Sugar Skull Pillow Cover

Courtesy of Fabric Indulgence

Visit Fabric Indulgence's Website to purchase all fabric and paints
used to create this wonderful project!

Use these instructions for a fun and easy version of
Sugar Skulls without the weight gain!


  • Pure organic cotton fabric (pillow case front)
  • Linen weight or upholstery fabric (pillow case back)
  • Pillow or pillow insert to fit inside 18” square cover
  • Interfacing, like fusible fleece
  • Silk ribbon, 2” wide (optional)
  • Sugar Skull image
  • Jacquard Textile Color (White and Fluorescent: Yellow, Orange, Pink, Red, Green, Violet)
  • Jacquard Lumiere 3D (Bright Copper, Emerald, Poppy, Turquoise, Warm Gold)
  • Jacquard Lumiere (Pewter)
  • Embroidery Floss (optional)
  • Iron
  • Kitchen sponge
  • Masking
  • Palette or container to hold paint
  • Pencil
  • Pins
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Self-healing mat with grid (optional)
  • Sewing machine and/or sewing needle
  • Taklon, or other, synthetic brush
  • Tape
  • Thread


Step 1
Choose the front fabric for your pillow cover, cut it down to 18 inches square and tape it down (taut) to your working surface. I used Pure™ organic cotton fabric. Choose your colors: I used Jacquard’s Textile Color fabric paint to make bright, fun sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos or Halloween.

Step 2
Cut out your template for the sugar skull. I downloaded this one (shown in picture) just for the shape of the skull and design inspiration but NOT to reproduce exactly. If you can draw, then freehand is ok, too. Center your pattern on the front piece of pillow fabric, and outline the skull with a pencil.

Step 3
After you transfer your skull shape with a pencil, use a brush to fill the skull in with opaque white paint. Paint a thick layer of white so you can see the other colors clearly. Use two coats of white paint if needed.

Step 4
Use your creativity and imagination to draw the rest of the skull. You can also use the template you've downloaded to copy the eye and nose parts. Lay a paper cutout over the skull silhouette and use a pencil to press over the lines to make impressions on your white skull. Draw the rest of the design with pencil directly on the painted skull.

Step 5
I used the fluorescent Textile Color as my base for the main color areas. They provide the bright pizzazz that makes the skull jump off the fabric. Draw your designs with pencil. Take your time to create an original art piece that will sparkle with color. Use floral design, spirals, leaves or a catholic cross to mimic an authentic sugar skull. Paint in the design using Textile Colors.

Step 6
After the main designs are painted, you can go in with the detail. I used Lumiere 3D for a metallic, three-dimensional look. It was the best part! I loved coordinating colors and adding the final touches of detail. It really made the design pop.

Step 7
For the background: Use a regular kitchen sponge (fresh and well rinsed), and cut out a circle, star or any shape you want to repeat on the background. I used Pewter Lumiere fabric paint  to create a dark silver color. Spread the paint on a palette and lightly press the sponge onto the paint, covering the entire sponge evenly.

Step 8
Carefully plan out where you want the circles, and space them either symmetrically or randomly across the background. You will have to reapply the paint for each circle. A sponge with tighter holes will cover more evenly; I spun the stamp around to completely cover the fabric and then went back in with a brush and added more paint.

Step 9
Once your design is finished, you can start planning what color you want on the back of the pillow. I used a linen fabric that comes in a multitude of brilliant colors and has a nice weight for home decor. You can also create a wall hanging, or a quilt with a skull for each square. Color galore!

Step 10
Choose an interfacing for your pillow top to add weight to the cotton. I used fusible fleece to add a little loft so that when I embroidered, it would add dimension and weight.

Step 11
When you fuse the interfacing to the fabric you'll also be heat setting the paint. Set your iron to the hottest setting. Be sure to protect your iron and your painting by placing muslin or other cotton fabric over the top. The interfacing will be below the pillow top, with the fusible side up, so it sticks to the back of your painting. Iron until the fusible has bonded with the backside of your painted fabric.

Step 12
For the pillow back: Choose 1/2 yard of a 54-60" wide regular/linen weight fabric, or a 45" wide upholstery fabric. You’ll need the extra width to add weight to your pillow case back.

For 54" fabric: Lay the fabric down, and cut 18 inches off the length. Fold that piece in half and press. This will be the inside layer of the envelope pocket pillow back. You should now have an 18" x 18" square folded in half as well as the remainder of the other piece.

Step 13
Take the other linen piece (along the 18 inch side), and fold it so you have a large 8 inch hem. Then, fold in again so that the raw edge of the hem is inside the fold. This will add weight to the top piece of the envelope pillow back.

Step 14
Sew along the hem fold with a coordinating color or, for extra fun, choose a contrasting color. You can also hand stitch with embroidery floss for a more hand crafted look.

If you would like to add a contrasting ribbon trim for the outside edge, then follow the next three steps. If not, then continue on to step 18.

Step 15
Choose a 2 inch wide, silk ribbon, and fold it in half. Pin the ribbon to the outside edge of the pillow with the raw edges against the fabric edge. Overlap the ends.

Step 16
When you get to a corner, use extra ribbon to fold on either side. This will allow the trim to round the corner and create a little corner ruffle. Pin all corners.

Step 17
Pin the ribbon trim, and at the end match up the ribbon. Sew a seam to connect the two ends. Also, sew along all four sides 1/4 inch from raw edges. Trim the extra ribbon off the ends to 1 inch, and fold the edges down toward the outside edge of the fabric.

Step 18
Layer the back pieces on top of the pillow cover top so that their outside edges meet the outside edges of the top. You will have an opening in the center where you can slip the pillow insert. Sew around the outside edges. Turn right side out, and insert the pillow. I used our bamboo fill pillow inserts, and Fabric Indulgence also has corn fiber pillow forms.

Have fun coordinating your backing fabric with the front design, contrasting the color of ribbon trim for a fun finish or just keeping it simple with a plain edge. These pillows make great gifts and open your creativity to a variety of other projects.

Finished project

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Sugar Skull Pillow Cover

Customize your space with painted pillow covers using Jacquard’s professional quality, fabric paints! This project uses Jacquard’s Textile Color, Lumiere and Lumiere 3D along with embroidery to create multi-dimensional, bright and fun pillow covers. Pure organic cotton was used for the front of the pillow cover, and linen for the back. Measurements, painting instructions and a guide for how to cover a pillow are included in the project directions. Jacquard’s paints are permanent on any fiber and easy to heat set for long-lasting color.

Check out Fabric Indulgence for more creative tutorials