Quick + Dirty Whimsy: Balloon Fabric Wall Art

Applying fabric to walls with starch isn’t a new concept but it seems that more of us won’t do it than will. Until I opened my storefront, I had never done it but had wanted to try it for years. And now, after doing it once and then doing it two more times since remerchandising, all I want to do is fabric wall art by starch application. It’s kind of messy if you do it right but so easy, affordable and gratifying. The balloon installation would be oh so perfect for a party or kids’ room where you want to have a dash of whimsy yet classic touch. It has been a treat to see so many folks in the shop love on this display. After questions on Β the how-to, here’s the tutorial.

Here is the first I did:

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And then here it is after taking it down and then putting it back up with liquid versus spray starch.

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This was five rows of five triangles, which started out as six-inches squares that I cut in half. I decided to do a play on the flying geese quilt block. Total fabric cost: $12.50 since you’re taking five different fabrics at 1/4 of a yard.

While spray starch will certainly get the job done, especially if your walls are smooth – I recommend liquid starch for an assuredly stronger hold and smoother outcome. I also recommend having both on hand for the balloon installation.

All right, here’s what you need for the balloon installation:20120709-101232.jpg

  • An array of fabrics at 1/3 yard or fat quarters. I only used half of the thirds and got a total of 14 balloons in two different sizes or rather, seven in each size.
  • Liquid and spray starch. These can be found at the grocery or drug store
  • Two pairs of scissors – one for fabric and one for paper, twine and cutting sitcky frays once applying starch (read: a pair you don’t care about)
  • Kraft paper or printer paper for balloon template
  • More kraft/butcher paper or drop cloth for protecting wall/floor
  • Pencil or tailor’s chalk
  • Small bucket
  • Baker’s twine or ribbon
  • Puddy knife or wallpaper scraper
  • Tape
  • Spray bottle (optional)
  • Damp towel or old tee (painter’s rag is great)

Step One: Cut out your balloon shapes – you can use a circle cutter for this or go freestyle. I ended up going freestyle by sketching out a half heart shape with a flat top on a folded piece of brown kraft paper. I made two so there would be a big size and a smaller size. If you want to buy a kit, the fabric can come precut or the templates are included.

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The great news – once you have the templates, you can reuse them over and over again.

Step Two: Lay out templates one to fabric to decide best direction for print.

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Step Three: Once you’ve decided the direction you want the print to go, fold fabric and trace outline of balloon template on the fold. Be sure to trace on the wrong side so that you don’t have to worry about cutting inside or outside the lines:).

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Step Four: Repeat tracing on all fabrics, batch style, before cutting or trace and cut as you go.

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Step Five: If desired, cut out coordinating triangles for a finished inflated balloon look.

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Step Six: Set up your work area. I used brown kraft paper to protect the floor and the surface area below the wall. Have your bucket, your starch, a damp towel or old tee shirt, fabric, twine and putty scraper lined up. I also suggest having a beverage of choice handy, with a straw. An accidental discovery but very nice for when those hands get covered in starch:).

Step Seven: Using tape (I used some extra washi tape so that if I had to leave it, it would still look cute before application), start playing around with how you want the balloons to look. As you can see, I first had an arch going and then went to more of a clustered bouquet look. I wanted two of the balloons to look like they were floating away.

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Step Eight: Fill your bucket with about two inches of starch. Place one or two balloon shapes in the bucket at time, making sure they are immersed completely for a short amount of time. Keep the others taped up so you don’t forget where you want them to go.

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Step Nine: Take your first shape and squeeze the excess starch out. No need to drain it, just the excess.

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Step Ten: Put the balloon up on the wall and position it to your liking; have your towel or old tee handy so you can catch and wipe the starch that will drip down while applying the balloons.

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Step 11: Once the balloon is where you want it, go over it with a putty scraper to smooth out any bubbles that might occur. It is especially important when the wall Β surface isn’t smooth.

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Step 12: Repeat steps eight through 11 and place triangle piece at the base of the balloon.

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To place the rest of the balloons, repeat steps eight through 13 to get your bouquet set. Depending on how many you’re placing, it will take you about two to three minutes per balloon.

Step 14: Decide where you want the balloon bouquet to end and measure from the base of the balloons to the desired end of the strings. For the taller ones, you’ll do short string pieces to make it look like it’s an actually bouquet versus flat on the wall.

Step 15: Place the string in the bucket and let sit immersed in the starch.

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Step 16: Stick twine to wall. Have spray starch at the ready in case you need a little extra tack for it to stick. For the balloons that “got away” it might take some extra shaping.

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Repeat steps 15 and 16 until all the string is stuck to the wall and each balloon has a tether.

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Step 17: Take a few damp paper towels or a spray bottle and quickly wipe down the wall or other surfaces that might have caught some starch and clean up your supplies and work area.

Now stand back and get ready to smile every time you see your new wall application!

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When you need to take it down, just spritz each piece of fabric with water from a spray bottle and easily peel it off.

Interested in purchasing a kit that includes cut fabric, the twine and starch, all ready to go? Email me!

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