How to Make Beautiful Throw Pillows with Plastic Bag Filling


One of my favorite projects to date has been my cargo love seat makeover. I bought this baby off of Craigslist for $40, sanded him down and restained him, and then spray painted the vinyl seat covers.

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He was looking mighty, mighty fine (although no need to be jealous Eric) but needed a little styling. You saw me work what I had in the house and tried styling him four different ways.

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That sure was fun but I still had a few styling tricks up my sleeves…like making pillows in fun and interesting ways. Here’s how my pillow making went down.

It started pretty typical:

  1. Pick out fabric.

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2. Cut out fabric (plus an inch around for hemming).

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3. Pin fabric sides to each other. Make sure you sew the pillow inside out.

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4. Sew fabric. Yup, I sewed again all thanks to my mother-in-law.

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Here are some tips and tricks I picked up in sewing pillows.

  • Crisp corners can be a breeze. Just get to where you want to end, make sure the needle is down, lift up the lever, and twist the fabric so you are ready to sew your next straight edge.
  • After you finish sewing, cut away excess material around the edges (not too close!) and snip off the corners on the diagonal.
  • When you flip your fabric back to the correct side, there is a nifty little tool made for corners to help them be crisp. I asked, “Is that a for real tool or just a chop stick?” Apparently it’s legit but I think a chop stick would work well.

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5. Then I got to the stuffing. There are so many ways to stuff a pillow. You can buy a pillow form or recover a pillow you’re not loving any more. Or you could buy a big bag of that stuffing that is pretty expensive at craft stores. Or you could do what I ended up doing. I took an old sleeping pillow that had seen better days and all of the plastic grocery bags I could get my hands on (from my stash, my mother-in-laws, and my co-workers).

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I used the pillow stuffing for the corners. Then, I stuffed in the plastic bags. Make sure to stuff in a lot since there will be some air in the bags. You don’t want your pillow to deflate later. Once your pillow is pretty packed with bags, use the pillow filling to soften up the pillow. I just did a layer between the fabric and bags.

This is what it looks like in process. It’s fun and messy. I cuddled up on the couch while watching TV one night.

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6. Sew up the opening by hand.

There you go – sew so easy! And almost free as I just paid about $4 for each pillow’s fabric. I thought it would be the perfect way to make outdoor pillows that go through many seasons. Here they are all beautiful on the love seat. I’m so pleased with them!

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making-pillows-with-plastic-bag-stuffing

making-pillows-with-plastic-bag-stuffing

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  • Very cool! I would never have thought to use bags as a filler! Are they crinkly when you lean on them or does the pillow stuffing soften them up enough?ReplyCancel

    • Thanks! All credit goes to my mother-in-law for this one! I was dubious at first because I thought they would crinkle but the stuffing really helps put a damper on that. There is a little crinkling but it’s not bad. I also tried to crinkle them a lot before I put them in to help stop the noise. ReplyCancel

  • Stuffing a pillow can be terribly expensive. My grandmother used to save dry cleaning bags to help cu down on stuffing’s expense.ReplyCancel

    • That’s so smart!! They would go a lot longer than a plastic bag!ReplyCancel

  • Brilliant! Never would have thought of this!ReplyCancel

  • […] How to Make Beautiful Throw Pillows with Plastic Bag Filling (rappsodyinrooms.com) […]ReplyCancel

  • […] I ripped up some plastic bags (phew, good thing I had some left over from my plastic bag pillow stuffing endeavor) and tape those around the lights. Gotta watch out for that over spray! Make sure you tape up the […]ReplyCancel

  • So smart and perfect for an outdoor space! How do they feel to lean or lay on? Do they crinkle a lot?ReplyCancel

    • Thanks Kathryn! They actually feel really great. I stuffed in A LOT of bags since they do hold air in them. So I used more bags to help eliminate leaning back on the pillow and it deflating on you. Using some cotton stuffing as a buffer between the fabric and plastic bags is also really helpful in reducing sound and making them soft and cushy. Also, the more you use them, the less crinkly they get. Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • […] black was okay in the room but I wanted to bring in more navy (since the back door is navy and the plastic stuffed pillows had navy patterns in them). The other side of the room needed more. Navy it […]ReplyCancel

  • Hello! Love this idea, used it to stuff a baby toy for a shower a few years back.. But I’m not sure how it would be in the washing machine?
    I’m making another for my future nephew and am wondering if you have washed the pillows whole or if you just make new ones/spot clean when/if they become dirty 🙂
    Thanks!
    KelseyReplyCancel

    • Hi Kelsey! What a cute idea for a baby toy! I have never washed the pillows but don’t think I ever will. I think I will just spot treat them. I would guess that the plastic bags would just hold the water in them forever and then mold. However, I also see these as semi-disposable pillows since they are so cheap to make. If they get filthy you can just take out the stuffing and use for another pillow!ReplyCancel

  • Emerald Vixen

    Another great idea would be to leave some fabric overlapping each other in the back that’s not sewn together. That way you can just take out the stuffing and and wash the pillow covers. Kinda likw this one: http://tatertotsandjello.com/2012/10/make-a-pillow-cover-in-4-easy-steps.html

    I love yours and your MIL’s creativity though! Send some over to me! O_OReplyCancel

  • Great tip, Megan! I was searching the net for a pillow making activity with my daughter and her friend. We have a MAJOR unplugged (no technology) playdate tomorrow and I have to keep them engaged. We’re going to make pillows using jeans my daugther can neither fit nor are fit to give away. Imagine my delight when I saw I could just collect alllllllll the grocery bags I have here and voila!

    My question is about caring for the pillow. At some point, I’m sure it will need to be washed. What then becomes of the plastic inside? The stuffing will survive the wash-spin-dry cycle, but I’m not too sure of the plastic.

    Would love your thoughts. Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Hi Kimberly! It is so awesome to hear that you are having an unplugged date! I’m sorry if I missed out helping you on your day because I have been having an uplugged Christmas vacation! I can’t wait to hear how the pillows came out! I made these pillows accepting the fact that they will not be able to be cleaned. If I had wanted to be able to clean them I would have made a case that can be unzipped and just realize I will have to restuff them every time. I definitely wouldn’t trust getting those plastic bags wet! Hope this helps!ReplyCancel

      • Thanks, Megan. I actually thought about the zipper idea, but decided otherwise. So, I did not use the plastic bags. Instead, I recycyled stuffing from an old pillow and used scraps of denim left over from the jeans I turned in to pillows. We had such a fun unplugged day!ReplyCancel

        • Yay!! I am so glad you had an awesome time. Great ideas on reusing old stuffing and denim. Sounds adorable!!ReplyCancel

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