Guest Post: Re-purposing clothing

Today my dear friend Nicole is sharing how to take a boys shirt and turn it into a very cute pillow cover. She also has some other ideas on re-purposing other clothing items. Nicole always amazes me with her ideas.  She is one talented lady!

Hi, this is Nicole and I’m happy to share my pillow sham project with you today.

Creating a pillow sham out of a dress shirt

Repurposing clothing

This is a children’s size 5 dress shirt.

Repurposing clothing pillow sham

Start by cutting off the shirt below the Arm sleeves, it is best to cut about 1-2 inches below the bottom of the sleeve because the shirt tends to curve up at that point and you want the sides as straight as possible.    I like to do the least Sewing as possible so I always try to utilize all of the sewing that is already done on the shirt or item I am repurposing.  In this project I am leaving the side seams sewn and using the button up front as the back access opening to my pillow sham.

Upcycling clothing for pillow

Once you have cut the shirt then cut along the bottom of the shirt to create a straight edge.  Now I apply a fusible interfacing to the backside of the whole front of the pillow.  I apply interfacing to provide support for the appliqué.  Since this is white fabric I apply interfacing to the whole front of the pillow and not just behind where I place the appliqué because I do not want to see the edge of the interfacing through the white fabric when the pillow is complete.  The extra rigidity that the interfacing adds to this dress shirt fabric is nice too.  Now, do not sew the top edge or bottom edge of the pillow together yet because we still have the appliqué to do.


applique on pillow sham


I cut around the graphic on the shirt. I do not cut exactly around the shape yet because I am going to back the roughly cut out appliqué with Wonder-Under.   Wonder-Under is a product made by Pellon and is available at fabric stores.  Quilt shops will also have similar products made by other companies.  I just use this brand because it is easiest for me to get.  Wonder-Under is a fusible paperbacked adhesive, it turns any fabric into a fusible fabric.  So you place the appliqué face up on the rougher side of the Wonder Under and iron and then you peel the paper off and you have a sticky back on your appliqué.  So let’s back up a little.  I have my image cut out of the shirt and I have not yet cut exactly around the image I have just roughly cut out around the image then I cut a piece of wonder Under the same size as the roughly cut appliqué/image and iron it to apply adhesive to the back of the appliqué/ image.  I do not remove the paper back yet until I intricately cut around the image to create the appliqué.  Once I have the appliqué cut I figure out where I want to place it on the pillow.  I peal off the paperback and iron the image in place.  At this point I like to sew around the edge of the appliqué but it is not necessary as this product is designed for bonding no sew projects.


applique on pillow upcycle

This photo is a detail of the stitching around the applique.  I used white thread to sew around the applique which makes it a little difficult to see in the photo, but I like the extra visual texture the stitching provides in the finished project.

Now we need to sew the top edge and bottom edges of the pillow together.  Have the shirt buttoned up.  And turn inside out, then pin the top and bottom edges, and sew straight on each edge I use a standard 5/8 seam allowance.  The side edges are already sewn from when it was a shirt.  We are going to use the button opening so we can get a pillow form in and out of our repurposed shirt pillow sham.   Also always trying to minimize the amount of sewing that needs to be done.   Once the sewing of the top and bottom edge is done turn the sham back to right side out and the repurpose shirt to pillow sham is complete.  At this point I sewed a pillow form out of white cotton fabric left over from another project.  Which is as easy as sewing a rectangle together the size of the sham and stuffing it with polyester stuffing.  You can purchase pillow forms but I just did not think I would be able to find a form in the size of my finished pillow sham.  The finished size of this pillow is about 8×15 inches.

nicole 7upcycle shirt to pillow cover


Other ways to repurpose old clothing.

upcycle clothing

Here is a pillow made out of Jean scraps and a t-shirt graphic.  The size of this pillow is approximately 12×12 inches.  The jean scraps I used to make this pillow were left over from a fabric garland I made out of old jeans and other old clothing and some left over quilt fabric from quilting projects.



re-purpose clothing

denim pillow out of old jeans

In this pillow I made the front of the pillow out of a t-shirt and the back out of a polar fleece sweatshirt.  The size of this pillow is about 6×6 inches.  Just a note when using knit fabrics like a t-shirt, back the fabric with a fusible interfacing to make it easier to work with.

old fleece and t-shirt pillow


nicole 14


nicole 12

Fabric garland out of jeans and quilting fabric.


Thank you for letting me be a guest blogger today!  I hope these projects inspire.


Nicole Then



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