With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, it’s the time of year when our thoughts turn to love…or, at the very least, a desperate need for mid-winter change. If you’re looking for a way to decorate for the Valentine’s holiday this year, or if you’d like to surprise someone special with a customized gift, this is the project for you: a DIY (obviously) text-printed throw pillow.

The end result is personal and versatile in a variety of home décor styles – farmhouse, contemporary, shabby chic, eclectic, traditional, modern…you name it. And the best news is, it’s not hard. Does the project take a little time? Yes, depending on the size of your stencil and the text of your pillow’s message. Other than that, though, it really doesn’t get simpler than this project.

DIY Level: Beginner

  • Materials Needed:
  • Black fine-tipped fabric marker (recommend Pigma Micron fine line pens – no bleeding, steady ink flow, and overall very easy to work with)
  • Stencil (size of your choice)
  • Prewashed fabric for pillow cover (example uses a canvas dropcloth remnants)
  • Pillow form

Step 1: Cut fabric.

This pillow requires three pieces of fabric of your choice. We recommend something heavier weight and neutral with a bit of visible weave, such as linen, canvas, or cotton drop cloths. Cut one piece square, 1” bigger than the size of your pillow form (a 15”x15” square for a 14” pillow). Cut two pieces about 2/3 the width of your pillow form but the same height as your first square (two pieces cut about 10”x15”).

Step 2: Start stenciling.

Set the two smaller fabric pieces aside and set the larger square fabric in front of you. Grab your letter stencil and fabric marker. Leaving about 1/2″ border, begin stenciling your text. Tip: Trace the edge of the stencil letter with your maker, then fill/color it in before you move the stencil.

As you stencil in your letters, continually reference your position with both the immediately surrounding letters and those a few rows above. This will keep your text moving in straight lines. Although slight imperfections are part of the hand-printed charm, you probably don’t want to end up with completely slanted text lines. Tip: One benefit of using a fabric with visible weave is that you can use that weave as your guide for text lines.

You’ll probably notice occasional lint (is that what it is?) buildup on your marker tip. Not to worry.

Simply roll the tip on a piece of paper to “solidify” the lint piece.

It will either come off on the paper, or you can use your fingernails to carefully remove the lint from the marker tip. Be careful not to damage the tip itself. Tip: For this larger size of stencil, I found best results with the 0.50MM tip size. Feel free to play around with what gives you the best results.

Step 3: Continue stenciling.

This isn’t hard – it’s actually kind of therapeutic, and particularly enjoyable if you’re working with lyrics or text that you love – but it does take a bit of time. Just know that going in, and enjoy the process. Tip: Decide beforehand if you want to complete each word at the end of the line, or if you’re okay with an unmarked continuation of the word onto the next line. Whatever your preference, just be consistent the whole way down.

Step 4: Prepare for sewing machine.

Following the general guidelines of this tutorial (Stefan: link to DIY Envelope Pillow here), you’ll be sewing your text front into an envelope-style throw pillow cover. In a nutshell, you will sew finish seams on one long side of each of your smaller fabric pieces.

Lay your text square down, text-side-up.

Take one smaller fabric piece and lay it, right-side-down, on top of the text fabric square, with the finished seam over the text and the opposite raw edge lined up with the text square raw edge. Lay the second smaller fabric piece, also right-side-down with finished seam over part of the first smaller fabric piece, on top of the text fabric square, on the other end. Tip: Your entire text square should be covered by the two overlapping smaller pieces, all right sides facing inward and raw edges aligned. Pin all raw edges.

Step 5: Sew sides (raw edges) together.

This is the step where the pillow cover itself actually comes together. Sew 1/2″ seams around all four sides, making sure everything is pinned and lying flat and square as you go. Tip: Fabrics with visible weaves tend to fray easily. For this reason, we recommend adding a zigzag stitch around the very edges to minimize fraying later on.

Step 6: Flip pillow cover right-side-out.

You’re practically done! Tip: Clip the inside corners before you flip it right-side-out, being careful to avoid clipping your seams. Simply turn your pillow cover right-side-out and insert your pillow form.

Step 7: Vola! Sit back and enjoy.

“Your Song” lyrics happen to be meaningful for me and my family, and I think they work perfectly for Valentine’s Day as well.

Benefits of a hand-printed text pillow:

  • Makes a great gift (to yourself or someone else!).
  • Completely customizable. We all know personal gifts are the best.
  • Combines well with other pillows.
  • Goes with all styles of home décor.

Well, there you have it. We hope you enjoy making this text pillow for a Valentine’s Day gift this year!

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