You know, the free ones from college that you just can't bear to part with? Or the ones from a trip you took when you were 12 years old that don't really fit anymore but remind you of a happier, more carefree time? Or the one you got on vacation a few years ago that never really fit you well but it was such a good deal and you couldn't pass it up (I mean, c'mon, $5 for a souvenir T-shirt??! How can you pass that up?) Well, in my case these were all of hubs' old shirts, and he had 4 dresser drawers packed to the brim with them. I made a case for donating the ones that were in good shape to Goodwill, and he finally acquiesced one rainy day a couple of months ago. So the whole family spent a few hours going through them all (and modeling some other stuff from daddy's drawers).
In the end, about 20 made it into the donation pile, a bunch were relegated to the 'wear during yardwork/messy stuff' pile, and 9 of them were marked 'I have special memories about these, so I can't throw/give them away, but I'm never going to wear them again.'
Since this all happened about 1.2 weeks before Christmas and I still needed a handmade/crafty gift for the hubs (see more of our crafty Christmas gifts here and here and here), I went into rush panic mode and decided I would make his beloved T-shirts into pillows for the playroom couch (we don't have a basement/man cave room, which would be another good spot for these). I am NOT a seamstress by any stretch of the imagination. I have a sewing machine (a gift from my mom for one of my 20-something birthdays) but I have a pretty healthy fear of it. We get along okay in small doses.
First came cutting the shirt decals out. I made sure I had plenty of extra space around the decal to trim down later. All of the shirts had front decals, and a couple had larger back decals that I cut out too. Once they were all cut, I played around with groupings that would make the most sense.
I read online that using fusible interfacing would help give the t-shirt material more strength and prevent stretching once sewn. I asked the nice ladies at Hancock Fabrics which they would recommend for my project, and they suggested this midweight option from Pellon. You basically iron it to the back of your fabric and then sew like you normally would. It's super easy to use, and it definitely helped the pieces keep their shape! Note: it helps if you iron the fabric you're attaching this too really well before you attach the fusible interfacing.
I cut and ironed on the interfacing, trying my best to get it centered behind the decals (I did this before I trimmed the shirt pieces to size).
Then I used a straight edge and rotary cutter to trim the pieces, leaving enough room for about a 1/4"-1/2" seam on all sides (again, my sewing machine and I don't always get along. I'd rather give myself too much wiggle room than not enough).
Once cut, I could pin the pieces together to make sure everything would line up how I wanted it.
I sewed the 3 small pieces for each pillow together first, then attached the bigger portion to get a clean line. I was actually impressed with myself after this--they were going together so nicely!
Once the backs were sewn on (wrong sides out, so the seams are hidden), I flipped them right-side out, stuffed them, and sewed the opening closed by hand (I'm not sure how, but they are closed. Just don't look too closely or you'll see how messy it looks).
Hubs loved them! He thought it was a great way to preserve all those memories and have them accessible (i.e. not stuck in a drawer). All in all, they were not that hard to make. My sewing machine and I may have even called a truce for now.