DIY Silhouette Pillows

9B53B426-E174-421A-8938-1AFC7A8A7B47imageIMG_5419I am a big fan of handmade presents. And with the holidays approaching, I thought I would share one of my favorite DIY gifts: Silhouette pillows. A year ago or so, I was over at a friend’s house and saw the most beautiful custom made silhouette prints of her children that she ordered on Etsy. I quickly decided I would combine this idea with my love for fabrics.  And the voila! The DIY Silhouette Pillow was born.


The first time I made these, I used my parents as guinea pigs (not telling them what I was really doing) and it worked out so well that I gave the pillows to them as Christmas presents that year! I have since made the same for my inlaws for Christmas gifts and two sets of friends for wedding presents. Here is a quick run down on how you can make some for your own.


  • a pillow-  get one that has no embroidery, buttons, sequins, or other decoration. (If you live in Charleston, I have had great luck finding inexpensive pillows at Tuesday Morning.) My first set had a rough texture to them but the appliqué still adhered pretty well. I have also found solid white pillows that had a longer nap but, again the appliqué still adhered and last I checked still looked good!
  • black felt- You can pick this up at Michael’s or any craft store for super cheap.
  • No-sew Heat-n-Bond adhesive – I have used both the spray and the iron on adhesive and I HIGHLY recommend the iron on. Heat-n-Bond is my go to, the one in the red pack. And again you can find this at Michael’s, JoAnn, or any craft store.
  • an iron
  • small, sharp set of scissors
  • a printer

Now here is how you get it done:

  1. STEP ONE: Take profile photos of your victims. This step is the hardest because you want to make sure you have enough backlighting that you can make out all the details of the face. And this step can be sneaky if you are trying to surprise your gift receiver! As you can see below in my dad’s photo, the top of the head is blacked out. So that is a good example of how more lighting may of helped me catch a more detailed photo of his hair line.IMG_5346  IMG_5353
  2. STEP TWO: On your computer crop the photo so the face is the filling up the entire 8×10 page. This can be done on any photo editor or even in Word if that is all you have access to. If you wanted to make it bigger you could play around with your margins, but I have always done 8×10 simply because this is the largest size paper my printer can handle. Once printed, use your fine tooth scissors and cut out the photo very carefully, making sure to include small details such as lips, nose, glasses, and chin.  IMG_1014
  3. STEP THREE: The photos below show the paper once it has been cut out and then turned over to show the backside of the paper. I always do this to see how my photo turned out.  I also flipped my mom’s photo in Photoshop prior to printing so the silhouettes would be “facing each other” on the sofa!   IMG_5355IMG_5375
  4. STEP FOUR: Without using steam, iron on the Heat-n-Bond paper to the back side of the black felt. The felt does not really have a right or a wrong side so either side will do. DO NOT peel off the backing of the Heat-n-Bond, you will get to that later. But for now you will want to use keep the paper on the felt.
  5. STEP FIVE: So once the felt and Heat-n-Bond has cooled from being ironed, head to a table with good lighting and lay the felt face down. Next, take your cut out photo and place onto the  paper (the backside of the felt). If you need to use a few pieces of double sided tape to hold it into place, that is a good idea. Now using a pencil, trace around the photo directly onto the Heat-n-Bond paper. Note- your photo will be reversed when you go to iron it on. So if you really want the face going in a certain direction, make sure the photo is flipped the opposite way when you are tracing onto the back of the felt. Does that make sense? Still with me? ok, good!
  6. STEP SIX: Use your fine point scissors again to now cut out the newly traced image on the felt.
  7. STEP SEVEN: Now you can peel the backing paper off the back of the felt.
  8. STEP EIGHT: Place your new felt appliqué with the sticky side down directly onto the center of the pillow. If you can take the pillow out of the pillow case, do that. If there is no pillow case, you can iron directly onto the pillow. I do not use steam but I get my iron very hot and press over my appliqué several times.
  9. STEP NINE: put your pillow in the case and you are done!IMG_1013

Here is the photo and the finished pillow case for my mother in law:IMG_5366IMG_5376

I recently tried my hand at some lettering and an image from my friend’s wedding. This took a lot more detail but I love how it turned out in the end. IMG_0132

This is a great way to make a gift that is personalized and from the heart. And they are so easy to make once you get the hang of it. And no sewing required for those of you who fear the needle!

Feel free to comment with any questions or if you need further guidance in making your own! Good luck and happy holidays!

xxoo Priscilla

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