When you make a port pillow for cancer patients, it can be as plain or whimsical as you want it to be.
As with many gifts or donations, the most important thing, is that the design of the port protector suits the recipient.
I have made and donated many port pillows to cancer support organizations in need.
To provide a large selection for clients of all kinds, I just use all kinds of fabric scraps with fun patterns.
What Is A Chemo Port Pillow?
A chemo port pillow is a small, soft pillow that people attach to a seat belt to protect their chemo port. These are also called port-a-cath pillows or port seat belt protectors.
This “port softie” is intended to relieve any pressure or rubbing from the seat belt.
Some people also use these for purse or bag straps if the area around the port is especially tender.
Every time I talk to a cancer support charity, they tell me that these are some of the most requested items. I have also heard from people who wish they’d had one while they were going through chemotherapy.
Organizations that create chemo care bags to give to their clients almost always include these pillows in the bag.
Suffice it say, these port pillows are always in demand!
Make A Port Seat Belt Protector With A Mantra
For the simple chemo port pillow pattern and the aromatherapy port pillow, I used hook-and-look tape as the closure. This time, I went with webbing and snaps to offer another option depending on what you have in your stash.
Materials and Tools
The materials for this seat belt protector are two pieces of cotton fabric, some webbing, a plastic snap, and some poly-fil. Read on to learn about the exact materials and construction process.
– Two 4″ x 7″ pieces of 100% cotton fabric in a solid color.
I have always used 100% cotton fabric because this is one of my scrap buster projects. (The cotton scraps could take on a life of their own if I didn’t have projects like this one.)
Some people make pillows with fleece fabric because it’s so soft, but I’m not fan. The fleece doesn’t hold it’s form as well cotton which means it doesn’t provide the same level of support once attached to the seat belt.
Fleece is also a synthetic fabric and I prefer to work with natural fibers for cancer-related projects whenever possible. I don’t have any research papers to cite about the reasons why, it’s just a personal preference of mine.
For this port pillow with a mantra, I used solid pink fabric in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
– 10 inches of 1″ nylon webbing.
The nylon webbing is used to secure the chemo port seat belt protector to the seat belt. Since this will be secure with plastic snaps, one piece needs to be longer than the other so that they overlap.
So, from the 10″ strip of nylon webbing, you need: two pieces that are 2″ and two pieces that are 3″.
– Two plastic snaps.
The plastic snaps are installed into the webbing and secure the port pillow to the seat belt.
If you’ve been frequenting the blog, you are aware that I’ve become a huge fan of these snaps. I used them for my envelope wallet for fabric masks pattern and my virus protection kit pattern. If you want to give these plastic snaps a go too, I bought this kit for less than $20 on Amazon.
– Large handful of poly-fil. (Not pictured)
I didn’t photograph the poly-fil because its puffiness tends to take over the photo.
You need about a solid handful of this to stuff the pillow. The feedback I’ve heard from cancer support organizations is they aren’t as effective or comfortable when then are overstuffed.
– Lighter. (Not pictured)
The lighter is used to singe the edges of the nylon to keep them from fraying.
Steps To Make An Inspirational Port Pillow
The longest amount of time you’ll spend on this port pillow pattern is cutting and weeding the HTV.
Once that has been applied to the fabric, the time to complete a pillow is around 10 minutes.
If you prefer a printable list of instructions, just scroll to the bottom and click on the PRINT button.
Step 1: Singe the edges of the nylon webbing.
Take a lighter and singe the edges of the nylon webbing. This will prevent them from fraying.
You can choose to singe both sides, but I just do one side since the other side will be encased inside the seat belt pillow.
If you haven’t finished the edges of webbing before, just wave the flame across the whole edge. It will become liquid-y for a second or two and then harden.
You want to place each piece of webbing an inch from the top and bottom on the sides of the fabric.
Step 2: Cut out the mantra, place on fabric, and apply the HTV.
If you already have an inspirational saying or mantra in mind, follow your usual process.
You can also download and use Create To Donate’s free “Stronger than Cancer” SVG. (Please note: The Create To Donate copyright notice is not part of the mantra design.)
After you cut out the HTV using a Sihouette or Cameo, weed it, and place it on the fabric.
Follow the standard application instructions for your HTV using a home iron or heat press.
Step 3: Baste webbing pieces to plain piece of port pillow fabric.
It’s important to baste the webbing to one piece of fabric to ensure the seat belt straps stay in place when sewing the whole port pillow together.
The webbing should be placed 1″ away from the top and bottom edges. I choose to overlap the longer piece of webbing over the shorter piece, but you can overlap either one.
The snaps will be applied later in the process.
Baste the webbing to the plain piece of fabric using a 1/8″ seam allowance.
Step 4: Place fabric rights sides together and clip.
Now it’s time to start sewing all the pieces together!
The mantra side and the webbing side are considered the “right” sides.
So to prepare the pieces for sewing, place right sides together and clip.
The webbing is already basted to one piece, but I still typically clip near or on the webbing before sewing.
It keeps things from literally going sideways…
Step 5: Sew the two pieces of fabric together using 1/4″ seam allowance.
Sew the two fabric pieces together using a 1/4″ seam allowance.
Leave a 2″ hole for turning on one of the short edges.
To keep crisp pillow corners, I sew edges of the corners and leave hole in the middle (as pictured above).
Step 6: Turn right sides out.
Now you finally get to turn the pillow rights sides outs!
Make sure to poke out all of the corners, and pull the webbing taut so that the seam lays nicely.
I often do a little finger pressing too just to help things along.
Step 7: Prepare to apply plastic snaps to the webbing.
The webbing is fairly stiff, so it is easiest to clip the webbing pieces into place before applying the snaps.
Since you want the mantra to be on the side without the webbing, make sure to fold the webbing toward the solid fabric.
These clips not only hold the webbing in place so it’s easy to work with, but also allow you to line up the snap placement.
Step 8: Apply the plastic snaps to the webbing
The weave of the nylon webbing has some give so you could just press the snap backing through it without an additional tool.
I still used the awl the first time just to have a quick visual for snap placement.
Use the press tool to install and secure the two plastic snaps onto the webbing.
Step 9: Stuff the pillow.
When stuffing the pillow you only need a handful-ish of poly-fil.
It should be stuffed enough so that it has form, but not so much that it is bulging and tough.
Since this pillow will touch the port directly, it is supposed to relieve pressure, not add to it.
Step 10: Hand stitch or machine sew the end close, then you’re done!
You can use a ladder stitch to sew the hole closed or you can also machine sew it closed.
I have used both methods and find the machine sewing much faster when I’m batch sewing.
More Inspirational Mantras For Chemo Port Pillows
Here are some additional free SVGs you can use for your pillows.
Please note: These free SVGs are for personal use only and are not intended for commercial use.
If you’ve read any of my posts before, you’ll know that I’m not one for salty language. In fact, Create To Donate is typically G-rated that sometimes dips its toes into PG waters.
When it comes to cancer, however, I feel an expletive is in order. Plus, this mantra empowers many people, which is the point of using an inspirational mantra on the port pillow.
So use this one for any family member or friend who will smile when they see this four letter word on their seat belt protector. (I also figured since the mantra will face the port when it’s being used, it’s like the pillow is reminding the port who is boss.)
Battling cancer is one of the toughest things someone will go through in their lifetime.
So a reminder that “you can do hard things” is a good way to lift someone up who may be feeling extremely down due to the weight of fighting this awful disease in any form.
Free Printable: Make An Inspirational Port Pillow
- Two 4" x 7" pieces of solid cotton fabric
- 10 inches of 1" nylon webbing
- Two plastic snaps
- 7" x 4" piece of heat transfer vinyl
- Couple of handfuls of polyester fill
- Sewing machine
- Silhouette or Cricut
- Rotary cutter and mat or scissors
- Plastic snap installation tools
- Home iron or heat press
- Use the lighter to singe the edges of the webbing to prevent fraying
- Download Create To Donate's "Stronger than Cancer" free SVG.
- Use your Silhouette Cameo or Cricut to cut out the mantra on the HTV.
- Weed the HTV and place it on the fabric.
- Iron the HTV onto the fabric. This side is now a "right side" of the fabric.
- Place and clip the webbing onto the long sides of the plain fabric 1" from the top and bottom edges.
- Use a 1/8" seam allowance to baste the webbing to the fabric. The side is now a "right side" of fabric.
- Place the two pieces of fabric rights sides together and clip to prepare for sewing.
- Use a 1/4" seam allowance to sew the two pieces of fabric together. Leave a 2" turning hole on one of the short ends to turn the pillow right sides out.
- Turn right sides out.
- Fold the webbing toward the plain side of the pillow and clip.
- Install a snap on each set of 1" webbing.
- Stuff the pillow using the poly-fil.
- Hand stitch or machine sew the end closed.
These pillows can easily be done in any color combination. Pink is clearly a great option for breast cancer awareness month.
Chemotherapy is used as treatment for a variety of cancers, however,.
So, another idea is to use a solid color fabric associated with the cancer type port pillow.
Either of these additional free SVGs could work for any port pillow project:
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Support Cancer Patients With Port Protector Pillows
You can easily support cancer patients by making and donating a bunch of port pillows to an organization in need. If there isn’t an organization near you that would like your port pillows, please contact one of these three nonprofits to find out how to send them their way.
Share The Goods
Do you know of an organization or are you an organization in need of port pillow donations? Please contact me so I can let people know of you need.