We went back to school last week, and I word must be getting around that I love to sew for my kids teachers because my son's teacher asked first thing for if I'd help her with some sewing to brighten up her reading corner. (She's already earning the special treatment...she reports that Seth has been doing great behavior-wise...and I owe nearly all of that to her excellent classroom management. Seth is a great kid who needs the right teacher to help his good qualities shine through.)
She uses a toddler bed in the corner as a kind of sofa for the kids and it had a very lumpy worn out old body pillow as the backing cushion, so we decided it needed an upgrade.
Seth's teacher is a huge Seahawks fan, so we wanted to incorporate Seahawks colors into the project. Luckily, I had some 10" silver Cuddle Cakes squares I had left over from other projects, plus some Cuddle yardage scraps in Dark Lime, Ash, and Charcoal, that were all the perfect colors for a Seahawks themed project. You can either cut your own squares or purchase pre-cuts. Precuts are widely available as Cuddle Cakes from Shannon Fabrics or "Layer Cake" bundles from most major quilting fabric companies.
What you'll need to complete this project: (Amounts may vary depending on the size pillow you're covering
- 5 lb. Box of Poly-Fil® Premium Fiber Fill
- 24 - 10" Cuddle Cake Squares from Shannon Fabrics or Quilting Fabric. I used Cuddle 3® in Navy, Dark Lime, Ash, Charcoal, and Silver in this pillow cover.
- Old body pillow to recover
- 18" zipper
- Coordinating Thread
- 1 2/3 yard cotton fabric (ONLY if you're making a body pillow from scratch.)
This body pillow had been well loved by many classes of 3rd graders, and the teacher had washed the whole pillow quite a few times and the stuffing inside had become really lumpy and faded.
We started by cutting open the end of the pillow...
...and throwing away all of the stuffing inside.
Measure your empty pillow to figure out the dimensions you need to make your cover.
Then we restuffed it with all new Poly-Fil® Premium Fiber Fill. If you want to save on stuffing, you can also just add new stuffing to fill out the old, but I knew this pillow would be getting lots of heavy use, so I gave it all new fill. I also stuffed mine really firm because I knew it was going to be used as a backing cushion. If you're going to be using yours more for support in bed, you may not want to stuff it quite so full. Either way it will take a LOT of stuffing, so you'll want to buy a box.
Resew the end of the body pillow. I didn't worry at all about making this seam look nice because I knew I would be making a cover for the pillow.
If you're making a body pillow from scratch, I highly recommend making your own pillow form and then making a cover for it. Body pillows are too large to easily wash, and the patchwork cover looks much better over a pillow form. I will have a smoother, more polished look. You can make your own pillow 20 x 60" pillow form by by taking a 1 2/3 piece of fabric, folding it in half "hotdog style" trimming the selvages off to 20" from the center fold, and sewing along two of the sides. Stuff your pillow with Poly-Fil® Premium Fiber Fill and sew the third side shut...no need to make it look pretty if you're going to be making a cover for it.
The pillow I was recovering was approximately 20" by 50", so you'll notice that I only have about 1/2 a square on one end of my pillow.
Arrange your 10" squares in a pattern 4 squares tall by 6 squares wide and sew together with 1/4 inch seam. If you're using Cuddle Cakes squares, you'll want to make sure the squares all "pet" the same direction, and you may need to make your seam allowances a little bigger. Also if you're using Cuddle Cakes squares you'll want to pin A LOT on the sides of the squares that stretch and use a Walking Foot on your machine.
Fold your 4x6 square piece in half "hot dog style with RIGHT SIDES together. Mark where your zipper will go. Stitch around one of the narrow ends of your pillow with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. On the part where your zipper is going to be, use the LONGEST stitch length available on your machine, since we're going to be removing these stitches. At the ends of the zipper and around the corner a bit, you'll want to use a regular stitch length and be sure to secure the ends with back-stitching.
Press the seam open with your fingers. (You would want to iron it if you're using quilt fabric, but I iron as little as possible when using Cuddle fabric.) Pin your zipper so the center of the zipper lines up with the center of your seam. Using a zipper foot (or your regular foot with the needle set all the way to the side like I did), stitch around your zipper to secure it in place.
Turn your pillow cover right side out and use your seam ripper to open up the seam where the zipper is.
Leave the zipper open a few inches.
Turn the pillow cover inside out again, and sew up the last two sides of your cover. One side of your cover is a fold and one side is taken up with the zipper, so you're sewing closed the other two sides.
And all that's left is to wrestle your body pillow into it's cover. Because of the seam allowances your cover will end up being slightly smaller than the 20 x 60 dimensions your pillow started out. This is actually a good thing because it will ensure a good snug fit for your pillow. A snug fitting pillow cover will look better than a loose one because the pillow won't look lumpy and the cover will be smooth, especially when using Cuddle fabrics. The seams of Cuddle fabrics have a tendency to bulge if they're loose because the fabric is so plush, but a tight fit stretches and smooths those out.
Now my oldest want's her own body pillow remade...so stay tuned for more...