How to Hang Fabric Wall(not)paper

What. A. Project.  I am happy to have the final touches done to reflect on the journey of putting up a fabric wall.  I love the finished product, but boy was it a learning process 🙂 The whole thing started when our guest room recently became vacant after our wedding.  My sister-in-law and I had been roommates and hostesses at the house with the blue door for just over a  year, and when Wil and I tied the knot, she decided to move out and upgrade to a bigger kitchen!  I really am jealous of all that counterspace.  Anyway, open room, blank slate, neutral walls, large area, endless possibilities.  My first thoughts went to bedding and a headboard.  Did I want wood? Upholstered? Tufted? Pattern? So many choices to be made.  I’d done some research on making my own illusional headboard with fabric and crown molding and once I realized how affordable this option would be, the ball started rolling.  Why stop with just a headboard sized accent? Hence, the whole wall with the great window became my focal point.  After the tables turned and a “headboard” was out and the accent wall was in, I researched wall papers and how-to’s and found the price for this removable, take anywhere you want to go, easy application, comes in sheets of what seemed like 4 inches by 6 inches (meaning I need a million) was going to cost a fortune.  That I was not willing to do so I started again on the fabric.  It wasn’t hard to find Pinterest with many clever ideas, but I ultimately landed on the blog with the pretty, Spring like pattern: inspiration

After reading it, I figured I could totally do it, and wow would I prove her wrong…I didn’t really need a sidekick, I could manage by myself if need be.  Just so we are clear, day one there were THREE bodies present to help the process.  I was humbled very quickly.

Picking the material was the first step.  I knew I desired a bigger (just know this makes for a greater challenge when matching the print between panels later!), less modern more traditional pattern in a simple color with a white-ish background.  I also wanted my husband to like it (aka no hot pink), so I would send along samples from Hobby Lobby to see his thoughts.  I originally had my heart set on green, but, the fabric gods would not allow.  Blue it is!

At this point, some of you may be saying, HOW.  How did you get fabric to stick to a wall? It’s actually crazy: liquid starch will do the trick.  The inspirational blog suggested a test region to see how well the fabric goes on and get a feel for how easily it comes off when you are ready for a change.  I did exactly that.

Step 1: Test a piece of material behind a door by first taping the top edge to the wall (duck tape or masking tape will be fine).  Roll the liquid starch in a paint pan and apply to the wall behind the fabric with a paint roller.  Press the fabric on the wall, working from the inside out to get all bumps and ripples removed.  Roll again now, on top of the material and make sure to get the sides good and saturated.  Perhaps an hour later or until the fabric is dry to the touch, remove the tape to check the adhesion of the fabric to the wall.  Once it is completely dry, peel a corner away and remove the test piece.  You will see how easy it is remove! There will be a film left on the wall, so using a warm sponge, simply wash the walls and dry with a towel.  No remains!

Step 2: Now on to the big leagues.  You can decide how and when you’d like to cut your first panel.  Because I had about 10 yards of fabric, I was interested in cutting it before hanging it.  I made sure there would be about 3 inches extra that hung over the base board which could be tidied up later.  Wil climbed up the step ladder and I handed off pieces of duck tape to get the panel in place.  We opted to start on the side away from the window since we needed a serious warm up before a challenge as big as a window.  We tried our best to get the top aligned with the ceiling and the side wedged right in by the edge of the adjacent wall.  Now we were ready for the starch.  I rolled often to apply liberal amounts of starch and our third set of hands, Kristina, held out the panel while I rolled the starch on the wall. Once she dropped the panel, I rolled again working from the center out, now on top of the fabric to really let the liquid starch do its job.  We all three stepped back and were quite proud of what was so far.  We were ready for the second panel

Step 3: The second panel needed all eyes.  We cut it to the appropriate length and began shifting left and right, up and down, to make sure where we taped it would allow the pattern to repeat.  Note that it will overlap so you will lose some of the square footage you purchased.  Make sure you buy plenty of fabric! And make sure they would have more if you need it, i.e. it’s not discontinued anytime soon!  We taped the second panel at the top and I rolled underneath as best I could.  Kristina stood and matched up line for line while I rolled overtop the fabric and Wil held the other side of the fabric to make sure those bubble and wrinkles didn’t take over.  As we moved further and further down the overlap, the pattern was started to get “off”.  We kept going because we knew the bed would help hide some of this disconnect, but we also knew this could be bad, very bad.  After the second panel went up, we all stepped back and nobody really said much.  As hard as the three of us had tried to keep the pattern going across straight, it was drooping.  We maybe knew it from the first panel, but then when we lined up the second to extend from the first, it all went downhill, literally.  We decide to stop for the day knowing that as things were going, each panel would continue to sink to the left.



Ugh, what to do now.




Step 4: Go back to step 2.  I slept on it, and although it pained me, I ripped it all down to start fresh! I was worried about the pattern lining up once the panel was already in place and attached to the wall.  We didn’t allow for any give or fabric stretching when we plastered it to the wall with no ripples, so instead of connecting on the wall, I opted to connect all the panels laying flat on the floor.  I used the no-sew iron-on-tape between the layers and could overlap and then just iron down without gravity working against me.  Since it was all laying flat, I could account for fabric tendencies and match the pattern precisely.  Once all 5 panels were connected, I was ready to hang this (very heavy) piece all at once.  It was indeed more weight than the tape could hold, so Wil put a few nails in at the top to keep the pattern from sagging.  I consistently watched the “lines” of the pattern to
make sure it was straight. If it looked to be falling, we taped and nailed up just a bit higher. Here is the non-adhered, fully hanging panel in which the seams and pattern lined up beautifully.  Notice how heavy that right corner was, the tape pulled right off so we came up with the nails as a result.  Once we agreed that the pattern was  straight, we began rolling the starch and applying to the underside.  We started in the far right corner away from the window and rolled under for about 3 feet and then on top the same amount.  Once we began creeping toward the window, I knew the challenge of cutting just enough, not too much, not too little, was upon us.  As Wil made sure the fabric was straight and not moving, I quickly cut around the molding, knowing that all the snips were not pretty lines.  We already knew we would line all the edges with ribbon to clean it up, but the closer and more precise, the better.  I rolled along the sides of the window and the top and bottom, and we tried to move swiftly so that we could step back to see if anything needed correcting before it dried too much.  The last cuts were for the far left side as it connects to the adjacent wall and the little piece you see in the bottom left corner.  Yes, who knows how that little mishap happened, but the panel was too short from the beginning.  I simply found a piece from our extras where the fabric could overlap and connect the pattern, and liquid starched the crap out of the piece to hold it nice and stiff.  I was certain nobody would be studying that portion of the accent wall so it was all good.  By the time this day two job was done, it was in fact dark outside, but you can get a good picture of the rough edged, semi finished product.

I came back later in the week to finish the project, and lined every edge (both walls and window) with white ribbon.  It gave the polished look I desired since the organic cutting as the fabric hung was quite jagged.  I will stare at the white ribbon a while to see if the fabric pattern shows through and I need to consider a navy instead.  I will let you know 🙂

With the wall done, I was inspired to finish the furniture piece and finalize touches to make the guest room welcoming.  Anyone want to visit Columbus anytime soon? 🙂

Here it is, complete with edging, furniture, bedding, lighting, and touches of decor.  I look forward the conversations that will follow this blog and who needs help to make a wall in your home a conversation piece! Did I mention that the dissemble is a breeze?

Thanks for joining in on this wow-factor project!  Let’s get started on yours today:

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