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Memory Pillows

To begin making a memory pillow - a dress shirt, dress, t-shirt, sweater, sweatshirt or coveralls from your loved one’s closet, scissors to cut, some thread and needle if hand sewing or sewing machine, purchased accent pillow or bag of polyester stuffing are really all the basics that are needed to create the memory pillow.

Memory pillows from a favored shirt or garment

If using a dress shirt with button placket, cut off the shirt sleeves at the shoulder seam and cut off the collar, the remaining pieces of the shirt will determine how much fabric you will have to work with. A purchased accent pillow insert is easiest to work with, although poly-fill to stuff the fabric to an acceptable pillow size can be used as well.

Measure the pillow’s dimensions or note the package dimensions on a newly purchased pillow form, and cut out the shirt or sweater using these dimensions plus a ˝ inch seam on all sides. You will have two fabric pieces then - one for a front piece and one for the back. Nice to center the button placket to be in the middle of the pillow or even off to the side to capture a shirt pocket if desired. Two shirt pockets on either side of the placket may even fit on the finished pillow front. To sew, leave most center buttons on the front piece unbuttoned for ease of turning right-side out. Place both pieces right sides together and stitch in a ˝ inch seam around all four sides. Turn right side out through the unbuttoned opening. Insert the pillow form and button closed.

If no button placket to form an opening, stitch around just three sides of the fabric, leaving one side open, turn right-side out, insert the pillow and hand stitch the opening closed.

A t-shirt can be used for the pillow however it is best to use an iron-on fusible on the t-shirt front and back to give the material some body and to allow for easier sewing. Light weight dress fabric should have a fusible applied as well. Sweatshirt material has enough support to go without as does denim material. A light weight sweater could be backed with a knit fusible to give body to the pieces; a heavily knit sweater could be used without support from any fusible backing.

Note: A few words of comfort, a passage from scripture or sweet sentiment can be hand embroidered onto the fabric front before sewing for additional embellishment.

Some other commemorative options to consider:

Copy a photo onto fabric

There are several ways to use an ink-jet printer to print digital photos onto fabric - an economic freezer paper method, fabric treatment and fixative solution to pre-treat fabric, or purchased per-treated photo fabric to name but a few however whatever method is chosen be sure to follow specific instructions to ensure success transferring an image to fabric. Test first to be sure you will have the desired results. The transferred photo image can then be incorporated into the memory pillow by sewing to new fabric to make the pillow or using the fabric cut from a loved one’s favorite clothing.


For those with some quilting skills, squares of fabric can be cut from a loved one’s favored clothing, then incorporated into a simple small memory quilt.

Memory teddy bear

A teddy bear comes first to mind, to make out of a loved one’s shirt, sweater, or even denim jeans or coveralls. There are of course other simple animal patterns that can be used when sewing for remembrance of a special person.

Christmas stocking

The traditional holiday stocking shape can be used as a pattern to apply to the fabric material and then cut out. Be sure to use fusible interfacing to give body to light or mid-weight fabrics or to support sweater or knit materials. Embellish with holly leaves, bells or tiny pine cones for seasonal cheer.

A few stitches and enduring memories are lovingly captured for all times sake.

Sew happy, sew inspired.

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Content copyright © 2015 by Cheryl Ellex. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Cheryl Ellex. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Cheryl Ellex for details.


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