Sewing and Crafts : Custom Made Pillow Inserts and a Cheat

My recent pillow making craze had me up a tree when it came to the cost of inserts.  As you probably figured out already, I am pretty much a total cheapskate…actually, I am frugal!  Yes, that’s the word, frugal.  I don’t skimp when it matters, but sometimes it really doesn’t matter, ya’ know?

Well, pillow inserts are one of those fuzzy areas of the sewing world for me, because I rarely make anything that needs an insert.  Either I am building a cover for an existing pillow or cushion, or just using a bit of stuffing for something small.  The only thing I noticed recently about this section of the store is that none of the big boxes sell 18″ circular pillows…or, at least none of the ones around us.  I had been doing that recon for the Amy Butler Ruffled Pillow, pictured in her book, In Stitches.  The thing is, I never paid any attention to the prices as I quickly looked for my big ol’ circle pillow.

Then, I decided to fix up some of my old pillows and create some new ones, so I had to stop and really shop for inserts.  I could not believe the prices!  The cheapest ones I saw in the stores near my home (Richmond, VA) were approximately $15.00 for a 14″ X 14″ insert.  Of course, they went up dramatically from there and if you wanted something with a little more bulk to it, so your pillow didn’t just lay there looking limp, you could pretty much count on doubling that price.  UGH!  So much for staying frugal while trying to spiff up the joint!

I began pricing the bags of polyfil and quilt batting too, but determined that I would need far more of those products than was cost effective.  That’s when it dawned on me!  I could buy cheap pillows from discount stores and use the filling- DUH!  Yep, that’s a big DUH!  With all caps.

And, that’s exactly what I did.

…and the stuffing slid out like budda’.

The first pillow I made was the insert for the two envelop style pillows I created with a the ruffled edge.  The finished sizes were not standard, so custom was the only way to go in order to really fill out all the corners.  They ended up needing an insert with a finished size of 15″ X 16.5″.  So, using regular, inexpensive cotton muslin, I measured and cut the size I needed for this project.

 Stitched up the edges leaving a 4 inch opening along one side, trimmed the corners and flipped the pillow right side out.

TIP: If you are making a pillow insert with corners be sure to stitch each corner and leave your opening for turning the pillow right side out, along the middle of one side.  This way you are able to really stuff the corners and make them sharp.  If you leave your opening at one of the corners the stuffing will never really fill out the finished insert once you stitch it up.

After stuffing my newly created insert with about half the cheap-o pillow’s insides, I stitched up the opening to finish the pillow.

I was able to stuff both of those 15″ X 16.5″ pillow inserts, and had some filling leftover, from one $2.50 cent standard bed pillow from Target.  Now, I am free to make any size, or style pillow I can dream up, without breaking the bank.  Amy Butler, Ruffled Pillow, here I come!

Happy Stitching (and cheating)!



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