diy project: kate’s custom pillows

i was helping a friend redecorate her apartment recently and it required an extensive online (and on foot) shopping trip for pretty home textiles on a very tight budget. as it turns out there are some achingly beautiful linens, pillows, and bedspreads out there, but the prices are still restrictive for a lot of us. so i decided to dedicate the august diy theme to customizing (aka beautifying) very inexpensive textiles. the first project is a way to take pillow covers from their rather plain natural state to one of a kind treasures. using a little leftover felt i created a soft sculptural blossom pillow, and with some tape and a tube of fabric paint i made an abstract graphic rose pattern on a printed pillowcase. these are both washable, cost less than ten dollars each, and were made in under 30 minutes. have fun!! –kate

CLICK HERE for the full project instructions after the jump!


for sculptural pillow:
1. pillowcase (any size, and color, and fabric)
2. felt ( 1/2 yard)
3. scissors
4. pin backing (you can buy these at craft stores in small packages. you can use can use safety pins, but the pin backings with sew-on holes are better)
5. needle and thread

for the painted pillow:

1. pillowcase (any size, any color or print, preferably cotton fabric)
2. fabric paint (any color)
3. small foam roller and a paper plate
4. strong masking tape (not blue painters tape. use the tan painters tape or stronger. you could also use duct tape if you like the way it looks)
5. scrap newspaper


for the sculptural pillow:

1. cut out a 12″ square of felt and fold it in half.
2. cut out a single petal shape through both layers of felt with the fold at the base of the petal. when you unfold the piece it will be two identical petals connected by their bases.
3. continue cutting out petals this size until you have about 6. cut four smaller size petals from another piece of felt folded in half.


4. lay out you petals in the shape you want.
5. thread the needle and stitch through the center of your stack of petals from the bottom to the top and back down again. do this for several more stitches to secure all the petals in the stack.
6. with the needle on the bottom side of the petals, flip the blossom over and pinch the base to squeeze the petals together. stitch the pinch tightly so the petals scrunch next to each other. this will give the blossom more depth. when you are satisfied, knot the thread and cut. sew a pin backing on the base of the blossom. now you have a blossom brooch for your pillow! you can pin this anywhere you like on the pillow and remove it when you need to wash the cover.
7. repeat steps 1 through 6 with varied sizes of petals to create different sized blossoms, and pin them in a pretty composition on your pillowcase.

note: if you want to sew your blossoms directly to your pillow you can do this. it will allow the blossoms to be more flat on the surface, but will also require you to spot clean and hand wash the pillow since the felt is delicate.

for the painted pillow:

1. follow instructions on your fabric paint for prepping the fabric surface. this may include pre-washing the fabric.
2. lay out your pillow case on a table. slide some newspaper into the interior of the pillow but ensure it still lies flat.
3. using your tape, “draw” your pattern on the front of your pillowcase. this is a very easy process, since you can remove anything you don’t like and try again. you can bend the tape and crease it, just press down all the flat parts so all sticky parts of the tape that are exposed are sticking to the pillow surface. this is an abstract pattern, so imperfection is the key to success.
4. go over all the tape with your fingers and press down to make sure it is sticking as tightly as possible to the pillow.


5. pour your fabric paint onto a paper plate and roll your foam roller through until it is evenly coated with a layer of paint.
6. roll you roller over your pattern, making sure you to cover all the exposed fabric. go over the tape to make sure you are getting the fabric right against the edge of the tape design.
7. allow to dry.
8. peel off tape.
9. if you wish to do both sides, repeat steps 2 through 8 on the other side.
10. follow instructions for setting the design as directed by your brand of fabric paint.



  1. I LOVE the flower pillow. I have a number of pillows that need a little lift- flowers will be perfect!

  2. Becky says:

    gorgeous. Unfortunately since I don’t sew, I just look at those high prices and sigh…

  3. sandra says:

    the pillows are great! now, where did the sofa come from?

  4. jackie says:

    so lovely!

  5. Sarah says:

    Becky–I think you could probably create these projects without sewing, particularly the one involving fabric paint. If you found an inexpensive throw pillow all you’d have to do would be to arrange the masking tape and roll paint over it. Just a thought!

  6. Mary says:

    These pillow are so cute. I never thought to use fabric paint. I will definitely use this project in my new house.

  7. Amy says:

    Wow – still can’t believe that pillow is painted…

  8. PS~Erin says:

    I love these pillows, especially the black one. Makes me want to learn to sew. Hmmm….

  9. Laura H says:

    For no-sew pillows, you can always use fusible webbing. If you use the strong stuff, you can just iron those seams shut with a strip of fusible webbing between the layers and they’re good to go. No sewing! Heck, you could even use a good fabric glue. Ain’t technology grand?

  10. Anna says:

    I must do this! :) Oh yes!

  11. Megan says:

    This is the best way to get coordinated cushions without having to spend too much, i just turned a teatowl into a cushion for $5.

  12. Something many people don’t think of when searching for fabric is thrift stores. I have found the most beautiful vintage pillowcases, tablecloths and other linens as well as just plain fabric scraps here. One of my favourite pieces, a stunning linen tablecloth in oranges and blues, I purchased to chop up for a craft project but couldn’t ever find the heart to do it. It is now my picnic blanket as it goes so fabulously with my funky fifties blue picnic set. Who knew?

    Anyhow, even some vintage (or otherwise) garments can be used… if you do a lot of crafting with fabric, ask a decent thrift store to hold things back for you as they often get items that are great fabric but in not so hot condition and are happy just to find a home for them as they cannot be put on the floor. A friend of mine makes kimonos out of reclaimed fabrics this way. Keeps it out of landfills too!

    Love the pillows!

  13. doug says:

    one on the left is GREAT!

  14. moon says:

    You could also put a snap on the back of the flowers and sew a corresponding backer onto the pillow–that way you could just snap the flowers right off to wash the case. Love this idea.

  15. Brandy says:

    OK- Teriibly cute and fun, but- Where to get the knitted rug from the last pic???!!! <3

  16. Annet says:

    Oh! It`s my dream. Right now I`m going to decorate one of my cushion but I hadn`t idia! Thanks very much!!!!!!

  17. Ana says:

    sooooo cute! Okay, I have to try this one..

  18. morgan gray says:

    clever idea, thanks for the post! i’ve not worked with fabric paint…are there any issues with laundering?

  19. Maria Luisa Romero says:

    so creative!!! love it.

  20. They are so pretty! Must make!

  21. natalie says:

    could you use a different fabric instead of felt for the flowers?

  22. dammy says:

    loving pillows


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