Friday, August 24, 2012

{DIY} Canvas Pillows with Painted Deco Design

Lately I have a total style crush on Caitlin Wilson.  She has this gorgeous collection of fabrics and ready-made pillows that are bright, cheerful, and just the perfect blend of contemporary and classic.  Plus she currently lives and works in Philadelphia, which will always have a piece of my heart.  

The gorgeousness, however, comes at a price.   Fabrics run $60 a yard and pillow covers are $55 each, and that's just a little much for me in a house very much lived in by toddlers.  I do have rules about where my girls eat and there are no open drinks anywhere other than the kitchen (for them, not me!) but I'm not a total monster and don't want to have anything so precious that I'll be devastated if it's stained or ruined.  So Caitlin Wilson will have to wait a few more years.

But that doesn't mean I can't fake it!  She makes these Deco Pillows in a variety of colors and I love the simple overlapping design around the edges.


I could certainly have copycatted this style even more closely by sewing ribbon trim around the edges of a pillow but I wanted to try hand-painting fabric, which I haven't done before, and this seemed a good opportunity to try it out.  

Truth be told, something about the background color on the peacock pillows I made in June was a little off paired with the fabric on the upholstered bench.  It was too stark a white and I found myself coming back again and again to the idea of doing something with canvas instead.  Earlier this week I bought a $17 cotton canvas drop cloth and sure enough, the color and linen-y texture were virtually an exact match to the oatmeal background color of the ikat bench fabric.  

I washed and dried the drop cloth then made two pillow covers out of the canvas fabric using the simple envelope closure technique described here and then sketched my design using pencil and a ruler directly onto the pillowcases.

All of the lines were 1/2" wide.  The squares at the corners were each spaced 3" from the pillow edges and were 3" wide.  The lines that extend out from the squares were 1" long.

Once the sketch was complete I got to taping off some of the edges.  I tried Frog Tape for the first time here since it's supposed to give very sharp edges.  I used the edge of a butter knife to really press the tape edges down into the fabric and the painted lines all came out very crisp. 

Michaels had no non-metallic grey fabric paint the day I was there so I bought a bottle of Linen (ivory) and a small bottle of Ebony (black).

I mixed black into the ivory a few drops at a time until I got the grey color I wanted.  I did find that the paint dried a bit darker than when it was wet so you may want to keep this in mind when choosing a color.

I painted the taped-off sections, then removed some of the tape and taped new parts of the design.  I had to do the taping and painting at intervals because there were times when I had to go over already painted parts, and that paint needed to be dry before I could continue.

I continued this process until the entire pattern had been painted, then removed all the tape and let it dry completely.


Once dry, I put the pillow forms inside the covers and placed them on the bench.  And I love them.  They look just like the Caitlin Wilson Deco pillow and the canvas and grey colors are perfect with the ikat bench fabric.

I think the geometric deco pattern is the perfect angular complement to the more rounded ikat design.

I recently sold our kitchen window valances and have been staring at bare windows for a few weeks now trying to decide which way I want to go with them.  I'm so happy with how this fabric painting project turned out, I think I may be jumping on the drop-cloths-turned-window-curtains bandwagon too.

And what about that poor discarded peacock fabric?  Not to worry, frugal ones...I have a plan!

Linking to The 36th Avenue, Tatertots & Jello, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Home Stories A 2 Z, and I Heart Naptime.


  1. Wow, Jennifer, these look amazing - love pillows with the Greek key design and yours look wonderful!! Happy Friday ~

  2. oh my gosh, fabulous! i think this is going into my projects folder!

  3. Oh, I love this. I was just looking at her pillows. You did a wonderful job. Great tutorial and photos, too!

  4. And she does it again! Goodness gracious you are amazing! They turned out so great!

  5. love love love this!! it's on the project list :)

  6. Wow Jennifer, you did an awesome job on these pillows! No one would guess they're homemade, I love DIY!

  7. Wow, I love these, Jennifer! what a great idea, your pillows turned out so great. Lidy

  8. So so pretty! I love the grey that you used. And the thinner tape makes them look so elegant!! Love them!!!



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