Learn how to make a pillow insert from old pillows with this easy tutorial.
If you have been a reader of mine, you know I have a passion for pillows.
Once I learned how to sew my own pillow covers, a whole new world opened up for me.
Throw pillows are one of the finishing touches to your rooms. They can be pretty expensive, so learning to make your own is not only fun, but it’s also easier on your wallet.
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I highly recommend you get into sewing if you have any interest at all. Every room needs some pillows (except for the bathroom maybe – but I could find a way to make a case LOL).
But what about pillow inserts?
What is a pillow insert?
The pillow insert is the form that goes inside your pillow cover. It’s can be made from different materials – feathers, down alternative filling, foam, or a polyfill material.
The best inserts are full, cuddly, and fluffy, such as feather-down or alternative-down pillow inserts.
To have a nice looking pillow – you need the right insert. It’s as simple as that.
To quote Ina Garten here – you want a “good” insert. (you need to watch her show to get that reference.)
Once you have a collection of “good” inserts, you have them for a while, if not forever. You can even wash them! If you find you are allergic to feathers or just hate being poked by them all the time, then try a down alternative pillow insert.
Trust me when I say that those hard, misshapen polyfill insert won’t do your beautiful pillow cover any favors. (In case you want to skip the DIY here, I’ve sourced my favorite pillow inserts at the bottom of this post.)
So, now to get on with this quick tutorial.
My husband recently purchase a set of King sized feather filled bed pillows (two pillows came in the set). They are super duper nice! They have such a fluffy fill to them.
The only problem?
He hates sleeping on them. He tried, and they just don’t work for him. So they went unused and were stored away.
Until I got the idea to make throw pillows out of them. And it worked perfectly!
Things You’ll Need
- Feather or Down Alternative Bed Pillows (see notes on sizes)
- Sewing Machine (you can also hand stitch)
- Ruler or soft tape measure
I used King Sized Bed Pillows for this project. The finished pillow inserts are not a standard size insert – but since I make my own covers anyways, I just made them fit.
My king-sized pillow was 20 in. x 36 in. I wanted two even-sized pillows, so I cut them in half to make two equal-sized inserts at 20×18 inches. If you want a standard 20×20 insert – you will only get one of those pillows out of a king-size bed pillow. You could use the rest of the pillow to make a smaller size insert. The same story goes with a standard size pillow – they run about 20×26 inches.
Hint: I always make my covers smaller than the insert so it has a full look to it. You can certainly make a standard size out of a bed pillow – but depending on what size you make you will only get one pillow versus two.
How to Make a Pillow Insert
Follow these steps to turn your bed pillow into a couch pillow insert.
- I took my soft tape measure and pinned it to each seam so it stayed put.
- I drew a small dot at exactly 18 inches (half of 36).
- I measured a straight line all the way down the pillow using that dot as the guide. (Yes, I used a level – didn’t have my ruler near me).
- Then, I took my scissors and cut all the way down the pillow. (You will be eating feathers. You will be in a feather snowstorm. You will have to vacuum after this. But it is worth it.)
- I stuffed as many feathers as I could back in the pillow and pinned it back up.
- Then I sewed the heck out of it so those feathers never come back out. It took some finesse. The feathers just wanted out! I had to keep shoving them back in there. I sewed several times back and forth and back-stitched the ends too. It’s not very pretty looking, but it’s going to be the bottom of the pillow and it will be covered up with a pillow cover. That’s it!
I have two new beautiful down inserts!
Here’s how they look with a pillow cover on them. I’m very happy! Keep in mind, I only used one King Sized Pillow. The other pillow I may make a dog bed out of. (More to come on that too…)
Here’s another method to avoid some of the feather mess.
You can push the filling to the sides of the pillow before cutting. Hand stitch (if you can’t fit the whole pillow in the machine) two parallel lines down the middle of the pillow (close together).
Then cut the pillow in between the lines. Then run each pillow through the machine to tighten up the seams. Your pillows may be a bit smaller this way but you won’t have a feather mess to clean up.
I’m happy to say my inserts are still holding up beautifully today!
My Favorite Pillow Inserts and Where to Get Them
I’ve always been a huge fan of Crate and Barrel’s pillow inserts and they are pretty affordable, too. For a pricier option, try the Company Store. I have some blogger friends who swear by these inserts.
Amazon also now has great pillow inserts. I love this brand. I’m sure there are others on Amazon that are good too, I just haven’t tried them.
Another great option for inserts is HomeGoods. You have to feel the actual pillow (or unzip it and read the tag). If it feels foamy, lumpy, and hard – pass on it.
If the pillow feels airy, fluffy and you can stand it up and chop the “V” in it – it’s a keeper. Just switch out the cover when you get home. I love the V look, my hubby thinks the V look is out. I disagree.
If you have any down/down alternative pillows laying around or in storage – here’s a great way to use them up! I love finding new ways to use stuff around the house.
Happy Sewing guys!
featured image: Studio McGee