Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fabric Wall Appliques- a tutorial

My favorite Pinterest-inspired project so far!

Fabric Wall Appliques!

Yes!  Just like you use fabric to applique on other fabric, you can create fabric appliques and iron them onto your wall.

And they are completely removable. 
Like vinyl.

Seriously, this is the most exciting household decorating DIY thing I've ever seen. 

Just imagine the possibilities....ANYWHERE I would put vinyl I could put FABRIC.  

Excuse me while I stare dreamily out the window...

I got the idea from Sharon at This Thrifty House (and I think she got the idea from Brassy Apple, and that's as far back as my research can take the idea.  Megan from Brassy Apple must be the creative mastermind behind this fabulous idea.) The original post showed Sharon putting her son's name on the wall in fabric (and she states that several years after doing this the letters peeled off just fine without damaging the paint.) 

Very cute, but I have a teensy problem in leaving projects small and simple.  It took about 2 nanoseconds for my brain to jump from "name" to "I can make that gigantic tree mural for Belle's room! The one that I've been dreaming of but have been WAY too cheap to buy from a vinyl wall sticker place."  (We rent, so painting a whimsical tree on the wall didn't seem like a viable option...)

Unfortunately I was limited by the quantity of fabric I had (trying to use up my stash) and the amount of adhesive I had bought, so my  gigantic tree mural turned into a pretty big branch with flowers. Still a big enough project to be worth doing (and probably messing up.)

This is how it turned out. You like?

So here's how to do it.  (This really doesn't require a tutorial.  Basically buy the adhesive and follow the directions for creating a fabric applique.  Except instead of ironing your applique onto another piece of fabric, iron it onto the wall.  But that would be too short of a post for me.  I'm wordy. So here's a tutorial.)

Oh, and tutorials are a little boring.  So here's a play by play of my project.  If you are bored, the actual steps are in bold.


Step 1: Raid the fabric stash that takes up massive amounts of space in your (son's) closet but you barely ever use.  Realize you can use up the pink swirly fabric that you tried to make into maternity pajama pants but you ended up stuffing the "pants" (for lack of a better word) deep in a box out of shame, fervently thanking God that no one saw you try to wrangle your pregnant body into them.

Step 2: Get some Heat-n-Bond Lite (the purple kind - Sewable for light fabrics).  It was under $4 and the sum total of the money spent on this project. 

Step 3: Draw a nice little picture on the papery side of the Heat-n-Bond.  (If you are doing letters, trace them backwards.  Really, it's annoying to ALWAYS forget this when appliqueing letters.  Especially when you are making a present and trying to fit "Lena" onto a tiny scrap of the perfect fabric for the wall in our little friend Lena's room.  Then you know once you retrace the letters backwards and cut them out and give them as a gift, her sew-savvy mother will see the additional lines on the back and know you traced them the wrong way the first time.)

Step 4: Iron the Heat-n-Bond onto the wrong side of your fabric per the instructions and cut out your picture.
This is not my iron.  Mine has that burnt up goo on it from ironing something or other too hot.  Which, by the by, I also found out how to fix through Pinterest.  Iron a dryer sheet.  So there ya go.  Edit: That whole cleaning tip did NOT work for me.  Just made my house smell like hot dryer sheet.  And not in a good way.

Step 5: Peel the papery part off the back of your fabric, place against wall and iron (I used "silk" setting) for about 20 seconds.  Presto Magico!  Gorgeous wall art.  And it does peel off just fine.

Final note:  If you decide to do a four foot long branch with lots of curls and swirls, you can use painters tape to position it on the wall until you are ready to iron it.  I do not recommend positioning and taping everything up before you remember to peel off the papery backing.  I have heard that doing that exactly doubles the time required for this part of the project.

Cool, huh?  If I could redo it I'd smooth out some of the curves (some of them are a little Nightmare Before Christmas-esque), but I'm not going to redo it.  It's for a two-year-old's room.  Two. 

Belle's first reaction:
"Mommy!  I LOVE it!"

Of course at nap time she looked at it and started to cry and said,
"I didn't want you to put that picture on my wall!  Take it off!" 


  1. Oh--It turned out BEAUTIFULLY!!! I love it!! I have wanted to tackle something bigger than my names--but haven't gotten around to it yet. I'm so glad to know that it works on a larger scale! You should be very proud of your job well done!!

  2. Thanks for sharing these instructions. I think this project is brilliant and so glad you shared it with us, in the form of LENA letters, even if there is evidence on the back that you are as human as I am :)

  3. May I swear?
    Then I'll make it PG instead.
    Holy crapburgers! That's really pretty. Like, really pretty.
    When I do this to my daughter's room do I have to pay to royalties or something?

  4. oh my gosh! LOve IT!

    It turned out great!! thank you for emailing me to let me know! :) and the shout out for my tutorial!

  5. woweee janice..... I might even steal this one!!!!

  6. This is unbelievably awesome! I love love LOVE it. I've got to try this - 'cept I don't have a stack of cute fabric. boo.

    Gee, guess I'll have to go to the thrift store now. Aw, darn. ;)

    Thanks so much for this, Janice!!!

  7. What an awesome idea! I love the colors you used! I have tons of left over fabric and now I can't wait to use it. Plus, this is perfect for a kiddos room! :D Thanks for sharing!

  8. Just hopped over from the Shady Porch party, and so glad I did. This is wonderful! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Love, love, love this project! Thanks for sharing it! I posted it on my FB page this morning!

  10. Elizabeth Ward ( 23, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    Just made some motorcycle silhouettes for my son's room. I couldn't find any Heat 'N' Bond Lite so I ended up using Lite Steam-A-Seam2. It worked great, it's slightly sticky on both sides so you can stick it on the fabric without ironing. and then no need for tape when you're arranging it. it's easily re-positioned before ironing and then hold really well after the iron.

  11. Choosing the right color is the most important factor in getting an effective wall decal.

  12. How permanent is this? Will my daughters be able to peel it off? Will I be able to remove it down the road?

  13. How permanent is this? Will my daughters be able to peel it off? Will I be able to remove it down the road?

  14. Brian, It peels right off. We had it on the wall in that house for about a year before we moved out of it. (It was a rental house) and they peeled right off.


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