Country Living Series

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Patching pillows

Speaking of frugal living, I finally got around to doing something I've been meaning to do for months: patching my pillow.

When Don and I were married in 1990, we received a set of "feather-down" bed pillows which I absolutely loved. I don't know what happened to Don's pillow, but I've used mine for over two decades (and please spare me the lecture about how unhealthy this is; I love my pillow).

But it's finally starting to develop some holes, through which little downy feathers are forever poofing out. One big hole...

...and one smaller one.

Being too cheap frugal to buy a new pillow, I decided to patch it. I used the square of thin batting I used last week for a temporary tea bag. This material is more like thin interfacing than batting.

Since it doesn't fray along the edges (plus it's quite tough), I didn't have to hem it or fold over the edge; I just doubled it up and sewed it on.

I also noticed some additional small holes starting to form. I guess I have to face reality; it's time to sew a new pillow. I'll use a thrift-store sheet and cut it to size, then re-stuff it with the same feathery contents (a hint from my mother: do this outside, not in the house).

But until I get around to doing that, at least my pillow is patched and won't leak feathers. And since no one will ever see the patches, I didn't have to worry about neat picture-perfect stitching.

This is in contrast to a couch pillow that split a seam a couple months ago, and on which I did do neat stitching.

So what do new feather-down bed pillows cost these days? How much did I save?


  1. It's so hard to find a good pillow, I would have done the same. No lecture from me my friend :-)

  2. I had a down body pillow for 18 years that I did the same thing to. If I may (I'm going to anyway lol) look for the highest thread count linens you can find at the thrift store otherwise the feathers will work their way through them. Also, after the first time I replaced the cover I stopped replacing it and simply made a tight fitting tube, wrestled the pillow in, folded the ends inside and then folded it over and zipped along the edges with the sewing machine. I did make sure to sew through the end of the pillow too to help prevent shifting.

  3. good job!
    Lynn...from Pa

  4. I would have done the same thing! I think Garand Gal has a great idea of creating another case over it to keep it all contained.

  5. I love my feather pillow, too.

  6. I had a feather pillow for years...I just put one of those allergy covers that zip over the top of it and didn't bother to patch it. It's pretty thick material and held up great.

  7. I would leave it in its original cover and sew it up in a pillow case.Just as good as a sheet but a less work and no mess.

  8. I grew up with a feather bed that was assigned to me since I had a bedroom that was totally without heat (detached from any contact with rooms with heat). When I left home after college, my mother made several feather pillows out of the old feather bed. I was given two of them and my sister the same. She kept one. They were very large--queen bed size--and super comfortable. Thirty years later I realized that my wonderful pillows were flat and could not be fluffed any more. The feathers were worn down to almost nothing. Since the feather bed was at least thirty years old when the pillows were made from it, that means that down or feather pillows wear out in ONLY SIXTY years or so. I've not been able to find any replacement pillows that are half as good. My sister threw hers out after a few years as being unsanitary. I don't know what happened to my mother's pillow--my sister probably threw it out too.

  9. Patrice, ya done good.

    My down pillows and comforters are the only reason I ever darken the door to the local laundromat, since they're the only place with big enough washers and dryers to do the job, and it's worth every penny and every minute.

    I think most people believe you can't launder them, but my best friend grew up the old fashioned way in Germany and taught me otherwise. Treat them just like your towels: hottest possible water, soap and a little bleach. Yes, bleach. Then into the hottest possible dryer until they're as puffy and fat as can be. This is a crucial step. Don't take them out until they're thoroughly thoroughly dry and fat as a marshmallow.

    I keep my pillows inside a special zippered pillowcase and then put that into the outer case. I don't get 'strays' that way.

    I really scored when I ran the thrift store, because folks were forever 'donating' dirty and/or slightly damaged comforters and pillows, which couldn't be put out for sale, but which, when cleaned up and repaired, worked as well as new. So I'd buy them and go to work on them.

    I've still got one on one of my beds, and used some to make heirloom quality comforters for family members with crocheted tops and cotton backing. I tack them every four inches and they are the warmest 'blankies' on the planet. LOL It's a special joy to see a 6'3" tough guy gleefully receive one....and call it 'my blankie!'

    I once bought a barely worn reversible down ski jacket for a buck that had a hole in it. I patched it and still have it. I got curious one day and looked it up online, and discovered it sold for about $400 new. Well otay! Works for me! I still have it. :)


  10. PS

    Please take down the cookies. RR is my homepage and I don't dare open it with my husband in the room lest he get a load of those cookies and go to sniveling and begging me to make some, too.

    It's just such a provocative picture!



  11. a tip from someone else's mother. get ticking material and make a cover. keeps the feathers in. it is also all cotton. fluff in drywer occasionally. and hanging in hot sun in summer is good , too.
    deb harvey

  12. Actually, there has been research that shows that feather pillows harbor less fungi than synthetic pillows, especially the kind that irritate asthma. I have always washed and dried my feather pillows at home, (drying outside in the sun) but once we took some used ones that we received from a friend to the dry cleaners and they combined the two small pillows and recovered them with new ticking. They are still being used.

  13. I discovered after getting an adjustable base bed that I no longer need a pillow. I wake up and go to sleep to much less soreness. It's also eliminated my reflux problems. Sleeping flat on your back forces the body, particularly the spine, into an unnatural position in my opinion. Pillows help but aren't a complete cure.

  14. Phyllis (N/W Jersey)February 28, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    Can't sleep without them! I have two. And to keep all those little fluffs from getting loose, I put the whole pillow inside a satin, zippered pillow protector; then a regular cotton case. It's so easy to wash the protectors and it keeps the pillows nice and cool. On a windy day I just put them out on line for a few hours.

  15. If you gets snarks...well obviously "snarky" is just a pitiful snarker. I think YOU ROCK! :)

  16. My local dry cleaners will clean my down pillows and put on a brand new cover of ticking for a nominal price. I've done it a few times. I have two now that are kinda flat, I was just thinking the other day that I would take the two and have the dry cleaners put the two in to one new pillow.

  17. To make it easier to work with the down feathers when changing your covers, if this is the route you decide to go, here is a little hint: Wet the feathers. Once they are wet you can open a seam in your old cover and remove the feathers without poofs of them flying around the house or yard - actually, you can redo your pillows inside where it is warm, instead of outside in the burning cold! Once you have your feathers in your new covering, sew it up then toss the new pillow in the dryer with a couple clean sneakers or tennis balls to fluff the pillow and break up any down clumps.

    This is also a great way to repurpose down comforters from the thrift store. Wet the comforter then open it up to remove the down to make pillows or a nice dog bed for a faithful friend.

  18. What about duct tape? Usually I use iron on patches or something similar which works great. But I'm wondering if in the meantime I can cover it with tape without damaging my pillow. Any advice?

    1. I don't see why it wouldn't work, though it would be a "permanent" fix since duct tape is tough to get off fabric.

      - Patrice