In Design inspiration, DIY and Make-Do tutorials

Pillows are a pretty easy and inexpensive way to change the decor in your home. Most of the time when I make a pillow, I sew the cover together leaving a small opening. I stuff a pillow form inside then hand sew the opening shut. This technique has served me well, but it’s not suitable for changing covers on your pillow forms. If you ‘re one for swapping out the covers with the seasons, for example, you’re better off with a pillow cover that either zips on and off or has an envelope back.

I made these using nice soft second-hand sweaters for the face of the pillows. They are all wool, but only the blue stripe and the fisherman cable have been felted. Really, you could use any kind of sweater or fabric, for that matter. Cut a square the same dimension as your pillow form (16″ x 16″ or whatever). If you use an unfelted sweater, overlock or zigzag the raw edges.

For the back of the pillow, cut another square out of an old flannel shirt, denim jacket, suit coat, dress shirt, suede vest, etc! Anything that already has some kind of placket or closure will work as your ready-made “envelope” closure for the back of your pillow.

You can center the placket, off set it, put it at a diagonal, however it works. Sew the pillow front to the pillow back, right sides together, around the entire perimeter. Turn right side out, stuff it with your pillow form, then button it back up. Done!

These pillows look nice, are comfortable and are meant to be used. You can have fun thrifting around for just the right front and back to put together. Or make them a little more meaningful by creating them out of a favorite garment that can no longer be worn. A while back I made one out of my son’s long outgrown cashmere fisherman sweater. He loves being able to *keep* his old sweater and to curl up with it on the couch.

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Showing 41 comments
  • tenthings.

    what a cute idea!


  • Susan

    you are a clever little betz:) I looooove this idea!

  • Bonney

    That is one clever idea!! It’s absolutely perfect!

  • amelia

    I did this once for my daughter’s birthday gift, but actually used the whole fuzzy shirt. I sewed the neck and sshort sleeves closed and filled from the waist. She loved it!

  • Lianna

    I love the fabric combinations! Especially now that the fall season is fast arriving. The pillows look comforting and cozy!

  • amberlee

    Genius! I love envelope closure backs, this is such a cool idea for makin them!

  • caroladas

    Extraordinary. Recicle is very important today. Wonderfull idea.

  • Heather - -

    Love the 2-sided pillow idea – very clever!!

  • ...

    another great idea that is simple but really cleaver. Thanks!

  • Georgia

    I love the idea of using the front of the shirt with the buttons! You are a very clever lass!

  • Laura

    Love it! I wouldn’t have wanted to give up my cashmere fisherman’s sweater either!!!!

  • Johanna

    super,i love recycling

  • Petit Filoux

    So clever!!!


    Wow, that’s so clever!

  • Diana

    Too cool!

  • minivanlife

    fab-U-lous!! I wasn’t expecting the back of the pillow, but what a great idea!! Mind if I link this post to my webpage?

  • Anne

    Super idée de récup !

  • Boracay hotel accommodation

    What a brilliant idea! These pillows are unique and stylish.I like it!

  • house on hill road

    such a great idea to use a placket that already exists on the back!

  • Betz White

    Hi Minivan,
    Sure! Link away!

  • Beth Gales

    So neat! Thanks for sharing! Do you wash the wool sweaters first?

  • ragamuffin yogini

    Thank you for sharing. I will add that to my bag of tricks for been green and frugal! I love it!

  • Francie O

    Great idea! My sister just moved and was sadly thinking about needing to give away the box of shirts she saved after our Daddy died 15 years ago. I was trying to think of something we could do with them and this is a perfect solution. Thanks!

    • Lisa C.

      I saw an idea in a magazine where someone made a duvet cover from their Dad’s old shirts. I am going to do this with shirts my Dad wore before he died. I think I will make coordinating pillow shams and throw pillows as well. What a great sentimental idea for using old clothing.

  • Danna

    Those sweater pillows are so cute. I’m definitely going to the thrift shop soon to look for some wool sweaters.

    Thanks for sharing!


  • Donnelly

    I love this! You make such beautiful things and give us such wonderful inspiration. Thanks for sharing.
    Have a great day.

  • Zee

    Oh they are fabulous! Great ideas! I love those pockets as well.

  • Alena

    WOW What an idea! Thanks

  • mayaluna

    Your well of “good ideas” is bottomless!

  • Farmgirl Susan

    These pillows are wonderful! I especially love the ready made ‘envelope’ closures. I don’t actually know how to sew, but I’m thinking even I might be able to make some of these! :)

  • RID

    What a super-cute idea!!!! Saludos desde Barcelona

  • Trina

    That is such a creative idea. I love it.

  • Tree Dellinger

    Oh, how clever….I want to go make one right now. : )

  • Mandy

    Wow, this is totally great! Very easy to go to Goodwill and pick up a shirt or two and some sweaters and make plenty of these very cheaply. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  • Samantha

    such a cute idea!

  • Debbie

    You can make something nice out of ANYTHING!!! Love ’em!

  • Gretchen

    so fun! add to my list ;)

  • pattygu

    so much inspiration!!!!

  • Kate

    I’m so glad I found your blog. Your ideas are FABULOUS!! I can’t wait to make some pillows!!!!!! Thanks for sharing. :)

  • Sofisan

    I loved the one with the “vest” backing, gourgeus. I am making pillows for my younger brother hwo loves pirates and rock ‘n roll and I have some fronts but was stuck on the backings, how did you know? Now I am of to the thrift shop. You always make the simplest ideas look so good, that’s not as easy as you one thinks. Big fan.

  • Wendy

    I just posted a similar project last week! Mine was made with the front of some Chinese pajamas I wore as a child.

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