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Designing Art Pillows with Painting and a Sewing Machine

Updated on June 3, 2014

Art Pillows with Painting and a Sewing Machine

Designing Art Pillows with Painting and a Sewing Machine. I like to spend time relaxing by designing and creating art projects. I enjoy sewing, painting, and most things that are artistic. One of the projects I am working on include both painting and sewing. I have painted fabric in the past with no specific plan for what to do with it after the painting was completed. This time I decided to paint on muslin, and embellish my painting with sewing some decorative stitching afterward.

Once the decorative stitching is done I then made the paintings into decorative pillows. The first thing I did was to draw out the picture on the muslin. I pinpointed the center of the fabric which measured 20 x 20 inches a good size for a decorative pillow. My goal was to have a finished pillow size of 18 x 18 inches a standard pillow form size or it could be filled with polyester fiber after sewing. I usually prefer the polyester fiber, it is easy to work with and discrepancy in the size are easily filled in with the product. I also makes it easy to overfill the pillow for an extra fluffy loft and add a bit of luxury to the entire pillow. The by hand sewing the end to close the opening it is finished.

I start by deciding my colors first and think of a design of a picture I want to put on the front side of my pillow. If I have an idea of the design for example my home decorating theme is coastal since I live near the Gulf of Mexico. I generally type in a search for some line drawing of sea creatures and then as I draw them onto the muslin fabric add my own interpretation of the design. I generally add a playfulness to my art and usually choose colors that are beach colors. So I use a lot of blue, tan, and teal in my actual painting.

Your Art Design Items

Aunt Martha's Iron On Transfer Patterns for Stitching, Embroidery or Fabric Painting, Days of the Week Patterns, Set of 5
Aunt Martha's Iron On Transfer Patterns for Stitching, Embroidery or Fabric Painting, Days of the Week Patterns, Set of 5

Aunt Martha's iron on transfers are great for this project. If you need a little help with and idea or pattern, just a hot iron and a transfer will get this project going in minutes.

Aunt Martha's 28-Inch by 28-Inch Flour Sack Dish Towels, Premium 130 Thread Count, White, Set of 7
Aunt Martha's 28-Inch by 28-Inch Flour Sack Dish Towels, Premium 130 Thread Count, White, Set of 7

Kitchen towels are also fun to paint. They add to your kitchen décor and are great to paint on anytime. Give them as gifts or make the for yourself in your special colors.

Royal & Langnickel RSET-9158  Royal Zip N' Close Gold Taklon Clear Acrylic Handle Detail 7-Piece Brush Set
Royal & Langnickel RSET-9158 Royal Zip N' Close Gold Taklon Clear Acrylic Handle Detail 7-Piece Brush Set

A great variety of paint brushes is a must for this project. You will need a range of sizes and texture, Buy them in an economy pack.

Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, CS6000i, 60 Built-In Stitches, 7 styles of 1-Step Auto-Size Buttonholes, Wide Table, Hard Cover, LCD Display and Auto Needle Threader
Brother Sewing and Quilting Machine, CS6000i, 60 Built-In Stitches, 7 styles of 1-Step Auto-Size Buttonholes, Wide Table, Hard Cover, LCD Display and Auto Needle Threader

This is one of the Brother Sewing Machine I own. I love it!. Economical and good for all of your home sewing arts and crafts projects.

Sailing Ships Paintings and Drawings
Sailing Ships Paintings and Drawings

Get a good line drawing clip art book for ideas. There are many varieties of books Amazon has a great selection.


Let's Get Started!

Getting Started With Painting and Sewing - Paint your first pillow

I use craft paint and dilute the color to a very think consistency. It gives the painting a watery look which is perfect for my beach themed pillows. I carefully paint the designs to the lines of my drawings and since they are a bit watery the colors tend to run a way past the drawing. I use this as a way to blend different colors together and the result is a painting which is watery looking and when it dries the paint is not stiff. The craft paint I use is acrylic and water-based so when thinned down it acts like water color paint.

My color selection of paints is a collection I made over the last several years for various projects I do while crafting. I first take a piece of muslin fabric and pin it to an old pizza box top with straight pins. This make drawing very easy and when the paint is applied the cardboard soaks up any excess water in the paint. I use a large selection of paint brushes to paint on the fabric, so of course tiny brushes for tiny spaces and larger ones for other spaces. I use a nice stiff brush to stipple the surface of some of my painting to give it texture and use a slightly darker color on the brush. I find that when I pounce the tip of the brush onto the picture it hide any flaw or mistake I make at the same time.

For my final step I use 2 sharpie permanent markers one with a fine tip and the other with a regular tip. I use the markers to trace the edges of the drawing to give it more shape. Since the paint tends to have a mind of it's own the marker redefines the original shape of my drawing. If you are not good at drawing on the fabric another alternate technique I use are Aunt Martha's iron on embroidery designs. They are very inexpensive and they can five you a place to start painting in a matter of minutes. You simply place them face down on your fabric and use a hot iron to transfer the design to the fabric. A printed picture can be traced out onto the fabric using carbon paper as well.

After sewing the two sides together I have created a beautiful pillow.

Finishing Your Art Design

Tips for Painting and Using A Sewing Machine

Paint and Stitching a Mixed Art

If you are an experience painter or a beginner this is an easy project to make start with your art gallery or find a design you want to paint. When I complete my painting I make sure that the fabric is loosened from the cardboard I used for painting. Simply reach you hand under the fabric while it is still pinned to the cardboard to be sure it will not stick when dry. I usually do this several times during the drying process.

The next steps involve sewing on a sewing machine. For my final touch to the picture on the muslin I take another piece of muslin with a layer of fusible pellon or other fusible interfacing material and iron it to the backside of my painting. So first, I fuse the interfacing to the backside of the painting and then use another piece of muslin the same size and the one I painted and pin it to the back of the picture with the fusible interfacing sandwiched in between.

The I use the sewing machine and choose a decorative stitch to add another layer of interest to my painting. It can be done in an area of the painting or to edge the perimeter of the painting. I use the a similar color thread to stitch the decorative design onto the picture. The final step is to add another piece of fabric to the front of the picture fabric facing the right side to the painting and then stitching a straight stitch to create the pillow. I always back stitch from the beginning of my sewing turning at each corner and back stitch at the end. I leave an open area for my stuffing material to be placed inside after turning the pillow right side out. Then the opening of the pillow is closed with hand sewing to securely to close the open portion and the pillow is finished.

TIP: Start your sewing from the middle of one edge of the pillow so you have all four corners nicely stitched at 90 degree angles. This will make the hand-stitching easier.

Getting High Quality Muslin on Amazon - Very Economical

CRAFTY CUTS 2-Yards Muslin Fabric, Muslin
CRAFTY CUTS 2-Yards Muslin Fabric, Muslin

Inexpensive fabric is hard to find, but muslin is an excellent choice to paint and economical


Please Leave a Comment

Have you or are you planning to paint fabric?

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      looks very artistic !..brilliant !

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 

      5 years ago from Kansas

      I've painted fabric before on t-shirts. I'm wanting to do some dye painting on silk scarves. Trying to find some good do-it-yourself resources. I've not thought about painting and sewing on fabric together. What a great idea!


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