DIY Bleach Dot Pillow Cover

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It’s amazing that this DIY came together with a little cotton fabric and some bleach.  I was looking to achieve that messy, boho, vintage look with this DIY.  I love tribal and mudcloth fabric, but it can be so expensive!  This is a good way to kind of get the look without the price.  Here’s the tutorial for a DIY bleach dot envelope pillow cover.

Materials Needed

  • Enough non white, natural cotton fabric to make the pillow size of your choice.  I made a 16×24 inch pillow cover and I used a little less than 1 yard of fabric. I used this fabricNOTE:  It’s best to stick with a 100% natural cotton fabric, as other fabrics (like synthetic fabrics) don’t bleach well and may fall apart after bleaching.  You may want to bleach a test section to see how your particular fabric takes the bleach before committing to the whole piece.  
  • Bleach or bleach pen
  • container for bleach (NOT something used for food.  I used a planter saucer.)
  • Gloves
  • Safety Mask
  • Safety Goggles
  • Q-tips

It’s important to mention to be really careful when working with bleach.  It’s best to do this project outdoors where there is good ventilation.  Make sure you are fully protected with eye wear, a safety mask and gloves and that your clothes are covered.  You also want something underneath your fabric as you’re bleaching.  I used several plastic bags but even cardboard would work.  We wouldn’t want to bleach or stain whatever we are working on.  🙂


  1.  Cut the fabric pieces measuring the exact envelope pillow cover you are making.  Since I was making a cover sized 16×24 – I cut these two pieces:
    • 1 piece for the front was cut at 16 inches long  x 24 inches wide (I like my pillow covers full and tight so I make them the same size as the insert.)
    • For the back piece, I cut one piece of fabric at 24 inches long X 24 inches wide.  Then I cut this piece in half.  (How did I get 24 inches long?  Since my pillow is 16 inches in length, I added 8 inches for total seam allowance and to make sure it overlaps well.  The width is the same as the pillow size you are making.)
  2. You should now have THREE pieces of fabric.
  3. The front piece is what we are bleaching.  I kept my back pieces plain so we can set those aside for now.
  4.  Pour a little bleach into your container and dip in your q-tip.  Or just use a bleach pen!
  5. Start bleaching your pillow.  I used a pattern of dots and lines, but there is no right or wrong way to do this.  Try searching online for inspiration.  I wanted mine to have a somewhat messy vintage look to it.  
  6. Continue bleaching the whole front piece of fabric and re-dip your q-tip as necessary.
  7. TIP :  The bleach will spread a bit so use a light hand if you want a neater appearance or go heavy if you want them to run into one another a bit.
  8. Once finished, properly dispose of your bleach and leave your bleached fabric to dry.  The longer it dries, the more white it will turn.  It starts out red, then pink, then white.  This was mine as it was drying – the top area is already turning white!
    DIY Vintage Bleach Dot Pillow
  9. I left mine dry for about an hour and a half.  There is still some pink in there but I kind of like that.
  10. Rinse your bleached fabric well with cold water.
  11. Wash in a delicate cycle with a mild detergent and tumble dry low.
  12. Iron all your fabric pieces.  I also iron down a 1/2 inch seam, then folded that seam again another 1/2 inch for each of the back pieces.
  13. Now you are ready to sew!  Sew the back seams where you ironed them.
  14. Now line up your back pieces and front fabric piece with RIGHT sides together.  This means that you will see the ugly seam side of your back pieces as you are sewing.  Your back pieces will overlap – making the “envelope.”
  15. After you have sewn all four sides, flip the pillow cover right side out and insert your pillow form.  Done!
Pillows on a couch

This gives a vintage-y look to my pillow and adds a pop of pattern on an otherwise neutral sofa.

DIY Vintage Bleach Dot Pillow

I think next time I want to try a less busy pattern and let the bleach dry longer for a more white effect.  I’ll do another tutorial when I do!  What do you guys think?

Hope you enjoyed this DIY project.  Thanks for reading!

xo Karen

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5 thoughts on “DIY Bleach Dot Pillow Cover”

    • Thank you, Bonni! I didn’t find that the bleach weakened my fabric. It’s still holding up well! I would suggest you stick with a 100% cotton fabric though as I’ve read that synthetic fabrics can fall apart after bleaching. The fabric I used stated it was 100% cotton. If you are still wondering, you could always bleach a test section to see what happens.

    • Bleach always weakens cotton fabric. It simply burns it. To what extent depends on length of time and the volume. You may not see the breaking of threads until the fabric is washed, either once or a few times depending on the thickness of the fabric and density of the thread count.

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