How to Make a Festive Tartan Pillow

Dress up a couch, bed, or chair with this pretty Christmas craft. Water down paint to create crisp red and green lines that turn a plain pillow into a stylish seasonal decoration.

Get the look of traditional plaid on a plain pillow with this easy paint treatment.

'Tis the season for tartan. This versatile plaid pattern is classic, cozy, and perfect for holiday decorating. Create your own tartan decor with this DIY pillow project. All you need is a pillowcase, cardboard, tape, and some paint.

We used shades of red and green for festive flair, but silver and gold or blue and gray would look equally stunning—just pick a palette that matches your Christmas color scheme

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What You Need

  • Drop cloth
  • Pillow and pillowcase
  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Painters tape
  • Water
  • Small bowls
  • Red and green paints
  • Paintbrushes

Step 1: Tape Off Stripes

Gather all materials. Lay down a drop cloth to protect your work surface. Cut cardboard to the size of your pillowcase with scissors and insert it into the pillowcase. This creates a flat work surface and prevents the paint from bleeding through to the other side of the pillowcase. Tape off one large vertical band, about 4 inches wide, across the front of the pillow. Make sure the tape is sealed by running your finger along the edges, smoothing it out as you go. 

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Step 2: Paint First Stripe

Place a portion of red paint in one of the small bowls. Add a little water until the paint's slightly watered down. This step ensures that the dried paint will act more like a dye and feel softer to the touch. Paint the taped-off stripe red and let dry. Remove tape. 

Step 3: Tape and Paint

Tape off a horizontal stripe on the pillow, this time crossing over the existing stripe about halfway up the pillowcase. Fill in the stripe with the watered-down red paint and let dry. Remove tape. At this point you should have one vertical and one horizontal stripe that cross near the middle of your pillow.

Step 4: Add Horizontal Green Stripes

Tape off small horizontal sections on each end of the pillowcase. The goal is to mimic a tartan plaid pattern. Place a portion of green paint in one of the small bowls. Add a little water until the paint is slightly watered down. Once all sections are taped off, apply the watered-down green paint to the taped areas. Let dry, then remove tape. 

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Step 5: Add Vertical Green Stripe

Complete your tartan pattern by taping off one narrow vertical stripe to the right of the red vertical stripe. Press edges of tape down for a clean line. Apply the watered-down green paint to the taped area, let dry, then remove tape to finish.

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