Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Memory Pillow from a Shirt

Losing a friend or loved one is tough in so many ways. This Memory Pillow from a shirt can hopefully help you deal with those tough days when you just need to hug and think of a special memory. Directions for the "sew-easy" Memory Pillow are included along with a pattern, directions, and tips for the pillow form and t-shirt insert.


pillow form - or - 2/3 yard of white cotton or cotton blend woven (not stretchy) fabric
fiberfill stuffing (if you make your own pillow form)
handkerchief (optional)
piece of t-shirt or undershirt

Pillow Form Directions:

First, you will need to make or buy a pillow form. I made this pillow form slightly smaller than my couch pillows. I prefer making my own pillow form because I can control the size and density of the stuffing. 

I sewed the pillow form on a sewing machine, but it could be done with hand-stitching.

Always sew and backstitch a few stitches at the beginning and ending of each seam to secure it.

Use  a cutting board and a yardstick to draw  a pattern. Cut out the pattern, With right sides together, cut out 2 pieces of white cotton or cotton blend woven (not stretchy) fabric.  

 Pin around the edges of the fabric.

Use the measurements on the photos to mark 2 1/2 inches from all 4 corners.

Use the pattern to mark the 5" opening in the center of one side. The opening will be used to turn the pillow after sewing and for stuffing.

Use matching thread to sew a 1/2" seam around the fabric edge, leaving 5" open for stuffing.

To square the corners, match the corner seams and pin. Sew a straight line from side to side through the dots that you marked (see above). Trim the excess fabric to 1/2".

Turn the pillow form to the outside. 

Straighten out the fabric in the corners.

Time to stuff! 

Tip: Fiberfill is also available in bags. I bought this 5 lb box because I plan to make several pillows. I stuff the pillow firmly. Stuffing will eventually "settle", so it is better to overfill!

When the pillow form is firm enough, pin the opening closed. Use matching thread to hand-stitch the opening.

Shirt Pillow Directions:

First, repair any tears in the shirt. These tears were quickly mended with iron-on patches.

Turn the shirt to the wrong side. Use safety pins to pin the edges of the shirt together around the sides and bottom of the shirt, being careful not to pin to the pillow form! The existing shoulder seams form the top.

Unbutton the shirt, and remove the pillow form. Adjust the pins if necessary. Draw a stitching line for the sides and bottom of the shirt.

Trim the excess fabric from the sides and bottom.

If there is a pleat in the back of the shirt, press flat. Then sew the pleat in the center and at the bottom to keep it together.

Stitch the shirt sides and bottom together with a 3/8" seam. Finish the seam with either a zigzag stitch or with a serger.

Finished Seam

Do a Modified Square Corner on each of the 4 corners of the shirt. See directions for pillow form above, except sew about 1" on either side of the seam, making it a softer corner. Do not trim the seam.

After you "square" the corners on the shirt, turn the shirt right side out, and insert the pillow form. Now you can button the shirt all the way up, and you are almost done! 

T-shirt Insert

Cut a piece of t-shirt or undershirt fabric large enough to cover the neck opening of the shirt plus 2" on each side. Turn the edge under about 3/8" and stitch around all edges. Insert in the neck opening.

Optional: Put a pocket handkerchief in the left pocket.

I lovingly sewed this Memory Pillow from one of Dad's favorite shirts for his wife Cathy. 

This is a shirt
I used to wear.
When you hug it,
Know I'm still there.

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  1. U didnt show how to do the neck part of the shirt

    1. After you "square" the corners on the shirt, turn the shirt right side out, button the shirt all the way up, and you are done! I added the t-shirt insert to cover the pillow form that shows at the neck area. I will add this to my directions. Sorry for the confusion, and thanks for pointing that out!

    2. Insert the pillow form before buttoning up the shirt!

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