KPRC 2 Insiders: Turn ugly Christmas sweaters, holiday garb into fantastic holiday pillows

See the sweaters and shirts remade into holiday accent pillows. (Amanda Cochran, Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – Christmas is almost here and there’s a festive and fun do-it-yourself project you can do with your kiddos to decorate your home.

All you need are some sweaters or shirts, needle and thread, pillow fill, and if you’re looking for a shortcut – some Velcro pieces.

If you don’t want to shop -- and we always recommend this -- go through your clothes and look for you or your kids’ discarded shirts for holiday items. You’d be amazed at what you can make over that can look Christmas-y. Plaid? Sure. That weird penguin shirt you never wore? Absolutely. That enormous Santa Claus shirt your grandma got you as a sort-of joke that one year. YAAAAS.

RELATED: So spectacular: KPRC 2′s complete Houston-area holiday guide

Sweaters thrifted for a DIY pillow project, as seen on Dec. 7, 2021. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

We’re all about using what you have, but if you don’t have what you need, go to the thrift shop and look for some fun Christmas or holiday clothing to repurpose. Right now, a lot of thrift stores have special racks with holiday items that you can go through. If not, go to the red and green and cream sections of the racks if the thrift stores are color-coded. You’re likely to find the holiday items there. Look in the adult and plus-sized sections for larger pillows and kid clothes for smaller pillows with adorable designs.

Once you have your shirts, it’s time to cut out a pattern and start sewing.

Measure your pillows. Typical sizes for inserts (if you want to buy them) are listed here. If you don’t want to buy them, we’ll tell you how to avoid that, but we will add that feather inserts are nice and feel luxurious. However, we understand that this is a DIY project and these are holiday pillows that you may not want to sink a lot of money into. That’s definitely okay.

Make your own holiday pillows by repurposing thrifted shirts or sweaters. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Here’s a tip for your pillow pieces. Center your design. Also, make sure you’re not cutting into any arm section that could show joining seams. This could make your pillow smaller, but you’ll avoid issues when sewing your pillow together.

Use the back of your shirt or another piece of fabric to create your pillow backing. This is totally up to you, but you can use your shirt’s back to form the underside your pillow or, if you have other fabric, you could use that to coordinate with other pillows you may have or will make.

Make your own holiday pillows by repurposing thrifted shirts or sweaters. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)
Make your own holiday pillows by repurposing thrifted shirts or sweaters. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)
Make your own holiday pillows by repurposing thrifted shirts or sweaters. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

When you have cut out all of your pieces, turn them so the pieces that will be on the outside face the backing piece. Your pillow insert will look inside out at this point.

If you have a sewing machine, start sewing. If you don’t (like us), start hand-sewing all the pieces together -- except for a five- or six-inch space on one side of the pillow.

The space will allow you to put in the insert or fill. And on that point, the fill can be an old pillow insert or a new one or polyester fill. We like reusing, so we recommend going through your linen closet before committing to a new purchase.

When the pillow has the insert, you can sew up the space or – and this is so wonderful – you can Velcro the space shut with these super-sticky Velcro strips. This makes it easy to slip out the insert and throw your pillow into the wash.

Just cut the strips to size for the opening, carefully peel off the backing, apply and snap together. See how we did that in the photos below. If your material is a little more textured, we recommend adding a couple stitches to each side of the Velcro strip to make sure it stays in place, but for most pillows, you can skip that step.

Use Velcro strips to leave room to insert and remove your pillow insert or fill so you can wash your pillow cover easily. (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)
Use Velcro strips to leave room to insert and remove your pillow insert or fill so you can wash your pillow cover easily. (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)
Use Velcro strips to leave room to insert and remove your pillow insert or fill so you can wash your pillow cover easily. (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

We did it, too! We were inspired by a years-old Facebook post from the Houston bloggers Too Cheap Blondes. Check out our before and after images below. We got these shirts and sweaters at Family Thrift Center at 7553 Bellaire Boulevard after searching for about 45 minutes in the kid and adult sections of the store.

See the sweaters and shirts remade into holiday accent pillows. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

If you want a more formal tutorial, there are some great ones out there on YouTube. This video puts our sewing to shame.

Have you ever done something like this? Do you have any tips? Let us know in the comments.


About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.