First off let me tell you what I've learned from trial and error. It's best to buy a man's extra large shirt. If the shirt goes by neck size I would go no lower than a 17" neck. This way when you cut off the sleeves and collar you have enough of the front to make a large pillow that places the pocket in a good place. Second when placing your pattern onto the front keep the cutting and sewing lines away from the buttons. If you can't do that then you'll need to remove that button
Okay so now decide on the size of the pillow you want. I opted to buy pillow forms, just because I think its neater looking and also because I wasn't sewing closed the button area and I thought the fiber fill could leak out. I purchased my 16" pillow forms from Joanne's and was very lucky that they had them at 50% off plus that weekend there was a 20% off coupon on top of that, score!
I always have a roll of kraft paper that comes in handy for making patterns and did so for my pillows, making it a 17" square. I added the additional 1" all around to give me enough sewing allowance plus allow a loose look to the pillows. .
I place my pattern on the shirt front (making sure that the shirt is totally buttoned up) paying attention to where the button line would be and also the pocket. Most of the ones I made the button line is center but I also liked the look of the button area being a bit off to the side. The pocket looked best if it's down a bit from the top of the pillow. I then traced the pattern onto the fabric and then cut. I used a sharpie marker for my tracing figuring it was going to be cut off so it was okay to do that, maybe?
Okay sewed all four sides, snipped the corners so they wouldn't bunch up, unbuttoned the shirt, turned inside out, pressed and inserted pillow and viola!. It's pretty easy.
The first pillow I made looked like this right from the sewing machine. Yawn..... it was boring looking to me. It looked clean, crisp, like a well dressed man, but it didn't fit in with the decorating scheme I was going after.
So I tea dyed it and the coloring was better but there was another problem. Not sure if you can see it in the photo but there's a streak down the side of the buttons that makes the pillow look dirty. My guess is that no customer will want to buy a pillow that looks dirty no matter how cute it thinks it is. Luckily I can just bleach it out and start again. Since then I've learned what not to do when tea dying and will gladly share that with you on another post.
So after the tea dye I'm still yawning........ though not so much. Just didn't have that zing I was looking for. So I then did one more thing and made up some small covered buttons with some contrasting shirt material and glued them on top of the existing buttons. Now it's better, not perfect but better. Love to hear what you think about it .Juror is out if I'll make buttons for the rest of the pillows. Oh yeah I took away the button on the pocket that was a bit of over kill.
My hope is that when I get all 15 pillows out on display at the craft show they all will look great!