Git’R’Done: Fabric Wall Hanging

2 Feb


You know what I like? LARGE ART! Big. I’m talkin’ gargantuan. Only problem is, large art is usually pretty expensive. Even at thrift stores they can be a bit on the pricey because of their scale. I’ve found some well priced Marushka (a Michigan-based print company) prints which I’ve snapped up, but I wanted something similar to Marimekko (a delightful Finnish textile company) prints.

Marimekko Kaiku Wall Hanging

Almost a year ago, I found a patterned bed sheet from a Stockton thrift store for $3.99. At the time, I had no idea what I’d use it for, but that I really liked the pattern. So it was purchased and then stuffed into a tupperware full of other fabric I collect and do nothing with.
Fast forward to last year, where I got a short stint as a Production Artist at a poster and print shop and learned how to stretch canvas prints. After that experience, I realized how completely easy it’d be to just make my own art prints.

What you’ll need:

  • Large piece of fabric of your choosing! (Preferably a fabric that is not too shear, so you don’t see through it once it’s hung – and won’t rip apart once stapled)
  • Scissors
  • rubber mallet, or some sort of smackin’ device that won’t dent soft woods
  • Heavy duty staple gun & staples
  • FOUR canvas stretcher bars (I got mine from University Art on J street. They are between $2-5 depending on the size.)
  • Wood glue
  • Needle-nose pliers (in case you mess up and need to pull out staples. WHICH I DID.)

First and foremost, you need to figure out how much fabric you have, and how big you want the print to be. I had an entire bed sheet, so I went with four 40″ stretcher bars, making my print a perfect square. You can do whatever sizes you’d like, though. 24×36″ is a standard print size while 12×40″ could be a cool artistic panel shape. Really, it all depends what your print looks like and what you want the end product to be. Whatever it is you are building, you’ll need TWO of the each size. For example, if you are making a 24×36″ frame, you’ll need TWO 24″ stretcher bars, and TWO 36″ stretcher bars equaling four total.

Unfortunately, I’ve already done this project and don’t have step-by-step photos for y’all. so I’ll be pulling photos to explain. SORRY GUYS, I DONE GOOFED!
On each end of the stretcher bar, there are these joints that will fit perfectly into one another to make a rectangular frame.
Here is a really RADICAL photo of the two corner pieces fitting together. Pay specially attention to the FRONT and BACK of the stretcher pieces. There is a rounded bevel that you can see on the front of the stretcher bar. Just make sure all the rounded bevel pieces are all facing forward on the four bars when you’re putting them together. If you accidentally don’t, it isn’t the end of the world – but it’ll look nicer if ya do. Once you have squared up your four pieces, put a dollop of glue in between every fitting, and mallet or gently hammer them together.
This person (who I nabbed this photo from) used a hammer and triangle support pieces. Since we’re just doing fabric and not heavy canvas, we don’t need these support pieces. Once you have your frame done and dry, staple the pieces together in the corners.

Set your fabric out flat and on the floor or large workspace – the back facing up – just in case you need to mark or draw on it. Place the wooden frame over the fabric and cut your fabric AT LEAST 3 inches larger than the wooden frame. You really need extra fabric to work with when pulling it around the frame and stapling it.
Sorry guys, I jumped the gun and didn’t get a photo of the cutting/fitting of the frame on my fabric. This step will depend heavily on your print, though. I have a square pattern that I lined up perfectly centered to my 40×40″ frame.

One IMPORTANT THING to remember when wrapping and stapling your fabric: ALWAYS PUT A STAPLE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STRETCHER BAR  then work your way out to the edges. This will ensure your center is correct and will help prevent the fabric from shifting as you pull and staple. I suggest make FOUR ANCHOR staples, pulling the fabric, then stapling. Flip the frame over to make sure everything looks good, then start really getting at the stapling. I’ve had a lot of practice at this, but I’ve PULLED OUT A LOT OF STAPLES.

Especially with this kind of square geometric design, it was difficult to have it line up perfectly the way I wanted it to. If you have more of a free-form design like a tree or abstract image, it will be less important to make sure the spacing is perfect.
Staple all down the frame, and don’t worry about it being pretty. Just make sure it’s tight and that the fabric isn’t crowding or making wrinkles. Save the corners for the very end.
For the edges, I use what is called the “anal-retentive maid technique.” If you’ve ever been in the Army, had strict parents that made you precisely make your bed, or worked as a hotel maid, you know this folding technique. I was both the child of a Dad who liked neat bedding, and worked as a hotel maid when I was 17. I was groomed to make a nice corner from a young age. Here is a drawing I’ve done for y’all to make it clearer:You could also honestly just pull it all gently back and hide the staples and wrinkles in the back. Any way you do it, just keep checking the front to make sure it looks good.
Here is my finished wall hanging. (Next to a teeny Marushka!)
I had so much fabric left over, I made matching curtains for our filthy kitchen :D

If you have any questions, please ask!

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