Sunday, 11 March 2012

Turn an Old Favourite T-shirt into a Cushion...

What do you do with your children’s clothes when they outgrow them? Most are given away to someone else who can use them. But what about the clothes that you just can’t bear to part with; a favourite piece of clothing, a special gift, or an article of clothing that evokes fond memories. Usually, they are carefully wrapped and packed away in a cupboard, where no one sees them. Here’s how to turn a special t-shirt into a decorative cushion, which can be put on show for all to see. Please note that this is decorative cushion, not a pillow.

Sewing machine
Tape Measure
Favourite t-shirt
Double sided fusible webbing
5 x buttons
Embroidery floss
Polyester thread for attaching buttons
Cotton or polyester thread for the sewing machine
1 yard of fabric (for fabric with a width less than 50 inches)
¾ yard of fabric (for fabric with a width of 50 inches or greater)
14 inch x 14 inch cushion insert

Your t-shirt will have been washed many times, so will not shrink any further. Wash the fabric to be used for the cushion, to prevent shrinkage at a later date. Pre-washing will also prevent dyes from running. Ironing both the t-shirt and cushion fabric will make both cutting and sewing more accurate.

Step 1:
Cut the fabric
Two pieces - 15 inches x 15 inches
One piece - 15 inches x 8 inches
One piece – 15 inches x 13 inches
Roughly cut the t-shirt piece to appliqué. Cut a little larger than actually needed.
Cut the fusible webbing slightly smaller than the t-shirt piece, but larger than the finished appliqué.

Step 2: Prepare your appliqué
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fuse the rough side of the webbing to the wrong side of the t-shirt piece. Basically, you are fusing the webbing to the fabric, by ironing. Set the iron to the correct setting for the fabric you are using, don’t use steam and press, rather than slide. Use an old cloth both under and on top to prevent glue from getting on the iron or ironing board.

You will now have your t-shirt on one side and paper on the other side. Trace the appliqué shape onto the paper, when it is cool, cut out the appliqué. Peel off the paper, leaving a thin film of glue on the wrong side of the fabric. Again, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fuse the appliqué to the front of the cushion. Use an old cloth.

Step 3:
You can hand or machine sew the appliqué to the cushion front. This will prevent it from fraying. I use an appliqué foot on my sewing machine, because it makes it easier to see the stitching, but it is not necessary. Set your machine to a zig zag stitch and experiment with the width and length of the stitch. I used a width of 4 and a length of .8. Because the t-shirt is stretch fabric, I used a longer length than for non-stretch fabric.

If your machine has a knot stitch, begin with that. Otherwise do a couple of straight stitches and backstitch before you zig zag. If you need to adjust the material as you sew the rounded corners, stop the machine, with the needle in the fabric, on the outside of the zig zag. End the zig zag with a knot stitch on the machine or do a couple of straight stitches and backstitch. Take the cotton through to the wrong side and knot securely. Thread the ends through the zig zag stitch on the wrong side of the fabric.

Step 4: Decorative stitching
Using 3 strands of embroidery floss, sew a running stitch around the appliqué, about an 1/8 inch away. Choose a decorative stitch on your machine and sew another line of stitching, about ½ inch outside the first. Using 3 strands of embroidery floss, sew a running stitch 1 inch from the edge, on all four sides of the cushion.

Step 5:
Securely sew 5 buttons in a row across the cushion, 1½ inches below the machine embroidery.

Step 6:
Place the second piece of 15 x 15 fabric onto the 15 x 15 piece with stitching, wrong sides together. This will make the inside of the cushion cover neater. Baste around the edges to hold together.

Step 7:
Using the 15 x 8 inch fabric, turn under ¼ inch on one long side, press, turn under ½ inch and sew. Using the 15 x 13 inch fabric, turn under ¼ inch on one long side, press, turn under ½ inch and sew.

Add caption

Step 8:
Place the cushion front with the outside of the fabric facing up. Place the two back pieces, onto the outside of the cushion. The two back pieces will overlap and form an envelope. Stitch all the way around the 4 sides. Clip the corners, being careful not to cut the stitching. Finish the edges with a serger or zig zag. Turn the cushion right side out and you are finished.

I was really pleased with how my cushion turned out. It's still one of my favourites projects and was so easy to make. This tutorial was originally published by CRAFT last December.

... Pam

Have you seen our Pillows and Cushions ongoing, themed link party?


  1. Awwww, this is so adorable. The t-shirt started off very sweet and then those buttons, lol, I just love your pillow, Pam.

  2. I really love this Pam! Thanks for sharing how to do it, I think I just might! I agree with Terry, the buttons, SO perfect ;)

  3. Beautifully done! I love making old things new again!

  4. Such a cute idea to keep a really special garment in your life. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Thanks for posting this Pam - what a great idea! I love how you picked up the colours from the t-shirt in the outer fabric.

  6. I'm totally in love with this adorable.
    I really admire your creativity. :D

  7. What a great way to recycle, will definitely have to dig out some old t-shirts and have a go! Thanks for such detailed instructions too.

  8. How clever is the way it turned out!

  9. This is such a great idea, especially for a special piece of clothing! Thanks for sharing

  10. That is adorable! I just saved some old t shirts of my hubby's Air Force days and didn't have the nerve to toss them(worn thin) I was thinking about making a small throw with the fronts sewed together.

  11. GORGEOUS cushion Pam! Love all the decorative stitching around the central picture! and a wonderful clear tutorial too!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  12. What a brilliant way of saving a loved piece of clothing and thank you for such a clear tutorial.

  13. This is just too cute. What a great idea!

  14. What a cute pillow. Turned out fabulous.

  15. I love this idea! I have been hanging onto a few old t shirts that I wanted to do ...something.. with but wasn't quite sure what yet. I think this is perfect! Thanks so much for sharing :)

  16. Fun idea! My boys pretty much destroy any/all articles of clothing :)

  17. Oh my goodness.. you make the cutest stuff!! This pillow is darling! Great idea for repurposing! Thanks for sharing at oopsey daisy!

  18. So cute, and such a great idea, thanks for sharing.

  19. Such a cute cushion! The T-shirt looks well loved, but when you appliqued it onto the cushion, it got a new lease of life! Incredible. I think I might have to try this out once this next baby is done with the clothes! :)

  20. Cute way to re-use a favorite! Thanks for sharing at Things I've Done Thursday.

  21. Just to let you know I featured your wonderful project on homework today. Feel free to drop by and grab a button. Enjoy the weekend!

  22. This is such a good idea! I should dig through my kids old clothes and see what I can do. Thanks for sharing at Terrific Tuesdays.

  23. I LOVE this!! I have held onto so many of my kiddos clothes. I really need to do something with them. It would be perfect. Thanks so much for sharing with us this week.:)

  24. This is absolutely darling! What a great idea. I love all the stitches you used to embellish. The buttons are super cute too! Thanks for linking up to the Stache Party! I featured this!

  25. Thank you for visiting JAQS Studio's "Made by ME" Linky Party Wednesdays. I featured your project this week :)

  26. LOVE this project! thanks so much for sharing on Craft Schooling Sunday!

  27. Great project! And all those lovely girls clothes you have made...! You are a very talented lady!
    I am your new Linky follower. Follow me back at if you like. I will be joining your parties now!

  28. Ohhh! I love this idea! What a great way to save one {or a few} of the shirts I just can't bear to part with from LC's baby days! Thanks so much for entering this in One Crafty Contest! Best of luck!

  29. This is seriously the cutest idea! I am visiting from the One Artsy Mama Craft Contest. I am a new follower! Hope you will stop and do the same!


  30. This is an awesome recycle! Great way to hang onto the memories. Thanks for sharing at Motivate Monthly on Etcetorize! (next month is gardening projects~)

  31. tis is so out of tis world tut..lvd it ..wud try fr sure..thrz too many Tee and dey dnt fit in now :p...using them

  32. Such a cute pillow! I love the doggy and the buttons! I'm pinning it!

    Navy Wifey Peters @ Submarine Sunday Link Party

  33. What a fab idea - I wish my mum had done this with a couple of my much loved t-shirts :-)


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