From Placemat to Pillow

Once upon a yard sale, I found this charming yellow place mat.


It was love at first sight.

The only problem?  There was just one.  (Don’t you hate that?)

Still, I had to have it, and when I brought it home I tossed in my “PILLOW FABRIC” pile.

Shrunken sweaters, scraps of old quilts, hand towels–when a piece of cloth catches my eye, it goes straight into the fabric pile…which just so happens to be right next to my  “MAKE-OVER-PILLOW” pile.

My reasoning behind all this pillow madness is money.  I mean, why spend upwards of $20 on something that is easy enough to make yourself?  (Use that money to pay for something you can’t do easily yourself, like, cut your own hair.)

And so I am always on the hunt for fabric and throw pillows.

The best place to find inexpensive pillows?  Yard sales.  But not just any yard sale.  I only buy throw pillows from people I know very well.  I will not buy a pillow from a stranger because that’s just yuck.  (Unless that stranger seems to have good grooming and housekeeping habits.)

I also save white pillow cases and sheets to use as pillow liners.  (Because sometimes, you just need an extra layer of defense.)

This whole saving-piles-of-this-and-that may seem a bit chaotic, but if you love DIY, you’ll be pleased with the results.

I know I am.



Step #1: Choose a place mat that has two layers of fabric.


Step #2: Choose a pillow that will fit relatively snug inside the place mat.


Step #3: Sew a liner for your pillow.

This step is optional, but it really improves the finished look.  In this case, the pillow I used was hot pink and black; colors that were very noticeable behind the yellow fabric of the place mat.

Making a pillow liner is a cinch, especially if you have an old pillow case (I prefer to use white ones).

-Turn your pillowcase inside out.  Slide your pillow into the corner of the case.  By doing this you will only have to worry about sewing two seams instead of four.


-To create the other seams, pin the pillow case together along the longest side the pillow. 


-Remove the pillow from the pillowcase and, with a sewing machine, stitch up the seam you just pinned.  Cut away excess fabric, leaving a half-inch border along the seam.

-Turn pillowcase right-side-out and place pillow back inside.

-Pin the second seam together and neatly stitch it up by hand.  Cut away the excess fabric, leaving a half-inch border along the seam.

And ta-da!  Pillow liner is done.


Step #4: Open up a side seam on your place mat.


Step #5: Work the pillow into the place mat and smooth out the fabric.  (not shown)

Step #6: Neatly stitch the seam back up.


And there you have it, a charming pillow that cost you a bit of loose change and a few spare minutes.

Aren’t you clever?  🙂



Find inspiration for your whole house at Pancakes and French Fries‘ weekly William Morris Project!



12 thoughts on “From Placemat to Pillow

  1. I made a sweater pillow and it Looked great!
    I wish I could be a full time yard sale junkie and redesign work……do they get insurance, benefits and retirment plan????????

    • Ha! It would be so fun to yard sale with you, Vivi. You have the energy I need to keep going, keep looking. I currently have a sweater pillow in the works. So excited to see how it turns out!

  2. I just found your blog from P&F. I love a fellow scrap saver. I learned from the best (my mom), and I think I have the same battenburg lace scrap you do! Very clever creation!

    • Isn’t battenburg lace the best? Ok, so was your mom’s scrap pile out of control? Momma had scraps of all kinds and since I shared a room with her sewing machine, I was constantly trying to contain them. haha But she, like your mom, taught me to be resourceful. Thanks for reading! Will have to check out your site.:)

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