Memory Shirt Pillows

Memory Shirt Pillows

Losing someone you love brings about a pain that is unlike anything else you experience in life. Over the past nine years, I have lost quite a few people that I have loved very dearly. The most recent loss was that of my mom. She passed away last July after battling a rare brain disease for several years (you can read more about that on my other blog, Dementia Diaries). Hard doesn’t even begin to describe how the past 5 1/2 months (or even the past 8 years) have been for me and my family. There is a huge hole in my heart and in my life.

It was a hard loss for all of us; my entire family. I lost my mom, my best friend. My dad lost the love of his life. My children lost their grandma. She was young when she passed (only 56) and the grandkids were all young when she was diagnosed (some weren’t even born yet). Fortunately, I live a mile up the road from my parents and we were able to spend a considerable amount of time with my mom during her last few years of life, and I had the honor of helping to care for her during that time as well.

I knew the loss would be difficult for the kids. During my mom’s last week of life, I spent every day and every night by her side. The kids didn’t want to leave, either. Every bedroom and every square inch of my parent’s living room floor was covered in sleeping bags and pillows, as every one of Mom’s grandchildren and children were sleeping nearby. When she passed, I knew I wanted to do something special for each of the grandkids. I wanted them to have something meaningful to remind them of their grandma; something to help them feel that she is always nearby and watching over them.

I saw an idea online for a special memory pillow, made from a button up shirt. It had a poem embroidered on it,

“This is a shirt

I used to wear

Whenever you hold it

Know I am there”

It was absolutely perfect. I selected some of my mom’s favorite shirts-shirts that we’d seen her wear often-and spent time over the next two weeks working on these special pillows for the kids. At my mom’s funeral, I put the pillows on display and gave one to each grandchild when everything was over.

The kids loved their pillows; they loved them then and they love them now. My children take great care of their pillows; they each keep their pillow on their beds nearby their heads. I have caught them hugging their grandma pillow and I hope that as they do, they can feel my mom’s love for them.

I recently made one for myself. It may sound silly, but I find it comforting to hug it when I’m thinking of my mom.

I have since been asked to make these for other people. They are super simple to make; although if you don’t have an embroidery machine, you won’t be able to make the poem patch. I offer the patches in my esty shop!

You can do it with or without the patch. I figured I would share just how simple it is to make a pillow cover. But, if you don’t have the time or the skills to do it yourself, you can also visit my etsy shop where I sell my service to make a pillow cover. Just send me your shirt, and I will make it for you-patch and all!

To make a pillow cover you only need a few things:

-the shirt you wish you use for the cover

-a pillow form, size 14″x 14″ or 12″ x 12″ works best (scroll to the bottom of the page to find where to buy them)

-thread, scissors, pins, measuring tape, and a sewing machine

First, you measure out your square. You can either draw it out on paper first (as a pattern) or measure directly on shirt and draw some lines with a fabric marker. Personally, I draw a square (with my ruler) on the back of the shirt, and once that is cut out, I use it as my pattern to cut out the front. Do whatever works for you! Be sure to cut your shirt 1″ bigger than you want it to be. For example, if you want to make a 14×14 pillow cover, cut your shirt to 15×15. If your pillow form is 12×12, cut your square to 13×13. This will give you some room for a 1/2″ seam allowance. Make sure you cut both a front and a back and center the buttons on the front (unless you prefer them to be off centered for design purposes).

If you have an embroidery patch to sew on front, this would be the step to do that. You can put it wherever you want, but be mindful of the seam allowance and don’t place it too close to the edge. I like to sew mine on with a zig-zag stitch, but it really doesn’t matter what stitch you use. Be creative!

If you don’t have buttons on your shirt, you will need to create another opening. For knit/stretch fabrics, I recommend a flap opening on the back. For a woven fabric (no stretch), I recommend a zipper on the bottom seam. For this tutorial, I am demonstrating on a button-up shirt.

Put the right side of the shirt to the back side of the shirt and pin the edges. Make sure that the buttons are unbuttoned on the front of you shirt so that you can turn it when you are done.

Sew around the edges, using a 1/2″ seam allowance. If you have a serger, you can finish the edges and if you don’t have a serger, you can finish them with another method. You don’t have to finish the edges, but it makes them look nicer and prevents fraying.

Flip your cover right side out and iron the edges. Ironing gives it a crisp finish.

Put your pillow form inside and button it up. That’s it!

You can buy a pillow form at any craft store. Or, you can make it easy on yourself and buy it here:

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

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