How to cover walls with fabric
Often there are upholstery clinics held at my local fabric store. Often I want to go learn this age old process but I haven’t gone yet because I’m afraid I won’t be able to do it. However, I have done some upholstering that I believe anyone can do — I’ve upholstered my walls.The materials are simple. You’ll need enough fabric to cover the area you are considering. Figure this measurement as you would wallpaper. Don’t forget to take into consideration the pattern if you have one. I don’t recommend stripes or plaids on your first try.Grab an electric staple gun, scissors, your sewing machine, pins, tape measure, hot glue gun, rolls of quilt batting in the loft you like, and enough yards of coordinating decorative trim to cover all the staples.My first project was half walls in an attic and because I was working on walls only about 4 feet tall, it was easier to handle all the material. My second try was in a small bathroom above a chair rail and it went beautifully. So, I suggest you try shorter walls on your first attempt.Start by measuring the entire wall space to be covered. Cut a piece of batting about 1 inch shorter and 1 inch narrower than your dimensions and staple it to the wall. If the batting stretches too much just cut off the excess.Be frugal with staples, using only a few along the edges and placing them in from the corners, ceiling and trim about 1 inch. Add a few staples in the middle of the piece to keep it from sagging.Now begin figuring out how many strips of your fabric will need to be sewn together to cover the wall. My first wall butted up to a full wall of mirror and it required one full width plus about 2 1/2 inches….wouldn’t you know! So, I placed the small strip in the corner by the mirror and allowed the selvage edge and a tiny amount of my full strip to wrap around the corner onto the next wall. To attach this huge piece of cloth by myself, (and keep in mind I was at the top of an 8-foot ladder with a chandelier sticking in my back) I used push pins to line it up, make sure I was level, and the fabric was covering all wall spaces before I started stapling it in place.I cut the length about 2 inches longer than I needed so I could fold the fabric to the back and have a neat fold along the ceiling and the chair rail. I then stapled from the center, out to the corners, working the top and bottom folds together. This ensured the fabric would be taut, straight and smooth. There are no staples in the middle of the fabric wall, so the ones along the edge have to hold it in place. The edge along the mirror was folded over and stapled and the other edge wrapped around the corner. The selvage edge was stapled to the next wall.For wall two, get your panels sewn together to cover the space. Match up your pattern in the corner by tacking the second wall fabric with its right side facing the first completed wall. Line up the pattern or just line up the selvage edges in the corner and with the second piece still tacked up backward on the first wall, staple the second piece along the corner through the back side of the fabric. Place the staples close together and when you finish and un-tack the panel and swing it over to cover wall two, it will look like a sewn seam in the corner!Continue around the room in this fashion. If you need to overlap the fabric in a corner and staple on top of it, make sure to have enough decorative trim to cover your staples.When all the fabric is installed, you clean up the folded edges and corners by hot gluing decorative trim to the line of staples to completely cover them. I’ve seen this done with roping and even matching fabric welting and it is beautiful.The toughest part of the job was cutting the batting far enough away from the light switch to allow a fabric covered switch plate to screw in flush with the wall. Personally, I’m still perfecting this part of the project.Matt Fox and Shari Hiller, authors of “Matt and Shari’s Great Weekend Projects (DRG Publishers), also appear together frequently on HGTV. For more on Matt Fox & Shari Hiller, visit http://www.hgtv.com or http://www.mattandshari.com.
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