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Stencil DIY: Customize Plain Fabric Pillow

Stencil DIY: Plain Fabric Pillow Goes Drab to Fab | Kimono Allover Stencil by Royal Design Studio

First, I want to thank everyone who read and commented on my stenciled Green Club Chair post during October. It was a fun project, and looks like lots of readers wanted to know more about painting upholstered furniture and fabric in general.

What better way to share more details than to make a stenciled, painted pillow to coordinate with the chair using the same colors?

In a nutshell, you can paint upholstery with Chalk Paint®. If you water down the paint so that it sinks into the fabric, instead of sitting on top, it will be soft. Personally, I don’t care for painting heavy textured fabrics like velvet. Natural fibers and leathers or leather-like materials work best for me. Is the paint durable? Yes. Do you have to seal it? Depending upon the use, sure. Use Clear Soft Wax or fabric protector.

Speaking of pillows – are you a pillow person like me? Yes, I am guilty of over-doing it, but they just look so pretty all piled up and begging me to get cozy and read, or snuggle with one of our three kitties.

Don’t be afraid, this post includes basic sewing 101, or, you can reuse an old plain pillow cover. I have added sewing notes for those who want them, assuming you already know how to make a simple pillow.


Stencil Supplies by Royal Design Stuido

  • Royal Design Studio Kimono Allover stencil
  • Royal Design Studio’s 2” stencil brush
  • Plain cotton or linen pillow cover from an old pillow in any size, with an insert to fit
  • Motsenbackers Lift-Off 5 to clean the stencil
  • Chalk Paint ® by Annie Sloan: Olive, Country Grey
  • Drawer pull. The best choice is a door pull that lays flatter to the surface, so that it acts more like a button that lays tighter to the surface of the fabric. Otherwise, the pull with stand out too high and poke you in the back!
  • Tape, container, water, pen, measuring tape, puncturing tool like a tire repair tool, one “flat” drawer pull
  • Optional if you sew this project: sewing machine, pins, matching thread, needle, white cotton duck, off-white burlap ribbon from Michaels

STEP ONE (For readers who are planning to sew their pillow cover. Skip to Step Two if you have one that is pre-made.)

Stencil DIY: Plain Fabric Pillow Goes Drab to Fab | Kimono Allover Stencil by Royal Design Studio

Measure the pillow insert on all sides. Spread out the fabric, measure and cut two pieces the same size as the pillow insert.


Stencil DIY: Plain Fabric Pillow Goes Drab to Fab | Kimono Allover Stencil by Royal Design Studio

Wet the fabric in the sink and wring dry. Lay the pieces out on a non-porous surface and spread out with your hands. Make a paint wash in a container using Country Grey Chalk Paint® plus about 40% water. Brush the wash on both pieces. Don’t worry about complete coverage, so that the fabric looks a bit aged. Throw in the dryer for a few minutes, or dry outside. Iron.


Stencil DIY: Plain Fabric Pillow Goes Drab to Fab | Kimono Allover Stencil by Royal Design Studio

On one piece only: Lay the stencil in a pleasing position and tape. Dip the stencil brush in the Olive paint, off-load the excess on paper towels, and stencil in a swirling motion with dry brush technique. Don’t cover perfectly, letting the design show areas of more and less coverage. Use the registration patterns on the edges to complete the designs on all sides, if necessary.

Learn more about the dry brush technique on our Basic Brush Stenciling With Royal Stencil Cremes Blog Post. See more Basic Tips for Stenciling on Fabric here.


Stencil DIY: Plain Fabric Pillow Goes Drab to Fab | Kimono Allover Stencil by Royal Design Studio

Fold the off-white jute ribbon in half and iron. Place the two pieces of fabric together, facing in. Add the jute, making a sandwich of the three pieces, with all three edges matched. At the corners, fold the jute over toward the center. Pin, leaving an opening on one side in order to add the insert. I chose to baste before sewing. (Normally I never baste anything, including turkeys. Instead, we go to my sister-in-law’s for Thanksgiving. Sorry, fowl joke…)


Stencil DIY: Plain Fabric Pillow Goes Drab to Fab | Kimono Allover Stencil by Royal Design Studio

After the pillow insert is inside the cover, add the furniture pull. Measure across the diagonals on the front and back. Mark with a pin, then mark with a pen dot. Using a sharp tool, like my clean tire repair tool, push through the pillow cover and pillow insert from one side through to the other. Hold the pillow vertically. Put one finger on one side at the dot and push the tool through toward your finger. Work the tool a bit to push through the feathers and the thin cover fabric until you break through both sides. If you push feathers or fabric through, just remove them or cut away. Remove the tool and insert the pull screw from the back, then add the decorative piece on the front.

Stencil DIY: Plain Fabric Pillow Goes Drab to Fab | Kimono Allover Stencil by Royal Design Studio

Stencil DIY: Plain Fabric Pillow Goes Drab to Fab | Kimono Allover Stencil by Royal Design Studio

Done! To me, the pillow is the perfect finishing touch to this project.

If you missed the fabulous leather club chair makeover, be sure to check it out. You will love it!

Want more fabric stencil ideas? Here are few of our most popular posts to get you started.

Royal Design Studio Wall Stencils and Paint Supplies for DIY Projects


  1. Debbie, love this project! You also gave me an idea to solve a problem – I’ve wanted to add pattern to some pillows. For years. But I’m positive with the pillows sewn up, it will get messy on the sides and corners. So why not take the pillows apart, decorate the fabric, then sew the pillows back together. So obvious now! Decorate the fabric before sewing!

  2. Deb, I love pillows but sometimes I just want what I want, not what’s in the store. Sounds like you do too!

  3. Hi, I have just seen this and I love the idea because where I come from fabric paint is very expensive and fabric medium even more so. I just wanted to know, what happens when you wash the covers. Does it fade? Do you need to do anything extra to set the paint?

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