Upcycled Independence Day Pillow Project

Admit it.  You or someone in your family has a gaudy piece of holiday clothing that you rarely wear, or you might be wearing right now!  I had the bright-as-an-American flag, elastic-topped, peasant skirt that someone gave me a few years ago.  It never looked flattering on me or anyone else, I don't suppose.  But it was made of a sturdy weave of bright cotton fabric prints.  So, when I discovered a bit of early-American flag-inspired cotton print in a local craft store, it sparked the idea to upcycle that unflattering skirt.  I decided to try a simple decorative pillow.  This project can take less than an hour to complete.

I trimmed evenly around the flag print and used that rectangle of fabric as the pattern for fabric on the skirt.  The skirt is done in a patchwork design.  I could position the pattern in order to take advantage of a couple of already serged seams.

I placed the flag fabric and the piece of patchwork fabric right sides together and pinned them.  The small margin left around the flag pattern dictated a 3/8-inch seam.  I would have sewn a 5/8-inch seam if there had been enough room all the way around.  I stitched the seam a second time for sturdiness and could have stitched an extra time around to finish the seam (I don't own a serger).  I left a 4-inch opening in the bottom middle of the pillow for stuffing.  I trimmed one layer of the seam allowance and cut across all four corners (don't cut the stitching) to reduce bulk before turning the project right side out.

This was a scrappy project that used mostly what I had at home.  So I dug out a bit of leftover rolled batting to make a homemade pillow form.  If I had loose batting, I would have used it instead.  Using the pillow case as my pattern, I cut a rectangle of the batting that was the same width and twice the height of the pillow case.

I hastily machine stitched the batting with a narrow seam, leaving approximately a 3-inch opening for stuffing.  I cut the leftover batting into chunks, and I also cut old light-colored cotton t-shirts into chunks, to create my stuffing.  I stuffed my homemade pillow form to the desired fullness, then machine stitched the final opening in it.

I carefully stuffed my pillow form into the flag pillow case.  I used a small, neat, whip stitch to finish the opening.  If you're more particular about your pillow not having any lumpiness, you could buy a finished pillow form instead of making the scrappy homemade one.  You could also press your fabric perfectly before you start.  And of course, for best results with washable fabrics, always preshrink your fabric before you begin a sewing project.  I knew my kids would be throwing these around like toys, so I didn't worry about those little details this time around.

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