Thrift Store Pillow Turned Tree Pillow Keepsake {beginner tutorial}

Secondhand pillow + $5.38 in materials + a couple beginner sewing skills + a recording of my son's fetal heartbeat gifted from our midwife = a "Trina-original" that makes me proud :)


Sometime in my third trimester, our midwife recorded Ian's hearbeat on a Build-a-Sound recorder. We meant to take it to Build-a-Bear to use it as it was "meant" to be, but it didn't work out. Partly because I never had the recorder with me when we happened by the store, but mostly because I didn't care to get him a bear. We contemplated maybe a monkey or a dog--they seemed slightly more boyish. But ultimately, I had other ideas :)

I came up with the idea of appliqueing a pillow cover with a tree and heart with Ian's initials, then inserting the recorder in the pillow behind the heart. That idea stuck with me for a couple months, until now when I finally decided on the perfect materials and design. And I happened upon the pillow at Goodwill, giving me the extra nudge to move forward with the project. Without further ado, a beginner-original tutorial...

{DISCLAIMER:  This truly was a beginner experience for me, with no "how-to" to guide me. So view this tutorial more as general guidance on the process, rather than exact details to follow. I'd hate for you to experience the long route I journeyed down.}


I found the pillow at Goodwill. There was a set of three, and this one had the cleanest looking cover. After washing the pillow and its cover, I cut around the edge of the pillow cover. Almost as soon as I had done this, I realized I should have cut at least a 1/4" rather than right next to the seam. That was only the beginning of many more "mistakes" to come :)

I then took the seams out of the pillow cover, and used the 3 pieces to measure and cut 3 pieces out of the new material. (I thought of choosing more cutesy fabrics matching his room, but decided I wanted something more masculine and neutral so it can be used in Ian's room as long as possible until he decides to put it away in a keepsake box.)

I then layered the new brown material with the original light fabric, because I wanted to use the original pillow cover as a lining to my new pillow cover. I then {1} sewed a small seam on the smaller pieces that would overlap in the back, {2} laid all pieces of the pillow cover together and pinned in the corners and along the edges, and {3} sewed a seam around the entire edge of the pillow cover. (Again, I should have had enough material cut to leave 1/4"-1/2" seam, but instead sewed right along the edge making do with the damage I had already done :)

At this point, I made enough goofs, I was amazed it had turned into a pillow cover that actually fit properly over the pillow. So I took a picture and enjoyed that for a moment.

Then, I sketched the outline of a tree onto regular ol' paper, pinned it to the pillow, and used this embroidery 101 tutorial from I Am Momma to stitch the tree. (How ghetto does that look?!) I'll just remind you this was a beginner project for me; you'd probably want the real embroidery materials, rather than printer paper. I'm glad it worked out, because I really wasn't up for buying more supplies than absolutely necessary.

After that, I snipped the pillow where I estimated the heart would be, inserted the already recorded Build-a-Sound recorder, and did a simple whip stitch to sew it back up. If you wanted to get more accurate on where to put the heart (or whatever will indicate where to push to play the recorder), insert the recorder in the pillow first, then put the cover on and mark where to put the "push" indicator--whatever that may be. My method of stitching the heart before inserting the recorder actually worked out alright.

Throw the cover back on the pillow, push the heart on the tree, and enjoy the sound of your sweet little one's heart beat while you admire your handiwork and pat yourself on the back for completing this before his first birthday.