Explore folk traditions that call out to your artistic spirit. Make the applied art of colonial America your very own with these designs for the bedroom.

Patterned lampshade

Reinvent Early American folk art for this century by using fabric markers to beautify a lampshade. Two tips: Look at images of Colonial-era tole painting or early quilt designs for inspiration. Color in one part of the design at a time and let it dry before moving on to another.

Folk art bedroom and side table

Slumber in Early American style when you upholster a headboard in reproduction fabric from an online site such as American Folk and Fabric or Colonial Williamsburg. Our version took only one hour to complete!

Materials for headboard

What You’ll Need

  • Plywood or MDF backing cut to desired size (our queen-size head-board measures about 5 x 4 feet)
  • Folk art–style fabric (enough to wrap around the backing)
  • Quilt batting on a roll (enough to wrap around the backing)
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Screwdriver and screws
  • Wall cleat (we used Rockler 18-inch Heavy-Duty Mirror and Picture Hanger)

Lay uncut fabric facedown on a large, clean work surface. Add a single layer of batting. Top with the MDF.

Cut fabric and batting so there’s an extra 3 inches on the perimeter (so it will reach to the back of the MDF).

Starting in the middle of one side, wrap the fabric and batting around to the back of the MDF. Secure with staples, leaving corners open. Repeat steps on the opposite side, pulling the fabric and batting taut as you go. Repeat on other two sides. (See our tutorial for an upholstered headboard here.)

For neat corners, clip out a square notch of the extra batting and fabric, then tuck them in so they lie flat and staple in place.
Attach the headboard to a wall stud using wall cleats.

Folk patterned sham

A 26-inch-square Euro sham provides ample white space for artsy appliqués. Cut simplified bird and flower shapes from paper-backed fusible web, then use the ironed-on templates to cut shapes from fabric scraps. Using a machine zigzag stitch, apply the shapes to the front of the sham.

What You’ll Need

  • Pencil and paper
  • Lightweight paper-backed fusible web
  • Scissors
  • Cotton quilting-weight fabrics in colors that match your bedding
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Plain ivory Euro shams
  • Coordinating thread
  • Sewing machine
Applique shape

Draw your appliqué shapes. Keep motifs simple—we pulled ours from the folk art–inspired quilt. Place fusible web over your shapes and trace them onto the web with a pencil.

Cut away excess webbing (leave about a 1/8-inch edge around designs) and place all appliqué pieces that will be cut from the same fabric about ¼ inch apart on the wrong side of fabric. Fuse shapes to fabric with an iron, following manufacturer’s instructions. Repeat the process for the shapes you will cut out from other fabrics.

Cut out appliqué pieces along the edge of each motif. Leave the paper backing in place until you’re ready to arrange your pieces on the sham. This will help you indicate the wrong side of the fabric.

Opened sham

Open the seams on your Euro sham and lay the top on a flat ironing surface, right side up. Arrange your appliqué pieces on the sham.

Applique pieces

When you’re happy with the arrangement, remove the paper backing from the fusible web. Following manufacturer’s instructions, iron the appliqué pieces in place.

Sham applique detail

Using the sewing machine on a fine zigzag setting, position the presser foot so the right swing of the stitch will be next to the edge of the appliqué. The left swing of the needle will then come onto the appliqué. Begin stitching along a continuous edge rather than a corner and outline an entire shape.

Applique design

The stitch should secure just the edge of the appliqué. Continue to stitch around all the appliqué pieces.

Reconstruct the Euro sham and insert a pillow form.

Bedroom with folk art patterns

Bring together the many colors and patterns of folk art bedding by crafting a boho-style garland from tassels and pom-poms. String the yarn creations on twine, leaving enough room between them to clip on favorite photos.

Photo on pompom tassel garland

Print that backlog of photos on your smartphone and create a rotating display of clip-on snapshots.

What You’ll Need

  • Yarn (synthetic is actually best; it gets fuzzier and frays better!)
  • Cardboard
  • Fabric scissors
  • Pom-pom maker (Clover brand, 2-inch size)
  • Waxed thread or floss
  • Large-eye tapestry needle
  • Twine
  • Small clothespins

Following directions below, make tassels and pom-poms in different sizes, colors or color combinations. String pom-poms and tassels using a tapestry needle and twine and leave about 6 inches between each. Finish with a knotted loop at each end of the twine for hanging. Add small clothespins between poms and tassels. Hang garland and suspend favorite photos from the clothespins.


Wind yarn 20 times around a 6-inch-long cardboard rectangle. (The finished tassel will be about the same length as the rectangle.) Cut through yarn strands at one end. Remove yarn, keeping the other end’s looped strands together—this is the opening through which you’ll thread the garland twine (see above). Using the same color of yarn, tie around the strands about ½ inch from the top. Repeat steps to make more tassels.


Wrap each arch of the pom-pom maker with the same color yarn. The more you wrap, the fuller the pom-pom will be.

Snip the yarn along the middle of both arches. Place 12 inches of waxed thread or floss around the middle of the arches. Tie the snipped yarn together very tightly. Flip it over and tie in a double knot to secure well.

Open the arches and pull them apart. Trim the edges of the pom-pom to create a perfect sphere.

Photography by Chris Hennessey

© Caruth Studio