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Dollar Decor: Pretty Pillows

Dollar Decor- Pretty Pillows

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been sharing the ideas I’ve used to update our bedroom on a budget. When I started thinking about throw pillows for our bed, I really wanted something that would help pull the whole room together. {And of course they had to be pretty!}

After purchasing–and subsequently returning–several sets of pillows that just weren’t quite right, I was frustrated because nothing that I was seeing in stores seemed to be what I needed. I got so excited when I realized, “I already have pillows!” I had several throw pillows from an old bedding set that we were no longer using–why not just turn those into exactly what I was looking for?!

Old Pillows
Old Pillows

I headed off to JoAnn’s, armed with a 50% off coupon. Since I didn’t need much fabric and two out of the three fabrics I purchased were on sale anyway, I walked out of the store having spent about $12 to cover three pillows. There is NO way I could have purchased three new pillows for that price!

I know what you’re thinking, “Abby, what are you going to do with fabric? You’re afraid of your sewing machine!” It’s true. I get nervous any time I have to pull it out. But my mommy happened to be visiting on the day I wanted to sew, and she patiently walked me through it step by step. {Thanks, mom!}

One way I was able to add a personal touch to one of the pillows was to use a stencil. Stenciling is great because you can use the colors and pattern of your choice, guaranteeing that your design will match your decor to a “T”. Here’s how I did my stenciled pillow:

1. Gather your supplies.

Supplies

  • Painter’s Tape
  • Stencils
  • Cardboard
  • Pillow Case
  • Stenciling Brushes
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Textile Medium

If you have kids {or pets…or a messy husband…}, textile medium is your BFF. When you add it to acrylic paint and use it on fabric, it enables you to wash your fabric without losing your design. I know white pillows won’t last long without a washing in this house, so I was thrilled to find it!

2. Cut a cardboard insert.

Cardboard Insert

The paint will bleed through your fabric, so to make sure it doesn’t leak through to the back of your pillow, cut a piece of cardboard the same size as your pillow and insert it into the pocket. The cardboard gods were shining down on me when I did this project, and I happened to have a piece of cardboard that was already the perfect size. WIN!

3. Plan your design and place your stencil.

Stencil in place

It’s a good idea to plan out your design before you begin stenciling. You could go all out and cut out pieces of paper the size of your stencils and place them on your cover until they look the way you want them. I just kind of moved my stencil around until I figured out what I wanted to do with it.

When you know how you want your pillow to look, place the stencil and use painter’s tape to secure it. I also taped off a small piece of the design that was next to the one I wanted to use so that I didn’t accidentally stencil a part of the other design on my pillow.

4. Stencil, stencil, stencil!

Stenciling with Brush

I have found two keys to a clean stencil:

1) Have a really flat surface. There were a few spots near the edges of my cardboard insert that bled a little bit because it was hard to work with a surface that wasn’t really flat. 

And 2) Don’t use too much paint! It’s better to have to reload your brush a million times with a teeny bit of paint than to use too much paint and have it bleed everywhere, ruining your project.

I stenciled three designs, let them dry completely, then applied my second layer of stenciling. Don’t try to stencil on top of paint that is still wet–it will smear!

5. Set your design.

After your entire design is dry, set it by putting a thin cloth on the pillowcase and ironing over it with the iron on the “wool” setting, per Martha’s {Stewart, you know, my BFF ;)} instructions.

Ironing

{Confession: This is just the iron “pretending” to iron. I didn’t have anyone to take my picture ironing and I didn’t want to burn the fabric, so I had to fake it. You caught me. :)}

Now you have a completely personalized {and affordable!} accessory for your space!

Final Stenciled Pillow

I am so thrilled with how the room is coming together! I have a few more “Dollar Decor” projects to share with you, and then it’s on to the big reveal, so stick around!

Before & After

Have a wonderful week!

How do you save on pillows and other decor? Do you have any stenciling tips to share?

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82 Comments

  1. Cindy Eikenberg says:

    Abby, these pillows look beautiful! Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful week!

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thank you so much, Cindy! Happy Monday!!

      ~Abby =)

      1. Dakshayani Pandit says:

        This is a beautiful idea of paining the pillow covers. Thanks for sharing. I would like to do it.

  2. Linda Nortje (@WithABlast) says:

    I love fabric painting/stenciling! Thank you for joining our Let’s Get Social Sunday party 🙂

    Linda
    With A Blast

    1. abbylawson says:

      It’s so fun, right?! Thank YOU so much for hosting Let’s Get Social Sunday! I love linking up with you ladies! Have a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  3. Selene Galindo says:

    I love how your pillows turned out! So pretty! I did something similar using some clearance napkins I found at Target!
    Selene @ Restoration Beauty

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thank you, Selene! I LOVE that you used napkins for your pillows–so smart!! Hope you’re having a wonderful day!

      ~Abby =)

  4. Emily @ My Love for Words says:

    Love ’em! I used that same MS stencil for my daughter’s preschool bag this past fall (but I evidently didn’t read the instructions b/c I didn’t iron it. Oops) Love your color choices too.

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks, Emily! I bet your daughter has the cutest bag at preschool! 🙂 Hope you guys are doing well!

      ~Abby =)

  5. This is a great idea!! Thanks Abby!

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks, Arlena! Hope you’re having a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  6. Marty@A Stroll Thru Life says:

    These look amazing. How creative and clever. I would love for you to link up to my Inspire Me party this evening. http://www.astrollthrulife.net
    Hugs, marty

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks so much for the invite, Marty! Have a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  7. Great pillows, Abby! Did you redo your blog layout?? Looks fabulous!! Really caught my eye!!! You go girl!!~~Angela

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks, Angela! I changed up the menus a little bit. It still needs work, but it’s getting there! 🙂 Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  8. day2day SuperMom says:

    Yeah! I love this tutorial because I am so not a sewer either! Love the stenciling idea too. Maybe I’ll finally get my pillow’s just right now =) Thanks for sharing at the Show me the Goods party!

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thank you so much for popping over from Show Me the Goods!! Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  9. I love these! The colors and mix of patterns is fresh and fun! Thanks for sharing at Project Inspired this week!

    1. abbylawson says:

      Lol! Thanks so much, Crystelle! Hope you’re having a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  10. Krista thehappyhousie says:

    These are so cute Abby! Great job… I love the stenciling idea! Wow! Can’t wait to see what you are doing to your bedroom:)
    Krista

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks, Krista!! It’s coming together, slowly but surely! Everything always takes longer than you think, right?! Thank you so much for stopping by! Have a great day!

      ~Abby =)

  11. JaneEllen says:

    After seeing how you made the pillow covers and stencilling, I can hardly wait to see the reveal of your boudoir. Glad your Mom was there to help you out, maybe now you won’t be afraid to give it a go on your own. Just alot of straight stitching. The more you work on it the better you’ll get and try different ideas. Your covers look gorgeous.
    I make new pillow covers all the time, I get tired of what I have, change for seasons, change of colors, whatever reason I just go whip up however many I need. I just reuse old pillow forms. I buy pillows at thrift stores, cover them with my new cushion covers. I have a box in sewing room that stores just cushion covers.
    I print out images often from Graphics Fairy onto transfers to iron onto some muslin i.e. then sew it onto the pillow cover. If I get tired of it I can take it off and put something else on the cover. I cut out parts of vintage tablecloths of which I have several and decoupage them onto the pillow cover. I haven’t done any stencilling onto the covers but think I will after seeing yours. I found some great stencils at Michaels on sale with great images so will get myself some fabric medium and see if I can do it as well as you did.
    Have fun, just try things. Happy days

    1. abbylawson says:

      Ooh thanks for the tip on the iron-on pictures! That is such a great idea! I love that you change out your pillows for the seasons! I’m not there yet, but maybe someday! 🙂 Thanks so much for reading, JaneEllen! You always make me smile!

      ~Abby =)

  12. Southern Scraps says:

    Those look fabulous! I would have never guessed that was stenciled.

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thank you! Hope you’re having a fantastic week! Thanks so much for stopping by!

      ~Abby =)

  13. Bethany the ngnrdgrl says:

    They turned out wonderful! And so brave with the sewing! I’ve attempted sewing a few times. Would have helped having mom help guide me through. I love your dollar decor theme. I’m pinning this to my “Pillow Talk” pinterest board (https://m.pinterest.com/ngnrdgrl/pillow-talk/). One of the ideas I want to try is the placemat throw pillow. I also want to try stenciling these white throws I have on or settee.

    Happy Monday and have a good week!
    Bethany

    1. abbylawson says:

      I am so jealous of all of the fantastic sewers out there! They can make such cool things! I just need to practice and try more things…you know, in all that spare time I have… 😉 I love the placemat idea too–so fun! Thank you so much for the pin, my friend! Hope you’re having a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  14. now at home mom says:

    these are so pretty! they look lovely Abby! I love how you did it 🙂 hope you are having a great week!

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thank you so much, Ingrid! You are always so encouraging to me! <3 Have a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  15. These pillows look fabulous. I love the colors that you’ve got here, and the combination of fabrics! The stenciling looks great, too. I keep intending to try stenciling on fabric, but I’m so nervous to mess it up. A smaller project like a pillow seems like a great place to try!

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks, Sarah! I get nervous about stenciling too bc if you mess up it’s really hard/impossible to fix! It can turn out really beautifully if all goes right, though! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog!

      ~Abby =)

  16. Love the pillows! In fact, I’m loving all of your “dollar decor” posts! Thanks for linking up to Give Me The Goods Monday! We love having you party with us! Jenna @ Rain on a Tin Roof

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thank you so much, Jenna! It really means a lot that you take the time to check out all of the linked up posts! Thanks so much for hosting a great party! Have a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  17. Nancy @ Artsy Chicks Rule says:

    They look great Abby!!! I love them all! And I’m with you, I have had a time trying to find pillows I like! I can’t tell you how many I’ve bought and returned in the last few months! 😉
    Thanks so much for sharing them at Project Inspire{d} this week 🙂
    Nancy

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks, friend! And thank you SO much for the link love with my glitter vase today! You are AWESOME! Hope you had a wonderful day!

      ~Abby =)

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  19. So beautiful — happy to have found your blog through the Domestic Superhero link party! 🙂

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks, Mish! I’m so glad you popped over! Hope you’re having a wonderful day!

      ~Abby =)

  20. Casey Osmundson (@CaseyOsmundson) says:

    LOVE this!! I am totally pinning it!!

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thank you so much, Casey! LOVED your cabinet organization tips last week! Hope you’re having a great week!

      ~Abby =)

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks for the invite, Leslie! Have a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  21. Pretty! Love the fresh colors!

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks, Angela! Have a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  22. you did a fantastic job on the pillows at first I thought the patterns on them were the fabric, until I read on further that you stenciled them! Beautifully done! = New Follower here!

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks so much, Krystie! You are so sweet! Have a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  23. rachel @ little kitchen, big bites says:

    too cute!! i’m going to try this on some old pillows!

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks so much, Rachel! Have fun with it! Hope you have a great weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  24. What a great idea…we don’t have a lot of throw pillows and I want more…but we do have a thrift shop on base 🙂 and a yard sale group on fb…now I will keep an eye out for any pillows (throw in the dryer on high first) and then recover to match our decor 🙂

    1. abbylawson says:

      I love your thinking! I need to find a yard sale group in my area! Have fun making your pillows! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks, Beth! Have a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  25. Val @ Home Made Modern says:

    Really pretty! I’ve always wanted to stencil fabric. You’ve inspired me to try it!

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks so much, Val! Have fun stenciling! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!!

      ~Abby =)

  26. Very nice job! I hear ya…having very minimal sewing skills I get nervous pulling out the sewing machine too, but with fabric as cheap as you got it, you can’t really lose. I love your stencils and colors you chose.

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks so much, Kristina! Sewing is definitely daunting, but I’m slowly overcoming my fear! 😉 Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  27. Fearon @ For Heart and Health says:

    I found you on the Blog Hop at Blissful and Domestic. LOVE the pillows. What a great idea to stencil!

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks so much Fearon! I’m so glad you stopped by! Have a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  28. Amazing! You did a beautiful job! I’m just stopping by to say hello from the Sunday Scoop Link Party. Have a beautiful day and see you again soon! Gloria @The Resourceful Gals

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thank you so much, Gloria! I’m so glad you popped over! Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks so much for the invite, Carrie! Hope you’re having a wonderful day!

      ~Abby =)

  29. Christine says:

    Absolutely… WOW Abby!!!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing this at The DIY Dreamer.. From Dream To Reality!

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks Christine! Hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day with your family! <3

      ~Abby =)

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks so much for the invite! Have a great week!

      ~Abby =)

    1. abbylawson says:

      Thanks so much for the invite, Cathy! You’re so sweet! Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

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  33. Jessica Wan says:

    You are so talented! I love your sense of style.

    1. abbylawson says:

      Aw, thank you so much, Jessica! I’m so glad you stopped by. Have a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

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  39. Kristine Manley says:

    This idea is fabulous! I have some ugly pillows in the house, and can’t wait to make them pretty.

  40. Maria @everydaymomsquad.com says:

    Those pillows are so cute! Such a great idea. I have a pillow obsession myself, so this will be great so I don’t have to spend a ton of money on every pillow I want at target LOL.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you! I hear ya– Target’s pillow section gets me every time! ?Hope you’re having a great week!

      ~Abby =)

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