Can You Find Art Inspiration In Your Junk Drawer? Fabric Art Ideas

By the time you read this, you’ll be looking at the objects around you in an entirely new light. For example, we all have a junk drawer–one that somehow collects things that we think we may need again, and we’re just not ready to discard. In my house, the drawer is notorious for collecting batteries (new? used? I have no idea), cassette tapes (yes, I know it’s 2015), tea light candles, markers that are likely dried up, and who knows what else.

Julie Booth kindly refers to it as a “catch-all” drawer, but that’s probably because she takes advantage of the random objects in her house to create fabric art that’s uniquely her own, and the good news is that you can do it, too, with help from Julie’s new book, Fabric Printing at Home. I invited Julie to share with us a mini-lesson on how to paint on fabric using found objects, and was excited to see that maybe even I can do something with the items in my newly named catch-all drawer.


Fabric Printing at Home tutorial by Julie Booth |

Fabric Printing With Two Unexpected Items by Julie Booth

What do you see when walk into your kitchen? Do you see a room where you plan and prepare meals? Do you see a gathering place for family and friends? I see that and much more…I see a treasure trove of fabric design supplies! The kitchen catch-all drawer, the pantry, the drawer full of foil and wraps, the recycling bin, and even the refrigerator…all these hold the potential (what I like to call “kitchen potential”) materials to create your own gorgeous, one-of-a-kind fabric art.

Fabric Printing at Home tutorial by Julie Booth |
Use these supplies and “found” household objects to create a fun fabric
with eye-popping possibilities!


Today I’m going to show you how I used two items–a milk bottle top from my recycling bin and a C battery from my catch-all drawer–to print an eye-popping, “Top Op Art” fabric. Use these supplies and “found” household objects to create a fun fabric with eye-popping possibilities!

You’ll need the following materials:
• Found objects that will make a circular print. I used a milk bottle cap and a C battery. You could use the tops of other containers and other sizes of batteries.
• A padded work surface covered with plastic.
• Optional: Additional padding such as a piece of 1/2″ thick upholstery foam that’s large enough to accommodate the size of the fabric you plan to print; and a piece of muslin or cotton to cover/protect the upholstery foam.
• Solid color 100% cotton fabric in light to medium color. Pre-wash to remove sizing, or start with Prepared for Dyeing cotton and dye or paint your own background color. I used a fat quarter for this project and painted it a pale blue.
• Opaque fabric paints (I used Pebeo Setacolor). Mix up three colors, one for each printed layer. For my fabric I mixed up light orange, warm red, and cobalt blue.
• Small plastic containers with lids to mix and hold paint
• Plastic spoons for mixing paint
• At least one 1″ foam brush
• Foam daubers. I make these out of 4×6 pieces of 1/2-inch upholstery foam and a rubber band. Fold the long sides of the foam to the center, then fold in half and wrap with a rubber band. You will need at least two.
• Glass or Plexi-glass palette and duct tape. I purchase glass from the framing department at my local craft store. Buy the least expensive glass available and secure the edges with the duct tape. You can also use the top of a plastic food container. You’ll need this flat surface for daubing paint.
• Disappearing fabric marker
• Clear plastic gridded ruler
• Masking tape
• Paper towels

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1. Tape your fabric to your work surface.

2. Mix up three colors of opaque fabric paint (see suggested colors above) or use colors directly from the bottles. If you’re mixing a custom color, be sure you start with the lightest color and gradually add darker colors.

Fabric Printing at Home tutorial by Julie Booth |
The flat side of the bottle top is used to create the first printed layer of the design. (step 3)

3. For the first printed layer, you’ll use the flat side of your bottle top. Dip a 1″ foam brush into one of your containers of paint (I used the light orange paint). Brush it across the edge of the container to release excess paint. Brush across the bottle top. Turn the painted side onto the fabric and press to release the paint.

4. At this point, you may want to draw guidelines with the disappearing marker and plastic gridded ruler to line up your prints.

5. For the second printed layer, use the battery. Decide if you want the extra padding. If so, place the upholstery foam, covered with the piece of muslin, onto your work surface and tape your fabric to the muslin.

Fabric Printing at Home tutorial by Julie Booth |
Above, left: You can print with either end of the battery for the second layer of the design (step 6). Above, right: The underside of this milk bottle top makes concentric circular designs (step 7).

6. Spoon a small amount of paint onto a glass palette (I used the warm red paint). Pick up some paint with the dauber and press it on the glass to release excess paint before daubing it onto the battery. Print with the paint-covered battery. To create a more interesting pattern, print on top of some of the circles created by the bottle top and leave others unprinted.

7. For the final layer, print with the underside of the bottle top. Daub paint (I used cobalt blue paint) onto the bottle top, line it up with the printed circular designs on the fabric and press to release the paint.

8. To permanently set the fabric paint, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

I hope this project begins to open your eyes to all the fabric design possibilities hiding in the cupboards and drawers of your kitchen. ~Julie

Click here to get your copy of Fabric Printing at Home today!


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