DIY african mud cloth pillows

Thursday, August 25, 2016

You may remember I did some DIY African mudcloth inspired pillows for our living room.  You can check those out here.  Well, I am still loving them like crazy and decided to make some more using a different technique for our dining room.  They turned out pretty awesome!

SOURCES:  dining table // slipcovered head chairs // side chairs // chandelier // DIY refinished piano // mirror - antique (painted in Annie Sloan Pure White) // DIY framed botanicals // no-sew skirted table // antique dough bowl - Round Top (similar here and here) // glass vases // drapes // bamboo blinds 


How to do it!

  • Fabric - I used a heavy black linen fabric from JoAnn's for the front and scrap painter's drop cloth for the back.   
  • White DecoFabric paint marker - Found at craft stores or on Amazon here.  I used a full paint marker and part of a second for these two pillows.
  • Sewing machine, pins, and matching thread
  • Iron
  • Zipper (you can omit this if doing an envelope closure and just adjust your back piece accordingly)
STEP ONE:  Cut out your fabric pieces.  In addition to your normal seam allowance, add about an extra 4 inches to the height of the fabric for the front of the pillow only.  The added height for the front piece is because we will be sewing in pleats in the next step.  For example, my pillow was an 11x20 so the fabric piece I cut for the front was 15x21, and the back piece was 12x21.

STEP TWO:  Sew in pleats onto the front fabric piece.  For this part you will follow Step Two from my last DIY mud cloth tutorial.  I used the exact same method for sewing in pleats, except I ran my seams horizontal this time and spaced them 5 inches apart.  After you've sewn your pleats into place, you can trim down an excess fabric to match the size of your back pillow piece.

STEP THREE:  Use a photo of authentic mudcloth as inspiration for your pattern, or create your own, and start drawing out the design with the fabric paint marker.  The first pass with the marker won't be very opaque, but once it's dry go over it again making the lines on the design thicker.

STEP FOUR:  Once the paint is fully dry, place right sides of the front and back together and stitch in place, leaving an opening for your zipper at the bottom.   

For the zipper - I used a metal jeans zipper, but any zipper would look great.  If you've not sewn in a zipper before there are a ton of great tutorials and videos out there.  Find your favorite based on the type of zipper you're after.  I always fuddle my way through zippers so I'm doing you a favor by not including a tutorial from me on this :D

STEP FIVE:  Press your pillow so the seams are nice and crisp and insert your pillow insert.  I like down inserts.  You can get great prices on them at places like Tuesday Mornings.  They will absolutely up your pillow's game. 

And remember, if sewing isn't your thing, grab some pre-sewn pillow covers and add a paint pen design to those.  You options are limitless!  Now go enjoy your new mudcloth inspired pillows and buy yourself some new shoes with all that money you just saved!

For more DIY African Mudcloth Ideas, check out my first post!



  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Cassie! I love it when a project turns out just how you imagined it!

  2. Well Done Shelley !
    Are those washable ?! Is it a permanent paint if I may ask !?

    1. The product I used is a fabric paint. The fabric can be washed when done so following product recommendations. In this case, it needs to be set with heat after paint has dried, and then may be washed with mild detergent on the delicate cycle.


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