Pillow Insert Basics

 First of all, let's start by explaining what a pillow insert is. I posted a poll on my Instagram feed a while back and was shocked to find out that so many of you didn't know what I was talking about when I say "pillow insert". 

Simply put, a PILLOW INSERT is a white pillow that gets stuffed inside a zippered (or pocketed) fabric cover. They almost always have a white or off white fabric on the outside and the fabric is sewn closed - it cannot be removed. The white fabric allows for you to stuff it inside a white cover without seeing through to the insert if the cover is a lighter fabric. 

What kinds of inserts are there?

Inserts can be typically filled with several different materials and can be found both in craft stores and online. Here are the top three most popular insert types so you can compare them and find out which one best suits your needs. 

1. Down - Down is the soft fluffy under feathers on a bird, typically a goose. These inserts are really soft and squishy. Over time the feathers will settle in the bottom of your insert, but all it takes is a good shake and a fluff and it is back to the original shape. This is a big benefit if your throw pillows get tossed around as much as they do in our home. It's so easy to grab a flat pillow off the floor, give a good fluff, and place it back on the couch or bed, good as new. 

The downside is that the feathers will sometimes poke through the insert fabric. Since they are feathers, the sharp end where it had attached to the bird can wiggle through openings in the  insert fabric. It's not a huge deal to lose a feather here and there. Just know that when you change out your pillow covers you may find loose feathers in your cover.

2. Down Alternative - All the benefits of down without the actual feathers. Alternative down is a synthetic polyester material made to feel like soft, fluffy down. It's a safer and better option if you happen to be allergic to the feathers of a Down pillow insert. It can also be a good choice if you are looking for a vegan pillow insert

Just like a regular down pillow, the filling can settle over time. The good news is that it works a lot like the down inserts do in that you can simply shake it and fluff it to get it back to the original shape and feel. These inserts are easier to wash than a down insert.  

3. Fiber-fill or Polyester Filled - These inserts are filled with what is commonly known as stuffing. It's what you buy when you go to the craft store because a stuffed animal came apart and needs to be refilled. It's fluffy, easy to find, and can be pulled apart (making it a great option for stuffed animals.) 

Polyester or Fiber-filled inserts make a very soft pillow. It's easy to make your own insert using fiber-fill because it is so readily available at the craft store or online in bulk. It's a great way to save money too because these inserts are generally cheaper to purchase. 

The downside is that over time, the polyester filling bunches and clumps and your insert becomes lumpy. It cannot go back to it's original shape so a lot of people end up buying more stuffing, opening their insert and adding more stuffing to it. 

Which insert is best?

Like most things, best is a subjective term. What's best for one person isn't necessarily best for another. 

If you like a firmer throw pillow, polyester filled is a good option. Just know that you will be paying less for the inserts, but having to replace them more often as develop lumps. 

If you like your throw pillows to be soft and squishy, perfect for a karate chop, then a down or down alternative pillow insert are your best options. They will hold that signature "chop" perfectly. 

My personal favorites are down alternative inserts from Amazon and down inserts from Ikea. They are fairly inexpensive and have held up for YEARS in my home... and my kids are pretty rough on them. The best way to make your inserts last a long time is to make sure you are using quality pillow covers. You can find them almost anywhere, but of course, I have to put in a plug for my Etsy shop

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