Fortuny, founded by artist, designer, and inventor Mariano Fortuny in 1919, is famous for its luxury fabrics and home furnishings. I would love a sofa full of vintage Fortuny pillows, but I don’t have enough pennies saved up to afford it. Did you know that Fortuny originally used stencils to create many of his signatire fabrics? That got me thinking about all of the Royal Design Studio Italian Damask stencils that are reminiscent of classic Fortuny patterns.
And so I made my own pillows. Today I will show you that if you can paint with stencils, you can recreate the Fortuny look for your home too!
The results of today’s project are “faux Fortuny” pillows painted with stencils. If you use the metallic Stencil Cremes from Royal Design Studio and silk fabrics, you can get the luxurious lush look of Fortuny fabrics at a fraction of the cost-and with all the bragging rights!. It’s hard to capture in photos, but my pillows shine and shimmer so beautifully in the sunlight!
You can find Fortuny fabrics in many colors. For my project, I used cinnamon and sand colors, because they coordinated with my existing pillows. This project would look great in any of your favorite colors — blues, greens, grays, pinks, purples.
- Corsini Damask Stencil size Small and Damask Modern Masters Stencil (Optional: chevron stencil from the Indian Sari Border Series)
- Stencil Cremes: Bronze Age, Copper Kettle, Smoked Oyster
- Textile Medium — look near the acrylic paints at craft stores for brands like FolkArt, Delta Ceramcoat, Liquitex
- Stencil Brushes
- Painters Tape
- Paper Towel
- Silk fabrics – I used silk taffeta and silk-rayon velvet from Hyena Productions
- Sewing Machine and Thread
- Pillow Insert
Source: Fortuny Instagram
Here are some Fortuny fabrics to give you inspiration. Follow Fortuny’s Instagram for more luscious fabrics and patterns. I used the Corsini Damask and Damask Modern Masters stencils. Royal Design Studio has many
damask and Italian stencils that would give you the Fortuny look. Here are a few more ideas: Delicate Floral Wall Stencil, Donatella Damask Stencil (also available in a smaller Craft size), Encantada Damask Wall Stencil, Florentine Damask Wall Stencil, Fortuny Wall Stencil (hmmmm! perfect name!) and Isle of Palms Damask Wall Stencil. Personally, I’d love to see the Isle of Palms stencil painted in cream and blue for a summery coastal Fortuny vibe.
First decide what size pillow you want. Bigger pillows give you space to show off the stencil patterns. I made square 20″ x 20″ pillows and a rectangular 18″ x 28″ pillow. Cut your fabric about 2″ larger than the final size pillow you want, to allow for seams when sewing. Measure with a yardstick to find the center of your piece of fabric. Center your stencil over the middle of the fabric.
Mix Textile Medium in your paint. This will help the paint to be softer once it dries on the fabric. The Textile Medium I used called for 1 part Textile Medium to 2 parts paint. Your paint might look really milky until it’s well mixed. Don’t worry, you didn’t ruin the paint, just keep gently mixing. The Textile Medium does not change the look of the paint. The final look of the Stencil Cremes remains metallic and shifts color as it catches the light. I forgot to mix Textile Medium for one of my pillows, and so I can tell you from experience, the dried paint really is more soft and less crunchy on fabric if you mix in Textile Medium.
Test your paint color on scrap fabric first. I wound up changing paint colors after testing on scraps. Also keep in mind you can mix colors if needed. I love the sophisticated look of Bronze Age Stencil Creme, but needed it a bit lighter. I lightened it by mixing in Smoked Oyster. This resulted in the perfect custom color.
Offload extra paint onto paper towel. Your brush should be nearly dry when painting with stencils. When painting fabric, you may need to get a “feel” for the fabric. Silk taffeta has a slippery smooth surface, so you can stencil with very little paint on your brush. I also painted on velvet, which has a lot of fuzzy texture. The velvet was thirstier than marathon runners on a 100-degree day! So I had to leave more paint on the brush when stenciling on velvet.
Use the registration marks on the stencil to line up more designs until the whole fabric is full of patterns.
If you have a furry supervisor in the house, there may be frequent breaks for quality control inspections.
I chose to add little strips of edging around the silk taffeta pillows, with the chevron lines from a border stencil. This is optional. I was looking for an extra sewing challenge.
Sewing pillows is easy. You simply sew around all the four sides. You can make a little overlapping flap in the middle
of the back, which is the easiest way to sew a pillow. Or insert a hidden zipper in the bottom seam which is a more intermediate skill.
Today I shared a pillow idea, but you could stencil “faux Fortuny” fabric to make other things like a bench, chair cushions, curtains, even a duvet cover.
As I mentioned above, I think the two key things to getting the Fortuny look are:
- Use really good thicker fabric — silk taffeta is perfect. There’s also silk dupioni but I think that might be a little textury and “slubby.” Taffeta is smooth.
- Use a shimmery paint like Stencil Cremes.
Bonus Decorating Tip – How to Lighten Up Dark Brown Sofas
I have for years struggled with big dark brown blobs in my living room — also known as sofas. I got them for the same reasons a lot of people choose dark brown sofas. Brown is a neutral that goes with nearly everything, it doesn’t show dirt, and it’s an easy color choice. But dark brown sofas can suck up all the light in a room, especially when the sofas come with five big dark brown velvet pillows, as mine did. What’s a solution to lighten it up?
Color and pattern!
Here’s a formula:
- LIGHTER COLORS: Choose three lighter colors. Pull the colors from other things in your room like a rug, wall art, chairs, throw blanket, or accessories like ceramic vases.
- PATTERNS: Choose different patterns in each pillow. The patterns draw your eye away from the vast expanse of brown. You can choose subdued patterns or a bold mix — it’s up to your taste.
- TEXTURE: Mix in some textured pillows too.
Here’s an example from my living room showing the before and after:
BEFORE — with dark brown velvet pillows
AFTER — with lighter patterned pillows
What’s the difference? I replaced five dark brown velvet pillows with three “faux Fortuny” pillows and two textured Mongolian fur pillows. That was it! Easy! I already had a few patterned pillows from travels around the world — pillow covers are a great souvenir — and the Fortuny style patterns blend in with them for a global mix.