Make a Memory Pillow from a Men’s Shirt
Have you ever wanted to take a piece of clothing and repurpose it into a pillow cover? When my Father passed away, we were not sure what to do with all his clothes. So many of what he wore reminded us of different days or events that we shared in his life. I wanted to take some items and find a way to keep a hold of his memory while utilizing his clothing in the process. In this tutorial, I will show you how I took my Father’s button-down shirt and repurposed it into a Memory Pillow to cherish for years to come! Let me show you how to make a Memory Pillow from a Men’s Shirt!
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- a Button-down shirt
- Preferably made from cotton (but it is not required)
- My Dad’s shirt was a size XL, so that gave me a bigger pillow form option.
- Custom Embroidered Patch
- Pillow Form
- Mine was 20 x 20 (you can get one right here)
- Shape flex or SF101
- This is not required, but it definitely gives the pillow cover a sturdier hand
Memory Pillow – SUPPLY LIST
- Sewing Machine (the Juki TL2010Q is perfect for this project)
- Serger (not required, but recommended) I recommend the Juki MO 2000.
- Cotton Thread (I recommend Aurifil 50 wt)
- Rotary Cutter with a sharp blade
- Acrylic Ruler
- Sharp Fabric Scissors (this is my favorite brand)
- Large Cutting Mat
- I have a VERY large mat, but you really just need something that is a little bigger than the front of your pillow cover. (try one of these)
- Iron & a Wool Pressing Mat
- Sewing Pins or Wonder Clips
Memory pillow – CUTTING & prepping
The size of your pillow cover is going to be limited to the size of your shirt. Measure the length and width of your shirt to determine the size of the pillow form you can use. My shirt measured 30″ in length and 26″ in width. I had a 20″ x 20″ pillow form on hand – so that worked out great for this project!
Before I cut the shirt apart, I buttoned the front of the shirt closed. Using my favorite fabric scissors, I cut the front of the shirt away from the collar and the back. I also omitted the sleeves.
I cut the back away from the collar and sleeves as well. Then I used the following measurements when I cut apart my Dad’s shirt. Again, my pillow form was 20 x 20, so I used the measurements listed on the below chart.
Memory pillow – sewing and finishing
Next, I followed these steps in assembling the pillow cover.
- Step 1 – Sew the front of the shirt closed
- Step 2 – Fuse the Shapeflex to the wrong side of the front and trim to size
- Step 3 – Fuse the Shapeflex to the wrong side of both back pieces. Fold a 1-inch hem on each side. Trim to size.
- Step 4 – Place one back piece on top of the other so that both hemmed edges will overlap. This is the envelope opening. Secure with stitches along the bottom and top edge using a 1/4″ seam allowance.
- Step 5 – Follow the instructions to iron the patch onto the front of the shirt
- Step 6 – Sew the patch to the front of the shirt. This is optional (since the patch is technically iron-on).
- Step 7 – place the back assembled pieces on top of the front (right sides together). Pin along the edges.
- Step 8 – Sew the perimeter of the pillow cover, using a 1/2″ seam allowance. You can choose to serge this at the end. I think it adds a nice touch and finished the cover nicely!
Now all you need to do is turn the cover right side out and install the pillow insert! Yay! This repurposed shirt is being gifted to my big brother. You guessed it, his name is Shad!
You should make a Memory Pillow cover too! These custom patches are the perfect addition to your next Memory Pillow project. Be sure to check them out right HERE.
Until next time – Happy Sewing!
That patch is really neat! I would like to make a pillow from my Grandma’s tablecloths. I wonder if that shop could change up some of the words to make that work. What a great idea for a Father’s Day gift!
My dad is 92. Seeing this makes me more sensitive to what is coming. I dread that time. What a special memory pillow and a reminder that they aren’t very far away, spiritually.
I I would like to make a few pillows with my dads old work shirts. He passes away in Jan 2020 and he was my special dad!
I would love to give one to my brother who turns 50 Years old in a few weeks. He and my dad were Always together. They were each others best friends. This Would be
A beautiful patch to add to the pillows.
Thank you for the opportunity.
Thanks for the giveaway chance! I would like to make something for my Father with one of my Mother’s shirts. My Mom passed away a couple years ago. I think my Dad would really like that!
I have just had some memory cushion covers made from my dads shirts, and in the midst of getting some patches embroided for them. I am gifting these to family members in memory of my dad.
This may not be Father’s Day related, but I would like to make something like this for my daughter from my own Mother’s clothing. We recently moved away from the town my Mom lives and my daughter misses her Grandma. I think this might be a nice thing to make for her.
Children really like Father’s Day…great idea for this time of year. I am going to see what I can find of my GRANDS other Grandfather to make them a pillow. The oldest will especially like the idea because she has such great memories of her Timpaw. She is setting up her first apartment this fall when she goes back to school. Thanks!!!
I saved a lot of Dad’s and Mom’s clothes. I had hoped to make quilts. Maybe someday in the future. This is a project I could do now! The sentiment is lovely. Tears.
This is amazing creative work. I appreciated your clothing ideas for DIY. I really love your blog. You always come up with new ideas.
Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for the kind words Suzen! Happy Sewing!
Dad passed 9/11/18. He and Mom had been together 62 yrs. She turns 90 This week. She has dementia is taking it very hard. Had estate sale this weekend and must do another and sell home. Not an easy thing for her to see her memories of their life together leaving all within 2 months. Think this pillow with message would help her immensely. I can make the pillow, no problem. Thank you in advance.
I’m sorry to here of your father‘s passing. Losing a parent is never easy and going through their belongings makes it that much harder. I’m glad you have found this tutorial helpful and I hope you’re finished memory pillow to your mother and the days ahead. Hugs ?
I did this for my grandchildren after their Dad died. Previously for all of my grandchildren and their parents…I had pillows made from a quilt my grandmother made for me as a wedding gift. She died before my marriage .Each pillow was accompanied by a letter telling the story and a picture of my marenal grandparents. They were given ad Christmas gifts.
What a wonderful story! Thank you so much for sharing! Such an inspiration.
I’d love to make a pillow for my friend whose husband passed recently.
Such a great idea to use his shirt. Many thanks for the detailed tutorial.
I’m a hospice volunteer and help make pillows. I love the idea of the tablecloth
Thank you for the tutorial and a chance to win a patch. My dad passed recently and I have several pillows to make for my sisters and our children!
I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad’s passing. Prayers go out to you and your family ?
THANK YOU SO MUCH WHAT A GREAT IDEA
Our son passed away in 2012 we have one grandson and he dearly love his Uncle .
I think I will make him a pillow out of a shirt that I have of our sons , for him for Christmas.
I’m so glad you found this project useful! Many blessings to you and your family!
What a wonderful way to honor a lived one. Thanks for the inspiration.
My nephew died last January having spent 36 years in a wheelchair being cared for by my sister for 36 years. My sister was inconsolable but I asked her for a shirt Paul wore quite often and made a memory shirt. She says it comforts her when she sits next to it
Oh I just cried reading the patch!! 😢 Miss my dad everyday since he’s been gone (10 months)! I love it!
I lost my dad in 2008. I kept one of his flannel shirts in my closet for 10 years. Two years ago I finally got brave enough to make a memory pillow, which sits on my rickee in my family room all the time. If I win this patch, I will sew it onto my memory pillow. I even kept all the leftover scraps of his shirt, and last year I made little stuffed heart ornaments for my sisters.
I have a flannel shirt from my Dad. I would love to have the patch.
I would like to make a pillow for my sister. She just lost her husband after a long illness. She was at his side for many months even though she is fighting T-cell leukemia. She is recovering from the stress of his illness but I want her to have this memory to keep.
What a great idea. Yesterday was Father’s Day and I sure am missing my dad I would love to make one of these pillows. I think that would be a great way to be able to remember him and hug the pillow when you really miss and Dad.
My brother in law passed away last August at the young age of 57. His first grand baby was born two weeks later. I am hoping to get to make some of these for his kids and grand babies (current and one more coming this year!). But waiting on my sister in law to be ready to let go of his clothing. Love this idea and thank you for the instructions on how to do it.
I would love to have this patch but I would love for it to say “in memory of Marc “ my son who died of kidney cancer stage four, four years ago. I want to give to my children.
My Dad passed away and I have several of his shirts I want to make into memory pillows for all of his grandchildren! This patch would be darling and then I will need to get more, but it would be awesome to win one!
I would love to make this pillow for my family, my dad is a wonderful man and having this pillow will bring so much happiness.
Your patch is such a wonderful reminder of the ones that we have lost. I enjoy making these projects for friends who have lost a loved one.
Thank you Nicole for this offer…I have made many “memory” pillows for family and friends, but I do not have the SPECIAL embellishment of your embroidered patch! The patch is such a great addition to the memory! Happy Father’s – Grandfather’s Day to all of your men!
I love making memory pillows. The label is a great idea. Thanks for the chance to win one!
I’ve made memory quilts, but a pillow is perfect to give to all the siblings! Love the tag❤
Thank you for the great tutorial! My dad died last year and I kept some of his shirts with the intention of making keepsakes for my siblings. I would use your tutorial and this patch to do this.
I would use that patch on one of my son’s shirts for my grandson. When my husband passes some one made a bear out of one of his shirts but this is something I think I could make myself. Thank you for the lesson.
I stumbled across your post on IG memory pillow. Was it a fluke? I think not. This morning I was just thinking about my dad and how much I miss him and hearing his voice. It definitely was a God-instance. My father past away 5 years ago. I had saved all in shirts in hopes to make a memory quilt and memory pillow for his 5 grandsons. Shirts are still in a bag but I thought to myself, I need to start making the pillows this summer in time for Christmas gifts. This patch would be perfect touch to add to the pillows I’ve made for my sons and nephews.
My dear friend just lost her dad and she has asked me to make a memory pillow so this patch would be the perfect most loving addition 🙂 I can’t imagine going through what she did, my dad is my world and am thankful each day yes here ❤️
With Fathers Day coming up I would love to make one for my sister, she is the only one I have left as two are gone and I know she would love it.
My dad passed away last March and my mom had been really missing him. I made her a memory pillow from one of my dad’s western shirts for her birthday. She hugged the pillow so tight. I would love to have the patch to add the finishing touch.
Thank you for your awesome tutorial! My dad died seven year and I kept some of his shirts with the intention of making keepsakes for my grandkids and myself. . I would use your tutorial and this patch to do this.
We lost our Dad 37 yrs ago, their were 5 of us oldest being 13. I’m that 13 yr. old, I saved one of his work shirts I’m am just learning to sew and quilt. So I would make a pillow out of his shirt and use that label and give it to my baby sister who was only 4 . Who still struggles to remember her Daddy. Thank you.
Thank you for this Nicole. This a lovely idea for my kids that lost their dad!
I want to make one for my 4th brother who died in Dec. 2019. He love his beautiful Native American shirts. I want to make one for his only granddaughter.
My best friend’s dad passed away last year and she has asked me to make a pillow from one of her dad’s shirts. This patch would be the perfect touch to add to the pillow. Thank you for this tutorial as it’s perfect timing!
My husband’s nephew passed away shortly before his 34th birthday. He was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer, was given a year to live, and only Iived two more months. His kids are 5 and 3. So horribly sad.
That is so horribly sad. Thanks for sharing your story. May God bless his children!
Wow this is a great idea 🥺. I love the blog ! I’m glad you sent me over here . Sorry I hadn’t seen it before . You got a new fan 🖤💙
I love these embroidered patches. I would love to make some shirts for my daughter’s whose dad passed away on March 23rd. If you sell these patches, please let me know where I can purchase them.
What a wonderful idea! I have linked to similar patches in the blog post above. These can even be customized! Happy Sewing!
I would make a pillow from one of my grandmothers scarves. Thanks for sharing this tutorial.
In January this year I lost my husband of 51 years. I am planing to make memory pillows for my kids and grandkids. That label would be awesome on the pillows. I would like to purchase for my pillows. It will all be a surprise for my kids and grandkids. It will be indeed like having him right there and being able to hug him.
Winning this label might jump start me to make pillow..lol
We recently lost my husband, I would like to make these pillows for my 3 children and myself.
This is such a great idea!!! I will be making a pillow for my boys with their grandparents clothing. My oldest recently had his first child and his grandparents would’ve adored her. I am also going to ask my mom for some of her and my dad’s clothing and make some for the boys and my sisters when THAT time comes.😪 Thanks for posting your wonderful ideas. I am great at copying but have no ideas of my own. Lol
I would use the patch for a special Friend I have known since kindergarten…. we are 54 years young now. She lost her dad several years ago.
What a beautiful way to remember a loved one. I know exactly which shirt I will use of my late husband. People always commented that this shirt was him to the bone and showed his personality outright. Thanks for the great idea and the step by step tutorial on how to make it.
What size are the embroidery patches?
You can choose the size you need. I think this one was approximately 3″ x 4″.
My husband passed away on January 19, 2023 and left a large void in our hearts. It is so hard to go each day without him. I am trying to keep myself busy so I can sleep at night and I have been looking for something to make out of his shirts for our children and grandchildren. I think this pillow would be wonderful and something I could do. I would use the patches on these pillows. Thank you for your ideas.
Thank you for this great idea to do with my dads old shirts. He passed away 3 years ago and this a perfect Christmas gift idea for my nieces and nephews, since Christmas was his favorite time of year! He was so close to all his grandchildren! Can’t wait to try!!!
A friend of ours died suddenly and way to young. I made a pillow from the shirt he had worn to
his daughter’s graduation which still had his tie knotted around the collar. It helps remind her of a happy
time they had together.
That is definitely a special gift!
Our dad passed away 1996 and we have a few of his shirts. We missed him very much. To make the memory pillow simple, I would keep the button front as the opening to insert the pillow and the back a whole piece instead of cutting two pieces.
That’s a great time saving idea! Love it!