Pillow Buddies Tutorial!


Last week, I took part in Etsy’s worldwide craft party. The theme of the event was “crafting for community.” In other words, using craft to make the world a better place. I am not much of a crafter, but I am a Red Cross volunteer, which gave me the idea to make pillows for injured U.S. service members hospitalized here in Germany at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

In order to unleash our creativity, we came up with a fun project using scraps of cloth and large denim patches to create retro-hip animals, monsters, and robots. The resulting “pillow buddies” will provide support and comfort, especially for patients due for medical evacuation back to the States. Knowing that some of the designs would be an absolute hit with kids, we’ve also decided to donate some to the pediatric ward.

The great thing about these pillows is how flexible the process is. You just need scraps of fabric and denim which you then cut into blobby pieces. Mistakes and idiosyncrasies are usually okay because they add to these little guys’ personalities. I think these pillow friends would make great gifts or donations to local hospitals or cancer centers in your own home town.  And they are a great idea for craft parties because they are easy for novices and less experienced sewers (like me).

So, without further ado, here’s a step-by-step look at the process, courtesy of my good friend, artist Mirka Hokkenen Kim, who came up with the idea.

1. Draw up some sketches of monsters, animals, and robots and decide which one you’d like to tackle.

Pillow Buddies Sketches2. Cut two large pieces of cloth, making sure they are mirror shapes of one another.

Pillow Buddies_13. Cut patches for the extremities. In many cases, you can cut one long scrap and fold it over. Because I wanted to sew eyes on these, I cut two squares and sewed the eyes on before I sewed the two pieces together.

Pillow Buddies - Cut denim scraps 4. Outsides facing in, stitch extremities. Cut a 1-4-inch edge all around the stitching before turning them right-side-out again.

Pillow buddies- sew extremities5. Add a yarn mouth.

Pillow buddies - add a yarn mouth.6. Arrange extremities on top of the face, place backing cloth over and pin everything together, making sure the outside pieces are all facing inward and the extremities are pointing inward as well.

Pillow buddies - arrange pieces 7. Stitch all around the edges, leaving a 1/4-inch space to  the edge and  a three- or four-inch gap in one side. Make sure to always backstitch whenever you begin or end!

Stitch8. Turn right-side-out through the gap.

Right-side-out9. Stuff and stitch the open edge using a ladder stitch.

close seamVoila! You’re finished!

IMG_1776Here are a few more ideas for you:

A robot, a fox, and a dog.
A robot, a fox, and a dog.

Making these guys was a wonderful break from my hyperrealist paintings. It was fun to shake off the rust and reclaim my sewing skills in addition to using my imagination to come up with these whimsical characters. A different kind of creative experiment!

7 thoughts on “Pillow Buddies Tutorial!

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