As easy way to upgrade pillows

Man, Target always has such cute throw pillows. These options are available online now and would look great for winter:

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1 / 2 / 3 / 4

But the problem—and the reason I have never bought a pillow at Target—is that there are no zippers on these pillows. Not a single one.

All of them are filled with poly, and all of them require spot cleaning (that’s code for “pillowcase is not removable”), except the fourth one, which can be washed on the gentle cycle.

That means they’re harder to clean, but even worse, that means you’re gonna get this look soon:


The dreaded flat pillow, as seen on the gray chair. Pillows sewed shut with polyester or polyfill inserts look like this in no time, and there’s not a good way to fluff them. I’ve tried pulling the matted stuffing apart. I’ve tried drying them in the dryer with tennis balls bouncing around in the bin too. Nothing helps, and if you know the secret, do share.

No zippers mean it’s a no-go for me. That’s why I only buy pillows with a feather/down insert OR with a zipper so I can switch out the insert. Feathers make it easy to fluff pillows so they always look perky.

There are a few inexpensive ways to buy inserts. The first idea is from my friend Hollie Keller at Vintage Farm Home, who years ago recommended buying feather-filled pillows on clearance at discount stores like Ross; remove the insert (even if you have to literally cut the ugly pillow cover off first) and put it in the pillow cover of your choosing.

I also like the inserts from IKEA. I own several, and when I make pillow covers, I just sew an envelope closure on the back so I can switch them out easier.


I’ve had IKEA’s Euro-sized feather inserts on my bed for almost 10 years, and they still look great.

island oil painting

Or you can simply make sure the decorative pillows you buy come with feather inserts. There are lots available at stores like TJMaxx and HomeGoods. But buyers beware: Before purchasing, give the pillow a good shake and see if any quills poke through the fabric. If they do, that pillow is going to shed feathers something fierce. No matter how cute it looks, you’re going to have feathers drifting around your family room 24/7 (take it from me). And that should probably be a deal breaker too. •





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