Make a Pillow from a sentimental T-Shirt

A friend of mine asked if I could make a pillow for her 12-year-old daughter who is heart broken over the recent loss of her grandfather.  They were very close and she has a shirt that she cherishes from him.  It has USMC on it.  He was a Marine.  It no longer fits her, and it would be great to turn it into a small pillow for her bed.  Of course, I said I'd be happy to do it!  

Finished T-shirt Pillow

I had not tried this type of pillow before, so I did a little online searching to see how others have done it.  I found this page to be very helpful.  I tested their instructions with an old T-shirt of mine, and then this is my version of how I made this one:

This is a well-worn, youth size 10-12 t-shirt.  I had a small 12"x12" square pillow in my stash, and thought it would work well for this project.

I laid my 12.5" square ruler over the tee shirt and centered it over the design.  This design does not have much space underneath the collar, so I aligned the ruler right beneath the collar to use the limited space it has.  The logo design would be a little above center on the pillow, but it would still work OK.

Use a water or air-soluble marker to mark your cutting lines around the ruler.   I placed a small cutting mat inside the shirt to only cut the top layer with a rotary cutter.

I wanted to make this a lapped edge, slip-case pillow.  Since the bottom edges of the t-shirt were already finished, I wanted to use them.  I cut two separate pieces for the back of the pillow.  The first piece was just the remaining material from the front of the t-shirt to the bottom edge.  For the second piece, I measured up about 11".  You normally need each piece to be about 2/3 the size of the square, to allow for an overlap, but since this small shirt didn't have much material for my first piece, I wanted as much as a I could for the second piece.
The two pieces for the back of the pillow.

Then, something unique about this t-shirt caught my eye.  On the sleeve is a US Marine bulldog mascot.  I wanted to use this image somehow, and noticed the sleeve was about the same size of the first piece of fabric I had cut for the back of the pillow.
US Marine bulldog mascot

So I got out the seam ripper and took off one of the short sleeves.
The two pieces for the back, plus one sleeve with the mascot.

I trimmed the sleeve to be the largest rectangle I could make from it.  I decided to use this piece instead of the first piece I cut for the back.

Lay the two pillow-back pieces on the table, right-side up with the finished overlap edges on the inside, and the raw cut edges facing the outside of the square.
Lay the pillow front layer on top, logo-side down so that the materials are right-sides together.
Pin the layers together.

Sew all around the edges.  I used about a .5" seam.

Trim the corners and turn the pillow case out.
View of front.

View of back with bulldog mascot.

Slip the pillow form inside and you are done!


My friend said it is just perfect and it would make her daughter cry.  She can't wait to get it.  I am so happy this quick and easy project turned out so well!

Happy Stitching!


  1. This is lovely, what a great way for your friends daughter to remember her granddad. I love the attention to detail you gave it. I tried something similar once but found the t shirt material twisted and puckered on me a bit- do you think I was just rushing things or do you have any great tips?

  2. That's a wonderful pillow, and I like the ingenious way you used the sleeve for the back flap. I'm sure the recipient will love it.

  3. A great pillow! I've got a big pile of tshirts I want to make into a memory quilt - I WILL get around to it one day!

  4. This is perfect, I did the same with some of my Granny's handknitted cardis so I completely understand how much it will mean to your friend and their family. Just lovely x

  5. This is a lovely idea, I like envelope backs, so much easier than having to put a zip in :)

    Jan x

  6. What a special keepsake and I love the way you incoorporated the sleeve. Pinning now.

  7. What a sweet way for this girl to remember her grandfather! You're a good friend to do that! Thanks for sharing this with my Frugal Crafty Home Blog Hop readers.

  8. What a fabulous way to make a special keepsake, I'm sure that the little girl will treasure it for many years.


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