For this craft we've been inspired by beautiful polar land and seascapes to create painted polar pillows of penguins and icebergs.

Suitable for ages: 7 years and up
Time required: 2 x 1 hour blocks (drying time required)
Difficulty: 4 out of 5
Related Exhibitions: Elysium Arctic / Wildlife Photographer Of The Year

The finished penguin pillow

Down in Antarctica there are penguins, bergs and impasto blue skies; ice white shores, swirling winds and wondrous wilderness... 


What You'll Need:

  • 2 metres of light-coloured pre-washed cotton fabric (old sheets work well)
  • Fabric paints in blue and white (we used Permaset Aqua inks in white, junior navy and glow blue)
  • Brushes and sponges for painting
  • A water container
  • Scissors
  • Polyfill stuffing
  • White/blue thread
  • An iron
  • Dressmakers pins
  • A sewing needle
  • A sewing machine (optional)
  • A4 Penguin and iceberg pattern templates – Penguin Part 1, Penguin Part 2, Iceberg Small Part 1, Iceberg Small Part 2, Iceberg Large Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

To Make:

Step 1.
Cut out your templates and trace them onto your fabric.

trace pattern

trace pattern

Step 2. 
Carefully cut out your penguin and iceberg fabrics.  

wet fabric

Step 3, 
Dampen the fabric shapes all over with some water and a sponge. This will help our paints spread easily.

paint fabric

Step 4.
Time to paint! This design is lots of fun because you can just swish the brush with your fabric paint back and forth and be as messy as you like and it still looks great. You might like to experiment with different types of brushes and textures. Start painting with the darkest tone and add lighter blues and white tones next. Ensure you don’t lay the paint too thickly.

 Don’t forget to wear your apron and roll up your sleeves —fabric paint doesn’t come out of clothes easily.

painted fabrics

Step 5. 
Once you've finished your painting, carefully lay out all the pieces to dry. They should take about 2 hours to dry completely.

Step 6. 
Iron your pillow pieces for 15-30 seconds each to heat-set your paints.

iron fabrics

Step 7. 
Place your pillow pieces with the painted sides facing in and use dressmaker's pins to pin the seams together. Remember to leave a 3-4 centimetre gap at the bottom to allow you to turn the pillow the right way out and add the stuffing.

pin to sew

Step 8. 
Sew your pillow pieces together by hand or with a sewing machine.

seamed fabrics

Step 9. 
Add some polyfill stuffing to your pillows, being sure to stuff right into all the corners.

adding stuffing/ polyfill

Step 10. 
Once your pillows are stuffed, close off the opening with a running stitch.

sticking up the seams


You're done!
Now it’s time to nestle between the icebergs, hug a penguin, lie back and dream of Antarctica!

finished pillows


We’d love to see your creations! 
Please send us photos either by email to: or tag us on Instagram - just tag the photo with our username

You might also enjoy...


How to make a penguin soft toy
Whale and krill finger puppets
How to make whale and krill finger puppets
How to make a no-sew Steampunk Soctopus
How to make a no-sew Steampunk Soctopus
How to make polar pom poms
How to make polar pom poms
How to make a woven turtle
How to make a woven turtle
How to make ice cube polar bear paintings
How to make ice cube polar bear paintings