Painting Watercolor Onto Fabric

Alicia W
by Alicia W
7 Materials
1 Day
I love the soft look of watercolor, don't you? These chair cushions are NOT watercolor; they are just faded and moldy - yuk! They needed to be recovered and given a new life.
I purchased a white, king, flat bedsheet from Walmart for this project.
Begin by removing the old covers from the cushions. You will use the old covers as a template for the new covers.
After you've washed (without fabric softener) and dried your fabric (bedsheet), lay it out double sided and place the old cushion cover on top.
Using chalk, trace the outside edge of the old cushion cover on one half. Cut that half out.

To assure an even shape, fold the cut half over and trace and cut out the remainder of the fabric (bedsheet).
For the paint, I used tube watercolor instead of cakes. Tubes will give you a consistent color overall.
Add a small amount into a container.

Add three times as much fabric medium and mix together.
Add water and mix again. The more water you add, the lighter the color.
For my project, instead of a paint brush, I used cotton swabs.
For a bigger impact, I rubber banded approximately 20 swabs together. I used this bundle for my main color.
I made two smaller bundles for my two accent colors.
Cover your surface with an old towel and then placed two layers of paper toweling over the old towel.
Place your fabric (bedsheet), single sided, on top of the toweling.

(I didn't use plastic because it doesn't absorb the water, thereby making the fabric very wet which causes the colors to run into each other more than I wanted them to.)
Dip the bunches of cotton swabs into the watercolor and apply it to the fabric.
The longer you allow the cotton swabs to be in contact with the fabric, the more paint will be applied to the fabric resulting in a larger area of color.
I also used individual cotton swabs for small spots of color.
When you've completed your design (it's very hard to stop :), hang your fabric to dry.
When the fabric is dry, lay a cloth over the fabric and press it with a hot iron. This will seal the color onto the fabric.
Sew the fabric together and recover the cushions.

If the fabric is going to be outdoors, you can seal it with a waterproofing spray such as Scotchgard.
Resources for this project:
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Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 34 questions
  • Burma Burma on Mar 21, 2019

    What is fabric medium?

  • Wandamurline Wandamurline on Jul 05, 2019

    Won't the water colors run and finally wash out with rain and water?

  • Leslie Packwood Leslie Packwood on Jul 05, 2019

    Can I do this on a set of old white stained sheets to continue using them on my bed? Will it wash up easily??

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