A Pillow Project


This project introduces costume construction processes and techniques through the individual construction of a pillow that covers most basic techniques common to costume construction.

Activity Objectives

Through the use of the machines and tools typically found in a costume shop, the student will be able to use a pattern, follow construction directions, to create a pillow that meets the following criteria:

  • Overall dimensions are 12”x12”
  • Corners are sharp and clipped
  • Straight seams are smooth & even, serged/clipped
  • Curved seams are smooth & even, serged/clipped
  • Matching: Print/plaid designs evenly line up
  • Matching: Pattern pieces match and align
  • Buttonhole is centered and even
  • Button is appropriate size and solidly attached
  • Zipper is well seated and hidden
  • The overall finished look of the pillow is neat and pleasing
    (From the file: Pillow Project 1_Grading Criteria)

Activity Goals

In addition to basic skills in the costume shop, this project allows the student to experience the totality of costume construction in a short, focused project. As the instructor, I introduce this project by sharing costume design sketches from a previous production and the process to build the resulting costumes. Also, this project can help students primarily interested in other disciplines to develop respect for the work of costume construction in a production process.


Refer to the following files:

Time Required

Students typically take two weeks to complete this project: 5 contact hours in class in conjunction with equal time through outside-of-class access to supervised costume shop time. The students are not allowed to take the project away from the costume shop to complete on their own.

Required Materials

All supplies and materials are provided in the costume shop, however students are welcome to bring in fabric of their own if they would like.

  • Typically equipped costume shop
  • Pillow Pattern with directions (provided)
  • Supplies
    • 3/8 yard – medium weight muslin
    • Matching thread
    • Polyfill to stuff 12”x12” pillow form
    • 3/8 yard – interior décor or upholstery fabric
    • 1⁄2 yard – contrast interior décor or upholstery fabric in stripe, plaid, print  Matching threads
    • 3⁄4”-1” coordinating button


Generally, remnants from past costumes are sufficient for the pillow. Students are more invested in the project if they can choose what fabrics will be used in their pillow.


Only complete pillows are graded.
The pillow form, the first thing made, is not graded and is the first piece the student builds as an introduction to the processes of cutting to specific size, use of the sewing machine, and serger.

Contact information:

M.C. Friedrich, Michigan Technological University