diy project: ikat print pillow

Bold, graphic Ikat fabrics in bright colors are the perfect way to ring in summer, but sometimes, they can be hard to find and too expensive. However, with this awesome DIY project from Elizabeth Chaffee, we can all make our own budget-friendly Ikats in any color we want! Cutting the stencil may require a bit of patience, but once it’s completed, you can apply it to so many things: bags, pillowcases, curtains, skirts . . . If you’re really serious about Ikat, you could even double up the stencils and paint with multiple colors to produce something like this. Thanks to Elizabeth for sharing her ingenious idea and also for creating this custom pillow design for us — it matches our new look quite well, doesn’t it? — Kate

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See the full instructions for how to make this Ikat pillow after the jump!

I was inspired to screen-print my own Ikat fabric when I fell in love with Ballard Designs’ Malabar Ikat fabric. Unfortunately, the fabric was on back order until July, and it did not come in the color I needed, so I decided to create my own custom Ikat fabric. — Elizabeth


  • natural fabric (such as cotton or linen)
  • Simply Screen screen-printing paint
  • sponge brush
  • poster board
  • painter’s tape
  • stencil sheet
  • thin permanent marker
  • stencil-burning tool
  • Ikat pattern template


1. Trace the Ikat pattern onto a stencil sheet with permanent marker. (Click here for printable pattern.) When tracing the Ikat pattern onto your stencil sheet, connect all of the pieces of the pattern so your stencil will be successful when you cut it out. This is where your stencil design becomes your own.

2. Cut out your stencil. A stencil-burning tool is a lifesaver during this stage. I wanted to make the background of my fabric coral. To do this, I cut out the gray areas of the stencil. If you wanted to make the Ikat coral, cut out the white of the stencil.

3. Set up your fabric. I used a cotton duck fabric for this project; however, I have also done it successfully with linen. Iron the fabric, lay it on a piece of poster board, pull the fabric tight and tape it to the board.

4. Mix your paint, and then apply a stencil adhesive to the back of your stencil, especially along the edges — this will keep it tight to the fabric. For paint, I used Plaid Simply Screen, a water-based screen-printing paint. I love this paint because it acts more like ink than paint. When this paint dries, it is not “crunchy” on the fabric; it looks as though the pattern has been printed on the fabric.

5. Lay out your stencil. For this project, I wanted the large medallion centered on my fabric. To do this, measure the height and width of your fabric and find the center. Lay the medallion on that spot, making sure the stencil is straight on your fabric.

6. Paint with a sponge brush, and touch up with a small stiff-bristle paintbrush. Use enough paint to “wet” the fabric, and be generous with the screen-printing paint. Move the stencil horizontally to your first panel. Overlap the first area you painted to make sure your pattern appears seamless. Repeat across the width of the fabric.

7. Align your stencil vertically, overlapping the pattern to make the transition seamless. Repeat until your fabric is completely stenciled. I recommend using a large stencil sheet to avoid having to overlap the stencil as often.

8. Let the paint dry, and then iron to heat-set the fabric. Lay your fabric panels wrong-side out and pin them. Then sew the panels together to create a pillowcase.



Kate O

Wow, the results on this look great! And it is really challenging to find reasonably-priced Ikat fabric (I always have my eye out for apparel-weight Ikat fabric, and the pickins’ are *extremely* slim). Great creative solution to get the look!


Quick question, when you say to stretch the fabric across poster board. Is this just a sheet of standard poster board or is it thicker like foam board?


Amazing!! What a great project! Love the color.

Jaclyn @ thelateafternoon

This DIY is fantastic! The idea of making your own printed fabric is so cool. Love the result.

Elizabeth M.

Must try this…very soon! Thank you! and I love your bright happy coral color!


So cool!!
Is a wood burning tool the same as a stencil burning tool?


i wonder if cutting your stencil out of freezer paper (which temporarily sticks to fabric when ironed) would work?…Instead of using stencil adheisive. Might have to try that. This is a brilliant DIY…thanx!!


Are simply screen paints available in any local art stores or did you have to buy it online?


very cool! one question (maybe a dumb one): are you waiting for the paint to dry each time you lay down/move the stencil? because if not, i was thinking the edge of the stencil would possibly smudge the paint job you just did to the right or left -if you didn’t lay it down perfectly straight and in place the first time–since you have to overlap the design (make sense? worded weirdly, i know)…thanks for the help!


What is a stencil sheet? Can I just use freezer paper, and can I use a stencil cutting tool on paper? Thanks – gorgeous and inspiring project!



I did not wait until the stencil was dry to move it each time. Just do it VERY carefully and line up the pattern and you will be fine. I did not have any problems and I have done this project twice. Ideally, it would be best if you could make a stencil the size of your fabric, but if not just carefully move it.


What a lovely idea, so creative and really inexpensive compared to the real icat fabric!
Keep up the great work.


This is such an amazing idea. I have never thought about making my own fabric, I just spend hours at JoAnn’s looking for what I want. Great project!


I can’t seem to find the coral Simply Screen colour! Did you mix it yourself? If not, what’s the name of the colour?




I did mix it myself, I used a combination of the Simply screen light pink, orange, a touch of red and a little gray (without the gray it looked like orange sherbert). Good luck!

Natalie b

Hey do you think this would be possible on a pair of jeans??