In my last project, the burlap bag I gave you the challenge to guess the name of the technique I used to create the print on the bag. I read your comments and there were many of you who got the right answer, but as you know we can only have one winner… you'll find the name of the winner at the end of this post on paper napkin decoupage.
The first time I was taught how to make paper napkin decoupage was in a small studio class in Florence. Unfortunately, my level of Italian barely let me keep up with the instructions, but from what I gathered I noticed that it was not too difficult to do. I thought it was a wonderful way to change the look of an item, simply by gluing some paper on top of a piece of furniture.
So I thought why not use it on fabric? And what fabric would work best? After some research and experimenting, I found that Hessian or Burlap is the best, simply because of the texture of the fabric.
According to historians, decoupage has been around since the 12th century. It originates from all the way in Siberia. The practice spread quickly to China where it was mostly used to decorate wooden objects. It then flourished in Florence during the 18th century and from there spread to all Europe, notably France and England. We have seen it in small jewelry boxes, trunks, and furniture. Old and new it has a charm of a time gone by and things worth keeping.
I would like to share with you this unique technique, and in the processes change the look of some handbags or purses. The best part is that you can literally pick from any napkin that you can find and tailor it to fit your needs, ex: Mother's Day, Christmas, a baptism.
For this tutorial you will need an unfinished hessian or burlap bag with no print at all. If you want to make a new bag, you can use the metal frame purse pattern, the burlap shopping bag pattern or the bucket bag since all are easy and fast to make.
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- A boring bag or bag that you want to upgrade
- Modge Podge matte or DecoArt Decoupage or you can make your own (see below)
- Paper napkins of your taste
- 2″ flat paintbrush
- Blow drier
How To Make Your Own Decoupage glue
- 6 ounces (175ml) of craft glue such as the one used in elementary schools
- 6 ounces (175ml) of water
- 1/2 teaspoon of water-based varnish
Mix all the ingredients and store in a jar with an airtight lid.
NOTE: The tendency is to use the craft glue straight from the bottle and expect to behave the same way as Modge Podge. Don't! I have done this and the result is a very dry and not flexible piece of fabric. The fabric with time will develop cracks and the work will slowly chip off.
Place a piece of large paper to protect your work area. Then place the burlap on the flat surface and apply a generous layer of Modge Podge, Decoupage Texil or your own glue. Place the napkin on the bag and using your finger smooth the napkin from the center to the edges of the paper. Be gentle and try not to rip the napkin, but if you do, don't worry I will show you how to fix it. Continue to apply glue to the side. Place a piece of matching the design already there overlapping about 3/8′ (1cm). Apply more glue where the overlap of the print is located. Place your left finger on the overlapping glue area and rip the side of the napkin using our other hand. Ripping instead of cutting with a pair of scissors will help the fiber of the paper adhere to the first layer of the napkin that is already in place. Continue on the other side of the fabric, gluing and matching the print then ripping with your fingers. I like matching the print of the napkin over the burlap, the mixture of the texture and the print makes for a bag that is different from many I see available in the market.
How To Make A Decoupage Collage
This technique is easy and simple. Find three different types of napkins either on contrasting prints or complementary to each other.
The Napkins have three layers of paper you will only need the top printed layer. Do not discard the other layers you can use them in the inside to make your bag stronger.
Thank you to Katherine who has reminded me of this important step.
All you need to do is cut out pieces you like of the napkins and assemble them in an attractive way and glue them on.
The application of too little glue will create a bubble under the paper. I have found that no matter how much I try to make the paper stick it does not happens. Sadly the only way to fix it is to rip the soggy paper off until the bubble disappears. It happened on both sides of the bag, so here it is how to fix it.
Place a new napkin matching the print as close as possible. Use your fingers to press down the area that needs filling starting at the center. Gently rip off with one hand while pressing with the other the area that has not being glued to the fabric. Continue ripping and pressing the napkin until you have the area covered. Apply more glue from the center of the new piece to the edge. Finally, apply decoupage glue all over the material and let it dry for at least 24 hours before you sew.
I hope everyone enjoyed this easy bag upgrade using paper napkin decoupage. Use the comments to tell me how your first try went. Happy Sewing!
*I wanted to thank you for taking the time to try and guess the technique in the last article. To all who participated, some of you gave me really great things to think about and explore. Congratulations to Maurina who correctly guessed the technique first.*