Looking for simple tips on how to dye pillows? Here’s how I transformed these old pillows into dyed painted leaf pillows for the front porch.
My grandmother never threw anything away.
Not a thing.
She kept drawers full of sheets of old tin foil and washed out her plastic bags and cut her towels into smaller towels and re-grated soap to make new soap. She could stretch a dollar and a aluminum pie plate farther than anyone else I knew.
She grew up during the Great Depression when every piece of every thing had to be recycled. That’s what they did. That’s how they made it.
I wish I had more of her inside me. I toss everything. If something is worn or tired or holey, I’m the first one to wish it well and escort it to the trash.
But this weekend I did something a little different.
I went all my grandmother on myself and saved a pillow.
On my front porch I have an old church pew I got at a yard sale for $12.
I found these burlap pillow covers earlier this year at IKEA. They were having a clearance sale and they were only $4.00 each. They really are cute. They’re burlap with a black zipper in the back and nice and long and four of them covered the church pew from end to end. Perfect decorating solution.
Until the weather happened.
The porch is covered, but somehow the pillows faded and got brown spots all over them and spots and started looking generally dilapidated.
I rolled my eyes at them and asked them why they couldn’t behave and was about to send them packing when those drawers of tin foil and washed plastic bags started swirling about in my head.
Maybe I could save them.
Yes, Virginia, I could.
Here’s how I dyed them.
How to dye pillows
- Put the pillow cover into the washing machine.
- Put the orange dye in the washing machine with the pillow cover.
- Follow the directions on the bottle and let the dye dissolve in the water.
- Wash the cover.
- Check your color.
- If the color needs to be darker repeat the dye process and dye again.
And about an hour later they looked like this.
I wasn’t sure about the color of the dye because it was bright orange on the bottle. I used the color Tangerine.
But instead of bright orange, it turned this absolutely lovely shade of fallmazingness.
(total aside: you can see the zippers on the back in this photo. Aren’t they cute? What was I thinking about almost throwing them away?)
The dye helped with the fadedness, but there were still several places that needed to be covered.
What’s a reformed pillow throwerawayer supposed to do then?
Paint leaves of course.
I started with leaves from the yard.
Then I traced around them with a Sharpie like this.
And added a few more leaves like this.
Then I was ready to paint.
I just used simple acrylic paint. You can add fabric medium directly to the paint or you can buy fabric paint at any craft store.
I didn’t over think it.
I just started with orange and yellow and red and brown and when I was done, the leaves looked like this.
Here are a few leaf painting tips.
1. Outline the leaves in a darker color.
2. Then take a complimentary color and blur the edges and combine the two colors.
3. Let that layer dry.
4. Next add in highlights. The more highlights you add, the more the leaves show up on the burlap.
5. Add a little brown to the base of the leaf for the stem.
None of these leaves are perfect.
Each has a little bit of their own style and personality.
I didn’t overthink it. I just painted.
And in the end? It was an afternoon well spent.
I’m so happy I didn’t toss the pillows. I’m so happy I took a moment to re-think and re-purpose and re-use and re-imagine what I had into something so much better.
My grandmother would be proud. 🙂
disclosure: affiliates were used in this post.