Just thinking of winter here in Michigan makes me feel like snuggling up with comfy pillows, a cozy blanket, a big mug of hot chocolate, and good book. Of course, not just any 'ole pillows will do. They have to be just as comforting as this whole mental picture suggests, and personally I can't think of anything that fits this description better than sweater pillows.
There is just one problem with that. Pillows like these can be quite expensive and if I am being honest, I am way too cheap to spend that kind of money on pillows. So I had to take matters into my own hands. In a quick trip to our cheapest local thrift store I found 2 great sweaters for only $1.50 each.
A stop at Jo-Ann's revealed that pillow forms were 40% off. I picked up two of these 14" Basic forms for $5.39 each. (If you don't already get emails from Jo-Ann's, you might want to concider it. They almost always have coupons available for any non-sale items. I can't remember the last time I paid full price for something there.) So after a grand total of $13.78, I headed home to bust out the trusty sewing machine.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I need to tell you upfront that I have no idea how to sew. We own a sewing machine (the cheapest one we could find when we needed it for a project years ago) and I use it a few times every year. Over the years we have done everything from making our son's Halloween costumes to reupholstering furniture, but we have no idea what we are doing and we make it up as we go. This project is no different, so if you actually know how to sew, please don't judge me as you read this :-)
There are several ways to turn a sweater into a pillow cover, and depending on the types of sweaters you are able to find, you may need to do it differently. I am going to walk you through 2 of the simplest options.
Sweater #1: The Classic Pullover
This sweater was a size 3x and I quickly realized the benefit of having a large sweater.
Since this was the first one I tried
I went a bit slowly
cutting it apart
little by little
only to realize
that I could have simply
started by measuring
a square out of the middle...
As I mentioned, the pillow form is 14"x14". You want to leave enough room to create your seams. I cut mine to about 15"x15". Feel free to leave a tiny bit more just to be safe, you can always cut it off later if you have too much.
Once you have it cut down the the proper size, flip the pieces so they are stacked inside out.
Carefully line up the edges and pin a stright line 1" in from the edge. (If you left your fabric larger, adjust the 1" measurement accordingly)
Run that edge through the sewing machine making sure to backstitch both ends.
Turn the whole thing 1/4 turn and do the same thing on the perpendicular edge.
Sweater knits can vary pretty dramatically. Some have a lot of give and stretch and some have almost none. This sweater had quite a bit of give so rather than simply repeating the process again, I actually stuck the form inside and pinned the next line from that rather than from a measurement.
If you go this route, pull gently and evenly on the top and bottom pieces.
Try to pin your line even with the seam on the pillow form. This will help you to center the line. Pull the form back out before running it through the sewing machine.
When you have 3 sides done, flip the cover back right-side-out. Stuff the pillow form back in and get it all situated the way you would like.
Starting at one corner, pull the edge up and straighten it out,
then fold it in,
and pinch it together. Place a pin to hold that together and then do the same on the other end.
Continue folding the edges in and pinning together, working your way towards the middle. Because this is a somewhat awkward way to do this, you may end up with some mild bunching and need to tweak your pins to straigthen it out.
The last edge is a bit of a trick. If you are determined enough you can hold the pillow up and run the edge through the sewing machine. Otherwise you can hand stitch the final edge.
I know the color doesn't show well in the pictures but the sweater is the exact same shade of green that runs through the pattern in the back cushion.
Now I just have to decide where I like it.
Sweater #2: Buttons
This one is a size medium and was very nearly not big enough to cover the pillow form.
This time I really did need to cut it apart very carefully to make sure I didnt waste any fabric because there really wasn't any to spare. I began by cutting off the sleeve right at the seam.
Then did the same to the neck,
and the bottom.
Then I unbuttoned the sweater, flipped it inside out, and rebuttoned it.
I needed to create the seam as far out as possible so I began pinning right where the sleeve had been removed, about a half inch in.
Then pinned a striaght line following the knit.
Once that had been run through the sewing machine, I cut off the excess.
Then did the same on the other side.
Then I tucked the pillow into the sweater so I could see where the buttons would land. (Don't forget that the sweater is still inside out)
There were two main concerns at this point. 1. I didn't want to end up with a partially exposed button hole if it was possible to avoid it. I was able to shift the pillow a bit to make sure that didn't happen.
2. I needed to make sure that the center line would line up nicely before I stitched it.
Once I was satisfied with the way everything was coming together, I pinned a seam for this edge. (I actually pinned the center first to make sure it would stay nicely lined up). Just like with the green pillow, I pulled gently on the both the top and bottom and used the seam of the pillow form to guide the line of my pinning.
I pulled out the pillow form, ran it through the sewing machine, then put the pillow form back in
and pinned the final edge in the same way.
This time, to take out the pillow form, I opened the buttons and VERY GENTLY pulled the pillow out of the opening in the front.
Then re-buttoned, stitched the final edge and trimmed off the excess.
And I was finally able to flip it right-side-out and properly tuck the pillow form in.
I said finally but really this was a super quick project. Not including the time spent shopping, it took me just over an hour to make both pillows.
And I love the way they turned out! I have already made a return trip looking for more sweaters. This time it will be a bit tougher though because I have my heart set on some really BIG pillows. Wish me luck :-)