A Guide to Pillow Fabrics and Stuffing

A pillow is common to nearly every household, as a part of the bedding or the living room. However, not many people realize that pillow-making has many parameters. Nearly every pillow can be categorized based upon the:

  • Type of filling or stuffing
  • Choice of fabric
  • Method of construction

Pillow Stuffing

The filling or the stuffing is made in two principal ways. Both of them are catered towards providing a certain degree of plumpness to the pillow. This makes the pillow easier to fluff and retain its shape. The stuffing could be in the form of custom-made pillow inserts that are manufactured in a vast range of shapes and sizes. The inserts are usually a blended from of polyester, wool and cotton. However, those who seek more snug pillows choose the fill made from down material. The down is usually stuffed along with bird feathers to make the pillows more affordable since down is a very expensive raw material. The stuffing could be a blend of down and feathers in any ratio. The expensive range of Down pillows have a greater amount of down, i.e. more than 85%. Many retailers also offer foam pillows that have a standard size of foam as the stuffing but these pillows don’t provide the comfort and luxury exuded by Down pillows. 

Pillow Fabrics

The choice of fabric is usually defined by the intended use of the pillow, i.e. for decorating the room or using it for sleeping. Home décor retailers offer a lot of fabric options and most of them cater to decorated pillows. However, it is wise to evaluate the pillow fabric beyond the aesthetic aspect — high-traffic areas in the house should have durable fabrics. Ideally, a fabric should not snag or develop crinkles. Cotton is the common choice among fabrics but silk, wool or tencil are also used. Many stores price pillows according to the thread count in the pillow fabric. A thread count of 230 or more means the pillow offers more than the average level of comfort. Expensive decorative pillows often use silk in many forms like gussets and pipings. The fabric can also be embellished with hand-crafted embroidery. However, for purely sleeping purposes, most basic pillows have cotton with a minimal amount of polyester. This fabric combination provides durability and affordability for every day use. 

Pillow Construction

Based upon the manner in which a pillows are made, they are categorized as decorative pillows or the conventional, bedroom pillows. A sham is like a cheaper version of a decorative pillow that is manipulated to appear like an expensive, decorative pillow on the outside. Unlike standard pillowcase, shams have a central opening in back, overlapped with a small lining of fabric. Throws are a special type of decorative pillows that are placed in armchairs or sofa backs for more aesthetic reasons than providing seating comfort. The two standard forms of pillow construction are the Standard Bag and the Chamber format. A special form of the Chamber type of pillow construction, called the Down Top, is occasionally used among expensive, custom-made pillows.