How to: Paint Fabric with Chalk Paint™

Today I am going to do a dye wash on the fabric of this chair. I painted this chair a while ago, it’s been done in Graphite with Dark Wax. I just wanted to add a little bit more colour to it because I think it’s looking maybe just a little bit dull.

So, it’s a drop in seat, I’m taking it out and now I need to know how much colour I’m going to add. What I am going to do is make a mix of this colour, Provence, with some water.

Now, every colour and every fabric is different. You never know, there isn’t a recipe
which you can say it’s going to be two thirds this or one-third that or whatever. You cannot do it because you never know. Each fabric is different – it absorbs in a different way – and each colour is different as well.

These are the same fabrics and they’re all done in different mixes, you just need to do a little test. This is cotton and these are linens. That’s the fabric as it was to begin with and that’s the colour was quite a lot of Primer Red for instance. You’ve got to test.

So, what I’m going to do is, I’m going to put a little bit of Provence there and now I’m going to find how much water I need to put in there. That was just a dab at the end of the brush. I’ve made there a mix which is really watery. You can see it’s quite transparent –you can see the black underneath. Now I’m just going to do a little bit there, that’s the bit that’s covered and what I wanted to do is to show the texture underneath. That seems to be fine to me. So it seems to me to be about half and half for this one.

Now I’ve got to decide where the masking tape is going to be, where the line is going to be. Am I going to do it right in the centre? Probably not. Probably better to do it, just off… just about there.

You can either have a large area or a small area. Just press down well, so that nothing goes under. The next thing is I am going to use the big brush actually. You don’t want to load this up with lots and lots of water. So, what I will do is I’ll wet it and then get rid of some of the water on there. The colour is there, the mix is there, but it’s not loaded up.

[Finishes painting] And now, I’m going to take the masking tape off. So that’s it! I think looking really, really nice! If you were going to do this on curtains or you were going to do pillows, cushions or anywhere else where you were a bit worried about – maybe you were going to wash it – you could heat seal it either by putting in the dryer or ironing it or putting it in the sun and that will just make it more colour fast.

So I’m now going to put it back into the chair. It looks really good I think!

Follow these simple steps to creating your own dye wash to paint fabric with Chalk Paint™!

You might not have the time or inclination to re-cover a dining chair with new fabric or perhaps you have a plain piece of fabric that you’d like to upcycle for a lampshade or cushion cover. This technique allows you to transform the look of fabric with paint. It’s the perfect method for adding a pattern, stripes or small areas of colour. Essentially, you’re using Chalk Paint™ as a fabric dye. This means diluting the paint with water to create a wash. You don’t want to cake on the paint or soak the fabric here – think of it as brushing on the paint to transfer the pigment onto your fabric.

Once you’ve followed this tutorial, you can practice painting on different fabrics. Natural materials like Cotton and linen will absorb the dye better. And how about colour? Choosing a stronger colour from the Chalk Paint™ palette will create a lovely, washed out version of that colour. Aubusson Blue will create a lovely pale denim blue. Provence a soft turquoise. Scandinavian Pink a wonderful dusty pink colour.

Step by step guide to painting on fabric

  1. Add a little water to your chosen Chalk Paint™ colour. You can do this in a bowl or paint tray, if you like. You want to dilute the paint until it’s quite transparent. To make sure you have got the amount of water right, it’s a good idea to test this out on an unseen bit of the fabric first.
  2. Mark out the area that you want to paint using masking tape.
  3. Dip your brush in the diluted paint and wipe off any excess on the side of your bowl or tray.
  4. Paint your fabric, making sure the surface is evenly covered.
  5. Remove the masking tape.
  6. Once dry, heat seal either by ironing or putting it out in the sun or by tumble drying.

Now you’ve learned how to paint on fabric, you’re ready to start. If you want to build up confidence, you can test out this technique out on fabric scraps or any parts of your project that won’t be seen. Whichever colour you choose or fabric you paint on, enjoy the process of experimenting to get the look you want. When you’re done, why not share your finished project with the Annie Sloan community using #AnnieSloan. For more inspiration, take a look at these mid-century modern chairs with dye-washed seats.

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