How To Make A Mastectomy Pillow

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For women who have a mastectomy as part of their breast cancer treatment plan, using a mastectomy pillow is a small item that will bring them great comfort.

This pillow is used post-surgery to provide underarm support and protection to sensitive areas.

How Do We Stand Up To Cancer?

Thankfully, a cancer diagnosis isn’t always terminal these days. This doesn’t mean, however, that it isn’t a long and hard road for many, many patients.

Personally, I know too many people who have had to confront cancer head-on. And when I think about the people I know who know people? Well, the number grows exponentially.

In fact, on a beautiful evening in July of 2019, I was able to participate in the Albuquerque Isotopes Stand Up To Cancer tribute during a ballgame.

It was truly breathtaking to see how many people got up from their seats when they asked everyone to stand with their signs with a name in memorial or in honor of someone they know who was diagnosed with cancer.

And if actively fighting cancer isn’t enough, communities across the globe are fighting COVID-19. We wear a fabric face mask to protect ourselves and others – especially those who are immunocompromised.

During this time, those fighting cancer also need additional support so I wanted to share the COVID-19 Resources for cancer patients that Stand Up To Cancer has compiled.

Pillow Shapes Are Important

I already shared a tutorial on how to make a chemo port pillow, and this mastectomy pillow is another easy-to-make option to create and donate to local hospitals, clinics, and nonprofits in need.

Across the internet, there are several different shapes and patterns used to create this pillow.

After talking to one of the team members at Bay Area Cancer Connection, however, I learned that one pillow shape is better than the others when it comes to overall comfort and use.

So this mastectomy pillow sewing tutorial will walk you through how to make a heart-shaped pillow that has space to easily put under one’s arm.

Let’s Make A Mastectomy Pillow

Like most simple pillows, making a mastectomy pillow requires minimal materials.

As for the sewing? The most challenging element of this project is sewing the curved top – but that’s only if you aren’t as familiar with sewing angles. I will talk more about that below.

Mastectomy Pillow Materials & Tools

You need the following to make a mastectomy pillow:

– Two 15″ x 15″ pieces of 100% cotton fabric

– Polyester fill

– Pins or clips to secure the fabric

– Rotary cutter & mat or scissors

– Sewing machine

– Create To Donate mastectomy pillow pattern

Steps To Make A Mastectomy Pillow

Step 1: Cut out the pattern pieces. Overlap the top portion of the heart to the bottom part of the pattern and tape them together. (Just bump the one edge up against the line.)

Step 2: Fold your 15 x 15 piece in half and cut out the two pieces of the heart from your on the fold.

Step 3: Open up each piece of fabric the, place them right sides together.

Step 4: Clip or pin the two pieces together.

Step 5: Using a 1/4″ seam, sew the two pieces together.

I decided not to do the “beauty shot” here of the edges being sewn together because I think you all know what that looks like.

So instead, I want to share some info on sewing the curves.

I typically start in the top right corner just before the curve.

If you’re looking at the above picture, it’s right around the purple clip on the right.

Then, use the straight edge of the fabric and the guideline on the sewing machine while you hold the fabric in place.

You are basically making the curve (sorta) straight for a very short period of time.

Important note: Remember to leave a hole big enough to turn the pillow right side out and stuff with the polyester fill.

Step 6: Clip the edges of the center dip in the heart. (This helps it take a smoother shape once stuffed.)

When you make a mastectomy pillow, clip the edges so it keeps a nice curved shape.

Step 7: Turn the pillow right sides out.

Step 8: Stuff the pillow to a medium firmness.

Since this pillow is typically used post-procedure, the areas it touches are very tender and sore.

A too-firm pillow therefore doesn’t feel comfortable and a too-soft pillow doesn’t provide any support.

When you make the mastectomy pillow turn right sides out then stuff.

Step 9: Finish the pillow by stitching the turning hole closed using a ladder stitch.

Make a mastectomy pillow for someone you know who is battling breast cancer.

If you make sure to leave the hole on one of the straight edges, sewing it closed is fairly forgiving, You can sew this closed with a ladder stitch or crank it out on your sewing machine.

The sewing machine is certainly faster and easier, but the hand-stitched closure really does make it look nicer.

Share The Goods

If you know of any hospitals, clinics, or local nonprofits in your area that need mastectomy pillow donations, please leave a comment below or contact me so I can add them to a list I am compiling to post to this site. I welcome additions at any time.

3 thoughts on “How To Make A Mastectomy Pillow

  • May 2, 2019 at 8:46 am
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    I am not only an Oncology Certified RN, but I have breast cancer! (Doesn’t seem right—I should be giving treatment, not getting it!!!!!) Anyway…..I wish that I had seen this pattern BEFORE seven weeks of XRT (radiation treatment)!!!! Since I also do machine embroidery, I have a “few” of uh oh t-shirts that I plan to use for making these pillows for patients who are currently going through treatment at my oncologist’s office.
    Thanks for the pattern!

    • May 6, 2019 at 4:08 pm
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      So happy to know it’s something you can put to use. Jersey knit will be a great material for this pillow. Sending you and your patients heartfelt support from the Bay Area.

  • May 8, 2019 at 3:49 am
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    What a great idea! I want to make a few of these for friends. I would spend the gift card on things for my kids.

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