Decorating with Handmade Pillows

Decorating with Handmade Pillows
11/08/2016 Rachel
Hot Moon Collection pillows

Featured at the top: Hot Moon Collection

We ran a “Decorating with Textiles Series” on TAFA’s blog which has been super fun! It’s so interesting to see how each person personalized space by choice of wall colors, furniture, objects, and function, all softened and enhanced by their choice textiles. Pillows, especially, can change the mood or look of a space very quickly. Decorating with handmade pillows has several benefits and a few challenges.


  • Easy to clean: Pillows come in many sizes and shapes, but if they are removable and of standard sizes, they can be changed and cleaned easily (unless the work is delicate). I have dogs and I love it that I can throw my pillow covers in the wash whenever they start picking up doggy signs. I have everyday pillow covers that can take a lot of abuse and then nice ones that I use when I have guests.
  • Affordable art: A pillow cover can be a small work of art. Perhaps we have a favorite textile artist and love their wall art, but either don’t have the space or the money to afford a full blown piece, but can enjoy a smaller work as a pillow. Cindy Grisdela makes stunning quilts as wall art, but she also has beautiful pillows that follow some of her same design and color principles.
Cindy Grisdela Art Quilts Pillow

Cindy Grisdela Art Quilts Pillow

  • Comfort: Pillows that don’t have a lot of embellishments add comfort to a couch, bed or chair. I have a long, narrow one that I use on my embroidery chair that I can move around to help support my back. Another big one on my coffee table and up go my feet! Stitching away…  Floor pillows can be stacked or spread around for guests (the young ones!), and hard chairs become welcoming with a little padding or backing.
  • Versatile: Use the cover without the pillow. The thicker ones often look great on chairs or as table center pieces just on their own. Or, pin them on the wall.
  • Quick face lift: A neutral space can easily change identity by swapping out the pillow covers. African look one for awhile, perhaps shabby chic for another while, elegant Asian…  Pillow covers are easy to store so having options can be a fun way to keep a space fresh.
  • Make your own: Pillow covers are not that hard to make so you can also use your own favorite fabrics or textiles and turn them into a functional piece. Perhaps there is some fabric picked up on a trip to Africa, a favorite piece of clothing that has been worn out, or images that can be transferred to fabric…  Your handmade pillows could be made by YOU!


Siamese Dream Design indigo pillows

Siamese Dream Design indigo and embroidered pillows

  • Great gifts! Pillows make great housewarming and on-to-college gifts. You can help that youngster or newly wed couple start on their own collection of pillow covers, opening new ideas for them on how they can also personalize their own spaces.


  • Fragility: Some pillows might be made with delicate or old fabrics and can’t hold up to a washing. I learned that the hard way by destroying a beautiful pillow from India that had lots of gauzy fabrics and beadwork. Even though I hand washed it, it fell apart. I realized after the fact that it had some kind of starch or water-based glue holding it together.
  • Odd shapes: Pillows that don’t have removable covers and come in odd shapes might be hard to clean. Make sure that you can live with both the design and the shape for a long time if you go that route. If it’s washable, you can always use a bathtub or kiddie pool to wash big things that don’t fit in a washing machine, but it’s a messy job!
  • Surface decoration: Shells, buttons and other objects can make a pillow cover fun to look at but they basically remove the comfort factory. These pillows are to be seen, not cuddled.


Mariann Johansen-Ellis Black Ink Floral Pillows

Mariann Johansen-Ellis Black Ink Floral Pillows


There are loads of beautiful commercial pillows out there, but I think the handmade ones bring more than a function into a room. They tell a story, connect us to the maker and have that special spirit of uniqueness. Of course, I am biased in this direction, but I believe that once people develop a sensitivity and interest in the handmade process, there is no turning back! 

What about you? Do you have any insights or stories to share about decorating with handmade pillows? We would love to hear them! Feel free to leave a link in the comment area if you want to show us a picture of your favorite pillows.

AllThingsPretty boho pillow

AllThingsPretty boho pillow by Debra Dorgan

The pillows below come from our Artizan Market and we hope that one of them might catch your eye. We are using our Market to direct people to our member shops on their own sites or they can choose to use our cart here on the site as well.



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