How To Paint Fabric - Painting A Couch
Updated: Jul 2
This past week I did something I've never done before...I painted a couch! Yes, a whole couch. A friendly neighbor down the street was getting rid of some items and passed this sweet seat my way. It was stained, but structurally in great shape. It lived in my shed all winter, with me wondering what I could do with it. I knew I wasn't up to replacing the fabric, but I knew there was hope to recycle her yet.
And so, I decided that I'd do what I'd do best. I'd paint her.
Continuous Fine Mist Spray Bottle
I started this project with a solid rest period. That's right, I brought the couch inside and sat with it for a bit. Literally and figuratively. The fabric itself was a cotton blend with a raised checkered pattern. Soft to the touch, not rough.
After some contemplation I knew that this project could go one of two ways: a disaster or an amazing work of art. With my hopes set on the latter, I decided to hold nothing back and go bold with color (Bunker Hill Blue and Mermaid Tail).
But, before we could even get to playing with color, it was time to prep. I started by scuffing and sanding I scuff sanded the wood portions of the couch, and then cleaning with my go-to White Lightning. Now, where to start with the fabric? I decided I'd start and the back and see what happened. So, I flipped it around and got to work.
The fabric needed to be wet to absorb the paint. Dixie Belle chalk mineral paint is water based, zero VOCs and blends easily. I used my Continuous Fine Mist Spray Bottle filled with water and two separate brushes for the paint. Wetting the fabric area first with the bottle seemed to work to have the paint sink in a bit. Trial and error showed me that liberal paint application onto wet fabric helped the color go on most evenly. I began by applying Bunker Hill Blue around the outer edges and then the Mermaid Tail to the center. Once each section of color was applied, I set to work on blending them together.
After one coat of paint was dry I could still see the checkered pattern. So, I repeated the process, applying a second coat of paints to the fabric. This seemed to work. NOTE I used the Sanding Sponge between coats on dry fabric to lightly burnish the fabric and keep it pliable and smooth.
When the second coat has dried I evaluated the area again. While I could still see the textured pattern through the color, I couldn't see the original color. Success! I sanded lightly again with my Sanding Sponge. I knew the next step would be a sealing. So, I reached for my Easy Peasy Spray Wax to dampen the painted area a section at a time, wiping with a rag to ensure an even distribution. Then the hard part: waiting.
Once the piece had dried I was able to take a closer look at my work. To the touch, the fabric was smooth. It was a little harder, more like a outdoor fabric than a cotton. I liked the overall result and flipped that couch around to get to work on the front.
I started on the seat and followed the same process. The seat part of the couch had a raised cushion more so than the back, but I applied the paint the same way. Starting from the outer edge I worked the paint colors into the fabric, sanding in between coats and sealing with Easy Peasy Spray Wax.
In this video, you see me sanding between the first and second coat.
For the upper part of the fabric on the couch I painted live on the Dixie Belle Paint page on Facebook, you can check out that longer video here.
I used Woodubend #1237 on the top frame and base to dress it up some. You can paint Woodubend before application or after. These little mouldings fit perfectly on the piece and since you can mold them to the furniture I bent it directly around the curve of the couch frame.
After staging and taking photos I've been sitting on the little couch all week! I wanted to test it and make sure it stayed soft and didn't harden and crack. And, guess what? I'm happy to report that one week later its in the same shape it was when I first finished. I even came down today to my Boxer sitting on the couch and looking quite sheepish, she's not allowed on furniture. But with this sweet seat, who can blame her? And another successful test result: she didn't cause a mark or scratch to the project.
The final verdict? Let's paint all the things now! (Because, Dixie Belle's line up makes that possible)
Tips for painting fabric:
Use a lot of water: Keeping the fabric damp helped me build the layer of paint to cover.
Use darker colors: Since this patterned fabric had a red color, I think choosing a darker tone of paints helped cover red.
Sand between paint layers: This helps keep the paint feeling smooth.
Thanks for joining me on my painting journey!
For a quick Tik Tok of this process click here.
To watch my Instagram highlight where I show the movement of the cushion and est the fabric click here! Melissa
Dixie Belle Brand Ambassador
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