Styrofoam Puffy Pillows, Can Milk at Home and More

Make your own puffy pillows with Styrofoam packing peanuts and old bedsheets, pick up some household uses for vinegar, find a new use for leftover holiday tinsel, and more Country Lore.

| October/November 1991

Styrofoam Puffy Pillows

How do old sheets and “puffy” Styrofoam packing pieces go together? At our house, the two materials have been combined with some inexpensive new cover material to create giant, futon-like pillows. Our four young sons use the lightweight but comfortable private islands for reading, watching television or just late-night summer stargazing.

The puffy pillows were a project for the whole family, mother and child alike. The boys called a friend with an office machine store who was willing to save us large amounts of the Styrofoam packing pieces. Because each of the finished pillows is about 48 inches long by 44 inches wide and 5 inches thick, we needed a full box of the pieces — about 24 square inches — to fill each one.

Each of the children helped sew a large pillowcase from old sheets for the inside cover. The long side of the case was left open. Because the inside pillowcase must keep the packing material from escaping, we double-stitched all the seams. The inside pillowcases were then turned to put rough edges inside.

To keep the puffy pieces from sliding to one end of the pillow, we next sewed four “baffles,” or compartments, about 12 inches apart across the width of the pillow, still leaving the long side open for stuffing. (Our 9- and 10-year-olds were able to do most of the machine sewing of their pillowcases with minimal help; the 6- and 8-year-olds needed a little more.)

Next, we made an outside-cover pillowcase that was about 4 inches wider and longer than the one in the interior. The bottom side of each cover is recycled sheet material. To finish the top piece of each outside cover and make a matching bolster pillow for each puffy pillow, the children each chose two yards of 45-inch-wide new material that we found for a dollar per yard. The new and old materials were all washed to prevent future shrinkage.

Next, the boys stuffed the baffles of the inside pillowcase. The older boys stood the partially filled cases up in a large box as they worked. The younger children found it easier to stuff when their bags were clothespinned to a low line, which left both hands free to pour the puffies into the pillowcases. All of them used a gallon plastic milk jug with its lid on and its bottom cut off to make a scoop to grab the packing material and shoot it into the baffles. The puffies in the baffles were packed in fairly tightly to prevent them from sliding around and congregating in one end of the baffle later.

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