At our school, the students in third-sixth grades design t-shirts each May as part of a t-shirt/school theme contest. The office staff narrows the designs down to about twelve and then the entire school gets to vote on a winner. The winning t-shirt becomes our school’s slogan for the next year. Students and staff get the free t-shirt on the first day of school the following year. After teaching several years, I had a stack of old shirts. I thought about making a blanket or quilt out of them someday, but then decided I had a more immediate use… pillows for our library!
The students love using them for reading workshop, and they’re cheaper than the fancy store bought pillows. As a bonus, the shirts are easy to slip on/off and can be machine washed. I just run the shirts through the sewing machine in three places, add snaps, and stuff away. I used old bed pillows for the body and a little polyfill for the sleeves. If you don’t have any old bed pillows, I purchased a few at Wal-Mart for $3 each. Can’t beat that!
- Turn the t-shirt inside out.
- Sew each sleeve shut straight across the hem. Remember to back-stitch at both ends to reinforce the seam.
- Sew the bottom of the shirt closed along the hem. Again, remember to back-stitch.
- Turn the t-shirt right-side out again.
- Add three snaps along the collar to keep the pillow closed. The snaps are perfect because they keep the t-shirt in place during use, but also allow it to be removed for washing. I purchased no-sew snaps at Hobby Lobby and was able to attach them with a pair of my husband’s pliers. I found similar ones on Amazon if you aren’t sure what I’m talking about.
- Slide a fluffy bed pillow into the t-shirt.
- Use polyfill to stuff the sleeve area of the shirt. This makes the sleeves stand out nicely.
- Close your snaps. Tada!
Looking for other pillow ideas? I had a couple older t-shirts that coworkers had given me from before I started teaching. They were pretty worn out, but I was able to save the design portion and turn them into square pillows. I also used cheap bandanas from Hobby Lobby to make large square pillows. Now I have enough for each student to have something to use during reading workshop independent reading time. No more fighting or rotating schedules AND I didn’t break the bank in the process. Love that!