How to Give a $4 IKEA Pillow a Palm-Patterned Makeover

Pin this brilliant project and save it for a sunny day: Brush an inexpensive IKEA pillow cover with solar-activated dye, lay some leaves on top, and watch in wonder as the sun’s rays turn the white pillow an eye-popping orange. Of-the-moment palm patterns and new dyes in modern colors make this a fresh take on the classic blue sun print. And the best part? The look on your friends’ faces when you tell them you made it yourself.

What You’ll Need



  • Paper towels
  • Sponge brush


1. Press the leaves you’d like to use inside a heavy book for at least one day. The flatter the leaves are, the sharper your sun print will be.

2. Unzip the pillow cover and line the inside with a layer of paper towels to prevent the dye from seeping through to the other side. Working in an area with as little natural light as possible, brush one side of the cover with an even coat of a 1:1 solution of dye to water. Arrange the leaves on the cover. While the dye is still wet, cover the project with newspaper and bring it outside to a bright, sunny area.

3. Once you’re in a sunny spot, uncover the project and quickly adjust the leaves if they shifted. Work as quickly as possible because the dye will start changing color as soon as it’s exposed to the sun. Place coins on each section of leaf to weigh it down and create crisp edges. Wait the recommended exposure time for the dye color you’re using (follow the chart here), or 10 to 20 minutes for orange dye. Re-cover the project with newspaper before bringing it inside.

4. Remove the paper towels, and wash the cover immediately using hot water and SolarFast Wash. If all of the dye isn’t rinsed off, it will continue to develop, and the leaf pattern won’t be as white. I hand-washed mine for about 10 minutes before hanging it to dry in a sunlight-deprived bathroom (finally, a perk of having a windowless room in your house). When the cover is dry, fill it with a pillow insert, and let it add a vibrant pop of palm pattern to your home.

Now it’s your turn! Play around with brushing this dye on any fabric or thick art paper you have lying around—the possibilities are endless. Be sure to share your sun prints with us on Instagram, using the tag #ATinspired.

Interested in the other projects in this room? Check out the how-tos for the pendant lamp, mirror, and rope-wrapped baskets.

Re-edited from a post originally published on July 15, 2016


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