Nautical Anchor Pillow Tutorial

So, I’ve somehow managed to keep this a secret from you guys up until now, but we are in the midst of our biggest d.i.y. endeavor yet: a total master bedroom makeover!

I guess you could say the ball started rolling over the summer when we conquered our IKEA Wardrobe Hack.  The rest of the room was looking pretty ho-hum next to our newly done-over wardrobe, so we’ve been busy the past several months, working to transform the rest of the space.  The grand reveal is slated for later this month February 2014, but today, you’re getting a sneak peek at one DIY project for our new master bedroom: a nautical anchor pillow.

Nautical Anchor Pillow Tutorial - Tips for freezer paper stenciling via

{So, I’m sure you can now guess what our bedroom’s design scheme is going to be.  That’s right: nautical!}

I even made the envelope pillow cover myself out of navy duck cloth.  I followed a really easy video tutorial by my buddy Jackie from Teal & Lime, which you can check out HERE.  I share more of my tips on creating the pillow cover and finding inexpensive pillow forms in my Felt Fish Pillow Tutorial, which you can find HERE.

Today, I’m going to walk you through the steps of stenciling on fabric using one of my favorite materials: freezer paper!

Freezer Paper: who knew that it's great for stenciling on fabric?!

You may remember that I tackled my first freezer paper stenciling endeavor not too long ago with my “KEEP CALM” onesie.  {You can check that tutorial HERE.}

"Keep Calm" onesie using freezer paper stenciling and fabric paint! Tutorial by The Thinking Closet.

And I thought this medium would be fun to try again, but this time, on my navy pillow cover!  Here’s the play-by-play, and I promise it’s an easy one.


Step 1.  Create & cut your design.  I opened up my Silhouette Studio Designer Edition software and grabbed two free clip art files: one of an anchor, and one of a heart.  Then, after tracing the images, I created a 20″ x 20″ box, the size of my pillow cover.  Then, I just copied and pasted the anchor several times over, using the Align Tool to evenly space out the anchors on each line.

I had the idea that it would be fun to replace one of the anchors with a heart, so I chose an anchor on the bottom right corner to swap out for my heart shape.  I flipped my design horizontally (top menu, OBJECT, TRANSFORM, FLIP HORIZONTALLY) since I would be cutting the design on the shiny side of the freezer paper, which gets ironed down onto the fabric.  Then, I was ready to cut!

Now, it took me a bit of trial and error the first time I cut freezer paper with my Silhouette, but the settings that work best for me (with a new blade) are a blade of 1, speed of 3, thickness of 10, with the freezer paper shiny side up.

Prepping my design to cut onto freezer paper!

I have an extra long mat (12″ x 24″), which proved really useful because I was able to cut out my 20″ x 20″ stencil in just two parts, with one line that could overlap on each stencil to help with alignment.

Cutting freezer paper with my Silhouette Cameo!

Free Cut File

Now, if anyone else is interested in using this anchor-and-heart pattern to create a nautical pillow, t-shirt, tabletop, you name it, I’m happy to offer up my cut file to y’all for FREE!  {Fine print: this design is for personal use only and is not to be used for commercial purposes.  Cool?  Cool.}  Just click the image below to download the studio file from

Free Cut File for Silhouette Studio: Nautical Anchor & Heart Pattern by Lauren @ The Thinking Closet

Click HERE to download the free studio file.

Step 2.  Weed your design.  For Silhouette newbies, “weed” is just a fancy term for “peeling out” your design.  Just be sure to remove the stencil from the mat slowly and carefully; the thin paper can easily rip.  And don’t be alarmed if your stencil looks like this when you’re done with the weeding process:

Freezer paper stenciling in action!

All those curled up edges will iron down nice and smooth in just a moment.  I promise!

Step 3.  Iron down your freezer paper.  Once you have your freezer paper stencil placed where you want it, apply heat from a dry iron on the settings for that fabric.  Really make sure to press down all of the edges.  You want to make sure to create a strong seal between the freezer paper and the fabric.

Ironing your freezer paper stencil.

Step 4.  Painting time!  Since the only fabric paint I have on hand is the baby blue I used on my onesie, I invested in a bottle of Americana fabric medium (affiliate link) at Jo-Ann’s for $1.99.

Have you heard of this magical elixir?  Basically, you can add 2 parts acrylic paint to one part fabric medium, and it functions the same as fabric paint!  It doesn’t harden up the fabric, and it’s washable, too.  So, essentially, you can transform any paint you have into fabric paint with this little bottle.  (Can’t beat the price either.)

Fabric Medium allows you to turn ANY paint into fabric paint.  It's magical!

So, after mixing up some white paint with the fabric medium, I placed a piece of cardboard inside my pillow cover (to prevent any paint from bleeding through to the back).  Then, I used a brush from new stencil brush set (affiliate link) that I got on sale for $5.99 at Jo-Ann’s to dab on the paint in thin coats.

Special stenciling brushes.

Always be sure to dab it straight down and not paint it side to side (or else you risk the paint seeping under the edges of the freezer paper stencil).

Freezer paper stenciling via

I let the paint dry for 20 minutes or so and then applied another thin coat of white paint.  Then, I let the first four rows of anchors dry for a few hours before moving on to the last 2 rows!

Stencils drying.

Now, for the heart, I gave that 2 coats of white paint first and then hand-painted the center of the heart read, leaving a thin white outline.  I was worried that an all-red heart might get lost on the navy fabric, so the white outline allows it to really stand out.

Anchor & heart pattern pillow tutorial via

Step 5.  Peel and press!  You’ll want to follow the instructions on the fabric paint or medium you use, but mine called for 24-48 hours of dry time, followed by 30 seconds of heat set with the iron on each side (I used a cloth in between the design and the iron to be safe).

Heat setting fabric paint.

And because I want to keep our bedding a surprise, I’m going to do a little photo session on the dock on our porch swing, so you can see the finished look, and I can keep our master bedroom makeover a secret just a wee bit longer.  Gotta have all my ducklings in a row before the grand reveal, ya know?

Update: Our Rustic Nautical Master Bedroom Makeover is finally completed!  Check out the grand reveal HERE.

Nautical Anchor Pillow Tutorial - Tips for freezer paper stenciling via

DIY Nautical Anchor Pillow Tutorial via

Ahoy, matey!

DIY Nautical Anchor Pillow Tutorial via

DIY Nautical Anchor Pillow Tutorial (with heart detail) via

Other Posts in This Series:

And this is just the tip of the iceberg, my friends.  For more nautical awesomeness (nau-someness), check out our Master Bedroom Reveal!  As well as the other posts in this series:

[catablog_gallery id=”8966″ [catablog template=”gallery”]

Keepin’ it real!

I Made a Mess!

My friend Laura from The Experimental Home has this awesome new weekly series called the Monday Mess Movement, and I’m over there today sharing the photos you didn’t see in this tutorial: the mess.  In fact, I’m even sharing my tips and tricks for how to make a mess (in case you didn’t know how).  I hope it’ll give you a laugh and serve as a reminder of what really happens behind the scenes of blogger craft projects.  It ain’t pretty people, let me tell ya!  So, check that out HERE.

And if you want to join Laura’s Monday Mess Movement and share one of your messes on her blog, she has a form you can fill out HERE.

The Silhouette Challenge - A Series By The Thinking Closet & Friends

Want to Check Out More Silhouette Projects?

My Silhouette Challenge buddies are all sharing projects today on their blogs, so peruse the links below for a blog-hopping good time.

DIY Ironing Board Hanger by The Turquoise Home
Silhouette Challenge: Time Zone Bathroom Art by Nearly Handmade
Santa’s Christmas Countdown by Tried & True
Christmas Card Ornament with Free Cut File by unOriginalMom
Thanksgiving and Christmas Dual Sign by Architecture of a Mom
Itching to Etch by Get Silvered
Snowman Tag ~ Silhouette Challenge by Whats Next Ma
Thanksgiving Sign by Chicken Scratch NY
DIY Horse Silhouette Pillow by Rain on a Tin Roof
Sketching on Fabric by The Sensory Emporium
Paper Leaf Garland by Lil’ Mrs. Tori
DIY Blessing Board – Silhouette Challenge by One Tough Mother
Christmas Pillow by Create & Babble
Glass Painting with Reverse Stencils by Givemeapaintbrush
Chalkboard Thankful Tree by Cutesy Crafts
Bottoms Up! MYO Wine Tag by From Wine to Whine
‘Happy Holly-days’ Tags for the Swap by An Elegant Touch…
Thank You for Dinner (Card) by Everyday Paper
Advent Star Christmas Countdown by My Favorite Finds
Geometric Fabric Bowls by Please Excuse My Craftermath…
Paper Carnival by Home At Eight
Silhouette Cameo Tutorial: Dual Sided Business Cards by Black and White Obsession
In Case of Emergency Baby Bag Tags by Tossed Salad Life
Christmas On My Mind by Creative Turn
Jingle all the Way! by My Paper Craze
Christmas Lights Garland by Making Home Base
We Are Thankful by 4 You With Love
Seattle Skyline Silhouette by Sowdering About in Seattle
DIY Stenciled Mugs by Coley’s Corner

{Linking up here.}


Lovely comments so far...

  1. says

    I never knew there was something you could add to acrilics to make fabric paint! Thanks for sharing that! And your nautical pillow is great, I love the switch up with the heart. I’m just itching to see the rest of the bedroom makeover! :)

  2. says

    I never knew there was something you could add to acrilics to make fabric paint! Thanks for sharing that! And your nautical pillow is great, I love the switch up with the heart. I’m just itching to see the rest of the bedroom makeover! :)

  3. says

    Wow, Lauren! Your pillow looks like it came right out of a high-end catalog – I love it! Especially adding the heart with the white behind it; the perfect touch. I can’t wait to see your “new” bedroom, I’m sure it will be amazing!

  4. says

    Yay for freezer paper! I don’t know why I keep pushing this medium off you make it seem so simple! I love the allover print, and I think you were spot on for adding the heart. (and we must have been on the same crafty brain wave this month because I did an anchor as well! You know what they say great minds think a like! :) )

  5. says

    You know I love this! <3 Thanks for the free cut file. I'm totally going to make something with that pattern! And a big ol' thanks for including me on this challenge. So fun!

  6. says

    This is so cute, Lauren! The colors are just perfect… the white outline on the red heart is genius! And that heart adds such a sweet touch!! I can only imagine what you are cooking up in your nautical bedroom!! I can’t wait to see it!

    Can’t wait to get my Silhouette!! Should be here within the week! I am booking a flight now for a weekend tutorial with the best of the best!! Florida sun and crafting on the dock! We can drag an extension cord out there!! Mmmkay? Mmmkay!

  7. says

    Lauren…how cute! I’m a sucker for all things nautical…with a Coastie as a daughter, that’s kind of a given, right? Thanks for the tips on freezer paper stenciling, I’m thinking that when I visit her in Jan I’ll bring some stencils and we can have some fun making pillows for her new apartment!

  8. says

    This looks so effective – the navy and white combo looks so smart. I love the “suprise” heart nestled among those anchors.
    I’m intrigued by the freezer paper – I’ve seen it a lot on the web but it’s not sold here in Australia – maybe one day……

  9. says

    Wow, Lauren I absolutely LOVE this project! My mother-in-law would have LOVED this, before she fell victim to Alzheimers. My in-laws took early retirement, purchased a catamaran and modified it with a kitchen, dining area, and sleeping for 8 and then sailed for 10 years…yup! 10 years on the seas!

  10. says

    Taking a break from working on my paper, and thought I’d stop by the beloved Thinking Closet! Sorry it’s been a while…what was I thinking??! Temporary insanity, perhaps. Oh how I’ve missed it! I’m loving these nautical pillows…especially the little heart included. It spices things up! Your bedroom is certainly coming together. I’m looking forward to the upcoming big reveal (and also feeling a bit special since I’ve seen some of the recent changes in person)!!! xo p.s. The Monday Mess Movement post was fantastic…we Castelli’s have that creatively messy thang down.

  11. Marmie says

    The nautical stencils looked so great…when I first saw the pillow I assumed the anchors were part of the fabric. The red heart is a great touch especially for the bedroom! I can’t wait to see the big reveal and also the messy post.

    This post is so appropriate for Veteran’s day, esp. for those who served our country at sea–“I joined the Navy to see the sea, and what did I see, I saw the sea!”

    • Marmie says

      I loved seeing that pillow and your nautically-themed bedroom in person! What a joy to see the creativity of BOTH of you beloveds!

  12. says

    Saw your messy post yesterday and had to pop over to see the pillow! Cute cute cute. Love the heart! Looking forward to seeing more of this master bedroom re-do.

  13. says

    I LOVE this nautical pillow! Makes me wish I had a Silhouette to create cool designs like that. I’m stuck with an x-acto and don’t think I’d have the patience to cut out that many anchors! ha! Can’t wait to see your master bedroom makeover!

  14. says

    Gorgeous pillow Lauren!! This would be perfect in my living room!! Thanks for the cut file and the awesome tip on that paint!! How cool is that!?

  15. says

    Finally having a chance to go through all the Silhouette Challenge project inspiration– I’m like a [big] kid on Christmas but earlier!!

    Lauren, you’ve outdone yourself yet again!! These pillows look so easy yet absolutely stunning! I CANNOT WAIT to see how your room comes together. The nautical theme is so close to my heart since I’ve always been a fan of Navy Blues, swimming, and well any water sport. Fishies are beautiful too!

    Keep on being fabulous!!

  16. says

    Love love love! All these posts are making me want to redo my entire house! I love doing freezer paper stencils. They are one of my top sellers in my shop. Slower this time of year, but really pick up at wedding season. Thanks again for opening this opportunity for me.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Aw, thanks for the share, Jamie! You show me so much FB love, I don’t even know what to do with you. Okay, I know: a knock-you-over virtual hug is comin’ your way riiiiiight…NOW!

  17. says

    Obsessed. Can one be obsessed with a pillow? Can now! So cute and I love that you used the good ol’ freezer paper method! I absolutely cannot wait to see the full room reveal. I know it’s going to be totally amazing because ummmm… pillow and wardrobe. Already awesome. I can only imagine what the rest will be like!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      My nautical anchor pillow asked me to thank you for your very generous words, Thalita. It says, “Yes, yes, you can be obsessed with me. I will allow it.” Ha ha. (I don’t know why, but personification gets me every time.)

      And thanks for your exuberance about our master bedroom re-do! It’s coming along! Day by day. Project by project. I just need to grow a few more arms to get everything done by the deadline I’ve set for myself. Maybe my magical talking nautical pillow can help me out with that. 😉

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Thanks, Heather! Still some key items to cross off on my TO MAKE list. Wish we lived closer so you could pop over to help me with styling. You rock with that, girlfriend!

  18. says

    I think your project was awesome and that’s why I featured it at Craftionary.. :) Thanks for linking up at The weekly creative.. Come by and see other fun projects that got featured along with you.
    Have a great weekend! :)


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