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DIY Graphic Pillow-With or Without a Sewing Machine

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Today is a special day!  I have a very good friend visiting me all the way from Indiana.  It is non other than Nikki Frank Hamilton who blogs over at View From in Here.  Nikki has her own shop, the Make Lemonade Shop, where she makes handmade pillows and she is here to share a tutorial with us on how to make a DIY Graphic Pillow – with or without a sewing machine. And she is giving us the graphic for free here.  Nikki take it away!

I’ve always wanted to visit the Greece that Mary shares on her blog, haven’t you? The color of the sky and ocean is bluer than I’ve ever seen; and having the option of dipping my toes in the water while listening to the waves, or taking a drive up into the mountains, is so cool!

DIY Graphic Pillow - With Or Without a Sewing Machine, theboondocksblog
I haven’t been able to visit Mary in person sigh but I’m really happy to virtually hang out with her today in “The Boondocks”. Thanks for having me Mary, one of these days we’re going to do this face to face!

I’ve learned so much about Mary, since becoming fast friends, and if you read her blog these are things that you know too. First, Mary loves family, it’s her favorite thing-spending time with those she loves. Second, Creating/Repurposing is her talent. I’ve never known anyone who can create so much from so little. Her mind is amazing! And third, she loves surrounding herself with pretty things.​

DIY Graphic Pillow – Mary Style

Through the Make Lemonade Shop I hand-paint pillowcases with artist paints, they take several days to complete. Mary and I decided to collaborate-tying together all the things she loves with a Hand-painted Graphic Pillow Tutorial-Mary style. This project takes little time, it’s inexpensive and doesn’t require many supplies.

Use this pillow all year round or as holiday decor. Mary loves her holidays, gathering her family together to enjoy the celebrations. I’m right there with her. Is there anything better than decorating for the holidays, anticipating the time spent with those you love?

I think not! 

Today we’re going to create a DIY Graphic Pillow, quickly and easily. Add it to your holiday decor or give it as a gift. (Another thing Mary loves-checking things off her Christmas gift list early, I wish I was as organized!)

How to make a graphic pillow, DIY Graphic Pillow - With Or Without a Sewing Machine, theboondocksblog

DIY Graphic Pillow

One of the criteria for this project was cost, another was simplicity. You can make this graphic pillow design without using a sewing machine or Silhouette/Cricket. If you have either of those appliances this will be a quick project, but they’re not needed. 

And lastly, I wanted the pillow to be pretty. I love a great graphic on patterned fabric. It creates depth and interest. This pillow can be used throughout the year or holiday season. I chose “Gather” as the graphic and a pretty red scroll fabric. 
Supplies Needed, DIY Graphic Pillow - With Or Without a Sewing Machine, theboondocksblog

Supplies needed for DIY Graphic Pillow:

1/2 Fabric (45″ wide fabric for this example)
  • freezer paper
  • copy of graphic (8.5 x 11 for bolster or 11 x 17 for larger pillow)
  • X-acto stencil knife with a sharp blade
  • tape (masking or painters tape work well)
  • Tulip Fabric Crayons (come in a 2 pack, white and black)
  • Thread (match your fabric or use white thread)
  • Sewing Scissors
  • Iron
  • Poly-fill stuffing-16 oz. bag

Step One-Get Your Fabric Ready

Fold the 1/2 yard of fabric in half, as shown above. You can make 2 bolster pillows or one larger pillow. For this tutorial I made 2 bolster pillows, one for Mary and one for me. 

To make 2 bolster pillows cut your fabric in half so you now have 2 sets of fabric 18 inches wide and 11.25 inches tall. Each set will have a front and back piece.

Freezer Paper with Printable on top, DIY Graphic Pillow - With Or Without a Sewing Machine, theboondocksblog

Step Two-Make the Stencil

I use freezer paper to create stencils for graphic pillows. This paper can be ironed onto your fabric to create sharp, clear graphics.

Tear off 2 sheets of freezer paper, a bit larger than your graphic, lay them on top of each other with the shiny side down. This is a simple way to cut 2 stencils at the same time.

Center the graphic, DIY Graphic Pillow - With Or Without a Sewing Machine, theboondocksblog
Find the center of your graphic, drawing a line across horizontally and vertically. Do the same with your freezer paper. This helps to center your graphic so the word isn’t crooked on your fabric. 

Lay your freezer paper on a hard surface, I use a piece of plywood. Then secure it with tape after centering. 

Make sure that your exacto knife has a sharp blade, you’re cutting through 3 layers of paper. Clear crisp cut lines create a gorgeous graphic stencil. 

cut the lettering to make a stencil, DIY Graphic Pillow - With Or Without a Sewing Machine, theboondocksblog
Save the little pieces from the G, a and e. You will need these to complete the graphic. Gently pull the word gather out of each layer.  Viola! Now you have your stencils!

Step Three-Create Your Graphic

Find the center of your fabric by folding it in half and in half again. Lightly crease by drawing your finger over it so the lines are visible when you unfold the fabric.

Lay your stencil on top of the fabric, squaring it to ensure that your graphic is perfectly aligned. Having a crooked graphic can ruin your day. Not that I’ve done it, at least not more than once a few times.

place fabric underneath the stencil, DIY Graphic Pillow - With Or Without a Sewing Machine, theboondocksblog
Once you have your graphic centered, iron to the fabric with a medium-high heat iron. If your iron is too hot you’ll scorch the paper losing all the wax from the back of the paper and only be able to use the stencil one time. If ironed correctly you can reuse this stencil up to 3 times. Great for making several graphic pillows for holiday gift giving. 

Add the pieces into the G, a and e. Iron over the stencil. Make sure that the edges of the graphic are adhered well so the fabric crayon won’t seep under the edges, ruining your nice crisp lines. 

See the wrinkles in the paper below? This is how the freezer paper looks after it’s ironed on. Start ironing on the outside of the stencil, test the heat, adjust as needed. Then iron over the entire graphic. 

fabric crayons, DIY Graphic Pillow - With Or Without a Sewing Machine, theboondocksblog

Step Four-“Paint” the Graphic

Tulip Fabric Crayons are easy to use and make quick work of the graphic. If stencil is cut and adhered well, you get really crisp clear lines without any paint bleed through. 
These crayons are smudgable, which is great for getting crisp lines. 
Smudge fabric crayon onto fabric through the stencil, DIY Graphic Pillow - With Or Without a Sewing Machine, theboondocksblog
​Color in the stencil an inch at a time, then use your finger to smudge the crayon into the edges of the stencil. If you color in too large of an area it will dry and you won’t be able to smudge it. 

Finish coloring the entire stencil. 

coloring in the stencil, DIY Graphic Pillow - With Or Without a Sewing Machine, theboondocksblog

(As you can see I am using this stencil the second time to create another graphic pillow. If you’re on my Christmas list forget you saw this! LOL

One thing I love about freezer paper stencils, you can use them over and over. By cutting 2 stencils at once you can create 6 graphics, or pillow fronts. Yippee! ​

the lettering on the fabric, DIY Graphic Pillow - With Or Without a Sewing Machine, theboondocksblog

​To ensure the sharpness of the graphic color and smudge it twice. Then carefully remove your stencil-so you can use it again. 

Let dry for at least 24 hours, before ironing, to set the paint. If it’s not dry the crayon will smudge across your fabric. 

Lay a pressing cloth over the graphic and iron on high heat to set. 

sizing the fabric, DIY Graphic Pillow - With Or Without a Sewing Machine, theboondocksblog
Disclosure: The items below are affiliate links and link to If you purchase any of these products through the links, I receive a small commission, that way I can continue to provide you with lovely content.  There is no extra charge to you for purchasing through my affiliate links.

Step Five-Put it all together

Next, lay the front of the pillow-with the graphic-on top of the back piece, right sides of the fabric together. 

If using a sewing machine stitch 1/2 inch seam, leaving the ends open-as pictured above. Then zigzag stitch to finish the edges.

To hand sew, stitch the outer seams by hand, leaving the opening as above. Sew your stitches close together with the thread doubled for a stronger seam. You may want to stitch the seam twice for durability. 

sewing or gluing the fabric, DIY Graphic Pillow - With Or Without a Sewing Machine, theboondocksblog

​For sharp corners clip the tips, as shown above, do not cut your stitches.

Turn the pillowcase inside out, use a chopstick (or another pointed tool-knitting needle etc.) to push the corners out, for a nice square edge. 

Stuff the pillow, beginning with the corners at the bottom, fill them out nicely and then work your way to the top of the pillow. Push stuffing into the other 2 corners, then the middle area. 

(For directions on how to properly stuff a pillow click here.)

closing the pillow with stuffing in. DIY Graphic Pillow - With Or Without a Sewing Machine, theboondocksblog

Once you have the pillowcase filled, push the stuffing down a bit near the open seam. Fold over the edges of the fabric and pin together. 

In order to keep the seam flat, so you can stitch it, add another row of pins about an inch above the seam line. 

Then machine stitch 1/2 inch from the edge, or hand stitch the opening with a Hidden Stitch.​

Finished pillows, DIY Graphic Pillow - With Or Without a Sewing Machine, theboondocksblog

We’re finished!

Whoo Hoo! It took about an hour to create a Graphic Pillow for Mary and one for me. Twice as nice, eh? 

I love how the graphic looks on the printed fabric and really love that it costs about $10 to make both!


  • Fabric-half yard-$2.44
  • Stuffing-16 oz. bag-$3.50
  • Paint Crayons-pack of 2-$3.99 
  • Copy of graphic $.20

You could cross almost everyone off your Christmas list and make a few for yourself. Everyone needs a few gorgeous throw pillows, right? 

(Click here for a download of this exact graphic to make your own “Gather” graphic pillow.)


​Wow that was such a fun post.  And I love that I don’t need to use any special machines to get this great look.  Nikki knows me well, she knows that these fancy machines are not in my budget. In fact I have bought pillow from Nikki’s shop, you can see them here. 

Thank you Nikki for joining me here today with your very well written tutorial on how to make a DIY Graphic Pillow, with or without a sewing machine. Now I’ll have to go looking through my stash to find some pretty fabric so I can make one too. 

To see lots more pillows and pretty projects hop on over to Nikki’s blog View from In Here

 A step by step tutorial on how to make your own DIY graphic pillow without fancy machinery quickly and easy using a few supplies. DIY Graphic Pillow - With Or Without a Sewing Machine, theboondocksblog
If you like what you see, share it with your friends, or save it on Pinterest.  Above is a Pinterest worthy image!

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Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

Sunday 19th of November 2017

Hello - I wanted to let you know this post inspired me to make some very similar pillows for winter. Of course you will receive credit tomorrow for their big reveal! Thank you for the MANY ways you have inspired and encouraged me! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures


Sunday 19th of November 2017

Thank you Marci, that is such a nice thing to say. Nikki is so talented I also learned a lot from her and the tutorial.

Gail @Purple Hues and Me

Sunday 3rd of September 2017

I love these pillows, Nikki! And thanks for this awesome tutorial! I had never heard of paint crayons until now. They seem so much better that regular or fabric paint for stenciling! And it's so sweet of you to make a lovely pillow for Mary and one for you! What a great friendship you have with her!


Sunday 3rd of September 2017

Gail, thanks so much. Mary is a wonderful friend and I'm grateful for her! And she's so talented. You are right, for stencils these crayons are the best. One black crayon will do at least 4 pillow fronts. As long as the stencil is adhered to the fabric well these are perfect and make really nice clean lines. The freezer paper is great for this purpose and it's so much easier to cut smoothly than stencil plastic. I hope you try this, there are so many great words that you could use. I love a great graphic pillow!


Monday 4th of September 2017

Thank you Gail. You should come up and we could all hang out and drink coffee together and talk about pillows. :)


Monday 4th of September 2017

What a gorgeous pillow Nikki and Mary! White, red and black will be my holiday colors this year and I could see this on my sofa! I love your tutorial and the freezer paper trick on how to transfer letters is genius! I´d come and hang out with you ladies and try out all of the pillows no problem ;)


Monday 4th of September 2017

Katrin that trick with the freezer paper, I've never seen it before. I will definitely have to try it. We would love to have you join us, but I warn you we probably end up drinking too much coffee and yapping.


Monday 4th of September 2017

Katrin, we would have so much fun! BTW, if you try the freezer paper let me know, would love to see what you create. xx And I'm really excited to see your holiday decor.

Katerina Konstantinou

Monday 4th of September 2017

Wow this is so beautiful and I thought too hard to make but obviously I was wrong! Thanks ladies for a great tutorial!


Monday 4th of September 2017

Thank you Katerina. We are always learning new things from our friends. That is the beauty of blogging.


Monday 4th of September 2017

What a lovely idea. I love these super clear step by step instructions too. Fab.


Monday 4th of September 2017

Yes they are so clean that even I can do this! ;)

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