Downeast Thunder Farm Owl Pillow Project

For some time I’ve been searching for fabric to make sofa pillows. Finding a pattern I like that has the right colors? – robin egg blue, brown, green and a touch of red has been challenging. At least one that fits my budget – which is next to nothing.

A few weeks ago, my friend, Carol, offered me a tablecloth that she no longer used because she’d redecorated. Even though I don’t have a square table to match the beautiful piece, I liked the pattern so much I accepted. The cloth laid over the back of a chair for weeks before it hit me.


Green, turquoise, brown, and red – with a whimsical rickrack. This is the fabric for which I’d been searching! I cringed as I cut into Carol’s beautiful tablecloth, but I’m pleased with the results: three square zippered pillows – two with the rickrack running through them.

As I started thinking about adding other pillows to my sofa mix, Paul put a brown corduroy shirt that was too large in the thrift store bag. Inspiration hit; I rescued it and fashioned it into a sofa pillow, using the rolled hem for cording.

Then, I was on a roll. I wanted to make another pillow – one that features my Downeast Thunder Farm owl family (the owls in the banner at the top of the page). I had the idea, but no fabric for the pillow squares – and I’m 40 miles from the nearest store that sells fabric. So I went back to that thrift store bag and found another of Paul’s discarded shirts.

owl pillow

I cut my squares and used a bit of the leftover brown corduroy for the tree trunk and branch. I didn’t have any fusible backing on hand, but I had hem tape and used that to fuse tree to the fabric and then used the sewing machine to run a button hole stitch around the edges. From there I cut my owls from wool blend felt and hand sewed the owls into place.


Given the size of the shirt from which I cut the squares, I had to piece together the back square. Inspiration hit again, and I used the shirt’s existing button closure for the back.

I’m quite tickled with the end result. Now what next? I’m headed back to that thrift store bag!


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11 Responses to Downeast Thunder Farm Owl Pillow Project

  1. katherine says:

    Hi, I just found your blog through pinterest. I love your felt bird patterns.I love birds and I love to make things with felt so… I can’t wait to make a bunch! Thanks for your generosity in sharing your patterns. I hope all is well on your farm – we are in PA on a sheep/organic produce farm and are getting ready for our lambing season.

  2. Ruth Wilson says:

    What an ingenious idea with the man’s shirt! Well done!!

  3. Chrissie says:

    Brilliant! What a great use of discard’s, too. I like the way you pieced them together, making use of the best parts of each item.

  4. Helen says:

    Love your pillows! Love the fact they are made from other items.
    Upcycled/re-purposed = Yankee ingenuity!
    “Use it up wear it out. Make it do do without ” still rings true!

  5. Lisa Taylor says:

    They’re gorgeous! They’d go for at least $50 each if Pottery Barn was selling them. Much better to have made them the way you did.

  6. I love the idea of using the birds on a pillow, also reusing old items like the shirt.

  7. Julie B says:

    I am very impressed with your pillows – all of them. The tablecloth made such colorful, pretty pillows, and the shirts and owls made very unique and darling pillow! I feel like stealing shirts out of my husband’s closet now since we’ve already taken things to the Salvation Army recently! Hmm.. lol

  8. Betty Jo says:

    I love to craft. I usually lately have been making Quiltlow’s and Quilts. But your birds will be perfect for road trips and airplane rides

  9. Karole says:

    Superb idea on the owl pillow — absolutely love the use of existing buttons on the back. I have a cotton shirt with a tropical pattern that belonged to my Dad and has been hanging in my closet for a few year now…finally I have a plan! Thanks to you I do now have to resort to making a stuffed animal or similar thing that I really don’t want. Always enjoy your site!

    • sjbennett says:

      That’s a great idea for you farher’s shirt. It will be something you’ll see every day. I once made a quilt out of Paul’s old biker Ts so he could enjoy those old shirts he no longer wore. But, that’s another story.

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