Kids Summer Break Sewing Project: Silly Pillows


Well, despite my hours of dedicated research on Pinterest, my kids still arrived at ‘bored’ last weekend. *Sigh* It’s only been a couple of weeks and apparently all the park trips, splash pads and kid crafts just aren’t cutting it anymore. And movies, coloring and playing outside were also nixed. Bummer.

But those stacks and stacks of pictures got me thinking … and I looked over my ginormous ugly-stained-ripped-worn-out t-shirt stash and started thinking.

And suddenly I decided that it might just be time to turn the kids loose and let them design their own silly pillows any way they’d like. It’s stash-bustingsewing-teaching and time-killing all in one.

The end result was pure delicious awesomeness. See?

Crazy robot monster? Sure.

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Superhero shield? Bring it.

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Random ‘spider head’ pillow? Okay.

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I {HEART} Cherries? Yes ma’am.

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And these were so ridiculously fun to make.

Me and my dirty half dozen blew off two solid days working on these and they were giggly and excited the whole time. I loved that they were bending over backwards to help with dishes and laundry to give mom time to finish sewing their pillows.

So this isn’t a tutorial so much as it is a list of tips and ideas to get the wheels turning and hopefully save you a few headaches.

1. There are no rules! I’ve been terrified to sew with knits because I don’t have a zig zag on my vintage Featherweight, nor do I own a serger. Who cares—you’re not making clothes! Pillows don’t have to hold up to the wear and tear of being pulled on and off of little bodies. If you’ve got a zig zag or serger, by all means, use it. But if you don’t (or are scared to try), don’t sweat it. Just use lots of pins to keep the fabric from pulling and stretching, GO SLOW, and lengthen your stitches. Our pillows have been beat to death and drug around everywhere in the last two weeks and they’re holding up great. (They came through the wash like champs, too).

2. Give your kids total control over their designs – no mom ‘fixing’ or ‘helping.’ Period. When their design was finished, I just drew a seam allowance for the pillows by simply pinning the pattern to the fabric and tracing a .5”ish line around the edge.


3.  Let your kids help with the cutting, pinning, sewing and stuffing as much as possible. It’s going to be messy, imperfect and slow, but totally awesome. You know your kids’ ability levels – help when needed and then get out of the way.


My older kids (including my 6 yr. old) cut out there designs by themselves. It was sloppy and jagged.


I mean really sloppy and jagged.


Who cares?! The rough edges will be covered up by the seam and my kids were so proud of themselves.

4. Keep the pillow shapes simple. If your kid’s design is really small or oddly shaped, apply it to a square, rectangle or circle pillow. The basic shape of the superhero shield and spider head where fine as-is, but the small cherries and alien robot monster would have been impossible to make without attaching them first to an easy-to-sew rectangle base.


5. Sewing applique pieces:  I attached large shapes like the cherries and alien body by simply pinning the shape to the pillow top and straight stitching around the edges.  Contrasting thread helped little details really pop.

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The smaller pieces were ironed on using lite-weight heat’ n ’bond and then top-stitched for extra durability.


But … rock-what-ya-got!

If you want to skip sewing on details, do it! Just use a heavy weight iron-on product. If you only have fusible webbing, that’ll work, too! If you don’t have anything but a sewing machine handy, just sew the whole thing together. See? No rules!

6. Fun extras like handles for shields or pockets for treasures can be attached for extra awesome powers.

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7. Scraps make the sweetest dress up gear ever. See?

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Best project outfit ever, kid. Well done.

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8. Get creative for stuffing ideas. I had a little bit of store-bought stuffing on hand, but not nearly enough for four pillows. The solution? I had the kids pick out stuffed animals from the toys bins that were ready to be tossed and remove the stuffing. The old, dirty fabric from those stuffed animals got a rinse in the washer and then joined my fabric stash. 🙂


Both types of stuffing work great and it saved me a trip to the store. Love that.


So give Silly Pillows a try.

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We’re sure liking them at our house. 🙂

A lot.



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15 thoughts on “Kids Summer Break Sewing Project: Silly Pillows”

  1. This takes me back to memories of summer projects when my kids were young and more recently to thoughts of summers raising four of my grandkids. This was a great project, Nike! I love the photos documenting the process and finished projects!

    • Tricia,
      You are so LUCKY! What a score! My wonderful mother-in-law bought me my beloved 1942 Singer Featherweight sewing machine for Christmas one year. I am absolutely in-love with this little machine and use it for almost all of my sewing. It's old, but it can plow through eight layers of denim without blinking. Hand-cranking is especially easy on this machine since it can sew without using power. I did a lot of hand-cranking around all the little details on this pillow that would have taken much longer on a newer machine. Hope that helps. 🙂

  2. What adorable children and what adorabale pillows. I can see the kids [and mom], had loads of fun.. And what a great 2 days of summer vaccation.
    My 2 kids [ a preacher and a teacher now] , are grown and gone.. and I so remember our fun days together..Wish , I would have done more of these "craft days" with them..
    I know you are so encouraging to other moms , out there , struggling to make ends meet and raise their families..thankyou so much.

  3. What a great boredom-buster!! Also, what a great idea up-cycling the stuffed toys, never even crossed my mind! I love your blog (subscribe via email) and and happy you are sticking around!! I love 'rocking what I got' thanks to you! You are teaching your kiddos some great life lessons!

  4. Oh my goodness that is jsuch a good idea, I love it!!!

    I also did read your last post, and I am glad that you are back, you don't hear from me often in comments but it doesn't mean I don't love your posts. I am always looking forward to reading them!

  5. I love your posts! Please let us know how your stairs turned out. I also live in a bi-level/step ranch/raised ranch and am dying to update our stairs

  6. So glad you have decided to stick with the blogging.. heck whenever you choose to jump on is just fine.. no.. one is tally the scores! I find you very inspiring. You have great ideas and we could all use a little "rock what ya got" attitude in life. Cute pillows.. we will be trying this for sure!!

  7. I really love reading your blog. You have great ideas! This pillow project is a great way to get kids into sewing and teaching them to use what ya got. So many times we as adults don't validate kids artwork in meaningful ways. We have them work with materials which are not ment to be kept or shown any permanance in their final products. This project elevates their art, shows them how to use their art in unexpected ways, and builds on their creative skills. Lovely!

  8. Just started to teach my girls sewing (they made their own essential oil sachets for school to help them focus; 5 yo did it by hand and 7 yo on the machine) and they have been begging for more lessons. This would be GREAT to let them practice!

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