Monday, November 14, 2011

Experimenting...Painting on Fabric

Firecracker and I have been up to a little experimenting...

This is a project I've been wanting to try all year...painting on fabric.

As much as possible, I like to decorate for Christmas with as many reminders of the Nativity and Christ's birth as possible.  So last Christmas I fell in love with this little wall hanging that I saw on MADE as soon as I saw it.  I emailed Dana to see if she could give me more details about it.  It's a hand painted manger scene that her mother-in-law bought and gave to she didn't have any details about how to do it or where I could find the pattern.

 So I started looking around.  I couldn't find any clip art that was quite right.  Then I decided to try drawing my own...and it's a lot harder than it looks.  Then I stumbled upon Twin Stitchers and this pattern (Unto You).
It's got a slightly different feel to it, but it was what I needed.  (Of course once I found her site and all her cute patterns, I had to ask her to be a sponsor...but that's another story.)

(Twin Stitchers has an awesome 50% off deal going on, so be sure to head over and check out the Christmas patterns.)

I've been collecting long skinny frames all year at Goodwill, and figured I better try painting to see if it would work.  I decided to just start with a small part of the pattern for experiment...
...and while I want to tweak the colors just a bit, I'm pretty happy with the results.

I need to do a little more experimenting before I do a tutorial, but I wanted to throw this out there in case it inspires any ideas for you (or if you have suggestions for me, I'd love to hear them!)

I started by tracing the design onto muslin with my favorite fabric pen.
Then I put regular acrylic craft paint into different sections of a muffin tin and added just a touch of water to thin it a little to make it easier to spread on the fabric.
Then it was just filling in the picture.
In the end some of the lines didn't show through very well, so I went over the whole design with the fabric pen again, once it had completely dried.  Here you can see I've gone over one wise man and not the makes a big difference.

And of course Firecracker wanted to paint her own on paper.

And after trying it on muslin, I had to try on a T-shirt too.  Besides...Twin Stitcher's Dash Away Pattern was calling my name.  The main thing I learned here, is that I need to be more careful outlining with my's easier to make mistakes on the knit...or at least this one.

But the painting worked great.

And I added a "Santa's Lil' Helper

Now I just need to find a small enough button for the nose and some ribbon for a bow.
And Firecracker tried one out on muslin...the painting on fabric is easy enough for the kids too.
It will probably be a week or so before I'm able to try do any more with these projects since I'll be scoring SAT's for the next week and a half, but I can't wait to show you how the full Nativity turns out.

If the painting seems too intimidating for you (or you don't want to go buy a bunch of paints), you these patterns would look great using my faux embroidery tutorial that uses crayons and a fabric pen to recreate embroidery patterns in a fraction of the time.

And if you're interested in other Nativity Crafts, you might want to check out my Nativity Blocks...
...or my Symbols of Christmas Tin
...and I'm still completely in love with our family's nativity stockings (which I realized I need post the patterns for...hopefully a little later this season)...
I still have a year before I have to decide what nativity character the new little one will get.


  1. Wow, those are really cute, Polly. Good luck with scoring SATs!

  2. So cute! I'm definitely adding this to my Christmas to-do list.

    Have you ever tried using chalk pastels on fabric? A local shop here does that with their embroidery and it's not to difficult... I tried it once. :) It gives a more subtle color and allows for some shading too, maybe more like your inspiration nativity. Just a thought.

  3. That came out beautifully! What a great idea. Love all of your nativity inspired ideas. I am a new Facebook follower from Sugar Bee Crafts. Vicky from Mess For Less

  4. So cute! I love this. You've done such a great job.

  5. Fabulous job. I have done a few fabric painting projects in my day, but these days, i just print directly to the fabric.

  6. Supersweet! Thanks foe the photo-steps and link.
    Found you through TCB...cheers!

  7. I love painting on fabric, it's so fun for the little ones. and I totally adore your block nativity I'd love it if you'd like them up at my link party at

  8. the original print is from a tole painting book by Pat Olson. can't remember the name but I have it and can get the name of it for you if interested.

  9. These are such cute ideas. Thanks so much for sharing!


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