I am sure you’ve heard of herbal sleep pillows. There was a popularity surge a few years back and a lot of people were making and selling them. But I think the popularity waned because of the way they were presented. There was no flexibility and you could only buy a pillow in whatever herb they offered, mostly Chamomile. Also, the pillows were small and made for insertion into your current bed pillow, dimming the scent and lowering the effect. If you bought some of the paper stuffed sachets they were selling for use as pillow inserts you would have been really unhappy. Crunchy, stiff and not strong smelling, they were a waste of money.
But what about making sleep pillows for yourself and your family? You do not have to be a seamstress or crafter to do this, I can hardly sew a hem straight and I can do it. In fact, I have made everything from sleep pillows to fabric sachets and I have loved the results. You can do the same for very little cost, very little aptitude and very little trouble. Let me show you how.
First of all, toss out the thread and leave the sewing machine in the closet. You may need a needle, though, it depends on how you finish it. But you don’t even need that, as I will explain. The fun part, looking for the fabric, is the biggest time consumer in the entire project so enjoy yourself. Go through the scrap tables to save money and buy various sizes of fabric to make various sizes of pillows. If you want one to put under your neck, then that’s one size but if you want a big, fat pillow to sleep on then that’s another. Don’t limit yourself. You can make any and all sizes you want.
Once you have the fabric, then it’s time to shop for the details. You may want to get a needle and some clear thread just in case. But you must get fusable webbing, fabric glue, pillow stuffing tube and satin ribbon. That would be thin satin ribbon of any color or combination of colors. Match the fabrics you bought, or contrast them. It’s up to you. If you are a skilled seamstress or just good at sewing, you might get a zipper or some buttons for the finish if you feel creative. Otherwise, you are good to go with fabric scraps in various sizes, fusable webbing and fabric glue. Also, if you cannot find a stuffing tube or want to save money on this, you can use an empty cardboard paper towel tube or a short leg of a steel vacuum cleaner attachment. Anything stiff, round and long.
Once you have the pillow makings, then you need to buy the herbs. You can buy fresh or you can buy herbal oils, it’s up to you. You can make pillows that use either or. Recommended herbs are as follows.
Oils: basil, chamomile, clary sage, juniper, marjoram, neroli, sandlewood, rose or lavender.
Fresh herbs: hops, valerian, chamomile, catnip, passion flowers, sandlewood, ylang ylang or cedarwood.
You can buy the oils ready made and the fresh herbs either dried or fresh picked. You can pick them yourself if you are growing some or know someone who is. There is no difference in the quality or scent except that you use a lot less of the oils than you do the fresh or dried herbs. However, on the other hand, the oils are a lot pricier than the fresh or dried herbs. When buying fresh or dried herbs, always buy a larger amount than you think might work. This is just being sure you have enough after you get started.
Once you have your fabric scraps, herbs and other essentials, then you need to decide on the pillow stuffing. I do not recommend using feathers, polystyrene, wool, microbeads or pellets. These can trigger allergies or just be downright uncomfortable. I do recommend polyfill or polyester stuffings, memory foam and/or old clothing. If you use memory foam, then you should use the oils only. Drop the oil onto the memory foam surface and leave it to dry enough so that it does not stain the cover. You can also replenish the herbal oils by removing the foam from time to time and retreating it. The only downside for using memory foam is the difficulty of cleaning it. You can’t just toss it in the washer. When they get grungy, which they do rather quickly in fact, you have to make a new one or wash and start over with the old material and use new foam.
The very best and easiest pillow is the recipe I’m going to give you. You can start with it and then get creative over time. You can vary the sizes, materials, herbs and other materials as well as switch between oils and fresh herbs as you like. My eco friendly and conservationist nature tends to rear it’s head all the time and my favorite pillow recipes are earth friendly and conservative. They will save you money and do no harm to the planet.
So now that you have everything together, you should be ready to make a pillow. You will need to get out the dusty old iron and ironing board. Using scissors, cut the fabrics into squares the size you would like the pillow to be. Cut out two squares. Lay the squares down inside out, so that the side you want outside is facing down. Cut lengths of fusable webbing and line them along three and one half edges of the pillow. This would be on the outside edges of the pillow, which will be on the inside of the square. Using the iron, set the webbing by ironing them along the edges of the pillow squares so that they are sealed. This should seal the edges along the outside edges so when you turn them outside out, they will be sealed like seams on the inside. Do you follow me? Anyways, do this along 3 1/4 edges of the pillow so that you have to pull the outside of the pillow out through the last 3/4 open edge. Once you have the pillow outside out and the seams are sealed, leave it to cool.
Now, let’s gather up the stuffing. I prefer either old clothing (saves big money and keeps crap out of the garbage) or shredded polyester stuffing you can buy at the craft store. The old clothing is cheaper and will last a lot longer so consider it first. Use torn up, stained or useless clothes that cannot be given to charity. You can also use old towels, napkins, tablecloths, drapes, curtains, lingerie, socks, cotton gloves and rugs. Try to use only those materials that are thin enough to be manageable. Really thick, heavy materials will be difficult to use. You want to either cut or shred this material into strips. Shred piles of material until you have enough to fill your pillow(s) comfortably but not so full that you can’t manipulate the pillow once filled. You want to be able to bend, punch, crunch and hug that pillow. You do not want it to be overstuffed and stiff.
Before you begin stuffing the pillow, choose your herb. If you are going to use fresh or dried herbs, you will have to put them inside of something like an old nylon stocking. These are perfect for this. Cut them in short lengths, stuff them with fresh herbs and tie off the ends with rubber bands or bag ties. Rubber bands make for a softer feel, so choose those first. If you are using this method, you simple need to mix several small nylon bags in and among the stuffing materials and push it or tube it into the pillow. Do not bunch the material up in tight little bundles or they will stay like this in the finished pillow. Nothing worse than little knots in the stuffing. Fluff the material as you place it, pushing the nylon bags in there gently and shaking the mix as you go along, to make sure it’s fluffy. Fill it to the point where you find the pillow soft and flexible but full enough. Give it a whiff and be sure you can smell the herbs. If not, add a few more small bags of fresh or dried, as much as needed for you to smell them but not so much that they are objectionable. Everyone has a different sniffer. Some people can smell a single flower while others need a handful.
If you choose to use the oils, you can simply add the oils to the shredded fabrics as you tube or stuff them in. Rub the fabrics together with the oil on them to spread the oil around and to keep it from remaining too wet. Be very careful with this method as the oils are very strong and you can end up with a pillow that smells so intensely that it’s painful instead of pleasurable. Especially if you have a sensitive nose. Try a little on some stuffing, tube it in, shake the pillow around and then smell it from the outside. As you add more stuffing, check it again and again, only adding oils as you find the scent fading. With the oil method, you will need to leave the material to dry overnight before using. In fact, I recommend finishing the pillow but not closing it up overnight. In the morning, check the scent. If it’s gone, then remove some of the stuffing and add more oils. If it’s still strong, then let it be.
You can close up the pillow in various ways. If you are not a seamstress, like me, then you can line the inside of the final seam with fusable webbing and iron it from the outside. Or you can use fabric glue along the inside edges and just press them together. Either method will seal it up but it will make it hard to remove the stuffing for replenishment in the future. It is the easiest way although it might require making new in the future. If you are good with a needle, then sew it up by hand. You may be able to use a seam ripper on the pillow in the future, when cleaning, and remove the stuffing and replace it. This is an easy method for someone who doesn’t mind stitching a bit. But if you are really good at sewing or have a machine you are good at using, you can always close this up with buttons or a zipper. This will give you easy access to the stuffings in the future, so that you can remove it and replace it as needed.
The very best part of this method is that you can wash the pillow as is. If you do not care about replacing the herbs or oils inside, but want to clean the pillow and use it anyways, then using the recommended stuffing materials makes it possible to simply toss it in the washer and dryer. This way, once you get tired of the herbal scented experience, you may just like the pillow and want to keep it. This way, with the fabric stuffing, you can care for the pillow over time without taking it apart.
So get started! Get out and start finding the pretty materials you want to use to make your new herb pillow. And once you make it, you will find just how enjoyable aromatherapy can be and how easy it is to sleep in the garden that God made.