abstract removable fabric wall mural DIY

How To Customize Your Space With A Fabric Wall Mural

Want to add a fun pop of color to your space? Like the idea of a wall mural that can be removed? A fabric wall mural is an easy way to customize an office, dorm room, or any space that needs some temporary style. And you can personalize it with the design and colors of your choice.

abstract removable fabric wall mural

Sounds like fun, right? I have been out of town for the past few weeks so my friend Joyce is actually guest-writing this post. It’s going to be great!

Supplies for a fabric wall mural

Here is everything you need to make a fabric wall mural:

  • 2 yards of upholstery weight fabric (54” wide) or canvas drop cloth
  • 3 pints of flat interior house paint
  • Plastic drop cloth or tarp
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paint tray
  • Stir sticks
  • Paint roller
  • Paint brush/edger for details and corners
  • Large flat layout space (the floor works!)
  • Newspaper
  • Rags

Selecting the fabric

When selecting fabric, it’s important to remember that paint sits better on heavy weight fabric. Use upholstery fabric or canvas drop cloths for the background of your wall mural. Canvas drop cloths can be purchased at any hardware or paint store. They are usually a cream, off-white, or grey color and come in a variety of sizes. For ease of use, I would stick to the ones in the 4’x12’ to 9’x12’ range and trim down as needed. Don’t forget to bind the edges to keep them from fraying.

Tip: Remember that the larger the fabric, the more space you will need to lay it out and paint on.

For this project I wanted a grey background. In the Bay Area there are a number of places that sell discounted upholstery fabric (see the resource list at the end of this post). I scored at the East Bay Center for Creative Reuse. There I found a slightly shiny, subtle textured grey fabric that was 60” wide x 80” long. And get this – it only cost $8. Perfect! If there are any wrinkles or folds in your fabric, spend the extra time to iron it flat. You will appreciate it later when you are painting.

Creating your fabric wall mural

Gather your paint and supplies

The first thing you need to do is gather your paint and supplies. This may even involve a little experimenting, like with tape. I tried a couple different painting tapes to mask lines. The yellow Frog tape (for delicate surfaces) was not tacky enough to adhere to the textured fabric. I had better luck with regular green Frog painting tape, 1” thick.

supplies for making a fabric mural

For paint rollers, I like the ⅜” nap because my upholstery fabric had a ribbed texture and I wanted the paint to penetrate and coat the textured base. If your fabric is flat, you could likely use a 1/4 “ nap or sponge roller.

The next item on my list was paint. For that I went to my local hardware store and picked out the colors. They mixed them while I waited. While I was there, I noticed a cart full of mis-tinted colors. They were a bargain, at only $1 a can. If you are flexible about the colors in your project, this might be a great way to save money.

paint chips in coordinating colors

Prep your work area

Before you do any painting, lay out your tarp or plastic drop cloth. The paint WILL penetrate the fabric so make sure you protect your floor or work surface. Next, spread out your fabric. The heavy weight of the upholstery fabric laid flat naturally while I painted it. If your fabric is more lightweight, though, you might need to tape down the edges. This will keep it from getting pulled up by your paint roller.

Mask or tape up your design

For this example I was making a tribute wall for a celebration of life event. It was inspired by a design from the artist. Her design was geometric with bold blocks of blue, purple, and lavender, separated with grey lines. After taping up the design, I used sticky notes to keep track of what color went where.

fabric wall mural masked for the first color application

Painting is satisfying and quick, it is always the prep work that takes the longest amount of time! Start in the upper left corner and work your way across and down. Paint one color and then let it dry. It helps to have windows open and use a fan if you need to speed the process along. Once the first color is dry, carefully cover it with newspaper, and tack the newspaper down with small pieces of tape. Paint the second color and allow it to dry. Now carefully cover the second color with newspaper, again tacking down the edges with small pieces of tape.

applying the second color to the fabric

Paint the third color and let that dry fully. Slowly pull up the small pieces of tape that are holding the newspaper down. The most satisfying part is pulling off the long strips of painters tape that define the design. Start in one corner and peel to the other. Voila! The finished product is a customized artwork that can be attached to a wall.

details of a three color fabric mural

Hanging your fabric wall mural

There are several different ways to hang a fabric wall mural. You could tape it directly to a wall with tape or removable adhesive strips. I found that using a curtain rod makes it hang straighter and look more professional.

To hang the fabric on a curtain rod, attach it to a curtain rod and mount the curtain rod so the fabric hangs straight down. There are a couple ways you can attach the fabric to the curtain rod. If you sew, you can sew tabs or a simple sleeve to fit it over the curtain rod. If you don’t sew, you could just use duct tape to adhere the fabric to the curtain rod. Just make sure the duct tape is only on the backside of the fabric and not visible from the front.

Next, straighten out any bunches that might come from taping. One trick is to use small pieces of tape to ‘tack’ the piece first, make sure everything is laying flat and where you want it, then follow up with a longer piece to make the bond stronger and make a neat attachment across the fabric.

To hang the curtain rod on your wall, use peel-and-stick wall hooks. That’s how I hung the mural in the photo below:

movable fabric wall mural during a performance

Resource List

If you’re in the Bay Area, here is a list of some great places to find discount fabric and supplies:

  • East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse 4695 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, California
  • SCRAP SF 801 Toland Street, San Francisco, California
  • Discount Fabric (SF and Berkeley) 3006 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, California or 2170 Cesear Chavez Street, San Francisco, California
  • Urban Ore Ecopark Store 900 Murray Street, Berkeley, California

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