Graphic T-Shirt into Pillow

While I may never do a “what my father wore” post, my dad did manage to inspire a sewing project.  Although Dad passed away several years ago, I have kept several of the tee shirts he wore after his retirement.  Dad wore a lot of pictorial or graphic tees, including some that were souvenirs from places he had traveled to.  As I was looking over Dad’s shirts prior to Father’s Day, one caught my eye that I liked and thought that I could repurpose so I could enjoy it instead of just storing it.

Smokey Tee Shirt

This Smokey Bear tee shirt dates from 1994 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the popular character for an advertising campaign to educate the public about fire safety.

As a kid, I remember having the comic book “The True Story of Smokey Bear” about a orphaned cub who was found burned and clinging to a charred tree during a 1950 forest fire in New Mexico. He was rescued, named Smokey, and became the living symbol of the forest fire prevention icon. Smokey received so many letters in the 1960s that he had his own zip code, and was a popular attraction at the National Zoo in Washington D.C., where he lived for the rest of his life.

In 2001 Smokey’s slogan was changed to “Only You can prevent wildfires” broadening the safety awareness to include brush fires in populated areas of California and other western states where drought and human carelessness have led to devastating fires and the loss of life and thousands of homes.

Smokey Bear will be 70 years old this August, and now uses social media to spread his message with a Facebook page as well as Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Getting back to sewing…

Pillow Form

I decided to take the Smokey Bear shirt and make an envelope pillow cover to put over a pillow form I already had.  An envelope pillow cover has an overlapping back like a pillow sham.  I like envelope pillows for ease of making, and ability to remove the cover for cleaning or simply wanting to swap one cover for another.

After cutting out the center motif, I added fabric strips to enlarge the pillow front to fit my form.  My motif was not square and I also like the way they add a border to frame the design.   My fabric strips were from a forest green heavy napkin so I was able to use the finished edges for the two back pieces. The envelope back can also be made from the rest of the tee shirt.

My front piece was  15 inch by 15 inch leaving seam allowances of 1/2 inch per side to fit my 14 by 14 inch pillow form.  I cut my back piece 15 inch by 18 inch and then cut that piece in two for an overlap of 3 inches.  I would have cut the back piece 2 inches longer if I had needed to hem the 2 envelope edges. Then I put right sides together, positioned the back pieces with the overlap, pinned, and stitched around all four sides.  I clipped the corners, turned right side out, and put the pillow form inside.

Smokey Envelope Pillow Back

I thought there was too much slack so I stitched again from the right side top and bottom where the tee meets the border fabric to create a flange, and really like the way this looks.

Tee Shirt into Envelope PillowMake a Graphic Tee Shirt into an Envelope Pillow

Another idea I have for tee shirt envelope pillows is using sports teams tees which could be swapped according to the season and would look great in a den or boy’s room.

Making a pillow from a graphic tee shirt is a fantastic way to reuse tees that are too big, too small, too worn or stained, or are never worn,  but have that logo or picture that you love and want to keep.





4 thoughts on “Graphic T-Shirt into Pillow

  1. KerryCan

    This is such a nice idea–and I love that you used a shirt from your father! I can see lots of ways to incorporate t-shirts into pillows around a theme–I have a friend who runs marathons and always gets a t-shirt–she could make quite a collection of pillows!


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