Make crafty pillow cases with sharpie markers and rubbing alcohol

I LOVE doing crafts at my daughter’s birthday parties! And since her 8th birthday was going to be her first slumber party, I thought something with a “sleep” theme would be appropriate.

Each guest got to make his or her own personalized pillow case!


  • cotton pillow cases (I got the cheap 2/$4 packs from Walmart)
  • sharpie markers (I suggest the set of 6 regular markers … black, red, blue, green, brown, yellow — pastel colors will not show as well)
  • 70% rubbing alcohol (I had to go to 3 stores before finding 70%.)
  • some sort of dropper (I got several small pipettes from Steve Spangler Science so that each kid could do their own!)
  • Plastic cups
  • Rubber bands
  • Optional: Iron on transfers (require a printer and clothes iron)

How to do it:

The setup for this project took longer than I expected. So if you are doing it for a party instead of just 1 kid, I suggest giving yourself plenty of time to prepare the pillow cases.

Prepare pillow cases by pre washing, drying, and ironing. .. You can get by without these steps if you are pressed for time.

Insert cups into the pillow cases, right side up. Arrange them however you want the circles of color to be arranged. Then smooth and secure the pillow case over the cups with a rubber band. – You want it to be flat across so that the kids have a surface to draw on and so that the rubbing alcohol will spread properly later on.

Set up the work area. A table should work fine. Place prepared pillow cases in front of each person’s chair and some markers in the middle. Have rubbing alcohol handy, but since it is smelly you should wait until you are ready for it before opening.

Start decorating! Instruct the decorator(s) to make small designs in the middle of the cup circles. A few 1/4 inch dots over an area the size of a quarter will be enough. Or they can draw something bigger. – The more ink you use, the more color you will get!

Add the alcohol. This is the part where it gets all scientific and magical. Drip 1 drop of rubbing alcohol at a time in the middle of the designs. Wait 2 or 3 seconds between drops and watch the colors explode!

After the rubbing alcohol has dried, you can set the colors by either throwing your pillow cases in a hot dryer or by ironing on the hot/cotton setting. … Since I iron on transferred each kid’s name on to their pillow case, I went ahead and ironed their images too.

How it went:

The rubbing alcohol part was a little stinky, but everybody at the party (men, women, boys, and girls) had a great time making their pillow case!

1 Comment

  1. Michelle on September 5, 2012 at 8:37 am

    It has been two years now. The pillow case is getting pretty faded from multiple washes and the iron on transfer is flaking off. But my daughter still enjoys her pillow case! It is a memory of a good time and she likes to show it off.