diy throw pillows, part 2: the t-shirt shag pillow

I made three types of throw pillows for my couch, and this is the second of three posts with tutorials for these pillows. Check out part one for the back-story and a tutorial for sewing a basic, removable cover.

Inspired by V and Co's tutorial and Craftaphile's version, this post is a tutorial for sewing a removable, shag pillow cover from t-shirts. This pillow has great texture that will had richness to any room.

What you'll need:

2-3 size L (or larger) t-shirts - see note below
matching thread
pillow to insert into the cover

Note: I used 2 size XL t-shirts that I bought from Goodwill for $2 each. Mine had some print on it; I just didn't use those areas. The shag on my pillow is not as dense as V and Co's version, but it isn't by any means sparse. To make a pillow with denser shag, either make smaller pillow (mine's fairly large at 21" by 21") or use an extra t-shirt.

Cut the fabric to size.

Step 1: Wash and iron your fabric.

Step 2: Determine the dimensions of your fabric cuts. Start by measuring the size of your pillow form. Mine was 21" by 21". The pillow will have a back with an overlapping flap allowing for the insertion and removal of the pillow form. The dimensions of your pieces will be as follows:

Front: [length + 1" seam] by [height + 1" seam] 
Mine: [21" + 1"] by [21" + 1"] = 22" by 22"

Back, bottom flap: [length + 1" seam] by [4" exposed + 4" overlap]
Mine: [21" + 1"] by [4" + 4"] = 22" by 8"

Back, top flap: [length + 1" seam] by [height - 4" exposed]
Mine: [21" + 1"] by [21" - 4"] = 22" by 17"

Step 3: To make explaining this easier, I will refer to the t-shirts as t-shirt 1 and t-shirt 2. Each t-shirt has side A and side B. The front piece will be on t-shirt 1, side A. The back pieces will be on t-shirt 2, sides A and B. Position the back pieces on the t-shirt so that the bottom hem of the t-shirt runs along length of each back piece. This hem will form the hem of the overlapping flaps on the back of the pillow. Measure, mark, and cut out your fabric.

Prepare the shaggy pillow front.

Step 4:  Cut all of the remaining t-shirt into strips 1.5" wide. Use every part of the t-shirt - the sides, sleeves, area around any print. Since it is a knit, the stretch does run in a certain direction. Don't worry about this; the orientation of your strips doesn't matter. Additionally, my strips were anywhere from 1" to 2" wide. The lack of precision needed in this project is great for those missing the OCD gene.

Step 5: Cut the strips into 4" segments; and by 4" segments, I mean 4" +/- 1". Most of the time, I divided my strip into equal segments roughly 4" in length. For example, if I had a strip 6" long, I divided it into two 3" strips instead of having a usable 4" strip and a wasted 2" strip.

Pandora decided to help.

Step 6: Leaving 1.5" on either end, draw vertical lines on the front pillow piece 1" apart. I had 20 lines in total. (22" - 1.5" - 1.5" = 19 1" segments marked by 20 lines).

Step 7: Divide your strips by the number of rows on your pillow. I had 20 groups of 14 strips.

Sew the shaggy pillow front.

Step 8: Take a strip, scrunch it, and sew the strip to the pillow along the marked line, starting 1.5" from the edge. Continue strip after strip the the end of the row, stopping 1.5" from the edge. The amount you should scrunch the strip depends on the density of the shag. More strips per line requires more scrunching. My pillow isn't very dense, so I didn't scrunch my strips very much at all.

Step 9: Repeat for each row. I alternated which end I started on; the end of my previous row typically didn't reach all the way to my 1.5" border, and alternating the starting end hid the uneven borders. Be careful not to accidentally sew over your previous strips.

Sew the cover.

Step 10: With right sides together, pin the back and front edges together as shown. Arrange the overlap so that the smaller piece is on top and will therefore be on the underside when reversed. Make sure you keep all of the shag strips out of the way.

Step 11: Sew around the edges of the pillow using a 1/2" seam allowance. At the overlaps, back-stitch (or turn around the whole piece) for reinforcement.

Finish the pillow.

Step 12: Turn the pillow right side out, and put it on your pillow form.

Step 13: Admire your work!

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