DIY: Upcycled Lavender Pillow Diffusers

I call these little gems upcycled lavender Pillow Diffusers. I call them Pillow Diffusers because you put them on your pillow at night to diffuse the soothing aroma of essential oils while you’re sleeping. These simple diffusers were the solution to the challenge I encountered when I started using essential oils for better sleep. But more about that later. With these diffusers I also found another use for my collection of vintage felted wool and cashmere. I pick them up secondhand and at thrift shops whenever I can. I also save all the tiny felted sweaters my husband creates on the rare occasion when he does the laundry. My tiny shrunken sweaters get a new life with these diffusers! Not only are these Pillow Diffusers crazy cute, they bring together my passion for essential oils and obsession for upcycling. They also make a unique and thoughtful gift paired with a bottle of the recipient’s favorite essential oil!

So, this is how I came to make these Pillow Diffusers and solve the problem I was having. As you may know, Lavender essential oil  can help you achieve a deeper more restful sleep. Lavender is also one of the few essential oils that can be used “neat,”–directly on the skin undiluted. But after using a drop of pure, organic Lavender essential oil under my nose every night before bed for a few weeks with good results I noticed that the delicate skin there had become red and flaky. When I stopped using the Lavender, my skin cleared up, but every time I went back to using the Lavender it started again, almost immediately. In the meantime, I was meeting more and more people with red, flaky patches on their skin where they had been regularly applying essential oils—in some cases even properly diluted. That’s when I started experimenting with other ways of using Lavender essential oil at night and came up with this idea. Some people apply their nighttime essential oil directly to the pillow case, but using one of these feels like a special ritual filled with intention for tranquil sleep and it won’t damage your pillowcase either.

Upcycled Pillow Diffuser Instructions:

After you’ve got your hands on one or two wool or cashmere sweaters, you’ll need to felt them. This is a lot easier than it sounds. Once the sweaters have been felted, you can cut them and they won’t unravel. In my experience, cashmere does not felt as well as wool, but it felts enough to prevent unraveling. It is also a lot softer than wool and I like the way it feels on my skin. Felting happens when you (or your partner) put your favorite wool sweater in the washing machine with hot water and then throw it in the dryer. This is all it takes to felt most wool. In short, felting requires hot water, agitation, pressure and more heat. You can find detailed felting instructions here. For cashmere, I add a few tennis balls to the washer and dryer cycle to increase the agitation and pressure required for felting.

Once your wool and cashmere is felted, you’re going to start dreaming of all the cute things you can make. I’ve made hats, scarves, and neck warmers, and even reconstructed whole new sweaters. Today, pillow diffusers! I recommend drawing a pattern on paper and tracing it onto your wool before you begin cutting. I use the felted wool (rather than the felted cashmere) for the base or bottom layer of the diffuser, because it has a little more structure. The base layer for the diffusers you see here is roughly 5” x 5”. Cut out three to five layers for each diffuser, with each layer a little smaller than the layer below. This will allow the diffuser to absorb several drops of essential oil without the oil seeping all the way through. Simple shapes like squares and circles are just as cute as more complex shapes, especially when you add some stitching detail. While you’re at it, you may as well cut out a bunch, because these Pillow Diffusers make a super sweet gift for just about anyone on your list, especially when paired with a bottle of Lavender essential oil or other relaxing essential oil like Sweet Orange or Marjoram.

You don’t need any sewing experience to do this. However, I do recommend embroidery thread and an embroidery needle. You can find these at any fabric store and in most craft supply stores. Thread the needle, knot the thread and stitch a small ‘X’ right through the center of all the assembled layers. Clip the thread, knot the end and you’re finished! Now if you like to embroider you can get really creative here, but it’s not necessary. The top stitching you see on some of the Pillow Diffusers here is called a blanket stitch. It’s pretty easy. You can find detailed instruction for the blanket stitch, here.

At bedtime, I drop a couple of drops of Lavender essential oil on my Pillow Diffuser and set it on my pillow close to my nose. A few deep breaths and I start to relax and my mind gets quiet. Before I know it I’m fast asleep dreaming of lavender fields.

I hope you enjoy making these upcycled Pillow Diffusers and that they induce sweet dreams to anyone whose nose they meet! I’d love to see your finished diffusers! Share them on Instagram and tag us and #nectarherbandtea.

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