Saturday, September 8, 2012

New Life for an Old Sweatshirt (Sweatshirt Pillow Tutorial)

Even though I love it, the time has come for me to part ways with my oversized college sweatshirt.  While it is probably the most comfortable piece of clothing I own, it doesn't exactly do many wonders in the figure flattering department.  It's big and boxy and has a way of making me look like I instantly gained 15 pounds when I wear it.  I felt bad about it sitting in my "donate" pile though.  It felt like I was getting rid of a childhood blankie or tossing away a fond memory.   And, as Chad reminded me, it's kind of like an antique because the college I went to recently changed names.  Up until a couple months ago it was Baldwin Wallace College, but now it's Baldwin Wallace University.   Fancy.

I kept looking at it, sitting there in the midst of all the other cast-off shirts, pants and sweaters and thought there must be something else I can do with this.  I found a tutorial on how to turn an oversized sweatshirt into a button-up hoodie for a toddler, so I tried that.  Disaster struck immediately when I cut into it incorrectly and realized I wouldn't have enough material to make the project look right.  Now I had nothing but a pile of sweatshirt pieces that couldn't even be donated anymore. Curses.

I slumped back to the couch, defeated.  As I laid on a throw pillow I noticed the tear in the fabric cover that's been there for months that I haven't gotten around to fixing.  I should just fix that now, I thought.  I'll at least accomplish one thing tonight.  I walked back to my sewing table and tossed the pillow on top of the sweatshirt while I went to grab a needle and thread.  Wait a second....

The two pieces left over from my sweatshirt were big enough to cover the pillow!  Problem solved.  Ten minutes later (seriously, 10 minutes.  This project is that fast, I promise) I had a new pillow cover and my sweatshirt had a new life.

I'm sure all of you have an old sweatshirt lying around you probably shouldn't be wearing in public anymore but that you can't bear to part with.  You will still get to enjoy the soft comfort of your beloved sweatshirt without actually making it a part of your wardrobe :)

You will need:

-pillow form or any toss pillow you want to recover (I used one that was 16"X16" and I don't recommend going smaller than that if you want to include the whole logo and pocket of the sweatshirt).
-thread, needle, scissors, sewing machine, ruler

Start by laying your sweatshirt out flat and cutting along each side seam and across the shoulders and neckline to separate the back and front pieces.  Discard hood & sleeves (or use for tiny pillows?).

Cut a square 1" larger on all sides for the top (I used 1/2" seam allowances), making sure to center the logo.

Cut the same size square from the back piece.

 Put pieces on top of one another, right sides together, and pin around all sides.  Leave an opening (about 7" or so) on one side for turning and inserting the pillow.

Sew around all sides, backstitching at each end, using a 1/2" seam allowance.  Trim corners.

Turn right side out, making sure to push out corners.

Insert the pillow (at first it might seem like it couldn't possibly fit but it will!).  Smooth the pillow out and make sure all the corners aren't bunched.

If you have gaps anywhere you can fill them in with small amounts of stuffing.  Mine ended up filling out nicely so I didn't need that step.

Pin and hand sew the opening the closed.  Use fairly close, tight stitches and knot several times at each end so it doesn't come undone.

And now you have a finished sweatshirt pillow!  How easy was that?

You could also make this in an envelope style for easy removal to wash.  You would just need to add about 4" or so to the top piece (assuming you had enough fabric to do this), hem, and fold over.  The easiest way to attach to the other side would be a few pieces of Velcro.  My sweatshirt wasn't long enough to do it that way, and I usually just toss the entire pillow into the washing machine if far they've all survived just fine, save for a few stitches that needed to be repaired.  I would never try this with my regular upholstered couch cushions; just the cotton ones I've covered.

Happy sewing and enjoy the weekend!



  1. What a fabulous idea!
    -How creative.

    1. Thanks! I was so happy to be able to salvage my precious sweatshirt :)