DIY Painted Chevron Pillow

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap  —  June 1, 2011 — 6 Comments

First off, a big thank you goes out to all of you who have entered the first ever giveaway so far! It is so nice to hear from some of you who have never commented before, and I am so touched by all of the positive feedback. Thank you so much! If you haven’t entered yet, be sure to do so by tomorrow night!

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I’ve been really digging the look of chunky chevron lately, and ever since Sherry Petersik introduced me to the concept of painting fabric I’ve been totally obsessed with the idea of painting blue chevron stripes onto a throw pillow.

I dug through the big pile of off-white fabric I got at an estate sale a while back and pulled out two different colored pieces to compare in their soon-to-be natural habitat.

I like the lighter colored one better, so I cut two 18″ by 18″ squares from it. This fabric is really old and far from pristine, so I just aimed for the least-stained areas and chalked the rest up to character.

Then I used a fabric marking pencil I got at Hancock Fabrics to make a grid of dots 3″ apart from one another. You can see them if you really squint in the photo below. I used my handy cardboard mat thingy to help me cut straight lines and mark my grid. Apparently it’s supposed to be used for drafting patterns, but as my fabric was thin enough to see the lines through I found it really helpful for this purpose.

I used the lines on my cardboard mat once again as a guide to connect my dots in a chevron pattern. Resume squinting.

Next, I mixed various paint colors together in a plastic cup until I had what I thought was the perfect hue, being sure to mix up plenty so I wouldn’t run out and have to recreate my genius. Then I dumped about half of the textile medium ($1.50 at Hobby Lobby and found near the craft paints) into the cup (side note: this is where I wish I’d done things differently. See end of post for regrets).

I used a small sponge brush to start filling in my lines. I just flipped my cardboard mat over to paint on.

I didn’t take a picture after the first coat had dried and I wish that I had. The first coat left some thin spots. I thought I could get away with just filling in the light areas since I was using flat paint, but it ended up looking really uneven. So I hand washed the piece (to avoid crazy edge-fraying) and hung it to dry, hoping the discrepancies would fade, but no luck. I decided then to paint over all of the stripes again, and it looked a little better, but still kinda funky. I washed and dried again and I’m convinced that this is as good as it gets, but I wish I’d just left it with some light spots after the first coat. It looked kind of vintage and weathered anyway.

Despite the kind-of-obvious painted effect, I’m digging the color and pattern big time.

In the past, I’ve always made pillows with an envelope closure on the back, but it never works out quite right for me, and I don’t find myself taking the pillow covers off to wash often anyway, so I decided to throw cleanliness to the wind and just sew this baby up on all four sides. It was sew so so so much easier and less stressful. I just placed the two pieces right sides together and sewed up three sides on my machine, then left a gap in the middle of the fourth side. I ran my machine back and forth a few times over the edges of the gap to reinforce it.

I laid it out flat and trimmed the excess fabric from the corners, then turned the whole thing inside out and used the tip of a pencil to point the corners out so they were nice and crisp.

Next up was stuffing my insert inside, which I poached from another pillow I had fallen out of love with. At this point I regretted making my opening so small, but with some persistence and elbow grease it all worked out.

And finally, I used some white thread to sew up the opening by hand.

And here it is in our bedroom! I really love the graphic contrast it provides to some of the more frilly elements, such as the ruffled shams and floral hope chest.

Here’s my list of regrets:

  • I should have followed the actual instructions on the bottle of textile medium and mixed it in a 1:1 ratio to the paint. I didn’t want to use up the whole bottle, but I could have just used a little paint at a time to mix up what I needed. I ended up with paint that wasn’t quite as fabric-friendly as it could have been and plenty left over.
  • I should have just left it at one coat. It got stupid looking after that. Maybe that wouldn’t have happened if I’d used the proper amount of textile medium.
  • I should have made the opening to stuff my insert in a little bigger. It was like reverse childbirth trying to get that thing in there, and I ripped the fabric a little. Fortunately, I was able to mend it when I sewed up the opening by hand.

So there’s my first fabric-painting adventure! Despite my missteps, I feel like there’s real potential for this technique. The chance to adorn plain ol’ fabric with whatever patterns or images I can create by hand opens up a brave new world of handicrafts!

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap


6 responses to DIY Painted Chevron Pillow

  1. What a good way to mask/make use of old fabric that you’re not quite sure what to do with anymore, but don’t really want to part ways with.

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