One of my favorite ways to change out my seasonal decor is by changing pillows…although this can get quite expensive and take up lots of non-existent storage (at our house at least) so the easier option is to make my own pillow covers and just switch out the covers.  I buy most of my designer fabric at because of the great price and free shipping over $35.  Plus, they return your fabric for free if you aren’t satisfied.  GREAT customer service!  Although I love just fabric pillows, I like to have a large variety to add more visual interest and texture.  One way I found to do this was to stencil on pillows.  It’s much much easier than screen printing or buying them like that.  So, I’m going to shop you step by step of how to create your own custom stenciled pillow.

1.)  You need VERY BASIC sewing skills.  Like all you need to do is be able to sew a straight line.  I made a DIY on a no zipper pillow a couple of years ago and you can find that post here.  That will explain how to cut your fabric.  A little hint, if I am using expensive fabric I usually just use it on the front and then back it with drop cloth or duck cloth, or actually any neutral that’s in my fabric drawer.  It stretches the dollar a lot more.  If you are ordering fabric you can probably make three or four PILLOW FRONTS out of a yard, if you do both front and back then probably only 2.

2.)  DON’T SEW THE PILLOW YET!  Once you have the pillow pieces cut out, take the front piece.  This is the piece you will stencil on.

3.) You will need a material to use as a stencil.  I like using the plastic binder seperators.  I get them from Walmart and they are usually around $2-$3 for a large pack.

IMG_3114 - Copy

If you want to make a quick stencil and don’t have these on hand you can use card stock as well.

IMG_3118 - Copy

Card stock works just fine for stencil 2 or 3 times.  If you want to use the stencil multiply times then you will want to do it out of plastic.  The plastic can last pretty much forever.

4.)  Figure out what you want to stencil.  I usually use Word to make my stencils, but you can use any program.  To make a number stencil I love using the Modern No. 20 font.  The best part of making your own stencils is that you can pick the font and size, so you can make it custom.

Make your own stencil

5.)  Put your paper or plastic on the screen and trace with permanent marker the outline of your stencil.  You can also print it off, but I don’t even like to waste the ink of doing that:)  Unless you have a really tricky stencil.


6.)  Cut your stencil out.  It can be tricky at first figuring what parts you can cut into and what parts need to be clean lines.  Numbers are pretty easy.  Just make sure you save any “middles” like on an eight or nine.  You’ll need those for your finished product!

Making your own stencil

I find a good area where it’s larger and I can fold it over and cut into it where it doesn’t matter.  Then just cut nicely around the outside and soon you have your stencil.

Make your own stencil

The acutal “7” you can throw away.

Here are some examples of other stencils I’ve made..


If you look at the peace on earth stencil you can see I kept all of the “middles” on the bottom of the sheet.  I use double stick tape to stick them on the fabric before I stencil them, and then also to keep them on the plastic when I am done.

7.)  Time to stencil!  Here are the objects you need.

How to stencil

The scissors and permanent marker were for making the stencil. The paint and the stencil brush are for the painting part.  I just use arcylic .99 paint from Walmart.  I have washed my pillow covers before and they wash up fine.  The may dull a tinge but not bad, and they don’t bleed.  I would let them sit for a week or so before washing though.

I bought my stencil brush at Home Depot, it was the Martha Stewart line. They have foam ones at Walmart that work okay, but they don’t give quite as precise lines.  I also found some on Amazon.

Then I either use a paper plate, or a real plate with a napkin on it, or the actual stencil itself to put the glob of paint.

How to stencil a pillow

You dip your brush in the paint and then the important part is to stencil on the plastic or napkin first to get off the excess paint.  If you have too much paint on your brush it will bleed under the stencil and not make a crisp line.

Then stencil with an up and down motion.  Better to use less paint and go over it a couple of times then gob it on and ruin your fabric.

how to stencil a pillow

When you’re done it should look like this…

stencil a pillow

and my kids favorite part is when you take it off:)

stencil a pillow

stenciling on fabric

At this point you are ready to put your pillow together, and you complete the steps that I showed you in the blog post I linked you up to above.  Here are some of my Christmas pillows I made this year using this technique.

Christmas Stenciled Pillows


"25" pillow


Peace on Earth pillow

So, I hope that helps and inspires you to add a little more “Christmas Cheer” to your holiday decor!


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    1. It’s hard to stencil on if you can’t get the cover off, but if you can take the cover off and put cardboard in between, you can stencil on just about anything!:)

  1. Too funny that you posted this as I was just thinking about how to do these the day before. I’ve been following your blog for a while and had seen these and wanted to do them, but wasn’t sure how. Thank you for taking the time to make the tutorial.

  2. Thanks Alli! I’m a visual person, so this is exactly the step by step instructions needed. Been wanting to try this… now no excuses. ;D

  3. Great tutorial! Definitely going to try this! I am in love with your sneak peak holiday decor. Hope to see more of it soon!

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