Monday, May 5, 2008

Make It Yourself Monday

Fabric Decoupaged Nightstands

How-to provided by

This week is a bigger project but could be absolutely beautiful for cheap. Now I personally am not fond of the pattern and color on this but I am very imaginative when it comes to decorating so I can see this in a yummy cream color with pink stripes on the inside drawers and a beautiful Shabby Chic print. Now that would be gorgeous! But maybe something else might be more your style. The possibilities are many with this!

This proves that even the most ordinary, unspectacular piece of furniture can be made into something fun and interesting to suit your taste and decor.

Sand, sand, sand to get the surface as smooth as possible. I hate sanding, so I never do enough and then regret it later. The top of these nightstands was a laminated MDF (medium density fiberboard) which had gotten wet. And MDF swells when it gets wet, so the top had bubbles on it. Sanding made them smooth, but did not make the top level. But, by the time I added the fabric and coats of Mod Podge, you can't see the bubbles.
Use wood putty and fill the holes left by the hardware. I knew I wouldn't be reusing the holes on these drawers because I hated the hardware and they used different types on the top and bottom drawer. Yuck. Worst case, if you fill the holes and the new hardware you buy fits exactly in those holes, its easy to drill out the putty. Again, I didn't worry about my filling being perfect because it will get covered with fabric, but I didn't want a big divot there either.
Then I primed all the surfaces with Kilz 2 (a water-based primer). Don't panic about how the primer goes on- it will look bad. I did two coats and I would recommend sanding again after the second coat (which I didn't and I should have). I even primed all sides of the drawers (except the bottoms that you don't see) because they were just unattractive.
I painted all the surfaces with white paint, mostly because at that point I thought I was going to leave the whole thing white. Then I changed my mind and decided to paint the exposed surfaces Sherwin Williams's Melange Green (SW 6710). So I did 2 coats of white on the drawer fronts and the top and the drawer bottoms where I knew I would be decoupaging fabric. I was suspicious that the green would show through the fabric.

Once I got the white painted, I taped off the top and drawer fronts and painted the green on all the other surfaces. (You can't see the masked areas in the picture, because I forgot to buy masking tape and used scotch tape, which I don't recommend. First, you can't see it while putting it down or painting on it. And it can pull your paint up.) It took four coats of green total, but part of that was my fault. I sanded after the second coat and lost some coverage (which I should have sanded after the primer, but as I said before, I DIDN'T!) Depending on what you are covering, two to three coats should be sufficient.
When you've finished painting and pulling off your scotch tape and cussing because it took off some paint, you are ready to work on the fabric and decoupage part. I measured the surface to which I would be applying the fabric. Measure each surface, because I found the drawer fronts, for example, to be a tiny bit different on each drawer. I then cut the fabric to the measured size, and to be sure, I dry fitted it. (Fancy term for laying it on the surface and seeing if it fits.) Remember as you are fitting that your fabric can/will stretch a bit as you put it down (possibly as much as 1/4") and if you are unsure of the fabric size, a little too small is easier to handle than a little too large. I found it nearly impossible to cut the fabric straight after I had applied decoupage and once it dried, absolutely impossible.
Step 5
The Mod Podge (I used the Hard Coat for furniture kind) instructions recommend brushing the Mod Podge on the fabric. I disagree for this application. I had much better luck brushing the Mod Podge on the wood surface and then carefully laying the fabric on it. Smooth (but don't pull) the fabric to eliminate air bubbles and wrinkles. You can reposition the fabric while the Mod Podge is wet. Now is a good time to carefully cut any threads that appear-- do not pull them.

The instructions recommend letting this dry completely and they are right- otherwise, you start pulling the fabric when you are applying the top coat. This step dried in 30 to 45 minutes. Then you can apply your cover coats of Mod Podge. The instructions recommend two base coats and then six more coats and I would say I did close to that. I waited about 20 minute between coats and after about the fourth coat, I did sand the surface with 220 grit sandpaper and knocked off the really high bumps. I also used a 220 grit sandpaper around the edges, as I found that I was getting a build up of Mod Podge and scratchy fibers there. Then I applied two or three more coats and let that dry overnight.
The next day, I sanded the surfaces with wet 440 (extra fine) sandpaper. This eliminates some of the brush strokes, but I was scared to go too crazy as I didn't want to take it back down to the fabric. You will find that the water does "open up" the Mod Podge a bit, so you will start to see a milky liquid while you sand. Then I dried the surface with a towel and let it dry for about 10 minutes. Then I used #0000 (extra fine) steel wool and rubbed the you-know-what out of it. That removes the milky film that is left after sanding. My surfaces still have brush marks if you look closely, but they feel very smooth. Sometime when I'm feeling more adventurous, I will experiment about how far you can sand before you lose all your coats of Mod Podge.

After all this hard work, I couldn't risk screwing it up by putting the hardware on crooked. I made a template out of heavy paper to ensure that the holes I drilled would be centered. I drilled a pilot hole (using a tiny drill bit) and then drilled a hole large enough to accomodate the screws that came with the hardware.
Attach your hardware and admire your fine effort.

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