Fabric + Large Scale Canvas = 1-2-3 DIY Designer Art

Simple DIY art: duo using fabric stretched across canvas stretcher bars

Simple DIY art: duo using fabric stretched across canvas stretcher bars

Sometimes, when you first move into a new house or apartment, you have little to no art — and you aren't having any luck when you try to track down any affordable artwork at any of your area shops. If you're the kind of person who refuses to buy mass retail art from, well, mass retailers, first let us say, you're pretty cool for not giving in, even though the price is right. Second, let us say there is a way for you to create your own DIY art on the cheap.

Stretch Your Own Large Canvas: Getting Started

All you need is a canvas of whichever size you want (or can find) from the thrift store, nearby dumpsters (hint: look behind galleries and craft stores). If you're really committed to the idea of large scale art, you may have to stretch the canvas yourself — here are some simple instructions on how to do that (keeping in mind your canvas will be blank).

Once you've handled that portion, let your canvas (or canvases) sit while you head off to the fabric store. The best fabrics to make square canvas tapestry art like this is the same kind of fabric used for upholstery. Lucky for you, there are billions of upholstery fabrics that vary from totally bland to absolutely wild prints — like cats playing pianos, melting clocks, or peacock feathers and rainbows.

Measure Twice, Cut Once: Ensuring You Get Enough Fabric for Your Large Scale Art

A nice BoHo Chic touch for this homey kitchen

A nice BoHo Chic touch for this homey kitchen

First, you're going to measure your canvas width and height (write those numbers down, please). You're going to pick fabrics from reams that are taller than your canvas — that means you will have to go to a craft or fabric store, because they aren't likely going to have the large scale upholstery fabric you need to completely cover your canvas. Once you find a pattern you like that is large enough to stretch across your canvas, ensure that the person cutting the fabric cuts larger than you need. For example, let's say your canvas is 48 inches wide. Have the clerk cut the fabric at around 55 inches so you have plenty of extra fabric to stretch and work with — just in case you measured wrong :)

Creating Art from Fabric on Large Scale Stretched Canvas

When you get home, lay the fabric out evenly and flatly across a hardwood, laminate, or other hard floor. Next, grab your canvas, which should now be stretched across canvas stretcher bars (per our instructions available in the link above). Use the same method to stretch your upholstery fabric across the stretcher bars that you used to stretch the canvas (this is why we don't use materials like jersey — because it stretches way too much, revealing the canvas underneath.)

Once you've done this, you're done — you have art. If you really want a specific part of the pattern to be in the center, the corner, or a specific side of the canvas, make sure the fabric is cut with that pattern close to the center or corner you want it in.

Creating a Duo or Triptych Using the Same Canvas Stretching Method

Just like you see in the top photo, the person who created these pieces of fabric art, also known as framed or stretched tapestries, utilized the repeat of the pattern on the fabric to their advantage, creating a visually appealing set of large scale pieces that compliment one another. You can also do this with three pieces (a triptych) or you can take several smaller canvases and pick multiple fabric patterns that work well together in terms of design. 

Fun for the Whole Family: Stretching Very Large Scale Canvases

If you are stretching a particularly large canvas, perhaps anything larger than four by four feet, it's nice to have some help from friends and family when it comes time to stretch, staple, cut, and so on. The cool part is that these huge pieces of art are a lot like hanging a tapestry, but these don't sway in the wind, and they're not fun for the cats to play with the ends of, leaving you with a frayed hunk of fabric just chilling on your wall looking pretty tragic. In fact, if you have a tapestry you like, stretching it across canvas stretcher bars can be a great way to preserve it.

Once all of this is done, you'll need to add wire to the back of the canvas. Here's a fun video that explains exactly how to do that. Once you've accomplished this, your fabric art is ready to hang on the wall! Depending on how heavy your fabric art is, you may want to consider using more than one Sexy Metal Hook from your YOUHANGIT Kit — in this way, your art will always be level because two hooks can keep art in place and keep it from swinging and becoming off-kilter the way it gets when it's hung on only one hook. Plus, when you use a Sexy Metal Hook from YOUHANGIT, as long as you use the hook(s) of the correct weight, you don't have to go looking for a stud — you can hang these pieces wherever you like — no stud required!

We hope you guys will get into the DIY art spirit and create a few of these and tag us on Instagram @youhangit or post images of your stretched fabric artwork to our YOUHANGIT Facebook page so we can all see and comment!

Happy fabric shopping — be sure to find the cats playing pianos and/or something with unicorns incorporated into the pattern :)