Pillow Talk? – Let’s Clean It Up!

Do you have various fabric in your closet and don’t know what to do with it? I do. I particularly have lots of shawls, wraps and head scarfs that I have been given as souvenirs from other people’s vacations.

Let's Clean Up!

Let’s Clean Up!

So for many years the fabric has piled up in my small Brooklyn apartment, taking away space from more useful objects like towels and sheets. I even packed away my wedding china in a storage facility to make room for the growing pile of fabric. Well, now that New Years is here, I can delay no longer! TIME TO CLEAN STUFF OUT! (My New Year’s resolution is to make use of my existing fabric or donate it.) And one great way to use my fabric is to make pillows!

A few months ago at Loop of the Loom studio, I saw a kid (really a 12-year-old kid) get out the sewing machine and make a pillow out of his loom project. I was amazed at both the simplicity of the idea and its practicality. It was explained to me that this is a traditional method of making pillows in Japan.

The pillow’s size is determined by the dimensions of the fabric available. (Standard pillow inserts may not work. This pillow type is usually stuffed by hand and sewn closed. You can also make your own pillow inserts for the ease of washing.) This pillow can be made out of any rectangular fabric whose length  is a minimum of 3.33 times its width and a maximum of 3.5 times its width. The length of the fabric selected will become the diagonal dimension for the finished pillow. C:UsersKimberlyPicturesBaaBaaBrmy patternsnew-Japanesepill


  1. Follow the above diagram to determine if your fabric is large enough to make a pillow. (Cut down the A dimension if needed.) Iron your fabric and fold at the center line with the fabric’s wrong side facing outward. The fold that you just made is FOLD A.
  2. Pin the fabric with the wrong side facing outward. Sew a 1/2″ seam along one long side of the folded fabric so that two sides of the folded fabric are closed (one sewn closed, one closed by the fold) and two sides are open. This seam is labeled: SEAM B. C:UsersKimberlyPicturesBaaBaaBrmy patternsnew-Japanesepill
  3. Sew along the side opposite to the fold with a 1/2″ seam allowance.  This is SEAM C. You should now have a fabric pouch.
  4. Draw two lines with chalk. The first line will be 1/2″ from the pouch’s opening on the outside or wrong side of the fabric. Turn the pouch inside out so that the right side of the fabric is facing out. pillow-step3        Draw the second line at 1″ from the pouch’s opening. Turn the pouch inside out again so that the wrong side of fabric is on the outside.C:UsersKimberlyPicturesBaaBaaBrmy patternsnew-Japanesepill
  5.  Trim the pouch’s opening with pinking shears above the 1/2″ chalk line. Trim the corners of the pouch by cutting a diagonal slice from seam line to seam line. The wrong side of the fabric should still be facing outward.C:UsersKimberlyPicturesBaaBaaBrmy patternsnew-Japanesepill
  6. Fold the pouch in half again so that you have almost a square. Iron the pouch so that the side SEAM C and FOLD A meet.
  7. Unfold your pocket so that the new fold (FOLD D) is now a crease. Iron open Seams B and C. Open the pouch. Take two pins. Place a pin on each side of FOLD D.C:UsersKimberlyPicturesBaaBaaBrmy patternsnew-Japanesepill
  8. Fold a cuff over along the inside 1″ chalk line. Sew the cuff with a 1/4″ seam allowance for only half of the pocket. This means that you only sew from one pin to the other.
  9. Turn the pillow inside out so that the fabric’s right side is outside. Pull the fabric out so that the Seam B is flat on the on a table. This seam will be pillow’s center diagonal. Pull the pouch cuff’s ends outward to form a square. Make the sewn cuff and the pinked edge meet to form another diagonal line.  Move the sewn cuff to cover the pinked edge. You may have to fold and tack extra fabric at the cuff’s corner edge. Iron the pillow flat.

  10. If the pinked edge and the sewn cuff do not overlap enough, turn the pouch inside out again. Then re-sew Seam C inward in 1/2″ increments until they meet. Don’t forget to cut off the old seam with pinking shears!
  11. Stuff the pillow with poly fill and close the open seam with a blanket stitch or snap buttons.

Here is a print out of the pattern:

pillowsheet1, pillowsheet2, pillowsheet3, pillowsheet4
Happy New Year Everyone!

2016 happy new year concept with sand and clock