Fabric Embellishing

Skip the yards of pricey decorator fabric. Here are four room pick-me-ups from just a sheet and some artistic ingenuity.

Finding the Right Materials

Sheet Sources: White, 100-percent-cotton flat sheets make the best base. The biggest trick can be finding sheets not sold in a set. Project designer Jeni Wright likes JC Penney for this option -- and for its economical price point. A free option: Ask hotels for the torn or stained sheets they toss out. You can cut around tears and dye over any stains.

Color in a Cinch: Forget messy memories of stained hands -- and bathtubs -- from dunking fabrics to dye them. Today's dye products, such as iDye dissolvable packets by Jacquard (see jacquardproducts.com), do all the work in the washing machine.

Fiber-Friendly Paint: Scoping out the crafts and art supply stores for paints specifically made for fabric is logical for these types of projects. But if you've got a rainbow of acrylics already piled on the crafts table at home, pick up a bottle of acrylic medium to mix into these paints. It makes the acrylic paint dry soft on fabric and, when heat-set, can be washable.

Easy Artwork

What We Did: Don't consider yourself an artist? No sweat! We just stamped tons of small flowers in a mix of colors until they grew into enormous blossoms. Then, we secured the green-dyed twin sheet to a homemade wood frame like an artist's stretched canvas.

DIY Tip: The trick to stretching the sheet square and taut is in the order you attach the sides. Staple the top edge to the top of the frame first, always working from the middle out. Stretch it to the bottom of the frame next, then do the sides last.

Easy Artwork: Materials and Step 1


-- Sticky-back crafts foam

-- Marker

-- Scissors

-- Wood blocks from scrap wood

-- Acrylic paint

-- Paintbrush

-- Twin bedsheet

Using a permanent marker, draw or trace a simple flower shape onto several pieces of self-adhesive crafts foam (one for each color of flower you want to merge into the big blossom). Draw or trace a large leaf shape onto a piece of foam. The flower stems are easy to freehand with a paintbrush once you're done stamping.

Easy Artwork: Step 2

Cut out the foam flower shapes (don't forget the hole in the middle) and the leaf shape.

Easy Artwork: Step 3

Peel off the foam's backing paper and stick each shape to a block of wood to create a stamp.

Easy Artwork: Step 4

Use a paintbrush to dab paint onto the stamp. Put the paint on thick in some areas, barely any in others, to create the texture and dimension we got -- a chic Italian impasto look!

Easy Artwork: Step 5

Stamp one flower at a time, overlapping to create each large blossom. (Tape your sheet to a work surface.) Stamp the leaves with green paint, then brush on shading with beige, blue, and white.

Tasty Treatments

What We Did: With a little sewing instruction, we whipped up a standard Roman shade and a rod-pocket panel from one twin-size sheet to doll up a kitchen. Repeated stenciling (plus a splash of purple dye and green grosgrain ribbon for the cabinet skirt) jazzes up the once-plain sheet.

Tasty Treatments: Materials


-- Paper

-- Marker Stencil acetate

-- Stencil acetate

-- Scissors

-- Round stencil brush

-- Acrylic paint

-- Twin bedsheet

Tasty Treatments: Step 1

Trace or draw an eggplant body (or other veggie shape) onto a sheet of stencil acetate. Cut out the middle of the shape to make the stencil. Make a separate stencil for the eggplant stem and a smaller version for the pattern on the cabinet skirt.

Tasty Treatments: Step 2

Secure the sheet and stencil with tape. Use a stencil brush to paint the eggplant body first, working in a circular, outward motion. (If you can't find the perfect eggplant-purple, mix blue and red paints.)

Tasty Treatments: Step 3

While the base is still wet, shade the eggplant by faintly dabbing and blending lighter purple and white paint using the same circular motion.

Tasty Treatments: Step 4

When the eggplant is dry, tape the stem stencil in place and stencil it green in the same fashion. To repeat the pattern across the fabric, paint all the eggplants first, then clean your brush to paint the green stems.

Painted Table Runner

What We Did: A basic flat sheet transforms this dining space from drab to delectable. We fashioned the curtains from four sheet parts, stitching the tie-dyed tops to lightly colored bottoms and embellishing the seams with ribbon. An extra strip of sheet (dyed soft cream) makes a snappy table runner, personalized with painted handwriting.

Painted Table Runner: Materials and Step 1


-- Paper

-- Marker

-- Masking tape

-- Crafts knife

-- Stencil acetate

-- Round stencil brush

-- Acrylic paint

-- Twin bedsheet

Handwrite a word on a piece of paper with a thick marker. (Use the marker to further thicken parts of the letters, if needed.) Tape the word under a piece of clear acetate and use a crafts knife to cut out the letters.

Painted Table Runner: Step 2

Pick the perfect position for the word on your sewn table runner. With the runner and stencil taped in place, use a round stencil brush to paint on the word, dabbing paint evenly for a solid print.

Tie-Dye Curatins: Materials and Step 1


-- Twin bedsheet

-- Tie-dye kit

-- Ribbon or rubber bands

Accordion-fold from top to bottom each piece of sheet you want to tie-dye. Then, fold the entire folded piece in half the other direction.

Tie-Dye Curtains: Step 2

Tightly cinch the folded sheet with rubber bands or cotton scrap ties every 6-8 inches (or desired distance between tie-dyed stripes). Apply and set the fabric dye according to the manufacturer instructions.

DIY Tip: Washing-machine-applied dyes are very forgiving. Our blue curtains started off blazing royal until we rewashed them a couple times to tone down their brilliance, then washed them in an ecru dye for added softness.

Custom Canopy

What We Did: A queen-size sheet proved the perfect length for this billowing canopy. We dyed it periwinkle, framed it with fabric strips and punchy ball fringe, and artfully paraded stamped rosebuds and dots down the middle. Use fabric scraps to whip up a matching pillow.

Custom Canopy: Materials and Step 1


-- Paper

-- Marker

-- Linoleum block

-- Speedball cutter set

-- Rubber brayer (roller)

-- Acrylic paint

-- Masking tape

-- Queen bedsheet

Freehand draw a rosebud pattern on paper and cut it out. Trace around the pattern on the top of a linoleum block. Remember to flip the pattern so the finished print will be in the desired direction. Draw an oversize dot on a second block.

Custom Canopy: Step 2

Using wood chisels, carve away the areas of the designs you don't want to print. The chisels come in different sizes to make quick work of large areas and carefully shape fine details. To get the wood-print effect (the random lines that show around our design), don't chip off every surface.

Custom Canopy: Step 3

Roll paint evenly onto the raised parts of the stamp block. You'll get only one print per roll of paint; try to reload with about the same amount of paint each time.

Custom Canopy: Step 4

Tape down the sheet before painting so it won't wrinkle or move. Then, press the stamp onto the sheet where you want the pattern. For our splotchy, textured look, use uneven pressure as you stamp.

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