The Painted Pillow

I have always had Pottery Barn taste, but alas, I have always had a laughable decorating budget. I’m sure many of you know what I mean. Having little or no budget for extras like home renovations and decor is one of the sacrifices my husband and I were willing to make when we decided to home school our kids and live on one income.

But, I also have a bit of a crafter’s thumb, and so has my husband, fortunately. He is extremely handy and has completed many of our home reno projects, as well as building furniture, while I have undertaken the “pretty stuff.”


I actually do get inspired by many things that I see in Pottery Barn and other catalogs, and given time I have been able to make many of those things–for example, painted pillows.

Several years ago, Pottery Barn featured chalkboard-art inspired Christmas pillows, and I loved them! I made my versions using a black linen remnant purchased on ebay, as well as white acrylic craft paint mixed with fabric painting medium. (Just combine two parts paint with one to two parts fabric painting medium, and any paint becomes fabric paint that will adhere to fabrics  even when washed and dried.)

Here are the results:


This summer, I made two pillows for my sister-in-law featuring the latitude and longitude of her new home.

First, I cut out my pillow fronts using a tightly woven cotton-linen blend fabric. I have yards and yards of the stuff, which I purchased–you guessed it–on ebay for very little. Next, I taped down a piece of plastic wrap to my fabric cutting board using painter’s tape (for easy removal later), and then taped the pillow front over that. (The plastic wrap protects my cutting board from wet paint.) Then with a chalk pencil I measured and marked a base line and top line for my letters and sketched out my design, following a picture with a specific font I printed out. Note–allow about a two-inch border around your design so that it won’t get lost on the edges. Using a paint brush with a thin head and firm bristles, I began to “sketch” my design with the paint mix, filling in as I went along.

pillow (2)Painting two pillow fronts while chatting with my kids and watching a movie took about four hours, though it would have taken a lot less time if I had been concentrating. 🙂

pillow (8)

Once the pillow fronts were completed and dried, I stitched them to the backs of the pillow covers using an envelope-style pillow closure. After washing and drying the pillow covers on low, and then ironing them on the REVERSE side using medium heat (a hot iron directly on the paint will wreak havoc with all your hard work!), I put pillow forms in each one. Here are the final results.

pilllows done

Happily, my sister-in-law loved them, and I enjoyed creating something for her that she can display in her new home. Final cost? For me, because I already had all the materials, it was just postage–mailing the pillows to her. But if you were starting from scratch, perhaps $20 for two pillows. The paint, fabric painting medium, and brushes are inexpensive. Your total cost would depend upon how much you spent on fabric.

What are your proudest crafting knockoffs? I’d love to hear from you.

2 thoughts on “The Painted Pillow”

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