Tuesday, March 4, 2014

T-Shirt Recycled to Pillow Tutorial

I recently revisited a recycled-materials project I have done in the past.
For this project I turned an embellished girl's t-shirt into a decorative pillowcase. My younger sister is at that pre-teen/ early teen age when girls just grow and grow like weeds. She is also at the transition from very cute girl's clothes to, in my opinion, more generic teen clothing. As a result she is outgrowing some barely used, nice quality clothes.
While I am a big believer in handing things on to acquaintances or charity-shops, sometimes there are items that are just to unique or delightful to let go of. In this case it was some embellished t-shirts from Gap- girl.
My sister actually asked me to make these shirts into decorative pillow cases for her bed, since they matched her "Paris Shopping Girl" themed room. I knew I could do it because I had done another one for her last year. And this time I actually remembered to take pictures of the process, so I will outline the process as a tutorial in case anyone else has had the same dilemma of not wanting to throw out cute t-shirts.
You will need:
Embellished cotton jersey t-shirt
Thread (color should be in the same intensity, ie pink tee+ white thread, not black)
Scissors or rotary cutter
Pillow insert (depending on size of shirt)

Step One

Make sure your t-shirts are clean and wrinkle free. I don't usually iron knit shirts. Instead I hand them on hangers straight out of the washer and let gravity do the work for me.

Step Two

Turn the shirts inside out and lay flat with the embellished side facing up toward you. Use a ruler to make a straight line continuing in the line of the side seam over the sleeves to the top of the shirt. Trace the line with seamstress' chalk/ pen and cut along the line. If you are using a rotary cutter you can just line it up on the ruler and cut. Note: You will have to include the armhole seam inside your cutting line. The last time I did this project it was with a raglan-sleeveless tee, and that had a little bit smoother finished look. But it will be fine in the end if your pillow is big enough to stretch out the fabric a bit.
Repeat this process with the top of the shirt. You will want to line your ruler up just below the neck opening to guarantee that you don't lose any of the image/ embellishment to the sewing and turn-out process. It will also make for a centered image on the front of the pillow.

Step Three

Pin along your raw edges and sew a straight stitch from the side-opening up to the top, then the top edge, then the other side edge. I haven't sew with knits much, so all I can say is that you may want to make sure that the thread tension is decreased slightly to prevent puckering. Otherwise, I just set it up like I was sewing a straight stitch on a woven fabric.
Not being well versed in knits, I also don't have a serger. So, since this was meant to be a quick-and-easy project I just sewed a straight stitch first, then went back over with a zig-zag stitch to create kind of a faux serged edge. You can see it before I trimmed the seam allowance in the picture on the right.

Step Four

Turn inside out and insert your pillow. I used the inexpensive pillow insert brand from Jo Ann Fabrics, and those work just fine for a decorative pillow. In this case, and last time, I used an 18" square. This worked for a girl's medium shirt the first time and a girl's x-large shirt this time. Any larger and I would say you probably want to use a 20" square just to be sure that it will stretch the fabric enough to keep the image or embellishment smooth. Also, if you have poly-filling and don't want to go out and buy a pillow insert, you could sew most of the bottom edge, leaving a 5 in gap in the center,fill up your pillow case, then sew the last of the bottom edge closed by hand.

And there you have it!
A great way to re-purpose a cute tee that you'd rather not give away.
What do you think?
Have you ever used a fashion item to re-purpose as a decor item?
Or maybe the reverse?
Let me know in the comments.

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