tour while we were in town, and my daughter totally LOVED the double decker bus. We even got a free souvenir shirt with our tickets (yay!) but there’s one drawback: they were available in adult sizes only. Now, Raya was thrilled to get her own “Chicago shirt dress” (as she put it, since it came down to her little feet), but it’s hard to enjoy a souvenir shirt when it’s not the right size. So if anyone has ever brought you home a shirt that’s too big or too small, or you just aren’t the type to wear your souvenirs, I’ve got a great idea for you today for what to do with it instead so that you can enjoy your memento all the time. If you can sew a straight line, then I’ll show you how to turn a tshirt into a pillow in 10 minutes or less!
I’m putting together a fun post recapping our trip to share with you guys tomorrow, so if you’re seeing the shirt and curious about the Chicago Trolley tour (and the other awesome things we were in Chicago for) then be sure to come back and check that out. I’ve got plenty of silly selfies, and some things I learned about traveling the city with a pre-K diva. ;) We had a great time! But for those of you just interested in the tutorial today, I decided to break the project out into a separate post. You don’t need much to make this easy t-shirt pillow, and the way I’m finishing it means you’ve got NO turning, NO top-stitching, and NO sewing inside out. If all you can manage is a straight line on your machine, then you’ve got this. I’ll include affiliate links below in case you need to do some shopping – here’s what you will need:
- Your sewing machine (or borrow your friend’s for a few minutes) and contrasting thread
- Sharp scissors or pinking shears
- A pillow form to fit (we’re using 16×16 today, but choose the best size to fit your shirt)
- Your awesome souvenir shirt
- Helpful for beginners: A ruler and disappearing ink marker
There are a lot of ways to turn a tshirt into a pillow, but I wanted to make this project as simple as humanly possible for all the beginner sewists out there. Don’t sweat technique – just worry about stitching straight. If you are brand-new to sewing, then you’ll want to take this step first: using a ruler, mark out with a disappearing ink marker a square centered over the top side of your shirt that’s the same dimensions as your pillow form. This will ensure that when you start sewing, not only will stitch straight lines, but you will also be sure to center your shirt on the pillow. (I confess, I did not do this, but I’ve been sewing off and on for years.) Disappearing ink typically fades after 20-30 minutes on jersey material, I find.
Starting on the left side of your shirt, on the bottom corner of your marked-off square, begin sewing. I used a simple zigzag stitch, and my daughter requested pink thread (of course! I was planning to use orange but she talked me out of it, haha). You will be sewing through BOTH layers of the shirt, securing them together. Stitch up toward the top of the shirt, turn and stitch across the top, and then down the right side so that three sides of your pillowcase are formed.
Next, stuff your pillow inside. To get an easy line to stitch, I folded the pillow form in half, stuffing it into the top half of the pillow case. Then, I stitched the bottom closed. (A little squishing around straightened my pillow form inside after I was done. You can also stitch all but enough space to fit your hand inside, and straighten it out in there when you’re nearly finished sewing.)
At this point, you will have a shirt with a puffy pillow stitched inside! All you need to do is trim the excess shirt away, leaving a 1/2 inch of fabric all the way around. I used pinking shears to enjoy the zigzag edge, but t-shirt material is awesome in that it doesn’t unravel, it just rolls. Regular scissors WILL work just fine! Just be sure they’re very sharp.
In between taking photos to share with you, and finishing this project, I was done in just 7 minutes as a sewist with some experience. So I feel confident in calling this project a 10-minute project, even for beginners (as long as you get your stitching right on the first try). :) Now my daughter can enjoy her souvenir every single day by adding a soft and comfortable pillow to her bed.
I think this would also be a VERY cool project for old concert tees, too, to turn your favorite bands into throw pillows for the couch!
If you liked this t-shirt transformation, then be sure to check out my new book, DIY T-Shirt Crafts, which contains 50 other ways to repurpose your old tees into other craft projects. Everything in the book can be made without a sewing machine, and all the projects can be made in an hour or less!
Thanks for joining me for this quick project today, and be sure to come back tomorrow and read about our trip!