Simple Craft: Painterly Pillows

It’s no surprise that the painterly trend is a favorite of mine.  I love, love, love to have a paint brush in my hand, so any product that showcases a smear, streak, or brushstroke makes me h-a-p-p-y.

DIY Painterly Pillows | perfectly imperfect


I’ve been in a crafting mood lately, and have been inspired to work on projects along the way while I’m working on projects for the book.  Sometimes in styling for a shoot, I’ll decide I need a green vase or yellow flowers.  This week it was a painted pillow.  Specifically a gold polka dot pillow and another with some brushstrokes.

DIY Painterly Pillows | perfectly imperfect

I love this painterly pillow Kate designed, and Nester created one of her own, too.   Ashley created a lovely gold polka dot….there are some beautiful painted pillows out there.

DIY Painterly Pillows | perfectly imperfect

I wanted and needed these to be imperfect, which is lucky for me because I knew I couldn’t pull off hand-painted pillows perfectly.  I really needed a gold polka dot for the shoot I was working on, but I wanted big, painterly, imperfectly placed dots.

DIY Painterly Pillows | perfectly imperfect

That’s what I got.  Kaitlyn, our graphic design & photography intern asked me as I dipped my sponge into the paint, “do you ever get nervous before you paint or do something like this?” I smiled and laughed before I could help it, and told her that “no, this trial and error is fun for me.  Worst case scenario, I’ll always have another pillow.”

So when you tackle a project like this, if you’re the nervous type, just grab an extra so you have room to make mistakes.  And really, the mistakes are what will make it yours.

DIY Painterly Pillows | perfectly imperfect

I made several pillow covers that day, and thse were all the supplies I needed:

  • white pillow cover (got ours from Ikea)
  • latex paint (Valspar for Pantone in Emerald)
  • Martha Stewart for Plaid in Metallic Gold (or Royal Design Studio Stencil Cremes)
  • Martha Stewart Crafts Fabric Medium
  • Dot Stamping Sponge (Martha Stewart)
  • Stencil brushes or craft brushes
  • measuring spoon
  • bowl for mixing
  • mini stir stick

DIY Painterly Pillows | perfectly imperfect

People paint fabric with a lot of mediums, but I love using tintable Fabric medium by Martha Stewart Crafts…it just has the right body once mixed.  Not too thick, not too thin.  Plus, it can be any color, and then set with an iron.

To paint your own polka dot pillow:

1.  Start by washing your fabric.  This does two things: it removes the sizing which might prevent the paint from sticking and it does any shrinking of the fabric before you paint it and need to wash it again in the future.  I always wash things like pillow covers on warm so if spills come later, then I won’t shrink the cover by washing it.

DIY Painterly Pillows | perfectly imperfect

2.  Mix equal parts fabric medium to paint.  I used 2 teaspoons fabric medium to 2 teaspoons acrylic paint.

DIY Painterly Pillows | perfectly imperfect

3.  Stir it until it’s smooth and consistent.  It’s thin, but not watery.

DIY Painterly Pillows | perfectly imperfect

4.  Apply paint to your circle stamp.  Be sure to spread it thinly and scrape excess off with your stir stick.  This will give an imperfect dot, saturated in some areas and faded in others.  (We used a stamp for our project, but you could easily cut a circle out of foam, too.

DIY Painterly Pillows | perfectly imperfect

5.  Let it dry, and set the fabric paint with a warm iron before putting it on your pillow insert.  (I haven’t gotten around to this step yet, but I probably will eventually)

DIY Painterly Pillows | perfectly imperfect

That’s that!  And the pillow cover only cost $3, so it was a steal, and the possibilities are really endless.  P.S. I made the brushstroke pillow by simply painting abstract lines on the pillow…don’t worry about taping them off.  Just have fun with projects like these!

Hope you have a good one today, friends!

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7 Responses to Simple Craft: Painterly Pillows

  1. Jenifer September 25, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    LOVE the painted pillows and that the girl ain’t afraid to mix paint in her Antrhopology bowl!! haha!!! Shaunna…I have to tell you…I am SUCH A HUGE FAN! :) Not the stalker kind, but almost. Cuz I totally would be if I lived closer….I would be in your shop like… every day!!! ;) I was taking a furniture painting class last night with one of my dear friends and she told me she was a friend of yours! Ashley Glover spoke very highly of you and I had to agree..from what I know from your blogworld. I begged her to introduce me to you or at least get me an autograph ;) Are you blushing yet? ha ha Small world. Just wanted you to know I am truly inspired by your work and career. You go girl! Can’t wait for your book to come out! HAPPY WEDNESDAY!!!

  2. Melinda @ love melinda September 25, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    Love the handcrafted look of these. And I agree that the imperfections are what make each one uniquely yours. Thanks for sharing!

  3. modern jane September 25, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

    So simple and cute! I can’t believe you mixed paint in those pretty bowls! Ha.. just kidding:)

  4. Debbie September 25, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

    Love them! I think I can do this :)

  5. Mary Hill September 25, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

    Great ideals and thinking Christmas stenciled pillows. Love the pillows but have to paint two bathrooms first!! Thanks again.

  6. Richard Tooley September 26, 2013 at 7:57 am #

    All of this looks great. You know what caught my eye though? The multi-colored backboard behind the couch/bed (what are those called?). I really like that.

  7. James Scott September 27, 2013 at 9:01 am #

    Some great DIY pillow designs here. Will probably have a go at making some this weekend.

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