How To Print DIY Patterned Fabric

The mission: To find a patterned fabric in a color as close to my freshly painted walls as possible. The problem: Everything I found was totally over my budget. The solution: Printing my own pattern using basic cotton fabric, leftover latex paint, and a stencil.

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This little project, while time consuming, requires just a few supplies. Here's what you'll need:

• 1 stencil - I made my own stencil but you could just as easily purchase a pre-cut stencil. I love the selection at Cutting Edge Stencils.
• 1 small paint roller - I use this little roller for everything - painting tight spots on walls, stenciling, painting furniture. This little roller is a marvel and is a must-have for any decorative painters!
• 1 small container with lid - I prefer a lidded container for this project for two reasons. First, the container holds the paint and the lid can be used to offload the paint from the roller. Secondly, when you want to take a long break from painting, you can snap the lid on the container so the paint doesn't dry out.
• 1 can of paint - I used flat latex paint leftover from painting the walls to paint my pattern. Of course, you can use any paint of your choosing.

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One other supply that's not pictured above is scrap paper to place under your fabric. Unless you're able to print your fabric in a garage or workshop where it won't matter if the paint bleeds through the fabric, you'll need plenty of scrap paper. And if your fabric is thin, like the cotton I used, the paint will bleed through so don't say I didn't warn you!

With all of your supplies collected, it's time to get started printing your fabric! (This is also the perfect chance for you to do a couple of test stencils on your scrap fabric.)

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First, place your stencil on your fabric. I started at one corner of my fabric and worked from there.

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Dip your roller into the paint, liberally covering it. Run the roller across the lid a few times to offload the paint a bit. Then, while holding the stencil flat to the fabric with one hand, swipe the roller across the stencil, getting as much coverage as possible. You may need to apply a little pressure to the roller to get good coverage.

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You may need to re-dip the roller in the paint a time or two (offloading again, of course) to get complete coverage. Once you can see that you have covered the entire area of the stencil, peel it off the fabric and position it in the next area to be painted.

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I applied my stencil in a straight row up one side of the fabric and then moved over to the next row and did it all over again. I stopped to rinse the paint off the stencil after every third or fourth use. Like I said, this project does require a lot of sweat equity so queue up some tunes, pour yourself a glass of wine, and settle in for a few hours of stenciling fun.

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Eventually you will end up with patterned fabric and an achy back (and possibly drunk from that bottle of wine you opened).

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After allowing the paint to dry, turn your new patterned fabric into something fabulous. I printed my fabric for use as curtains but you could just as easily print your own fabric for upholstery or pillows or any number of things!

Images: Jason Loper

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