How-To: Make a Pillow Without Polyfill


Who says you need petroleum-based polyfill to stuff a pillow? Not me!

I thrifted a very beautiful, mostly comfortable chair with a matching ottoman for my crafty studio. Unfortunately, this chair doesn’t offer the lower back support that I need, and after a few evenings nursing a sore back, it felt like time to do something about it! A rolled up blanket did the trick, but where’s the fun in that, right? That’s when I remembered that I’d been meaning to try making a pillow without using any polyfill to stuff it, and it felt like the perfect time to try it out.

So what are we going to stuff this pillow with, if polyfill’s out? Fabric scraps! Those teensy, tiny scraps of fabric that just won’t be useful for anything else. Before you do this project, you’ll need to start saving all of your tiniest fabric scraps and bits of thread that would normally go into the bin. It takes a lot more stuffing to fill a pillow than you’d think, so save up for a while. You’ll also want to make sure you’re keeping your scraps in a well-sealed container, because you don’t want to delve into your stash only to find that there are bugs in there. Seriously, this happened to me, and it broke my heart to toss all of that saved up material.

I made the body of my back pillow out of a vintage valence, but plain ol’ fabric will work well, too. A valence is that short curtain that folks sometimes layer with a full sized curtain to add a touch of charm or maybe use in a high kitchen window that doesn’t need a full sized curtain. A friend gave me a bag full of vintage valences, and since I only had two windows that needed a dash of cute, the others have been languishing in a bag in my studio.

If you aren’t using a valence, don’t fret! You just need to finish the edges of your fabric with a 1″ seam before you start this tute. You could also use a vintage dish towel and save yourself some sewing!

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10 thoughts on “How-To: Make a Pillow Without Polyfill”

  1. So funny to see this today. I’ve been collecting my tiny scraps to use for pillows since I saw a friend collecting them at the quilt store to make dog beds for the animal shelter!

  2. If you really want to get serious about ammassing a large amount of scraps in a short time, check with a local quilters guild or quilter friends.  You may even be able to find a quilters retreat center if you can have a special bin for scraps only that quilters can put their scraps in. 

    Do you think you could also add rags like worn out undershirts or socks that are cut up?

    1. You could choose to do that, if you wanted to. I don’t think there would be any harm to you in it. You’d likely want to be very mindful of the temperature at which you’re drying your scraps and thread bits, however–it’s surprising how durable insect eggs can be.

      1. Freezing your scraps for a good period of time (say a few days to a week) will kill nearly everything. For extra measure soak in a 50/50 vinegar water wash for another day or two. Then launder, highest temp if possible. I’ve done this with things that moths or silverfish have gotten into and have never seen them return as a result of incomplete cleaning.

  3. We made some of these years ago when my scraps were getting out of control! We called them brick pillows because the scraps make the pillows so much heavier than the polyfill.

  4. I’ve recently been making a quilt style blanket out of tshirts and after cutting those tshirts i wondered what i could do with all the scraps. This is the perfect DIY to use those scraps!

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