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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, September 02, 2017 1:00 am

Painting fabrics

CONCORD, N.H. – With bright splotches or pale washes of color, watercolor paintings certainly can brighten up walls. But why stop there? Applying a watercolor effect to fabric and covering pillows with it lets you display abstract artwork on your sofa or bed as well.

Looking to add some decorative contrast to my gray couch, I recently tried three tutorials on achieving a watercolor look on fabric. Here's what I found, with each method rated from 1 to 10, with 10 indicating the least expensive, easiest and best results:

Fabric paint

The Brit + Co website features a tutorial for making watercolor-effect table linens, but the method is easily adaptable for pillow covers as well.

The paint recommended for this project, Jacquard's Dye-Na-Flow, is considerably more expensive than the materials used in the other techniques (about $5 for 2 ounces), but because it's made for textiles, no other product is needed to make it permanent on fabric.

This method produced vibrant colors that stayed true even after washing.

Cost: 5

Ease: 7

Results: 8

Craft paint

The owner of the Lovely Etc. blog describes her mission as “creating lovely for less,” and her technique for watercolor pillows was indeed the least expensive of the three I tried.

This technique was really easy, but unfortunately, my results were somewhat disappointing compared to the image shown in the tutorial. I didn't, however, notice any further fading after washing and drying the fabric.

Cost: 8

Ease: 8

Results: 5

Watercolor paint

Of the three techniques I tried, this one from the blog Tidbits was the only one that used actual watercolor paint.

In this method, you paint with watercolors on the fabric and then, using a clean brush, swipe over the fabric with a mixture of fabric medium and water. That adds an extra step compared to craft paint, but the results were better. I don't know if that's because of the type of paint or the technique.

Like the fabric paint method, the colors stayed bold as they dried, and after a trip through the washer and drier.

Cost: 7

Ease: 6

Results: 7

– Holly Ramer, Associated Press