We love all the soft stuff that comes from our friends at Fairfield Processing (the makers of Poly-Fil® and more). Today, we give you a little history about the family company where it all started and is still happening. Over 70 years ago, in 1940, Samuel Young started a company in Danbury, CT that specialized in processing natural fibers to be used in making hats and other items. He gave it the sensible name: Fairfield Processing Corporation. Twenty years later, working with his son Robert, Sam introduced an innovative polyester fiber that was perfect for stuffing toys. It held its shape. You could wash it. It was really space-age stuff! They called it “Poly-Fil” and it soon became the favorite filler for crafters everywhere.
In the 1980s, Sam’s other son Roy oversaw Fairfield’s expansion into quilt batting and pillow inserts. It turns out their expertise in craft stuffing translated well into other categories of crafting as well as sewing. Soon, Fairfield became one of the most-trusted names among quilters and home décor sewers.
The most choices in pillow inserts
Today, Fairfield is still family run (led by the founder’s grandson, Jordan). In a recent TV commercial for their banking partner, Jordan Young provides a glimpse into the Fairfield manufacturing process. You can view the commericial on YouTube here.
Fairfield has returned to their natural fiber roots, producing the most innovative and diverse line of products you can find anywhere. For example, in the quilt batting category (and you know how particular quilters are about their materials!), the company offers 13 different kinds, from bamboo fiber blends to Poly-fil® Traditional batting.
However, since our series is all about pillows, we’re focusing on pillow inserts and fillers today. You can choose from numerous types of fiber content and cover fabrics, depending on what kind of pillow you’re making. We’ll briefly cover the various natural options, synthetics and blends.
Pillow insert basics
In case you’re new to this, a pillow insert is a pre-filled pillow form in a plain white case that’s ready for you to stuff into the beautiful pillow cover you’re making. These inserts can be square, round, rectangular, or made of foam.
Inserts come in a myriad of standard sizes, but it isn’t completely open-ended. Therefore, it’s most efficient to make your pillow cover with a standard insert size in mind. However, you can create unique sizes and shapes by using the filler or foam products.
And speaking of choosing the size of the pillow form for your project, you want one that’s a half inch up to two inches larger than your finished pillow cover. That’s because overstuffed pillows look best. For example, make a 15″ x 15″ cover for a 16″ x 16″ pillow insert.
Picking the right insert for your project
Couch back pillows, floor pillows, or pillows that display needlework should have a firm insert: Pop-In-Pillow® inserts are filled with 100% polyester fiberfill and covered in a durable bonded polyester.
Craft projects, needlepoint or knit pillows should have medium-firm support: Crafters Choice® inserts have a 100% polypropylene cover and 100% polyester fiberfill stuffing.
A new seasonal product is the Weather-Soft® insert, which boasts a water repellent shell that keeps the inner 100% polyester fiberfill from becoming saturated in wet weather.
When you want a softer pillow for everyday use, you can have a down-like feel but with easier care: Soft Touch® inserts are filled with Poly-Fil Supreme fiberfill. Their cover is made from 65% polyester/35% cotton that’s soft but durable.
Elegant decorator pillows should have a luxurious feel: Home Elegance® inserts have a high-end plushness thanks to a special, fine denier polyester gel fiberfill. The cover is a 100% cotton, 300-thread count jacquard.
Formal or cottage-style pillows made with upholstery fabrics work best with the classic feel of down: Traditional Feather-Fil® inserts are 95% feathers and 5% down in a 100% cotton, down-proof cover. They’re sturdy enough for everyday use, but do come with a dry-clean-only recommendation.
Looking for something plush but a little different? Nature-Fil™ inserts are filled with 50% polyester and 50% rayon fiber made from bamboo.
Another thing we like Fairfield pillow inserts is that they’re super easy to find. They’re available at the big box stores, national fabric stores, as well as your favorite local quilt shop.
How about stuffing?
Scarecrow went to see The Wizard Of Oz to get a brain. But what he really should have asked for was a better stuffing material than straw! Advances in fiber technology have given sewers and crafters an amazing array of easy-care options.
A little terminology first. “Fiberfill” is the industry name for the “stuffing” that goes into projects like teddy bears and pillows. Poly-Fil® is Fairfield’s trademarked name for their unique filler. The company has developed a variety of fiberfill products, which are specifically designed for particular projects.
For example, if you’re making collectible-style dolls, you’ll want to use Crafter’s Choice® “Dry” polyester fiberfill. It hasn’t been treated with silicone so the fiber has a coarse texture that allows you to stuff it firmly into small spaces, where it stays put.
Or at the other end of the spectrum, let’s say you’re making a pillow you’re going to stuff yourself, and you want it to have a soft, down-like feel. You’d want to use Soft Touch® Poly-Fil Supreme. It’s made from a blend of siliconized polyester fibers that stay soft without clumping.
Both of the above products are machine washable, following Fairfield’s instructions.
Yet another option is their Bamboo Fiber, made of 100% rayon fiber from bamboo, which is a renewable, earth-friendly resource grown without pesticides or fertilizers. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this item is used to support ecological initiatives.
Add A Little Batting
You can also blend quilt batting with pillow inserts for certain effects. For instance, if you have big sofa cushions that need the stiffness of foam to stand up, you can soften them by wrapping their foam core with quilt batting. It will give a plush feel and nicely fill out your pillow covers.
Fairfield is famous for their batting selection that ranges from the classic Poly-Fil® polyester battings to the Nature-Fil™ battings made from cotton, wool, and bamboo fibers to the new American Spirit Batting™ sold only in independent quilt shops.
We have more on this technique and other stuffing tips coming up later this week in our Stuffing Tutorial.
Cut your own shapes or fill large covers with NU-Foam®
As mentioned above, some projects require the firmness of a foam for the best results. Fairfield’s unique NU-Foam® is a densified polyester that will not yellow or disintegrate, resists mildew, and is washable and non-allergenic. Many of our loyal S4H followers will recognize our choice of NU-Foam® for our baby bumpers, roll-up cushions, and more.