Fun Fish Pillow DIY From Upcycled Jeans
Every summer when I visit my parents in Portugal, I love to spend an afternoon strolling around the local gift stores. Fish is the predominant theme when it comes to Portuguese gifts, that’s probably because they eat more fish than anyone else in the world. That is where I got the inspiration for making a fish pillow.
My fish pillow, of course, had to be made from repurposed fabrics. I used my 2 favourite fabrics for recycling denim and sweater felt.
Using a pair of jeans for these fish pillows allowed me to use the interesting 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 I used for these denim pillows so that you can easily make them yourself.
Combining denim with other fabrics to make interesting pillows is a popular upcycle of mine. In the past, I’ve combined denim with sari trim to make boho jeans pillows and I’ve made my son an iPhone denim pocket pillow.
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What you need to make a denim fish pillow
- Paper pattern – Draw your own to the size you want or download mine here.
- A pair of jeans or denim scraps from several pairs of jeans.
- Small piece of felted sweater fabric (see here how to felt sweaters), or other fabric.
- Fiberfill – I use old pillows for this.
- Needle and thread
- Household bleach
- Fish Scale Stencil
How to make a denim fish pillow
- First, you will need to make a paper pattern template. I drew my fish out onto paper and then cut it out into different sections, tail, head, body, and fin. I have scanned in 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 paper so it has been printed over two pages.
- 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. As you will need 2 pieces of fabric for each body part.
- I used denim fabric for the body, tail and fins of the fish. For the head, I used the felted sweater fabric.
- Place the stencil onto the cut out denim body. Using a paint brush paint bleach onto the stencil. Leave for about 20mins to allow the bleach to work and then wash and dry the denim fabric.
- Next, layout the fish pieces for each side and then sew them together. This is also the time to sew any embelishments 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. For the fin I just cut up a bit of the jeans pocket.
- 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.
- Using the hole that you have left, turn the fish pillow right side out and stuff with fibre. Once you have finshed stuffing the pillow stitch up the hole.
- Finally you can leave your fish pillow as is or add further embilishements such as glueing denim seams to the body to add further detail.
To make the bleached scales on the denim fabric..
I loved the repurposed denim fish pillow so much that I made another one. I think the pillows look more interesting if you used 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 out side they look like the fish are swimming in the sea.
For more free home sewing projects check out allfreesewing.com
Don’t forget to check out my other denim crafts and DIY’s.