Last week I posted this project over at The Ribbon Retreat blog (if you haven’t been there, you should go check it out – the blog is full of fun tutorials for using some of the beautiful ribbons, fabric, and more that they sell). Since it’s still a few weeks before Christmas I wanted to share this here as well – if you have a blank wall this is the perfect way to add some sophisticated holiday cheer to your home: Christmas ornament fabric wall decals.
I’ve seen fabric wall decals before – it seems like they are generally used to decorate a nursery or child’s room – and I thought they’d be a great way to make a big impact in my front room. The best part is that they are quite simple to create and adhere to the wall – and they’re completely temporary. I found two different methods for making your own wall decals on the internet and came up with one of my own, then tried out all three methods so I could give you the pros and cons of each different option – which was a good idea, as the most common method DOES NOT WORK with nice, heavy-weight designer fabric (like you’ll find at the Ribbon Retreat). Here’s all you’ll ever need to know about fabric wall decals:
Fabric in assorted colors and patterns – I used fabric from a layer cake of Moda’s Oh Deer line, which is just lovely – it’s not a “Christmas line” but the patterns and colors feel very holiday-ish to me. Layer cake pieces are 10×10 inch squares, so I cut my ornaments just a bit smaller than that. If you want similar sized ornaments, you’ll want 10×10 inch squares of fabric to begin with. (A layer cake is a GREAT option when you want lots of different colors and patterns that all coordinate beautifully.)
Spray starch OR spray adhesive OR double sided fusible web like Wonder Under
Thread and pins, if desired
Scrap fabric for letters, if desired
To get started, cut out ornament templates. I created my ornament templates by tracing a plate for the large circle, then smaller bowls for the curved tops of the other ornaments and then bringing those curves down to a point at the bottom (1st photo below). Once you have your templates, cut nine total ornaments out of printer paper or newspaper, then use masking tape to tape them up on your wall, moving things around until you like the arrangement (2nd photo below). Next, tape up squares of fabric so you can decide which print you want where (3rd photo below).
I knew I wanted my ornaments to look like they were hanging from a string, so I placed straight pins above where each ornament would go (they were spaced exactly 9 inches apart and pushed into the wall using a pencil eraser – short pins are easier to deal with here than long ones and they don’t need to go into the wall very far). Once the pins were in place, I strung black thread up and over each pin, then back down to where the ornament template was taped up. I used a tiny piece of masking tape to keep the ends of the threads in place until I adhered an ornament on top of them.
I used the ornament templates to trace the ornament shapes on the back of each fabric square, then cut them out. Then it was time to try out the different methods for adhering them to the wall.
Method #1 – Spray starch (most common method in tutorials on the web)
This is the most common method of making fabric decals, and it’s extremely simple and fairly inexpensive. Simply buy a can of laundry spray starch and use it to saturate one of your fabric ornaments. Be sure to have a towel on hand to wipe up drips of starch.
When you pick up the wet fabric piece and place it against the wall it will stick. Use your fingers to smooth the fabric up against the wall, starting in the middle and smoothing outward in all directions to make sure there are no air bubbles. I used this same process with the letters I printed, traced on fabric, and cut out to spell “very merry.”
Alternately, you can just hold the fabric piece against the wall with one hand and use the other to spray it until it’s wet. Then smooth it out, wiping any excess spray starch off the wall with a towel.
It’s super easy and fairly magical that the fabric just sticks to the wall. If you want to reposition it you can move it around while it’s wet, which is very convenient. However, after my fabric dried completely I could see that it was beginning to ripple a bit and pull away from the wall a litte:
I think this happened because Moda’s fabric is such a nice, heavy weight. I’m guessing this wouldn’t be as much of a problem with very lightweight fabrics – the letters I cut out of cheap black cotton have stayed put just fine – but I didn’t like that the ornaments were no longer completely flat against the wall (and after about a week they started falling down!). Additionally, when I went to reposition one of my black letters I realized some of the color had bled through onto the wall! Looks like I’ll be buying a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to scrub that off. Using spray starch is easy, convenient, and inexpensive and might work fine if you have very lightweight fabric, but I just wasn’t happy with the results. That led me to…
Method #2 – Spray Adhesive
I like spray adhesive. I use it often, especially for adhering photos to canvas. It’s a little expensive, maybe close to $10 for a can, but one can lasts a long time and is terribly handy. I always use Elmer’s Spray Adhesive – I’ve tried other brands and been unhappy with the results.
One great thing about this particular adhesive is that if you spray your item and place it down immediately it creates a fairly permanent bond, BUT if you spray your item and wait 3 minutes before placing it down, you end up with a temporary bond – which is perfect for this project. You need to be careful where you spray your fabric – either place it on a large piece of newspaper to protect whatever’s under it or be lazy like me and place it on your front lawn. If you watch carefully as you spray you’ll be able to see it getting wet. In the photo below the top left portion of the ornament has been sprayed while the rest hasn’t.
You want to make sure the entire ornament gets adhesive on it, then wait 3 minutes. Now pick it up carefully and place it on the wall right where you want it – it’s a little difficult to reposition, but it can be done. Smooth it down and you’re done! The ornaments I placed up using this method are still lying flat against the wall and seem quite secure, although it’s pretty easy to peel them back off. Once they come down the wall may be a little tacky to the touch, requiring a quick wash with soap and water. The ornaments, if handled carefully, should be re-adherable next year!
I really liked this option, but there was one more I wanted to try.
Method #3 – Fusible Web
This last method uses a product like Wonder Under to adhere the ornaments to the wall. Wonder Under feels like paper on one side, and rough on the other side. You place the wrong side of your fabric down on the rough side, then use a dry iron to adhere it. Next, trace the design on the paper side of the Wonder Under and cut the ornament out. Then you can carefully peel off the paper layer, which leaves a thin layer of webbing attached to the back of your fabric.
To attach to the wall, simply place the ornament exactly where you want it and place a hot iron with lots of steam against it for 10-15 seconds until adhered.
The Wonder Under worked beautifully and created the strongest bond to the wall, which is nice if you have little kids who might try to peel your ornaments right off the wall. However, once removed you won’t be able to re-adhere them next year (unless you iron them on to new Wonder Under and repeat the entire process, of course!).
One nice thing about using Wonder Under is that is makes the fabric a little stiffer and easier to handle. That would have made cutting out small pieces (like my letters) much easier).
Here’s the comparison:
Spray starch pros: Easy, inexpensive, endlessly repositionable w/more starch, completely re-usable
Spray starch cons: Doesn’t work well with heavier weight fabrics, very easy for children to peel off, can cause some bleeding of colors onto wall
Spray adhesive pros: Easy, very nice bond, somewhat repositionable, re-usable w/more adhesive
Spray adhesive cons: More expensive than the other options, may require a bit of cleanup after the decals are taken down
Fusible web pros: Very good bond, firms up fabric to make cutting small pieces simpler
Fusible web cons: Not repositionable or re-usable, a tiny bit more work
Spray adhesive is probably what I’ll be using in the future, although the Wonder Under is a close second.
Like I mentioned before, layer cakes come with lots of different colors and patterns, so I made a few more ornaments for another wall in my house. (Tutorial for that circles Christmas tree canvas found here).
Linking to some of these parties:
Tuesday: Tip Junkie | Ladybug Blessings | Sugar Bee Crafts | The Blackberry Vine | Hope Studios | Funky Polkadot Giraffe | Not JUST a Housewife | Homework Today’s Assignment: Be Inspired | Shwin and Shwin
Weekend: Tatertots and Jello