First Attempt at Fabric Art

Our first attempt at fabric Art

NOTE:  This was going to be part 1 of 2; but the boys really did not show that much excitement or interest in the fabric art, and have not asked about it since we finished it – so as I had no clear “what to do with this creations once it was done” (that is it was not a gift or part of a bigger project) I am just going to let it fade.  We did it, I learned some stuff.  I DO have some holiday plans using this technique but for now we will not go back to it

Oyyy I am getting brave, or nuts.  I actually tried fabric art with my boys.  MY BOYS and NON-washable paint.  Yes, me.  I know you can’t believe it, I can hardly believe it myself.  ??

After I bought the paint, I just sat and looked at it like, uhhh do I really want to try this??   Boy the changes in me now that I am not only a mom to 2 boys but as a homeschooling mom of 2 boys.  Believe it or not the “home school’ title does push me – I can’t skate and say “oh they do messy art at pre-school” or “they can ______ at school” it is all me, as it should be, but I have to go beyond my comfort zones to be sure I am giving them a full experience.   No cool projects coming home, they are making them AT HOME.  I love it this way – I am growing right along with them.   They push my comfort zone along at a dizzying pace.

Inspired by this blog post by a dear Momma’s buddy:

The original art project she worked from can he found here: and here

I started with some 24 month one-ies that were too stained to hand-me-down.  I pulled them tight over cardboard to hold the fabric for the boys.  This allowed the fabric to be stretched tight, and held kind of still for the boys, it also gave it a “handle” of sorts to be grabbed by the boys and by momma when wet.

The plan was, to remove it, restrech it, and have them paint the other side.  This proved to be a mistake!!  (you’ll see)

I did a simple design in washable glue (Elmers School glue) the night before; a butterfly on one and a happy face on the other.  Frankly, at the time, I had a hard time thinking of big simple objects to do for them.I had the boys use actual paintbrushes and talked a lot to Big Brother about not “scrubbing” the brush and painting in one direction.  Little Brother was annoyed not to get to paint on his hands and body, and did not seem all that interested in the project.

This was the first time we worked on one-paint-brush-per-color and they stay here.  Big Brother just doesn’t think it is art unless he gets to mix colors, mixing the colors is all he is really interested in, not the picture or the project.

It seems so obvious now, that the cardboard would be a bad idea.  The paint and glue soaked though the fabric and “glued” the fabric to the cardboard anyplace they touched – so the whole area of the “art”.  The fabric stuck to the cardboard.  I realized as I tore the fabric off the backing, that maybe if I had removed it wet and then just hung the fabric on the drying rack to dry things might have been better.  Live and learn.

As it was, I did not think of that in time, though, again, the paint and glue sticking the fabric to the cardboard seems so obvious in retrospect.  I torn the fabric off the cardboard and tossed the 2 pieces in the washing machine on hot.

I was lucky, yes there was a little brown paper in the washer after the run,

no more than if I had washed a brown receipt, and the fabric was FINE.

All the paper came off and no damage was done to the art.  I was really astonished at how clearly the glue design was.  The school glue of course prevented the paint soaking into the fabric; then it washed out.  The paint being non-washable did not wash out (and did maintain its color well) and the glue did – thus the nice white patterns.  I can see letting the boys use this to make a flag for the family, or for their room; I was really happy.   My uncreative mind is already churning on how to make useful or practical Christmas gifts with this process (for the boys to give).

Things learned:

  1. paint and glue soak though the fabric and attach to cardboard and thus attach the fabric to the “backing”
  2. the boys are still really ready for “pictures” they just enjoy the process of getting messy and mixing the colors and that is just fine.
  3. Big Brother really needs more work on fine motor; if he holds the brush correctly he has no strength behind it.


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7 responses to “First Attempt at Fabric Art

  1. Carolyn Bledsoe

    I think your project looks very interesting. I also think it might have been a little too involved for kids their age. ?? But who am I to say? You’re an awesome mom and you come up with great ideas for your boys. I know they’ll remember making painted onesies!

    • Yes. you are right. I did not really involve them, i just had them paint it – then showed them “how cool it was” after i washed it. They just didn’t seem to like the real paint brushes rather than sponges or sponge brushes and did not like my “let’s not mix the paint” directions. Big Brother loves to mix colors and Little Brother like to paint with his hands. :0

  2. Alex

    LOVE this, thank you so much. I plan to try this with R. and your descriptions made it all a lot clearer. Beyond the instructions, this was also a really delightful read! We’ll be doing a copycat project soon.

    • You must send me a photos or three — I’ll do a blog post about your attempt to copy us, using the things i learned. That’ll be so cool. I bet your DD does a better job at it — being a bit calmer and a girl and all that.

      You cannot possibly teach your children everything they need to know. But you can give them one thing they need to learn – a positive learning attitude. ~ Clay Clarkson

  3. Grandma

    I dont know what to put in web site. about progjects, live and learn, they will remember
    your trying.

  4. I think they turned out cute!! My cardboard didn’t stick, but I think because I kept messing with it as it was drying because I was anxious. I actually started washing mine before it was 100% dry because I couldn’t hold out any longer!

    Make a volcano- LOL- you’ll see what I am talking about if you read the blog. 🙂

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