Custom Fabric Pumpkin Decor

4 Materials
2 Hours

Today I'm showing you a technique to create your own custom mudcloth-style fabric - using cotton fabric, gel school glue and dye! You should end up with a mudcloth fabric of sorts. I say 'should' because projects don't always turn out as expected. As you'll see in the reveal, my project didn't go exactly to plan :).

To start, wash and launder your cotton fabric. I also ironed it. Then lay plastic down on your work surface.

Form patterns by squeezing gel glue onto the fabric. Use mudcloth fabric as your reference. You'll need to use this particular gel glue.

Notice how the wet glue is applied thickly? That's what you want. You need to be heavy handed with the glue!

It's best to lay flat overnight until the glue is dry. If you hang to dry and the glue is still wet, it can run.

Dying the Fabric

I'm using Dylon Dye for this project. Weigh your fabric. One 50 g package of Dylon will dye 250 grams of fabric. Because mine weighs 119 grams, I'm only going to use half the package of Dylon for this project.

For this technique only use room temperature water. Warm water could melt the glue. With that exception, prepare according to package directions (I'm using half the amount of water and salt indicated on the package because of the fabric weight).

Once the dye bath is prepared, dampen your fabric. Then place it in the dye bath and stir for 15 minutes. At first I used a stainless steel spoon, but then I donned gloves and got in there with my hands. If you do this, keep paper towels handy to catch the drips when you're done!

After the first 15 minutes, let the fabric soak and stir occasionally for another 45 minutes.

Rinse and Wash out Glue

When time is up, rinse the fabric until the water runs clean. As you can see a lot of the dye came out of my fabric. I don't think my supposedly 100% cotton fabric was actually all cotton (I'll show you how I know that later)! What a disappointment to go through all that work only to to discover that!

The beauty of Elmer's gel glue for this project is that it washes out! Toss the fabric into a warm/hot soapy wash cycle to remove the glue. Or you can do this by hand instead.

This is the contrast and effect I was expecting:

But because of the fabric not properly absorbing the dye due (probably due to mixed fibres), this is what I actually got. On closer inspection, you can see that the warp threads on the top and bottom edges of the fabric are dyed black, as they should be. But the weft threads are still perfectly white (right hand edge). That to me suggests that the fabric is not 100% cotton as indicated on the label.

I don't have access to my sewing machine right now, so I'm hand sewing!

For this DIY pincushion, I cut a piece of fabric approximately 11" x 20". Fold right sides together.

Use a short running stitch to hand sew a 1/4" seam - or use a sewing machine if you have one. Here I'm using unwaxed dental floss for the seam (because if you iron waxed dental floss, it can stain your fabric). If you have heavy thread, use that. Iron the seam flat to one side.

On the wrong side, at the top and bottom of the tube, sew a long running stitch as shown below.

On what will be the bottom of the pumpkin, gather the stitches tightly, Then stitch back and forth all around the gathers to secure. Knot and cut thread.

Turn inside out and stuff with fibrefill.

Gather the top. I saved the top of a delicata squash for the stem. That’ll be glued on later with hot glue.

To define the pumpkin sections, I’m using this Patons yarn. Any white yarn you have on hand will do. 

Secure at the top, then wind it around the bottom, weaving the yarn underneath the previous section and changing direction. I created 6 sections.

Tuck ends in at the top, knot and cut all threads. Then glue on the stem with a dollop of hot glue.

I would’ve loved if the pattern on the dyed fabric was more defined, but it still looks pretty. It actually looks like the reverse side of denim quite a bit.

If you want to use it for more than decor, you can stick a needle in your ‘mudcloth’ pumpkin and use it as a pincushion; ‘X’ marks the spot!

Head to our blog (below where you see our logo), for more great Halloween ideas!

Suggested materials:

  • Gel glue   (link above)
  • Dylon dye   (link above)
  • 100% cotton fabric   (
See all materials

Birdz of a Feather
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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