Personalized Gift Tutorial: Painted Pillows
Although it rained in Iowa for days leading up to it, there wasn’t a drop of rain in the air for the big day. The sun was shining and the blue sky was filled with gorgeous, fluffy clouds. What a perfect day for an outdoor wedding. And not just any wedding, I might add. My little brother’s wedding! Here’s a picture of the newlyweds on that gorgeous summer day.
I personalized these two throw pillows for them as a gift, and I’m quite happy with how they turned out. These are hand-painted pillows using a freezer paper stencil I cut with my Silhouette – my first attempt at making anything beyond basic paper cutouts with it. After a heck of a lot of pondering, I finally decided to paint their wedding date on one pillow and a simple heart on the other. They make an adorable set that’s neutral enough to be moved around to fit in with the decor in any room of their home.
Since the bride and groom have a lot of country style decor, I decided a neutral tan would be perfect for them. I found these plain throw pillows at Walmart. They actually happened to be in the clearance section, so they were very affordable. Pillows can be crazy expensive! Keep your eye out for a sale on plain pillows you can personalize. If you’re up for it, you could also sew new pillow covers for a pair of thrifted pillows or pillow forms.
Now, let’s get this show on the road. Time for the step by step tutorial so you can whip up your own totally custom pillows to give as gifts.
>>Don’t have time to read this right now? Pin the tutorial for later:
STEP ONE: MAKING YOUR STENCIL
Your first step is to whip up a stencil for your pillow. Well, unless of course you feel like free-handing your design. If that’s the case, don’t let me stop you! For the rest of you, you’ll want to make your template using freezer paper.
If you own a Silhouette, create your design in the Silhouette software. Then adjust your cut settings for the freezer paper. I found that a blade of 3, speed of 3, and a thickness of 10 worked well for cutting the freezer paper. Do a test cut first and see if these settings work for you. Then stick a section of freezer paper onto your cutting mat and load it into your Silhouette. I found that the freezer paper’s shiny side up worked best. If you face the shiny side up, you’ll need flip your design horizontally so it cuts your image backwards. This is because the shiny side is what will be ironed onto your pillow to create your template, so you want to make sure your letters get cut out the correct way. Send your file to the Silhouette and cut out your design.
If you don’t own a Silhouette, you can create your design in Microsoft Word or a design program on your computer. Then, print it out directly onto a sheet of freezer paper using your regular printer.
STEP TWO: WEED YOUR DESIGN
If you cut out your design using your Silhouette, you’ll weed the paper from your cutting mat. I’ve learned that weeding is just a fancy term Silhouette users say when referring to slowly peeling your paper off your mat without ripping it. If you aren’t using a Silhouette, use an exacto knife to cut out your design. I recommend taping the paper onto a piece of cardboard to hold it in place.
Be careful to keep any interior pieces that are not connected to your stencil outline. For example, the circle in the ‘6’ was a separate piece that I set aside. Don’t forget about those little pieces (okay, so I accidentally threw the middle of my 6 in the trash and was later digging it back out).
STEP THREE: IRON YOUR STENCIL
Freezer paper is the coolest because the shiny side adheres to fabric with a little ironing. How magical is that?! Iron it on using the heat settings meant for the fabric you are working with. Take your time and make sure every little edge and corner gets ironed really well, otherwise you will have paint seeping underneath your stencil.
STEP 4: BUST OUT THE PAINT
Now for the fun part – painting! You’ll need a fabric paint in the color of your choice. I discovered this nifty crafty product called fabric medium that can be mixed with regular acrylic paint to make it into fabric-appropriate paint. Where have I been?! Fabric medium is genious in my opinion because it saves from having to purchase every color of the rainbow in specific fabric paint when you already have those colors in acrylic.
I used a little round sponge brush and made sure to get into all the corners of the stencil. Focus on dabbing your paint as opposed to brushing it from side to side. This will help prevent paint from oozing under your stencil. I ended up painting two coats to get an even paint job without streaks.
STEP 5: REMOVE YOUR STENCIL AND PRESS
Leave your project alone for a few hours while the paint dries. As tempting as it is to pull up the stencil and take a peek, it’s best to wait until the paint has had a chance to dry. Once it’s dry, peel off the freezer paper and iron the pillow to set the paint. Follow the ironing instructions on the paint you are using.
Here’s the final product…what do you think? I had one boo-boo where some of the paint seeped under the stencil on the number ‘2’, but otherwise I think they turned out very nicely.
This was my very first attempt at freezer paper stenciling, and it is amazing! Freezer paper is fairly cheap and you can buy it at your grocery store. I love that it irons onto fabric to make a stencil that won’t move around at all. How magical! I’ve since been seeing all sorts of things around our house that would look better with something stenciled onto them 🙂
This project is such a simple way to make a handmade, personalized gift that can be designed according to the personalities of the bride and groom. And it can be a very affordable yet completely custom gift. But don’t stop with the bride and groom – you could make personalized pillows for anyone on your gift list. Use the same date idea as an anniversary gift, or stencil a simple inspirational word. Switching up the design and colors makes the possibilities of this project endless.
What would you stencil on your pillows? Let me know in the comments below.
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