Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Simple Stenciled Pillow

Is it just me, or are decorative pillows outrageously expensive? I simply cannot justify shelling out big bucks for something I can fairly easily make myself. I mean, it's just sewing some straight lines, right? If a sixth grader can make a pillow in Home Ec, surely I can throw together a pillow or two for a nursery project.

When I started making plans for baby girl's nursery, I picked very simple and basic pieces, like this quilt set for the guest bed. What a perfect blank slate for my color scheme, right? It just needs a few pops of color, and that's what throw pillows are made for!

I knew I wanted to add a pop of coral and gold, so I set to work finding inspiration. After perusing pinterest, I fell in love with the idea of a "message pillow." Coral fabric and gold lettering would be perfect! Two pillows caught my eye.

The "Love" pillow, at $39.95, was WAAAY out of my price range, and the letters were white instead of gold. Then I found this "hello" pillow tutorial from Shabby Creek Cottage. I loved the gold lettering! One problem: I don't have a Silhouette or a Cricut. So what's a girl to do? I considered asking around to see if any of my local friends owned one, but then I would probably have to buy a roll of vinyl for just one project. I also looked into purchasing a vinyl cut-out on Etsy. Meh. I had a hard time finding a place that took custom orders. But then, I had a brilliant idea: Stencils!

Thankfully (or dangerously), Hobby Lobby is only about 10 minutes from my house, so I went over there one day to pick up the perfect one. My original plan was to use the word "Faith" (the middle name we chose for baby girl), but when I saw this adorable stencil, I couldn't leave without it!

The phrase actually has special significance for me. I gave Guess How Much I Love You?, the children's book that made this line famous, to Hubby for Valentine's Day when we were engaged. (What can I say? I'm an elementary school teacher by trade.) I have to go find it now... It's probably in a bin of books I've been saving for when Kiddo no longer tears pages. :)

Anyway, back to stenciled pillows...

You could make this project even easier by starting with a pre-made pillow cover (Hobby Lobby sells a great selection of solid colored covers for $5-10), but since I had a very specific color in mind, and I wanted a lumbar style pillow, I sewed one myself (and saved myself some moolah in the process).

Tips For Stenciling: 

For this project, I took a trip down memory lane to Arts & Crafts at camp when I first learned to stencil. Believe it or not, there is a right and wrong way to stencil. In order for your design to have clean, crisp edges, there are two things you definitely want to avoid:

1. Applying too much paint at one time.
2. Swiping the brush from side to side.

So instead, you want to dip the brush in the paint, pat the excess paint off on some newspaper or paper towel, and then dab the paint onto your stencil at a right angle. I think it's also a good idea, especially with fabric, to carefully remove the stencil while the paint is still wet so nothing sticks.

I'll admit that I was nervous that the design would be blurry, but I followed these guidelines and I was really pleased with the results!

DIY Stenciled Pillow Tutorial


  • stencil
  • acrylic paint (I have never used fabric medium. For better or worse, once it dries, acrylic paint does not wash out of fabric.)
  • stencil brush
  • tape
  • cardboard
  • fabric for the pillow
  • iron
  • Fiber fill
  • Thread



 *Note: You can skip steps 1 and 8 by purchasing a ready-made pillow cover and pillow form*
1. Cut pillow fabric to the desired shape and size. Sew on three sides, like a pillowcase.
2. Turn the pillow right-side-out and iron smooth.
3. Cover your work surface (I use a vinyl tablecloth for crafting.)
4. Slip a piece of cardboard inside the pillow so the paint doesn't bleed through to the other side.
5. Position the stencil on the pillow and secure in place with tape. (You can purchase special stencil tape, but I just used painter's tape and it worked well.)

6. Dab the stencil brush (it's important to use a brush specifically for stencils) into the paint, and then pat off excess paint onto a paper towel or newspaper.

7. Holding the brush vertically, gently tap the paint onto the stencil. This will give you the crisp edges you're looking for. Do not brush from side to side or the paint will bleed and the edges will not be clear.

8. Repeat until the entire stencil is covered. I used two coats of paint to achieve this look, and I probably could have done a little more, especially on the moon.
9. While the paint is still wet, carefully peel the stencil off the fabric. Wash the stencil and allow the painted pillow to dry completely.
10. Stuff the pillow with fiber fill and sew shut.
And viola!

I'm really pleased with the way the coral pink complements the navy quilt. I have two matching DIY pillows in the works, and then the bed will be complete!

A Simple And Inexpensive DIY

The stencil was $2.99, the brush was $1.99, the paint was $1.17, and the fabric was $0.75 for half a yard at Walmart (a perfect match to the coral pink in my inspiration fabric). Since I already had fiber fill and thread, I didn't need to purchase them.

Grand total for this project? $7.31 with tax!

Seriously, people - the total cost to make this was less than a quarter of the original $39.95 pillow I found for inspiration. Plus I had the satisfaction of making it myself, with a message that's special to me. Win-win-win!

Now, I'll admit that the pillow isn't perfectly square, but that's part of what gives it charm and makes it a special handmade piece. :-) I know that every time I go in that nursery for a diaper change or midnight feeding, it will bring a smile to my face.

So next time you balk at the price of a cute throw pillow, see if you can make it yourself. You might even love it more than the original!

Have you ever attempted a DIY and fallen in love with the result? I'd love to hear about it!


  1. Love this, you are crafty!! Ideas to think about for my new baby!

  2. It is a very nice and informative post. Really thanks for this type of post.
    Outdoor Furniture NZ


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