Memorial Pillow Tutorial

I'm working on pillows for Christmas presents made from Grandpa's old shirts.  When he passed a couple years ago I had grandma save me some of his clothes.  The selection is pretty awful but I was able to make some great throw pillows from them.

I'd like to show you how to make one of them.... fitting for this time of year as the design resembles a snowflake, or star!

First things first.  Get your pillow form.  I found mine at Wally World and it measures 14" square.  I always use a 1/2" seam allowance so I need a 15" square backing fabric (I used a sheet I had laying around).  Then I cut 14" squares from four different shirts.
Lay them out centered on the 15" square backing fabric.  From the way mine are folded you can see the different shirt fabrics I used.
Then, mark the center with a circle.  I used a cup with a Mark-B-Gone pen as shown:
Then using straight pins, tack your layers together into four squares down the center top to bottom and then left to right.
As well as diagonally across as shown below:
I began by sewing the center circle, then the middle stitches top to bottom and left to right, removing the pins as you go and backstitching at the start and finish of each line.
 This is what it'll look like at this point......
Continue on with the diagonal stitches.  This is what it'll look like when you're done and have cut your loose threads.
Here's the back of your base fabric showing where your stitch lines should be.
Now comes the fun part.  Grab a pair of sharp scissors and centered between every stitch line (I did them one at a time) make a straight cut towards the center circle, being careful not to clip the stitching of the circle.  Begin "fraying" your fabric by making cuts up to but not clipping the initial stitch line.  I did them two layers at a time, my scissors couldn't handle all four layers.  Be careful to not cut your base layer.... only the decorative top layers (I had four... you could use more or less depending on the fullness you want). 
Continue cutting your layers.  Here's some "progress" pictures of my pillow top:
One down, lots more to go.
 I am loving how its turning out but my scissors are getting dull and my hands are cramping.  Need new scissors.
 My finished pillow top.  Now to find a backing material and get it put together.  To zip, or not to zip?  Buttons, a simple overlap envelope.... slip-stitch it together?  Also, what to do with the center.  Well, since these are memory pillows for grandpa I'm thinking Duck Tape is a must.  The man used it for EVERYTHING! 
I decided to do a simple envelope back.  The fabric I chose is a twin flat sheet.  I love using sheeting materials for projects such as this, lots of yardage for not a lot of cash!
I always off-set the opening, remember, I need a 15" square piece when put together, so I cut one side at 11" x 15" (which leaves the other side 4" + a 4" overlap) making the second piece 8" x 15".  I cut them at the hem line for the sheet, saving a step, another great reason to choose sheeting when possible.

I want the larger piece on the outside so lay down your finished top, finished side up, layering the larger piece first, then smaller piece on top, finished side down, matching the edges around the outside, keeping the overlap in the middle of the pillow.  Pin together.
 Stitch using a 1/2" seam, backstitching where you began/ended.  Cut threads.
 You can skip this step but it does help to give it a "finished" look.  Go around the outer seam edge with a zig-zag stitch. 
Turn right side out, add your pillow form and you're done.  I am still throwing around ideas for the center.  I am still leaning towards Duck Tape (since grampy used it for everything).  Some type of button or flower?  I am also considering sprucing up the back.  Maybe a few buttons for decoration. 
I am looking to use this same technique to make Christmas pillows as presents for those "hard-to-buy" for people.  I'm thinking some green felt with a small piece of brown for the trunk and yellow for a star.  Fringe it out in the shape of a Christmas Tree and Voila, you've got easy, inexpensive gifts.  I need to get busy!

This is the second set of pillows I've made from grandpy's shirts.  Here's a link to the first,



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