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Create A Denim Fish Pillow: Easy Steps with Free Pattern

Turn old denim into a delightful fish pillow with our DIY guide and free fish pillow pattern. It’s a fun, sustainable craft project.

I got inspired to make a fish pillow from a trip to Portugal.

Every summer, I visit my parents in Portugal; I love to spend an afternoon strolling around the local gift stores. Fish is the predominant theme for Portuguese gifts, probably because they eat more fish than anyone else.

My fish pillow, of course, had to be made from repurposed fabrics. I used my two favourite materials for recycling denim and sweater felt.

Fun Fish Pillow DIY From Upcycled Jeans

Using a pair of jeans for these fish pillows allowed me to use the exciting bits. Such as seams, buttons, and pockets to add details to the fish. I was also able to bleach stencil fish scales onto the denim fabric.

I’ve included the pattern for these denim pillows so you can easily make them yourself. And in other fabrics besides denim if you prefer.

Combining denim with other fabrics to make attractive pillows is popular upcycle of mine. In the past, I’ve combined denim with sari trim to make boho jeans pillows—denim with wool to make fabric placemats and an iPhone denim pocket pillow.

These fish pillows are featured under the letter F in the A to Z of repurposed jeans ideas.

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What You Need to Make a Fish Pillow

Denim and sweater scraps for fish pillow.

How to make a denim fish pillow

Step 1: First, make a paper pattern template. I drew my fish onto paper and then cut it into different sections: tail, head, body, and fin.

I have scanned the pattern I used, which you can download and print out and use. Note the body template of the fish would not fit on one side of the paper, so it has been printed over two pages.

Fish pillow paper pattern

Step 2: Place the paper pattern onto the material and draw around, allowing for a 1cm seam allowance. Then cut out the shape.

Flip over the paper pattern and do the same again; you will need two pieces of fabric for each body part.

I used denim fabric for the fish’s body, tail and fins. For the head, I used the felted sweater fabric.

Denim fish pillow tail
fish fins

To make the bleached scales on the denim fabric.

Step 3: Place the stencil onto the cut-out denim body. Using a foam brush, paint bleach onto the stencil. Leave for about 20mins to allow the bleach to work, then wash and dry the denim fabric.

Top tip: If you prefer to use paint for the stencil, check out my tutorial with my stencilled denim table runner.

stenciling the fish scales
bleached fish scales for denim fish pillows

Step 4: Lay out the fish pieces for each side and then sew them together. This is also the time to sew embellishments to the fish, such as a fin on the body or an eye.

I used the button from the jeans as the eye for the fish pillow. I just cut up a bit of the jeans pocket for the fin.

making denim pilows

Step 5: Next, pin the two sides of the fish right sides together and sew. Leave an open gap of about 3 inches in the belly of the fish.

Step 6: Using the hole you have left, turn the fish pillow right side out and stuff it with fibre. Once you have finished stuffing the pillow, stitch up the hole.

Step 7: Finally, you can leave your fish pillow as is or add further embellishments, such as glueing denim seams to the body to add further detail.

Repurposed denim fish pillows on Shibori dyed sofa.

I loved the repurposed denim fish pillow so much that I made another one. The pillows look more interesting if you use denim from more than one pair of jeans; that way, you get lots of lovely shades of indigo.

When placed outside on my sofa with shibori dyeing outside, they look like the fish are swimming in the sea. They also match the Shibori indigo planters I made.

Making denim pillows is one of my favourite things to do with old jeans; I’ve made a denim world map cushion and a woven denim pillow, to name a few. They also look great with my repurposed jeans rugs.

Check out all these other wonderful-shaped pillow cover design ideas and my collection of adult summer crafts.

Make a fun and unique repurposed denim fish pillow for your home. Complete with bleached denim scales. Very simple to make, full step by step tutorial with a free pattern included. #diypillow #nauticalcrafts #summercrafts
Denim fish pillows
unique repurposed denim fish pillow

For more free home sewing projects, check out


Anita holland

Saturday 2nd of May 2020

Really cute idea.

Claire Armstrong

Saturday 2nd of May 2020

Thank you

Fish Pillow Free Sewing Pattern

Thursday 5th of September 2019

[…] Fish Pillow […]


Friday 22nd of June 2018

I love these and will be making some. Thanks for the inspiration

Claire Armstrong

Friday 22nd of June 2018

Thank you so much. I hope you have fun making them.

Lynda Hardy

Tuesday 29th of May 2018

These are so cute, they make me want to go round up some denim odds and ends right now! Thanks for sharing with Party in Your PJs!

Claire Armstrong

Tuesday 29th of May 2018

Thank you. The denim bits make the pillows.

Lins @ Boo & Maddie

Monday 28th of May 2018

These are gorgeous Claire, would look perfect in a bathrom (although I think my cat Boo would be very interested in them too!) Xx

Claire Armstrong

Monday 28th of May 2018

Thank you, Lins.