muse monday: inspired by boring fabric

Got boring fabric? Try some fabric painting fun to jazz it up a bit and turn it into something you actually WANT to use! Here’s the technique I’m giving a demo on at the Craft & Hobby Association’s 2010 Winter Trade Show today:

  1. Start with some boring fabric. If you’re going to use it to make my fabric-painted rosettes, then cut it to be 18″ long. The piece below is about 9″ or 10″ by 18″. The enamel tray is great for containing the mess. Otherwise, you could cover your surface with freezer paper or plastic. (Tape it down taut for a smooth finish.)
  2. fabricpainting01

  3. Using a 1″ paintbrush and Liquitex Soft Body Acrylic Paint (the ones in the plastic jars) make random diagonal brushstrokes across the fabric. I used Brilliant Purple here. Dip the paint brush in a little water if you wish, but don’t use too much water at this point because you want to have some opaque areas that block the pattern and some translucent ones that let the pattern peek through. See the lighter sections of purple in the brushstrokes below? That’s where the paint is not watered down. This will dry opaque and cover the pattern. The darker parts of the brushstrokes with the pattern showing through have less paint and more water.
  4. fabricpainting02 Now add more water to the paint to make a thinner consistency and cover the entire piece of fabric with a thin coat of paint. You can leave a few scattered sections of fabric unpainted if you wish.
  5. fabricpainting03 Add in some more thicker areas of paint.
  6. fabricpainting04 Use a stencil to add some bling. I used Liquitex Soft Body Acrylic in Iridescent Rich Gold. I’m stenciling right on the already wet/damp fabric. This will make the pattern slightly less distinct, but more interesting. The water also holds the stencil in place so it makes things easier in that respect: you don’t have to worry about the stencil shifting. Place it straight down, dab the paint into the holes, and lift it straight up again. Repeat as desired. fabricpainting05
  7. fabricpainting06

  8. Next comes stamping. Use a paint brush to apply paint to foam stamps. Use less paint for a distressed look or completely cover the stamp for a complete image. If you start out with more paint you can stamp multiple times before reloading with paint and get ghost images. Just don’t put so much paint on the stamp that it oozes over the edges of the stamp. Stamp some images while the paint is still wet and then wait till it dries (or use a hair dryer like I do to speed up the process) and stamp some more to get distinct edges. Notice how the some of the purple checks are fuzzy. They were stamped onto wet fabric. The distinct checks were stamped after the fabric was dry. fabricpainting07 fabricpainting08 fabricpainting09 fabricpainting10
  9. Finally use a small paintbrush on dry fabric to add details. Outline bits and pieces of the design showing through as well as some of the images you stamped, or just doodle. fabricpainting11

Voila! Now you have a fun piece of fabric to use for quilting, embellishing, and more! It would make a fabulous background for ATCs (artist trading cards) or fabric postcards. It would be great for an art quilt, but not so much for a quilt you’d want to snuggle with. Depending on how thickly you apply the paint, the fabric can come out a bit stiff. On the positive side, the painted fabric has more body and resists raveling. Tune in tomorrow to find out what I made with this piece of painted fabric (and get a tutorial too!)

Want more fabric painting fun? Check out Judi Hurwitt’s Rescuing Ugly Fabric post at the Approachable Art blog.


  1. Oh my gosh! You couldn’t be sweeter… I was reading along with your ugly fabrics tutorial, giggling a little because it feels like it’s all I’ve been doing for a few weeks and then I got to to the bottom of the page and saw that you linked to me. Thank you!! 😀

  2. This is great, Laura. Thanks. By coincidence, I had just slopped paint on a bit of fabric, but much more timidly. Now I will get BRAVE. Thanks again.


  1. […] Today I demonstrated fabric painting and fabric ribbon rosettes at the CHA Winter Trade Show. For those of you who couldn’t make it, here’s an online tutorial for fabric ribbon rosettes just for you. (Click here for my CHA fabric painting tutorial) […]

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