My garden shed project is continuing. I've had an idea in my head for fabric for the cushions for a couple years now. I wanted something bold that would stand out from afar. I also wanted something cheap. I decided to print my own using a printing technique I have used in the past on the walls of our living room and hallway. I thought it would be a fun summer project that Julia might like to help out with. Although she wasn't too into helping, she likes how the fabric turned out.
Here's the stamped faux wallpaper in the stairwell in our house.
I started with a drop cloth for painting that I found at the hardware store. It's canvas, heavy duty and I knew it would be absorbent. And the price was right - $10 for 5 yards. I washed and dried it to get out any impurities. Then I cut the fabric into the size I needed. I ironed the canvas using lots of steam to try to get out many of the wrinkles.
The cushions are going to be outdoors and will eventually fade and mildew. I didn't want to invest too much in expensive fabric considering the cushion covers will probably be tossed in a couple of years.
Here's how I printed the fabric:
Step 1: I drew out some of the flowers on white paper and traced the design on the fun foam. This is the fun foam that is really easy to find in craft stores and sometimes at drugstores. If you can find the fun foam with an adhesive back, use it. You'll save some gluing and drying time.
Step 2: I cut out the shapes from the foam. Kids fun foam is really easy to cut. You can get much more intricate than my shapes. I was going for bold and bright so I kept my flowers simple.
Step 3: I glued the fun foam flower shapes to grayboard insulation I had hanging around the house. With a sharp knife, I cut around the shape. Grayboard is very brittle and easy to use - you just need to slice through it about 1/2" and the shape will snap off.
Step 4: Keeping in the frugal vein of the project, I decided to use latex paint I had hanging around my paint closet. If you've seen photos of my house, you can imagine how many cans of leftover paint there are in that closet! I also mixed up some colors I was missing by mixing acrylic tube paints with the latex.
Although I'm not sure how durable, etc. the latex paint will be on the canvas, I figured I would keep things simple. The cushions probably won't last more than a couple of years outdoors. If I were to do this fabric printing project for an interior application, I would use Jacquard's fabric paints which give a nice soft hand to the finished fabric. But since I was being frugal, not this time!
Using a foam brush, I neatly painted the flower stamp with the latex paint. I flipped the painted stamp onto the fabric and pushed neatly and firmly all over the grayboard insulation so that the design would transfer to the fabric.
Here's the first flower on the canvas:
Step 6: I printed many of the flowers all over my canvas leaving lots of white space between the flower shapes.
As you can see, I got bored with just one flower shape and color and by the second piece of cloth, I added a few more flower stamps. I printed the different shapes in different colors.
Step 7: With different shades of green paint and many different leaf stamps, I added a bunch of leaves to the flowers.
Using a wine cork, I stamped centers into some flowers.
Here's all the stamps I used for this fabric printing project.
Here are some photos of details of the fabric. I love how this technique turns out - nothing is quite perfect. The texture of the canvas shows through. Where the leaves overlap the flowers, the colors mix and look really interesting and handmade.
Here are the two patterns I developed for the two orange wicker chairs that live on the porch of the garden shed.
I love how my fabric turned out - bold, cheerful, and summery. I've got to sew the cushions now and get a good photo of the chairs for you all. I've also got a second pattern I'm working on for two other outdoor chairs that I'll share as soon as I can get them finished and photographed.
I originally learned about fabric printing with foam from my friend Lisa Curry Mair who makes traditional canvas floorcloths in Vermont. Lisa uses foam printing on many of her floorcloths. She also wrote a great book called Floor Cloth Magic. On Lisa's Canvasworks website, she has a movie showing all the steps of making a floor cloth which is really helpful.