Punch Up Plain Pillows

Scoop up basic pillows in every shape, color, and size, and make them anything but ordinary with these fun ideas.

All Wrapped Up Pillow

Add layers of color and texture by wrapping a solid store-bought pillow with scarves. Cut the scarves to fit around the pillow and sew the scarf ends together. Slide them onto the pillow, layering them one on top of the other. Add a pretty flower pin to the center.

Make Your Own Shapes

Create your own stylized shapes -- leaves, flowers, or just plain circles -- for these pillows. Use patterned fabric for more interest. Draw and cut out shapes to use as patterns. Pin the patterns to fabric and cut out the shapes. Open one seam of the pillow and remove the pillow insert. Following the manufacturer's instructions, use fusible web to adhere your fabric shapes to the pillow front. Replace the insert and sew the pillow seam closed.

Pillow with a Message

Add a simple message to a purchased pillow. Open one pillow seam and remove the pillow form. Slip a piece of cardboard inside the cover, and stencil words across the center. Paint the words with fabric or acrylic paint; let dry. Remove the cardboard, insert the pillow form, and stitch the seam closed.

Even More Rows of Ribbons

Make ribbon rows even more fancy with knots and buttons. Carefully open the side seams of pillow and remove the pillow form. Cut ribbon lengths 1 inch longer than the width of the pillow. Add buttons and knots to a few ribbon lengths for added texture and interest. Use fusible tape to fuse all ribbon lengths to the pillow following the tape manufacturer's instructions. Replace the pillow form. Tuck the ribbon ends into the pillow openings of the pillow, and hand-stitch the seams closed.

Bolster Pillow Cover

Every room needs a focal point. Slip a pretty fabric cover over a plain white bolster. Choose a fabric that is bright, patterned, and complementary to the room's color scheme. Cut fabric 2 inches longer than the circumference of the pillow and 1 inch wider. Choose a solid fabric for the liner side of the wrap and cut to the same size as the patterned piece. With right sides together, sew the two pieces together along the edges, leaving an opening for turning. Turn the cover right side out, press, and hand-stitch the opening closed. Attach hook-and-loop strips to short edges of cover, wrap cover around pillow, and secure.

Classic Patterned Pillow

Pillows offer perfect canvases for stenciling. Open one seam of a pillow cover and remove the pillow form. Use duct or automotive tape to mask off areas where you do not want paint. On this pillow strips of tape made a striped stencil. Use a water-base paint and, following manufacturer's instructions, add textile medium to your paint to ensure easy application and care. Tape your stencil in place and apply your paint using a foam roller; let dry. Insert the pillow form and sew the seam closed.

Winter Warmth Pillow

To change up pillows according to the season, try this trick. Sew together two long scarves to make a sleeve, slide a bolster into the sleeve, and cinch the ends closed with rubber bands or ribbons.

Belted Bands

Embellish purchased pillows with belted bands. Purchase buckles and silk ribbons. Layer two widths of ribbon, and thread them through a buckle. Overlap the ribbon ends on the back of the pillow and hand-stitch them to secure. Add as many belted bands as you desire, crisscrossing them or sewing them parallel to one other. For a gathered ribbon belt, hand-sew a gathering thread along each edge of the ribbon and gently pull the threads from one end to make the gather. To determine how much you need, make a small sample. Typically, you'll need three times the length of the flat ribbon.

Add Tiny Trims

Add shimmer to a pretty pillow, such as a brown rectangular one with a mod pattern, by gluing sparkly beads to its starburst design and adding a button or large sequin to accent the center of each burst.

To make the burst:

-- String beads on thread and glue in place, following the design on the purchased pillow.

More embellishing ideas:

-- Consider adding beads to the centers of flowers on a floral pillow or edging stripes with sequins.

-- Colorful embroidery floss adds style to a solid-color brown pillow.

-- Use quilter's chalk to draw a simple pattern, and then backstitch over the design.

Pillow with Rows of Ribbon and Lace

Combine ribbon and lace to embellish a store-bought pillow. Carefully open the side seams of your pillow and remove the pillow form. Following the manufacturer's instructions, use fusible web to attach ribbon and lace to the pillow front. Replace the pillow form and tuck in the ribbon and lace ends. Hand-stitch the side seams closed.

Flirty Fringe Pillow

The generously layered ribbon fringe fanning the edge of this lavender pillow evokes the charm of a feather boa. You'll want to have plenty of grosgrain ribbon on hand to create this sassy edging.

Little Additions to Pillows

Sweet little additions bring whimsy to plain pillows. Tie a ribbon around a pillow just tight enough; no sewing is needed. Select a pretty button for a puckered pillow. Mark the button placement on the front and back exactly at center. Use a long hand-sewing needle and upholstery thread to stitch it on.

Bloom and Stem Embellishments

Flowers don't need to stay in the garden. For each bloom, cut a piece of wire-edge ribbon. Use 12 inches of 5/8-inch-wide ribbon for small blooms, and 24 inches of 1-1/2-inch-wide ribbon for large. Slightly pull out the two wires at one end. Twist to secure. At the other end, coil the ribbon while pulling the other end. Keep the center tight. Continue until all the ribbon is coiled. Tuck the loose end into the back. Twist the wires around to secure. For stems, glue lengths of thin ribbon onto a pillow. Use fabric glue to adhere a bloom above each stem.

Linen Napkin Slipcover

Put plain linen napkins to good use as a pillow slipcover. Embellish two napkins with rows of pin tucks. Machine-embroider a monogram in the center of one. Sew eight ties to each napkin, sandwich a pillow between the two, and tie the slipcover together.

Stenciled Outdoor Pillow

Add comfort outdoors (or in) with this stenciled pillow. Cut your own stencils out of self-adhesive shelf liner. It clings to fabric while you paint and removes easily. Open one seam of the pillow and remove the pillow form. Use a water-base paint and, following manufacturer's instructions, add textile medium to your paint to ensure easy application and care. Place your stencil on the pillow front, paint, and let dry. Insert the pillow form and sew the seam closed.

Message on a Ribbon

Stencil sentiments on a satin ribbon. If you are using a purchased pillow, gently open the side seams enough to insert the ribbon ends into the seams. With the ribbon taut, hand-sew the seams closed.

A Bleached Beauty

For a fun-loving finish, here's one time you'll use bleach on bright colors -- on purpose! You'll need a pillow with a removable cover, preferably in white, which you'll dye before bleaching out the desired design.

Pillows with Personality

Give purchased throw pillows a bit of personality by adding ribbon, flower embellishments, and rickrack along the top edge. Open side seams enough to remove the pillow form. Cut two lengths of ribbon that are at least 1 inch longer than the width of your pillow. Stitch flower embellishments on the ribbon lengths. Following the manufacturer's instructions, use fusible web to attach the two ribbon lengths to your pillow. Attach a strip of rickrack in the same way. Replace the pillow form. Tuck the ends of the ribbon and rickrack into the open side seams. Hand-stitch the seams closed.

Photo Gallery Pillow

Tight on wall space for a memo board? Tuck a few favorite photos and keepsakes behind the striped ribbon trim that crisscrosses this pastel pillow. To showcase a special snapshot, transfer it to a fusible ink-jet fabric sheet that's easy to apply to a purchased pillow. Tack on metal scrapbooking letters to label the photo.

Add Mod Finishes

Floor pillows adopt playful attitudes with tassel fringe and fabric shapes. You won't be able to resist running your fingers through the tasseled coat of the fringed pillow. By hand-sewing lengths of mini-tassel trim across the pillow surface, you can transform a plain cushion into a one-of-a-kind treasure. Alternate blue and green for a variegated look. To trim the box-edge pillow, cut fabric and fusible material to the same shape. Layer the iron-on material between the pillow and fabric pieces, cover with a press cloth, and fuse with an iron. Test this technique in a hidden spot.

Wrap It Up

This no-sew project takes about 15 minutes to make.

-- Begin with a purchased pillow and place mat, two frog closures, assorted beads, crafts glue, scissors, straight pins, and thread to match the place mat.

-- Cut the place mat in half, and position the uncut edge 1 inch from the right center-front of the pillow, pinning to hold in place.

-- Wrap the place mat to the back, and fold under the cut edge.

-- Stitch or glue along the front and back edges to secure.

-- Repeat with the other half of the place mat, placing it 1 inch from the left center-front of the pillow.

-- Position the frog closures, close them, and glue in place.

-- Glue decorative beads to the closures as shown.

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