Making Memory Pillows


Believe it or not, this type of memory pillow is probably the easiest of all to make as the button placket serves as the closure.  Essentially, you cut a square to the desired size + 1/2″, place fabrics right sides together and sew all the way around. Turn inside out, give it a good press and insert a pillow form.  Instant memory pillow!  Here’s a tutorial that explains the process in greater detail, in case you need it.

Construction Notes:

  • This pillow is 16″ square.  Most L/XL men’s shirts will yield a 16″ square pillow.
  • Consider interfacing the front sections of shirts that are loosely woven or made of thin fabric.  Pellon SF-101 is my go-to interfacing.
  • Align the button placket and baste the top and bottom edges before stitching.
  • Use a 3/8″ seam allowance and finish the edges by serger or sewing machine.
  • Be aware that the button placket will likely be off-center if you want the entire chest pocket to show.
  • Take the time to match plaids along the sides.  A walking foot is your BFF.
  • If you like to taper the edges of the pillow to avoid bulk at the corners, I recommend NOT doing it on this particular type of pillow  – especially if you have an overstuffed pillow form.

Inscription Label:

This particular label is hand embroidered because I do not own an embroidery machine. The font is Century Gothic. The verse was printed on fabric using my inkjet printer and stitched using perle cotton.  Cost and turnaround time are the reasons I decided to DIY.

You do have lots of other options if you abhor hand stitching:  DIY on your embroidery machine (lucky you!). Design your own stitch pattern or buy a digital embroidery file for a couple of bucks. Having someone else make the label is also an option, but it will set you back $8-$15 per label.

What’s in your embroidery kit?


Jenny over at Sublime Stitching is absolutely correct, you don’t need a whole lot to start stitching.  Chances are, you can scrounge the supplies for your first kit from craft supplies you already have on hand (go find that cross-stitch kit languishing in the back of the junk closet)  OR from other crafty friends who will be more than happy to share with you.  Or if you just want brand new everything to start fresh, there are many places including Sublime Stitching that sell beginning embroidery kits with everything for you to start stitching.

If you want to assemble your own kit, here’s what you need:

  • 5″ plastic embroidery hoop
  • Pack of embroidery needles size 1 to 5
  • Small embroidery scissors with sheath (3-1/2″ to 4″ tall)
  • Embroidery floss or perle cotton
  • Beeswax or thread conditioner
  • Something to stitch on

Right now, I am stitching a preprinted redwork Christmas panel from Timeless Treasures.  ImageThere are 12 Christmas designs printed on muslin that are designed to be incorporated in into a wall hanging or throw quilt when completed.  I’m about half-way through with the redwork scenes.  There’s no deadline on this, so I cut a new scene from the panel as I complete one.  I keep a zip lock bag with my embroidery supplies and DMC 498 dark red floss so I can stitch when I travel or attend guild meetings. For the bulk of my stitching, I use a size 3 needle and three strands of floss.  I use a size 5 needle and two strands of floss for the teeny-tiny detail work.  Some folks like to use all six strands of floss for a really chunky look.  Do whatever makes you happy.

And yes, my little quart size bag with embroidery scissors gets through airport security just fine. I pull the embroidery baggie out along with the gels and liquids to go through the x-ray scanner.

Where to find designs?  How about drawing your own?  Take an 8″ square of muslin (or white) fabric and freehand a simple design using a #2 pencil (use a light touch).  Remember, simple is better here.  Think flower, heart, teacup, sun, etc. Hoop that sucker, pick out your favorite floss colors and stitch using a simple backstitch. Or you can visit the needlework section of your local craft store to find a host of iron on transfers, needlework design books and other preprinted designs for you to stitch.

I love to incorporate a handmade touch to my quilt labels.  I design my labels in Word, add a simple graphic and print them out on specially treated muslin fabric sheets.  Once the label is dry,  I embroider the graphic using a simple backstitch or chainstitch.  It takes all of 5 minutes tops and adds an unexpected touch to the quilt.