If you’re anything like me, then you hate spending a lot of money on home decor. Finding good deals and bargains is hard, especially for someone (like me) who has expensive taste. One thing I refuse to spend a lot of money on is throw pillows. I just can’t bring myself to shell out $30-$50 for a pillow that has the sole purpose of looking pretty and ends up on the floor one thousand times a day. I’m lookin’ at you, kids! My solution? A super simple DIY pillow.
This one cost me $0. And I think it’s pretty adorable for being free.
If you’ve never made a pillow before, or you’re new to sewing, don’t panic. This DIY pillow is so easy, all you really need to know is how to sew a straight line. Even if you don’t own a sewing machine, you can hand stitch and still make yourself a great pillow. Follow the 7 step below, and you’ll have your very own DIY pillow in no time at all!
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SUPPLIES FOR A DIY PILLOW
- 2 pieces of fabic, cut to the same size (I used leftover canvas from another project)
- tape measure
- Silhouette, Cricut, or sharp x-acto knife
- freezer paper
- fabric paint
- foam brush
- cardboard or scrap paper
- sewing pins
- sewing machine (optional)
- thread (same color as fabric)
- Poly-fil pillow stuffing (I reused some from an old pillow)
Step One: Measure and Cut
Once you have your fabric picked out, you’ll need to cut it into two equal sized pieces. Your measurements will depend on the size and shape you want your pillow to be. If you have an exact size in mind, be sure to add an extra 1/2 inch all the way around to ensure you have plenty of seam allowance. For my pillow, I knew I wanted a longer rectangle. Without measuring (because I didn’t need it to be an EXACT size) I folded my fabric in half and cut the shape I wanted, through both layers. I then cut along the folded edge to create 2 pieces.
Step Two: Create a Freezer Paper Stencil
If you have a Silhouette or Cricut, open your program to create a custom cut file. (I use a Silhouette Cameo, so these instructions are for Silhouette Studio.) First, cut a 12×12 piece of freezer paper to place (shiny side down) on your cutting mat. Measure your fabric to determine how big your phrase needs to be. Choose your font, type your phrase, and arrange it on your screen. Don’t forget to stay within the 12×12 cutting frame. When your words are arranged to your liking, click ‘send’ and select your material from the drop down menu. Freezer paper isn’t listed as an option, so I chose ‘copy paper’, and set my blade to the recommended depth. Cut your stencil, then weed out the words and carefully remove the entire square of freezer paper from the cutting mat. Make sure to keep the middles of letters like o, d, a, b, etc. to use in step three.
If you don’t have a Silhouette or other cutting machine, you can still create a freezer paper stencil, it will just take a little bit more time. If you like your handwriting, you can freehand a phrase or word on the paper side of the freezer paper, then carefully cut it out with a sharp x-acto knife. Make sure to keep the middles of letters like o, d, a, b, etc. to use in step three.
Don’t love your handwriting? Still not a problem. Type your word or phrase in Paint, Notepad, or Word and print it out. Then, outline and color the words with a pencil. Make sure to fully fill in each letter. Next, place your traced paper face down on the shiny side of the freezer paper and use a hard, flat edge (like a credit card) to rub and transfer your pencil tracing onto the freezer paper. Your words should be backwards. Once your whole design is transferred, carefully cut it out with a sharp x-acto knife. Make sure to keep the middles of letters like o, d, a, b, etc. to use in step three.
If these steps are more effort than you want to put forth, you can skip them completely and just create a plain pillow, or you can create a freehand design on your fabric with the paint.
Step Three: Iron
Lay one piece of your fabric on a flat surface. Place your freezer paper stencil, shiny side down, in the center of the fabric. Using a hot, dry iron, lightly go over your entire stencil to adhere it to the fabric. Be careful around the edges and adjust as you go if needed. When the entire square is in place, carefully iron your saved letter centers in the appropriate place, one at a time.
Step Four: Paint
Place a scrap piece of paper or cardboard under your fabric piece with the stencil on it to protect your surface from any paint bleeding. Using a foam brush, lightly dab a thin coat of fabric paint on your stencil. Be sure not to fill your brush with too much paint so your paint doesn’t run. We want nice, crisp lines! Go back and fill in any bare or light spots with a second thin coat of paint if needed. Wait for the paint to dry- about 4 hours. Remove your stencil.
The bottle of paint says to wash fabric after 72 hours, but I’m a rebel and didn’t do that. I don’t plan on washing this pillow, so I felt this step was unnecessary for me. If you’re a rule follower, by all means, please follow your paint bottle’s instructions.
Step Five- Pin
Once your paint is fully dry (and washed for you rule followers), place your 2 fabric pieces on top of each other, right sides together. This means you shouldn’t be able to see the painted side of your fabric. Place a pin through both pieces, all the way around your soon-to-be DIY pillow, every few inches. At this point, I like to make sure my fabric is nice and even all the way around. If you measured and cut straight the first time, you won’t need to do this. But if you winged it like I did, just even up your edges wherever needed.
Step Six: Sew
Now that your fabric is pinned, you can start sewing. I like to start about 6 inches from a corner, making sure to back stitch a little at the beginning. When you get to a corner, simply stop your machine with the needle still in the fabric. Rotate the fabric and continue along the next edge. Continue all the way around your fabric, removing pins as you go, and keeping your seam allowance at 1/2″. Make sure to stop before you get back to where you started. You’ll need an opening to flip your fabric and fill it with stuffing. I like to place a pin horizontally where I want to stop sewing so I don’t forget. End with a back stitch, and you’re done!
Step 7: Flip, Fill, and Close Your Simple DIY Pillow
Before you flip your pillow right side out, carefully cut excess fabric off each corner. This will help the corners of your DIY pillow look nice and sharp. Turn your pillow so the right sides are facing out and admire your amazing sewing skills! Using your finger or a pencil, fully push each corner out. Gently
shove place small pieces of filling in your pillow. Keep going until it’s at your desired firmness. I like mine to be stuffed full so it keeps its shape.
When your pillow is as firm as you like it, you’ll need to close the opening. You can do this with your sewing machine or by hand with a needle and thread. I always close mine by hand. Fold in the edges of your opening so it matches the rest of the pillow’s sides. Pin in place. Thread a needle with thread that matches your pillow and knot the end. Sew your opening with small stitches, removing your pins as you go. When you reach the end, knot your thread and trim any excess. Your DIY pillow is finished!!
If you enjoyed this simple DIY pillow tutorial and used it to make one of your own, I’d love to hear about it! Leave me a comment below!