Wall Art

I love fabric. Oh, spray paint is fun to hang out with and every now and then I flirt with woodworking, but me and fabric? We’re soul mates. I think everyone has that thing that they just *get* – my sister has it with food, especially icing and fondant for cakes; my mom has it with plants and gardening; my talented friend Lizzie has it with paper and ink. On and on. I’m sure some of it comes from familiarity and practice, but I like to think there’s a deeper connection there, something like finding that outlet for your personality in the physical world.

Huh, that got really weird and deep. I started writing this post because one of my favorite things to do with fabric is make wall art. My first foray into doing this was in my old apartment, and it came about as a solution to the conflicts between my love of color and my inherent laziness. I wanted color on the walls, but didn’t want to paint, because then I’d have to paint it back when I moved out. I mean, sure, I ended up living there for five years, but I didn’t know that at the time. So I bought 5 cheap 12″x12″ canvases and covered them in a bunch of fabric scraps that went with my living room furniture – a red couch and a green armchair.

For a post called "Wall Art", very few of these pictures feature canvases actually on the wall. If only I'd had the foresight to photograph these when they were actually hung up. Let's pretend I did it this way to be ironic or quirky or something.

For a post called “Wall Art”, very few of these pictures feature canvases actually on the wall. If only I’d had the foresight to photograph these when they were actually hung up. Let’s pretend I did it this way to be ironic or quirky or something.

Fabric wall art is a lot like making soup. Once you know the basic technique, the possibilities are endless. And the “technique” is so simple it’s hardly a technique at all. You need:

  • Canvases on wooden frames (beware: some of the cheapy ones are on plastic frames)
  • Fabric (this is a great use for remnants)
  • Staple gun

Cut the fabric to be about 2-3″ larger than the canvas.IMG_0995[1] Center the canvas face down on the wrong side of the fabric. Pull the edges of the fabric to back of the canvas and staple in place. The hardest part is the corners. I usually staple each side a few times, not getting too close to the corners, then I go back and pull the corner of the fabric back in a diagonal across the corner of the canvas and then fold down the two little flaps created on each side. Staple the crap out of every fold on the corner. Repeat for the other 3 corners and you’re done. Any excess fabric can be trimmed away.

Now we can get fancy. Fabric can look great on its own, but there are also so many variations possible. The original five canvases above were layered with a bunch of different fabric and ribbon, attached with fabric glue or extra staples at the back as needed. Make each canvas a standalone piece, as above, or have design cross all the canvases to unify them.

Add ribbon:

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The pinwheel things are made from folded ribbon. Liquid Stitch is your friend!

Or ribbon and wire and beads:

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The wire can be pushed through the canvas and the end bent to secure it.

Embroider letters:

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For embroidery nerds: the letters are outlined in Hungarian Chain Stitch and filled with a long satin stitch. And spoiler alert: there’s a houndstooth table in this blog’s future.

Or birds:

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I sketched the bird by hand, then scanned it into my computer and blew it up to the size I wanted, printed it and used transfer paper to add the pattern to the fabric. Maybe I’m weird, but I find it easier to draw things smaller. Once I have the proportions right, the computer can do the resizing for me.

This is currently up in my guest room. I embroidered the bird, then decided to add some more red by embellishing the print itself. I also added some upholstery tacks to each outside corner and middle top and bottom to help unify the three canvases.

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Also, because I had a bunch of these left over from another project.

And if you get tired of one look, or want to update, take a flat-head screwdriver and pry out the staples on the back. New canvas ready to be recovered! The last set (the ikat print) is on the same canvases as the red and brown set above.

All the canvases I’ve ever used have been very light, so I usually just hang them with a nail in the wall and the underside of top edge resting on the nail. If you’re hole-adverse, they could easily be hung with the 3M Command hooks that can be removed without damaging the wall. Easy peasy color!

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