We recently had a customer come to us, concerned that the pillows we made were not up to standard. The customer wanted the pillows to be ‘fuller’, ‘fluffier’, and to keep their shape better. The initial reaction, which is completely logical, was to have the pillows overstuffed, to put more fill in them. The truth though, is this isn’t a question of putting more fill into a pillow  it is a discussion of the type of fill to put into a pillow. This is a common misunderstanding between manufacturers, designers, purchasing agents and more. Therefore we thought we would try to shed a bit of light on this ‘fill’ issue for the benefit of us all.

All throw pillows are filled based on a standard formula of length x width x 5% = fill weight (in ounces) regardless of the type of fill specified.

Here are a few quick examples:

  • A 22” square pillow insert would weigh  24.2 ounces (or 1.50 pounds)
  • A 20” square pillow insert would weigh 20.0 ounces (or 1.25 pounds)

Knowing that pillows are filled based upon a formula that equates to a 'standard fill weight' is essential. Especially once you consider that different fills weigh different amounts. Further you must consider that heavier fill settles more. Therefore a pillow filled with down & feathers (which weighs 4 to 5 times more than polyester) actually contains less fill by volume than a pillow filled with synthetic polyester. Being that the down & feather fill is also heavier causes that same fill to settle more than synthetic polyester fill.

  • As an example, let’s talk about sleeping bags. If you take two sleeping bags, which are the same width and length as one another, but one is polyester filled while the other is down filled, and stuff them each into a stuff sack what is the result? Which sleeping bag takes up more space? The polyester one, in fact the down sleeping back will take up nearly 1/3 of the space as the polyester one.

Now back to pillows, and we find that they do the same exact thing. Further the last technical aspect of synthetic polyester vs. gel polyester vs. down and feathers is their fill power ability.  You can have the same amount (.5 grams per vial, shown below) but they have drastically different abilities to fill the space they are in – while down & feathers have an average fill power, synthetic polyester’s fill power is the highest, and gel polyester comes in at the lowest! Please see the following diagram as a visual description of fill power.

Fill Power

*Each of the above vial is filled with .5 grams of their respective fill.

So the next time your are determining 'the end result' for your pillows consider all of the variables. Ask yourself whether you want your pillows to look fuller (use synthetic polyester) or feel softer (use natural)? Do you mind if they settle yet still remain luxurious (natural fill)? 

We hope this blog has helped you understand the characteristics of fill and how it will affect the final product! Remember more fill isn’t necessarily the solution.  If you need help dividing we are always here.