The Family Beast Gets Crafty: How to recycle Daddy’s old business shirts.

This is a quick and easy project and it’s a great one if you have a Business-Type Daddy who wears Business Shirts.  If you don’t have one of those conveniently to hand – then the blokes shirt section in your favorite thrift shop usually has plenty of them (shirts that is, not Business-Type Daddies). The project was inspired by Leanne at Lazuligreen.

men's business shirts at Lifeline Balgowlah.

This is a good project if you are new to sewing – it involves cutting and sewing in straight lines. There are no zips, or other tricky elements. It’s also a great project to do with children – very achievable. If you do sew, you can add piping as it gives a more finished look. Here is a link to a  piping tutorial. The other nice thing about this project is that it is a great way to use a shirt that has frayed/stained cuffs and collar. Usually the main torso area is clean and  depending on the size of your cushion, the underarm area can be avoided.

So, like a recipe, you will need:


1 large blokes shirt
1 x 45cm by 45cm cushion insert. A proper feather filled insert is best.
Matching thread
A sewing machine

If you already have a cushion cover to use as a template, all the easier.


  • Turn the shirt inside out and lie flat with the arms out so there are no creases or wrinkles, and leaving the buttons done up.
  • Either mark out a 48 x 48cm square or place an existing cushion cover over the shirt. Always leave a seam allowance, that is, cut a little bigger than the desired finished size (usually 2-3cm).
  • Make sure the buttons are not directly on your cutting line.
  • Carefully cut through both layers of the shirt. You should be left with 2 nice squares with buttons down the middle of one square.
  • Pin the two sides together so they don’t get out of alignment – the right sides of the shirt should be facing each other in the middle
  • Sew around all four sides. You can curve the corners slightly if you like.
  • Undo the buttons and turn right-side out.
  • Pop the cushion insert in through the gap and do the buttons back up again.


Additional ideas:

You can mix and match two shirts, using the back of one and the front of the other.
Add pockets from another shirt for contrast
Most blokes shirts have plain buttons, try replacing the buttons with something more colourful and fun.

If you are cutting the pillow from an existing cushion cover, remember to leave a 2 to 3cm seam allowance. Leaving the pocket as part of the pillow can be fun especially if it is for a child, they can hide treasures in them. If it doesn’t make the cut, so to speak, you can always unpick the pocket and stitch it back on in the right position.

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