Fabric is a staple in the home and one of the most versatile materials to DIY with. We’ve teamed up with our friends at Fabric.com to head down a fabric rabbit hole – exploring everything from fibers, to trends in patterns and colors, to the easiest projects you can create with fabric.
And for those of you who want to try your hand at a project, we came up with a super simple, stunning DIY wall art idea you can create using your favorite fabric and slats of wood.
Some of Our Favorite Fabrics to Try in Your Home Right Now
Whether you’re considering a very basic toss pillow cover, or thinking about whipping up a new set of drapes for your living room, these are some of our favorite prints, patterns, and fabrics to consider:
Indigo is a color that’s traditionally thought of as being somewhere between blue and purple on the color spectrum, and with a definite mood associated. It’s named after the Indigofera Tinctoria plant from which the dye is derived.
Pretty Plums & Blushes
We’re seeing plum colors and blushes coming back in a big way. These pink fabric shades are perfect for clothing (think: dresses, shoes, accessories). Of course, blush colored bridesmaid dresses come to mind quickly, but all sorts of pink clothing ideas make sense.
Bohemian (boho-chich) is trending hard right now, and for good reason. Boho clothing, rugs, home decor and and even jewelry are beautiful and simple to make or find. Would you make a boho wedding dress out of one of these fabrics? Not so sure; but maybe for some brave soul!
Ahhhh … florals. So calm, relaxing, and joyful. Any of these floral print fabrics would make a great wall-hanging (or even wallpaper, if you’re really creative). For that matter, you could take a nice picture of one and use it as a floral background for your phone or desktop.
Black & White
Black and white is always so simple, stunning, and classic. It’s just really hard to go wrong with a black and white color palette. Black and white curtains are a great way of incorporating some bold pattern in your decor. Or put that pattern on the floor as a rug, or over a couch as a throw!
Fibers are the basic components that make up fabric. There are two classifications of fibers: natural and synthetic (man made and regenerated) fibers. Natural fibers come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are derived from plants and animals.
Synthetic fibers are usually filaments that are extruded and cut to a desired length. Manufactured regenerated fibers are made from the chemical-induced transformation of natural polymers.
In a nutshell, fibers are organized into the following categories:
- Natural: Cotton, silk, linen (flax), hemp, leather, wool, and luxury fibers such as alpaca and angora.
- Regenerated: Acrylic, Acetate, and Rayon (and more)
- Synthetic: Polyester, Spandex, Nylon (and more)
- Blends: Poly/Cotton, Spandex/Cotton (blends aim to combine the best characteristics of each fabric, e.g. polyester/cotton blends breathe well and wrinkle less)
When working with fabric in home decor and design, these fabrics are the ones you will most frequently meet:
Cottons: Cotton is abundant, available in different styles, colors, and nearly every print and pattern you can dream up. Cotton fabric is prone to shrinking (remember to account for this when ordering), and should most certainly be washed and dried prior to use.
Best Use: light-filtering curtains, quilts, toss pillows
Heavyweight Fabrics – Duck, Canvas, and Denim: These fabrics are much heavier and thicker than basic cotton and are, therefore, substantially more sturdy.
Best Use: outdoor projects, toss pillow covers, upholstery
Flannel: Flannel is similar to a basic cotton, but one side is generally soft to the touch. Flannel is prone to pilling though, so take care with washing and caring for it.
Best Use: blankets, toss pillow covers
Wool: Wool is a natural fiber with built-in insulation properties. It’s also durable and 100% wool is fire retardant. In home decor, wool blends are ideal because they’re softer and less scratchy than 100% wool.
Best Use: blankets, toss pillow covers, upholstery
Home Decor or Upholstery Fabric: These fabrics come on large rolls and are offered in much wider lengths than other fabrics. They are generally high-quality and will hold up well to home use.
Best Use: curtains, rugs, upholstery
Helpful Fabric Vocabulary
Selvage: The thin, self-finished edge of fabric. Selvages are tightly woven to prevent the fabric from unraveling or fraying. Wikipedia
Cross grain: The crosswise grain is perpendicular to the lengthwise grain or selvage edge. The cross grain is also known as the “weft”. Isn’t that Sew
Straight grain: The straight/lengthwise grain of the fabric is parallel to the selvage edge. The straight grain is also known as the “warp”. Isn’t that Sew
Bias: A garment made of woven fabric is said to be “cut on the bias” when the warp and weft threads are at 45° angle to its major seam lines. Wikipedia
10 Beginner Fabric Projects to Try Today
Super-Simple Dishtowels – A simple pattern, an even simpler project.
Easy No-Sew Curtains – The fabric of your choosing, Stitch Witchery, an iron, and time is all you need to make yourself a new set of curtains.
Magnetic Ironing Mat – A mat that sticks to the top of your dryer for the most efficient laundry day you can imagine!
Sweet and Simple Potholders – A stylish, functional project to hold all the hot things.
Floor Cushions – Fabric + Bed Pillows = Cozy Floor Cushions
Mitered-Corner Dinner Napkins – Create your own set of napkins with this basic sewing project.
Reversible Fabric Storage Bin – Cuts, folds, and an iron get you a darling set of storage bins.
Folding Magazine Rack – Hardwood dowels and fabric combine to make a modern magazine rack.
10-Minute One-Piece Envelope Pillow Covers – A quick and simple sewing project that’s perfect for beginners!
Fabric Pots for Your Plants – Wrap your house plants in gorgeous prints.
The Best Tools & Books to Help You with Fabric Projects
Gingher Fabric Scissors: Sharp blades and fabric are a match made in heaven.
Brother CS6000I Sewing Machine: If you’re looking for a great, reliable, basic machine, than look no further. This is the sewing machine we own, and though it has the potential to do fancy things, I use it strictly for straight lines. On lightweight and upholstery-weight fabrics it has held up well for the last 6 years.
Fiskars Cutting Mat: I love this set for its size and simplicity.
Soapstone Fabric Marker: Drawing lines on your fabric is required in nearly every sewing project. These markers are a favorite because they wash out.
First Time Sewing: While I can’t personally vouch for this book, it’s well reviewed on several sewing sites; in fact several people recommend it in lieu of a class.
The Sewing Book: An Encyclopedic Resource of Step-by-Step Techniques: Like, First Time Sewing, this book is well reviewed and celebrated for its clear, visual coverage of sewing basics.
Singer Complete Photo Guide to Sewing: This book is recommended as a supplement to a sewing class. The photos are helpful for visual learners, but a reasonably solid understanding of the basics is recommended in order for this book to be most beneficial.
5 Fabric & Sewing Blogs to Follow
Purl SOHO: Dozens upon dozens of gorgeous sewing tutorials for your home.
A Fashionable Stitch: Sunni covers everything from clothing to home goods – with a side of wit that will endear her to you.
Madalynne: Maddie Flanigan has a wonderfully detailed ‘Best of 2016’ section that’s not to be missed.
Closet Case Files: Modern trends and helpful tutorials.
DIY Large-Scale Wall Tapestry: Using Fabric as Art
It’s an undisputable fact that framed fabric makes bold, beautiful artwork. It’s affordable and easy to work with, and it can get you the scale you want without bleeding your pocketbook. We created a gorgeous, massive, focal point using a large span of fabric in a vibrant print, hem tape, a staple gun, and sanded and stained wooden slats.. Here’s how you can do the same:
- Fabric – We used 4 yards of upholstery-weight fabric. The fabric was 54 in. wide and we trimmed it to an 80 in. length. Buy it today:
Screen printed on cotton duck; this versatile medium weight fabric is perfect for window treatments (draperies, valances, curtains and swags), accent pillows, duvet covers and upholstery. Colors include orange, citrine, grey, charcoal, plum, teal, green and tan.
- 2 Wooden Slats – 1 in. by 3 in., cut to 56 in. length (Pro tip: Most home improvement stores will cut lumber for you if you don’t have a saw yourself)
- Sand Paper
- Wood Stain
- 2 Screw Eye Hooks
- Iron-On Hem Tape
- Staple Gun
Using a piece of sand paper, sand away any rough edges from the wooden slats.
In a well-ventilated area, apply wood stain to all sides of the wood slats. Let dry completely.
While the wood stain is drying, lay the fabric right-side down on a large surface that can be ironed on (i.e. carpeting, a large blanket, or towels). Set the iron to a medium, dry heat. Lay out the iron-on hem tape about 1/2 inch from the selvedge edge of the fabric. Use the iron to adhere the tape. It takes 2-3 seconds of pressure for the hem tape to stick. Once the hem tape has cooled, remove the paper backing.
Fold the selvedge edge down 1/2 inch, and iron the fold down on the tape. It will take 5-7 seconds for the hem tape to adhere to the back of the fold. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the opposite side of the fabric, creating two hems down the sides of the tapestry.
Once the stained wood has completely dried, screw in two eye hooks to the top of one of the wood slats.
Lay one of the non-hemmed edges of the fabric across the back of one of the wooden slats. Fold down the raw edge of the fabric, and staple in place across the back of the wooden slat. Repeat the process for the opposite end of the fabric on the second wooden slat.
Tie a piece of twine to the eye hooks to hang. Done!
Thinking about trying this project later? Pin it to Pinterest! You know? Pinterest?
This post was sponsored by Fabric.com. Thank for supporting the brands that support Curbly!