DIY: Stencil Text on Fabric

January 16th, 2012

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!

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.


  1. Such an amazing tutorial! I can’t wait to try this one out. Your pillow looks amazing.

  2. I love all your tutorials… this one turned out so well, too! thanks for sharing.

  3. Phyllisa

    Great idea! And, yes! $159 is toooooo much for a pillow, and such a simple one too!

  4. looks sooo good :) want one too

  5. 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.

  6. Such a great idea. The quote seems lovely too (what I can see of it!). Bless little Mabel – so cute :)

    Emma x

  7. 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. :)

    • Amanda (wit & whistle)

      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! ;)

  8. That is such a great idea, and it is so simple too. I can’t wait to try it out myself.

  9. This is such an amazing idea, yet so simple. I am definately going to add this to my decor.

  10. I can’t wait to get home and try this!! Love this look but always find cushions so so over priced! Thanks :)

  11. eva

    Great idea! Great implementation! Thank you for sharing!

  12. I love how simple but effective this is. Thanks so much for sharing and inspiring!

  13. I must say that your pillow looks much better. I might have to add this to my list of DIY projects

  14. Brilliant! This looks so perfect.

  15. Love this! I’ve been painting fabric a lot lately but never thought to write a quote. *head slap*

    You’re brilliant!

  16. 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!

  17. I love it! it’s so cute! I’ve been wanting to do a pillow cover for a while!!

  18. 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 :)

  19. This is great. I’ve actually been thinking of a way to do this and now I know :-) Adorable blog, I’m going to read more of it!

  20. so simple, but so stunning! can’t wait to make one!

  21. Julie

    Wonderful and with so many possibilities! Thank you!

  22. This is gorgeous! I love how it turned out and want to try this myself.

  23. Oh I know what I am going to do while I’m snowed in!!! I just adore this pillow!

  24. This is adorable! Can’t wait to try it out.

  25. I love this idea! This pillow looks like it came from a high end store!

  26. 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.

  27. What a great DIY! Thanks for sharing – can’t wait to try it out!

  28. 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

    • Amanda (wit & whistle)

      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.)

  29. Oooh.. this is AWESOME! I’m a new follower of your blog and I love it!


  30. This is a fabulous tutorial–I can think of so many quotes that would make good gifts.

  31. 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.

  32. this is so fantastic! my husband and I’s song was Into the Mystic by Van Morrison and I would love to make a pillow that says “I wanna rock your gypsy soul”. that would make me really happy. Thanks!

    just so you know, i’ve added it to my blog post (and pinterest page).

  33. Oh my.. Thank you very much for sharing!

  34. Pretty cool idea! Thanks for sharing!

  35. 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!!!

  36. 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!

    • Amanda (wit & whistle)

      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!

  37. amyp

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

    xx amyp

  38. Kelsey

    I love this and actually really love this quote. Can you tell me what size pillow cover you ordered?

  39. What a fantastic idea, thanks for sharing, it’d be lovely for personalised birthday gifts too.

  40. Tracy

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

  41. Devon

    OMG! It’s amazing!

  42. 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.

  43. 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?

    • Amanda (wit & whistle)

      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.

  44. Tracy Thomas

    I just love this tutorial and cant wait to try it myself!!! Thank you for sharing!!

  45. This is fabulous! The quote AND the pillow. I love that it’s neutral, and way under $150!

  46. This is gorgeous. I love words, books, and pillows.

  47. 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.

  48. Putting quote on the pillows, what should I say, beyond my imagination. Simply great.

  49. Mari

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

  50. Helen

    amazing. i love it. I’m going to do Annabel Lee for my pillow. my favorite poem. <3

  51. Lynn

    I am having trouble finding stencils that work well. What size did you use?

  52. 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.

    • Amanda (wit & whistle)

      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.

  53. 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

  54. 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?

    • 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!!!!

    • 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.

  55. I love your pillow and your blog too – it’s lovely here! I’ve got this linked to my stenciling project post today, for inspiration!

  56. the lorax! what a great quote. thanks for posting this. i have been looking for a great linen pillow cover!

  57. 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

    • Amanda (wit & whistle)

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

    • 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.

  58. 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!

  59. oooh, pinning this to try later. looks great.

  60. Florencia

    This is such a great idea! I’m trying it out soon. Thank you:)

  61. I love this idea! What exactly did your quote say??

    • Amanda (wit & whistle)

      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

    • 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…

  62. 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!

  63. Glo

    I love it!! I’ve included in my proposals for San Valentin.

    Thank you!

  64. 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!

  65. This is wonderful. I like yours better than the Vivaterra version, personally. Thanks for posting this DIY. :)

  66. 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?

    • Amanda (wit & whistle)

      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.

  67. 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?

    • Amanda (wit & whistle)

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

  68. Mary

    Can you wash the pillow cover or will the ink run?

    • Amanda (wit & whistle)

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

  69. I made one for my girlfriend for Valentine’s day. Thanks for your post/advice!

    Time-lapse video of me making it:

  70. 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!!!

  71. Alyssa

    This is such a good idea and perfect for the home or a gift regardless of what the quote says!

  72. 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.

  73. What about the pillow behind your stenciled one, did you make that yourself?

  74. Wauw! That’s a great idea, nice photography also.

  75. 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.

    • 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.

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

    This makes me happy!
    take care -

  77. 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!!!

  78. Totally amazing idea.

  79. 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!!

  80. 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~

  81. In so many words, this is awesome. Thank you for sharing your tutorial with me today.



  82. 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

  83. Wow, amazing!
    You just make stunning designs. Love your shop too, it’s definitely one of my favourites ;-)!

  84. I love this! It would make a great gift, as you could make the words personal.

  85. Madison

    Oh my gosh! Lovely idea! And love the picture with your dog Mabel, what type of dog?

    • Amanda (wit & whistle)

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

  86. natalie

    Our dogs are twins! cute pic, great idea.

  87. Absolutely love this….i sang that song every night to my now 24 year old when he was a baby!

  88. 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!

  89. When i saw this i bookmarked it right away. I Love it so much im making it for my living room ;)

  90. 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

  91. Mark


    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 :)

  92. Krista

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

    • Amanda (wit & whistle)

      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.

  93. 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!!!)

  94. 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!

  95. how amazing is this. thanks for the tips!

  96. 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.

    • Amanda (wit & whistle)

      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!

  97. 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!!

  98. Laura

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

  99. 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!

  100. I Love this pillow idea!! I’m going to try it!! Also, what kind of dog is that? He is adorable!

  101. Karen

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

  102. Kathy Gera

    Beat idea!

  103. Maria Heredia

    wow, need to make one right away.

  104. 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!

  105. Just wanted to let you know that I featured these throw pillows today at my DIY Throw Pillow round up.

  106. 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.

  107. This is an awesome pillow – and for people who don’t want to sew, they can still have a great DIY home decor project. I love the words you chose too! You should definitely enter this into the Craftbaby DIY Throw Pillow contest:

  108. leslie dawes

    I did this pillow for my Mom’s birthday and posted it on pinterest! I put link to your tutorial on my comments section…tons of people have repinned it!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!

  109. I just love this pillow, you have made something very special, I will try this!

  110. 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.

  111. 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?

  112. Kat

    I tried this myself and loved how it turned out- thanks so much for the tutorial!

  113. 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.

  114. 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 :)

  115. 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.

  116. Annfill

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

  117. This is so cute! I never have too many pillows, what a great idea!

  118. Lovely work… My throw pillow is so going to get a makeover!

  119. 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)…

    • Amanda (wit & whistle)

      The quote I used on the pillow is right here:

      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.

  120. 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!

  121. I <3 your tutorials! Beautiful photos
    thanks for sharing

  122. Marissa

    Yay!! Dr. Seuss!! Love the pillow!

  123. LOVE this idea! After the pillow, I May have to try a duvet cover….I’m a writer :) love to be surrounded by words…

  124. erinn stine

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

  125. Love this idea, its look good and it would be a unique present for someone. Thanks for the steps

  126. Michelle

    Excited to try this out! Also, where is your other couch pillow from (very curious)?

  127. Hi Amanda

    Thanks again for the inspiration and instruction. I’ve now put up pictures of my personalised NYC inspired stencil pillow cases on my blog. I can’t believe how gorgeous they turned out to be (my craft history is very limited :).

  128. 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!

    • Amanda (wit & whistle)

      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.

  129. 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!

  130. 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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