June 4, 2010

How to Frame Fabric Tutorial- Version 2

If you're like me, you probably see the fancy decor that is used to decorate homes in magazines and on television and you think to yourself, "How could I ever afford that?"  Well, today I'm going to show you another fun way to decorate your house on a budget and make it look like you spent a lot more than you did.  I am revisiting the idea of using fabric for wall art by using a different method, and will show you step by step exactly how to do it. In addition to being affordable, it's also quick and easy!
        The project I'm demonstrating for you today is something I did last weekend for my parents' house.  They needed some decor to cover a huge wall that is next to their staircase and everything they tried in that space was either dwarfed or looked awkward.   My mom knew that I had a similar challenge in my house and had solved the problem by making  fabric wrapped wall panels. So we decided to try the same thing at her house with a different fabric which resulted in a totally different look that fit well with their decor and completed the space nicely.

Step 1
Purchase canvas stretcher bars from an art supply store.  I would recommend a "serious" art supply store for artists instead of a large craft store- specifically a place where artists would go to buy canvas.

Determine before you go exactly what size you need because they are sold in many sizes.  They have tongue and groove joints on each end so any of the sizes can be put together to make something unique to your space.  They will range in price from 1 dollar up to 5 dollars depending on size and quality.  So you could end up spending about 4- 20 dollars per fabric panel for the wood frame.

Closeup of the tongue and groove

Step 2
Assemble the frame.  The photo below shows how the pieces fit together. 
Since the pieces are made of wood, and wood is not perfect, the bars may not fit together exactly perfectly.  Don't worry about that because the fabric will cover the entire thing and no one will ever know!

If you buy the sturdier variety of stretcher bars, 
you may need one of these to get the pieces completely together.

I held my frame like this and used the hammer on each piece.

Step 3
Choose the fabric composition. Once your frame is assembled, place your fabric on the floor face-up. Then put your assembled frame on top of the fabric in various sections to "audition" different compositions and pick one that is pleasing to you.  With the floral fabric that my  mom chose, we wanted to be sure to include some large flowers and some smaller ones in a variety of colors.

Step 4
Cut out the fabric.   Be sure to leave a couple inches around all sides so you will have enough to wrap the fabric around the frame and attach it.

Step 5
Iron the fabric.  The reason why I waited until this point of the project to do the ironing, is that it's much easier to iron a small piece of fabric.  The fabrics that work the best for this project are usually found in the home decor section of your fabric store.  They come in large widths and are slightly unwieldy on an ironing board.

Step 6
Attach the fabric to the frame.  Since you left a couple inches of extra fabric on each side, there should be enough to make it look very polished.  For this step, make sure the fabric is face down.  Make one fold and then another so that the raw edges are hidden. 

Using a staple gun, staple the fabric to the frame.  Attach one staple every 2 inches or so.  If you don't have a staple gun you can get them at hardware stores and many craft stores. All you need for this type of project is a light duty staple gun which will run about 10 dollars.  Warning: Once you realize how easy it is to use a staple gun, you may have the urge to reupholster everything in your house. :)

The only slightly tricky part of stapling the fabric to the frame, happens when you get to the corners. To avoid bulk, cut a square of fabric away as shown below.

Next, fold the fabric in toward the frame as you would if you were wrapping a gift.

Then, fold it over twice as you did earlier with the straight side, and staple it to the frame.

Voila! A masterpiece that even looks beautiful from the back.

Here's another look at the finished product.

If you are at a loss as to which fabric to pick for your project, browse through the home decor section of your fabric store.  They should let you take swatches home so you can see how the fabric will look in the room instead of under the fluorescent lights of the store. We had to try quite a few before finding the perfect one.

 And here's a look at the panels I made for my own living room.

 Have fun and I'd love to see photos of what your end product looks like!


Amber H. said...

I've been wanting to do this for sometime, however I haven't actively sought out frames or even specific cuts of fabric to do this with! I think your tutorial was very informative :D

And for those that are near IKEA, they sell frame sets that are 19.75" square for $4.99 each! The frames are solid pine, so I'm sure it'll hold up well. They are found in the fabric department of IKEA. Next time I go, I plan on buying some!

Dawn N. said...

Thanks for your sweet comment and thanks for the great tip about IKEA!

Vicki ~ FL said...

I'm with Amber on this project regarding frames. I have purchased my fabric though and was thinking of using artist canvas ... would the stretcher bars be less expensive at an art supply store do you think?

BTW, thanks for this tutorial that I found through Tip Junkie.

Dapur Emak said...

how to maintain those fabrics after you frame it?

I love what you did thank you for your tutorial