Apartment Living BlogDiy › This Easy No-Sew Cactus Pillow is for the Creative You

Southwestern style is trending right now, and what better way to bring that trend into your apartment than with throw pillows? It’s much safer (not to mention cheaper!) to pull trending themes into your space with small décor items than with large furniture or rugs that require a huge commitment.

Even if you don’t have a sewing machine, you can save money by making your own decorative throw pillows. I whipped up this cool cactus pillow cover in less than an hour so I could add a Southwest vibe to my living room.

Supplies Needed:

  • Solid color pillow cover (mine is from IKEA)
  • Iron
  • Iron-on adhesive (I use Heat’n Bond Ultra Hold)
  • Craft felt or fabric (for the applique)
  • Scissors
  • Embroidery floss
  • Embroidery needle


1. Iron your pillow cover to remove all wrinkles.

2. Cut a piece of iron-on adhesive the same size as the piece of fabric or craft felt.

3.Place your craft felt (or fabric), front facing down, on the ironing board and set the adhesive, paper side up, on top of the felt.

4. Iron the paper at medium heat until the adhesive is stuck to the felt.

5. Now it’s time to cut out the felt shapes. Sketch the cactus shape onto the paper that is adhered to the felt. The design will be backwards at this time because you’re sketching on the back side of the fabric.

6. When you’re satisfied with your design, cut out the shapes and place them on the pillow cover to test your layout. You’ve now made a fabric applique!

7. Peel the paper backing off the applique and place the applique fabric side up on the pillow cover.

8. Placing a piece of cotton (a pillow case works) over the felt design, iron until the applique is thoroughly attached to the pillow cover.

9. (Optional) To add the spikes to the cactus, thread brown embroidery thread through a large-eye needle. Pull the thread through the edge of the cactus once and tie a knot, then cut the loose thread short. Repeat along the edges until you have enough spikes.

A Few More Tips:

  • The total cost of this project was about $27. The biggest expense was the pillow cover, which I got for $20. To save even more, look for pillows with plain, removable covers at the thrift store. They usually cost less than $5.
  • I used embroidery thread and a needle to create the spikes on the cactus. However, a brown permanent marker could be used to create the same look without the use of a needle.
  • Iron-on adhesive comes in several strengths. I always use the strongest to make the pillow design super durable.

There you have it! If you can iron, you can customize your space with your own handmade throw pillows. I know this may look like a lot of instructions, but this project can definitely be completed in under an hour.

Decorative throw pillows can add a much-needed dose of character to any rented space, whether your style is modern, vintage or just plain quirky. And if you’re bored with your space, changing up the pillows can change the entire look and feel of your home. Once you’ve got the technique down, the possibilities of this DIY process are endless – from cacti to donuts and even geometric designs made from patterned fabrics.

Looking for more DIY décor ideas? Try these:

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About :

Jane Pearson is the writer of The Borrowed Abode, a blog sharing DIY projects, rental decorating ideas and knowledge learned in over ten years of renting all types of homes. Her projects have been featured on Apartment Therapy, Brooklyn Limestone, and IHeart Organizing, and she has worked with rental-friendly brands such as 3M/Command. Jane is also the owner and designer behind Janery, a pet bed and home décor business inspired by her love of interior design and her dislike of ugly pet beds. She and her husband currently rent a home in Vienna, VA with their two dogs, cat, and their daughter. Visit The Borrowed Abode


  1. Ok, so this isn’t related to the pillow per se, but I love the lamp in the background!

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