Sunprinted Pillows




1 Teacher Note

About: I am an artist living and teaching ART in NYC for over 30 years, and I am a CZT, Certified Zentangle Teacher. I love to explore all sorts of art making both in my teaching and in my own work...check out my s...

I am a full time Art Teacher in NYC, because I have my summers off , during those months I enjoy visiting my niece and sharing projects with her that she can then use in her 4th classroom during the school year. I like to think of it as Auntie Camp.

Last week I introduced her to a solorprinting technique (sun prints or cyanotypes) on paper. We had so much fun and results were lovely. Fortunately she lives in a rural area and can create the prints outside with her students. I have done the process indoors with my kiddos using large sunny windows to expose the foliage imagery.

Then we got the idea to try printing on fabric.

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Step 1: Supplies

The supplies needed to print the fabric are as follows;

*foliage (assorted leaves and plants to create the desired image)

*fabric (we used white 100% cotton muslin)

*cyanotype chemicals (the listed product was purchased from Amazon, I have used it many times with paper and for this experiment fabric. There are other brands on the market.




*glass container

The supplies for the pillows are as follows

*backing fabric (we used a solid blue 100% cotton fabric for the backing)

*scissor, pins

*sewing machine

*pillow forms (The pillows I made are 24" purchased from Amazon)

Step 2: Getting Started

Mix the chemicals in a glass container according to the directions included in the package. measure the fabric according to the size pillow you want to make, giving about a 2" excess (for example my pillow forms were 24" so my muslin was cut into 26'X26' pieces)

The fabric is taped to the boards. In a fairly dark or shaded area, we went inside the garage, a large brush is used to paint the solution on the fabric.

When the fabric is completely dry, and this can take a while, carefully place your foliage on the fabric.

Carry boards into the bright sunshine to expose pattern. Leave exposed anywhere from 3-15 minutes depending on the intensity. ( sorry those last two images of the exposure process are blurry I had the camera set on live)

Step 3: Finished Printing

Once sensitized foliage is washed await remove all the dye from unexposed areas.

Fabric pieces are removed from the boards and left to dry, best to keep the fabric in a shaded area in case there is a bit of chemical left.

Step 4: Ready to Make the Pillows

First the fabric for the back side of the pillows needs to be cut.

Because my sun prints were on 26"X26" fabric I measured my backing 26"X44"

Then cut the fabric pieces in half so I now have two 26"X22" pieces to use as the backing.

Step 5: Front to Back

Keeping right sides together , place one piece of backing on sun print. fold down center edge approximately 6" and pin securely. next place second backing piece on top and again fold in 6" pin securely. This creates an opening in the back to insert the pillow form.

Sew around all edges of fabric (approx 2" seam)

Step 6: Finishing Touches

When all edges have been sewn turn the pillow covering right side out and insert pillow form.

This is one of my nieces finished pillows. We collected cat tails, ferns, and queen anne's lace to create kind of a swampy design!

Have fun!

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18 Discussions

rachel pallis

18 days ago on Step 5

This is my favorite by far! Not only is it instructional and fun to do, it's a lovely addition to any room. What a great memory making activity!! Excellent work, Mrs Cirigliano!

1 reply
Lisa Arbolino

18 days ago on Step 6

I always look for your projects . I find the instructions to follow making it easy for me to teach others . The sun prints are especially beautiful and I will be adding this project to “my go to’s”. Please keep posting entries. Thank you

1 reply

Thank You very much! I love the site and have created many of my own Instructables.... I’m always happy to hear from people like you that get inspired by my work! ❣️


4 weeks ago

Looks like such a fun project! The pattern on the pillows is beautiful.

1 reply

19 days ago

I've seen sunprinting before but your explanation and directions are very clear and easy to follow. Thank you!

1 reply

18 days ago

Did you really start with white fabric and get that beautiful blue? I love it!! I especially like the ghostly cattails with their soft edges. You must've pressed most of the foliage to get those crisp edges. I'd like to make a dress from the fabric! Thanks for the inspiration.

1 reply
Susan Ciriglianoimerrymary

Reply 18 days ago

Yes! White muslin, just brushed on the solution and the rest was magic! But remember I have not tried to wash the fabric so I am not 100% sure it is colorfast. I did iron it with a hot iron which is how many other dyes are made to be colorfast. I will check back after I was it,


4 weeks ago

I just showed this to my wife. She is a quilter. She wants to make quilt blocks using this. We never heard of this process. Thanks for sharing!! We love the pillows!!

1 reply
Susan Ciriglianobakichmg

Reply 4 weeks ago

Great!!!!! I have to admit I did not try to wash the fabric, your wife might just ant to wash first to be certain dye adheres to material. I did iron the fabric after the dying process, I know from other dying techniques , ironing can “set” the dye.... good luck and have fun!