I love beautifully decorated pillows. However, I take care of children in my home and have grandchildren here often too. So my pillows have to be washable and comfortable....because they are used.
Here is an idea that you can do to decorate a plain pillow while keeping it comfortable at the same time. For the front of the pillow use 2 layers of any solid color fleece. Use thread that matches the color of the fleece and stitch on any design you like. I just stitched a few straight lines to mimic a plaid However, you could trace and stitch circles, an outline of an animal or flower or simply some vertical squiggly lines. The stitching sinks into the 2 layers of fleece giving you a beautiful detailing. Yet the pillows remain comfortable and washable. You only need one layer of fleece for the back of the pillow as you're not putting stitch detail on it. I prefer an envelope style pillow cover with a velcro closure on the back I also use pillow forms so I can easily remove them to wash the covers.