DIY: Stencil Text on Fabric

Have you tried fabric markers yet? I finally got around to it, and they work great. Paired with a stencil you can use them to stencil your favorite quote on a tea towel, apron, t-shirt, table runner, pillow cover, place mat, cloth napkin, old pair of blue jeans—anything you can think of!

Supplies:
fabric item you want to stencil on (this shop has some great linen pillow covers)
some cardboard
a pencil
a letter stencil (I have this one.)
a fabric marker (I loved my black Sharpie fabric marker!)

DIY stencil throw pillow

After choosing your quote, wrap your fabric over the cardboard to keep the marker from bleeding through and to keep the fabric stretched out smooth.

Use a pencil to stencil your quote onto the fabric. If you mess up the spacing you can erase the pencil lines and redo them. You can’t fix mistakes when you’re using the fabric marker, so don’t skip the pencil step.

Once you’ve penciled everything in, go at it with your fabric marker! I found it easiest to use the stencil for the outline of each letter, and then remove the stencil to fill the letters in.

The Sharpie fabric marker packaging didn’t say anything about heat setting the ink, but I will probably press my fabric before I wash it, just to be safe.

164 thoughts on “DIY: Stencil Text on Fabric

  1. heather leigh

    perfect! this couldn’t be more spot on for me right now. i was just looking all over etsy for some new pillow covers and i love this style :) all of your tutorials are so lovely.

  2. Faith | Ordinary Mommy Design

    That looks incredible! Thanks for sharing your process!

    Also, have you done a home tour post in the past? If not I’m loving all the glimpses of your home in the background and would love to see more if you’re not adverse to sharing. :)

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      Well, I haven’t done an all-at-once home tour, just a room here and there. But I do have something special up my sleeve! ;)

  3. Christina @ open studio

    This is such a great idea! I’m always on the lookout for unique pillows, but never thought of making my own with a fabric marker. Also, what kind of camera did you use to take these photos? I love the soft light and tones to all of your photos!

  4. Tiffany

    What a great idea, I love it! And I would never pay that much (or anything close to that much) for a pillow! Thanks for the inspiration :)

  5. Becky!

    Love it! For sure adding this to my DIY board on pinterest. I really do think you have the best DIY stuff. I’ve made your recipes and done your crafts and you are good at what you do.

  6. Angela Orr

    Hi…LOVE your pillow so much I couldnt read the first few lines but I love what its saying could you tell me the whole thing reads..Thanks again for the awesome idea~Angela

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      Sure, it says “We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” (The quote is by Dr. Seuss.)

  7. Jt

    i want to try this. What a great personalized gift! I’Ve used permanent marker on fabric andwashed it with no heat setting before but never can be to careful.

  8. paige

    this is fabulous!! i’m a huge fan of all things from that particular line but LOVE that you shared a tip on how to create our own!!!

  9. anneye

    can you share how you get the spacing between each letter and word correct? do you measure a space between each letter and word? what spacing did you use? that’s the part i’d be worried i’d screw up… :) thanks for sharing your insights!

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      I didn’t really have a special measuring technique, I just kind of eyed it. :) If you look closely there are a lot of words on my pillow that have messed up spacing, but I figure imperfections are the beauty of making something by hand! I just stenciled the letters on roughly with pencil first, and then as I went back and stenciled with the marker I made changes if necessary based on the pencil lines. Hopefully that helps!

  10. amyp

    I love this beautiful idea, and equally love your comment prompt. I’m definitely going to be a regular reader.

    xx amyp

  11. Tracy

    this is a great idea! LOVE IT! love this blog. thank the heavens for ETSY, that’s how i found you. ;)

  12. Mallory

    Great tutorial! I used to do something similar, but free-hand, with Sharpies onto my jeans. Over many washings, it did fade, but I never heat-set it either.

  13. Rebecca

    I have a question that will show my complete ignorance on all things crafty… what exactly is a pillow cover and where do I get one? Is it something I have to stuff and sew shut?

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      A pillow cover is like a pillow case but for throw pillows—you don’t sew it shut. You can buy a pillow form at most fabric stores for stuffing. I included a link to the shop where I bought my pillow cover above in the post.

  14. Meghan

    I was just wondering do you buy a pillow case for a certain pillow or do you just make a pillow out of the pillow case itself? You could do either or I am guessing.

  15. Mari

    So awesome! Nicely done. I also came across this super cute DYO pillows on thegoodiebag.com. Bubbles, Tag Wall , Hearts, and more.

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      I used a 1.25″ stencil. The link to the stencil I used is included above.

  16. Amanda

    I really loved your pillow tutorial, so I bought the fabric sharpie markers, the stencil, and lots of linen (I want to make a couple of different pillows), and I’m mid-way through my first one. It’s looking great so far, but I’ve already used almost the entire blue marker! I was just wondering if you used more than one marker? Your letters are so dark and perfect, and to get mine to look like that I’ve had to go over it a couple of times.
    Thanks!
    Amanda

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      My black marker was able to do the whole pillow and never ran out of ink. I wonder if the blue ink isn’t as dark, so you have to use more ink to get good coverage? The black one covered in one coat mostly, and I only had to touch up a few places.

  17. Wine Harlots

    What a great idea.
    I love words on anything, and I’m with you, more than $100 for a pillow seems kinda steep. This way it’s totally custom.
    Thanks so much for tip.

    All the best,

    Nannette Eaton

  18. Sue

    I adore this! I want to stencil words onto quilt squares and was wondering if you think that this is something that would hold up well to a lot of washes?
    Thanks!

    1. christine

      OMG! Making this into a quilt is a FANTABULOUS idea!!! I have been saving little pieces of paper with quotes for the longest time. And large shams to match. I have a new project!!!!

    2. Nana Jo

      Sue, make sure it’s a fabric pen. I used a fabric pen (fine point) on my grandson’s quilt to sign it. It’s been washed a few times and the ink looks good as new.

  19. Claire

    I recently came across your blog via design sponge and I have enjoyed reading your back list of posts…

    Mabel completely caught my eye in this one though… what breed is she? She is adorable.

    Congrats on the 1000 orders. I’ll be sure to order something one day. Assuming you post to UK. I’ve been admiring the hive print

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      Mabel is a schnauzer/poodle mix. Isn’t she the cutest? Oh, and I do ship to the UK. :)

    2. Claire

      Absolutely the cutest. Will get my wish list sorted! Thanks for the Lullatone music link. Perked up the remaining hours of my work day no end.

  20. Lucy

    I LOVE your work, your photography and your blog – thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
    I’ve just move to the US from Australia and trying to figure out which direction I want to take my passion and education in design and although I’m swimming with ideas and still unsure, you’re a great inspiration!

    Creative juice is infectious!

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      My quote says: “We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” ― Dr. Seuss

    2. Suzie

      What a cute quote! I almost cry every time I read DR. Seuss’ Birthday Book. Maybe something from that book will be worthy of a pillow or something else…

  21. Summer Gray

    Love your idea! You’re right $150 is steep for a pillow, although I seem to remember Carrie Bradshaw owning a $300 pillow. haha Nice job and thanks for sharing! Totally want to do one of my own now!

  22. Tina

    Thank you so much for this, i made one for my son, for his birthday/first rental home. I did mine on calico and instead of using pencil lines (cause wasn’t game to see if they would rub out on calico), I cut a 2cm strip of masking tape and used it as my guide line. I would like to post it on my blog and link to your blog, if you’re ok with that? I plan to make some more, might play around with the fonts too. One very cool idea!

  23. Heather

    Hey! I love this idea, but i was wondering if you wrote directly on the pillow or if the cover came off your pillow for you to write on it?

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      I purchased just a pillow cover to stencil on. I later purchased a pillow form from the fabric store to stuff the pillow cover with.

  24. Kathy

    Love that pillow…but can’t find the Sharpie fabric pen??
    Have been to JoAnns, Michaels and Craft and Stuff..Where did you get yours and do you think it will work on burlap?
    Thanks!!!

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      I found my Sharpie fabric pen at Office Depot, and they also have them on amazon.com. I don’t know if they will work on burlap or not, but it’s worth a try!

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      Since it’s a fabric marker it should be washable. I would iron it to heat set it first, just to be safe.

  25. Barbara Gregg

    They make a marking marker that you can pick up at the fabric section of a hobby/craft shop. The one I have makes a purple line, but will fade after a wash. I think I’ll try that when I do one. Thanks for the idea!!!

  26. Jennifer Anderson

    I love this idea. Its so simple. I plan to make one with things my Mom used to say, something cool to remember her by! Thanks for the idea.

  27. Shanna

    Does anyone know of a good/cheap place to buy linen fabric or pillow covers? I plan to make a few also, but with song lyrics.

    1. Sally

      I got mine at JoAnn Fabrics.. I bought mine today & the linen was $9.99 a yd but being a pillow I didn’t pay much since I didn’t need that much. They didn’t have covers so will sew my own. I got 2 different colors one for each side. Am doing song lyrics for my grand daughter’s bed.

  28. Tere

    Thank you – This is a wonderful project I plan on soon. I have material that needs attention :)

    This makes me happy!
    take care –

  29. christine

    I look at the Viva Tera pillow all the time and this is the perfect solution for not spending a ton of money! Thank you thank you thank you!!!

  30. CherylK

    I saw this done on canvas as wall hangings and loved it. I actually took photos of them for reference but wasn’t sure how to proceed..thanks for this great tutorial!!

  31. Tricia

    A great (inexpensive) fabric option if you are doing a large project or multiple pillows is a fabric drop cloth. They come in various weights and sizes and have a natural, rustic finish.

    Looking forward to making these~

  32. CodyLynn

    this is a great idea!My best friend is getting married in a few months and i am making her and her husband a blanket for their wedding gift. I was going to sow on a quote i found for her and after several failed attemps at sowing words on straight i almost gave up. Do you think that a fabric marker would work on a large throw blanket? will the ink wash out? If you could get back to me on this it would be much help. Thanks

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      She’s a schnauzer/poodle mix, and the sweetest dog you can possibly imagine!

  33. Aglae

    Hi! i love it!, I was wondering if a sharpie permanent pen would work nice on the fabric, its kind of hard finding fabric markers in México. Have a great day!

  34. Sarah

    Hey! I made this cushion yesterday with a different Dr Seuss quote and I lovee it! Thanks for the great idea and clear instructions :) xo

  35. Mark

    Hi!

    This is very inspirational and useful for a student with a small budget. Do you think the sharpie fabric markers would work on a polyester cushion, or should I try to get a linen one??

    Thanks :)

  36. Krista

    Love this idea! Do you think you can do this on a store bought pillow instead of stuffing it yourself?

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      You can do it on a purchased pillow cover, that’s what I did. You will need to stencil on a pillow cover with no stuffing insert so you can have a flat surface to work on. A pre-stuffed pillow won’t work unless you can remove the stuffing temporarily while you work.

  37. Jenn

    Love love LOVE this! How crafty! I am a writer not an artist but, when the 2 find eachother…watch out world! =) (I see ol’ Wal-MArt has the Sharpie Fabric Markers now too!!!)

  38. Bridget

    Just ordered a set of fabric markers, stencils and some framed canvas from dick blicks website! So excited. Im going to stencil our wedding song on three 10×10 canvas squares for over our bed. I also got some exta canvas to make one for my sisters wedding gift. Want to try the pillow at some point too. Thanks for the inspiratipn!

  39. melissa

    This is wonderful and I’d love to try it, but I’m curious about one thing: how did you know how much space to allow for each letter/word/line? It’s so well done, but I’m afraid my lettering might come out wonky.

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      I just eyed the letter spacing. If you look closely there are a lot of words on my pillow that have messed up spacing, but I figure imperfections are the beauty of making something by hand! I just stenciled the letters on roughly with pencil first, and then as I went back and stenciled with the marker I made changes if necessary based on the pencil lines. Hopefully that helps!

  40. wenda

    Yay I love this so much. I stencilled a calico cushion cover i made for my sister’s birthday with a quote she really liked, and she loved it so much!!! So a huge thank you for such a great idea!!

  41. Laura

    Love this. It looks so nice on linen. I think I now have some wedding gifts figured out. Thanks

  42. Megan and Emily @WhimsicallyHomemade

    Hey there! Just wanted to let you know we featured you in our Favorite Find Fridays post over at Whimsically Homemade. We used one of your pictures. If that’s a problem let us know and we’ll remove it immediately. Thanks for your great inspiration!

  43. Karen

    I loved this pillow & also thought the price was out of sight. So happy I found your tutorial. I will use it.

  44. Ashley

    I just finished my first pillow case and I’m obsessed! I’m getting married in September and I’m making about 6 of them for the benches in the barn, they will be something I will have forever! Some say our names with our wedding date and others will have love quotes! Thanks so much for this wonderful idea!

  45. Karen

    Can you tell me what size pillow cover (18×18 or 20×20) & what size stencil you used? I really love this & no you are not the only one who thought the price of this pillow was redic. I pinned it so as not to forget about it. (I am quite elderly) but do want to do this for my new bedroom.

  46. Becky

    Can you please tell me where you found the 1.25″ stencil. I have look all over the internet. Thank you for the help.

  47. Amelia

    I love this idea! I am going to make one as a graduation gift! I was just wondering about the pillow case – if I order a 20×20 case, should I order a 20×20 pillow to fill it? I read somewhere that the insert should be slightly smaller, is this true?

  48. Linda

    Can’t wait to make one for my daughter. She has quotes and lines from screenplays all over her apartment. Hope mine turns out as beautifully as yours. Thanks for the tutorial.

  49. Kristen

    I clicked on this on pinterest because this is one of my favorite quotes in the whole wide world. I’m so glad you used this – it made my day. Thanks :)

  50. Sue Nelson

    What a fabulous idea – so creative. Thank you for the info – I plan on making a few for my daughters as gifts, they will love them.

  51. Annfill

    Thanks for the great idea. Your dog is adorable and matches your decor perfectly.

  52. Vicky

    It’s great! I love the idea but there are two questions:
    1) What’s the quote you wrote on the pillow?
    2) Can I use something else insted of fabric maker and letter stencil?
    My parents won’t let me buy that and I’m 12 years so I can’t ignore them (I’m out of money)…

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      The quote I used on the pillow is right here: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show/470633

      I can’t really think of a substitute for a fabric marker and a letter stencil for this project. They are kind of the essence of the whole project. :) If you have really neat handwriting maybe you could skip the stencil and just write on the fabric. You could try using a regular permanent marker rather than a fabric marker, but it may fade more when you wash it.

  53. Patsy

    Thank you so much for sharing this, it is my next craft project. This is such a wonderful pillow and the picture with your doggie is adorable!

  54. erinn stine

    love this idea!!! where did you get the other pillow in the photo? it is too cute!

  55. Estefania

    Amanda im inspired by your work, truly awesome! i already bought some material for my new pillow :) i wanted to ask you about your website theme…i just started a website on my own for my cartoons and photography (no open to the public yet) i would love to know how you made your theme! If you could please get back to me it would be so appreciated! keep up the hard work!

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      Have fun making your pillow! :) I made my theme in WordPress. I started with a very basic free theme and edited the CSS and PHP to make it my own.

  56. Stephanie

    I am just moving into my first house in a few weeks and I have been looking for some unique DIY things to do to make our new house a home. We are not married yet but we do have two cute little pups! Looking forward to making one of these and thanks so much for the inspiration!

  57. KC

    I am leaving my current job of 7 years for another and was trying to think of a great idea to give to close friends at work. I love this idea and think i’ll use it. Thanks for the great, easy, short tutorial.

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