I spent a weekend decorating sofa covers and cushions using dye, paint and stencils. The once white, cotton sofa covers had been discarded at a property that I was decorating and I thought I recognised them as Ektorp from IKEA. I have an Ektorp sofa and decided to scrub up the covers and make a project of them. Goldfish Orange from Dylon Dyes seemed to be a perfect complement for the sage green walls of my sitting room... and the colour made me smile.
I underestimated the amount of dye needed, I should have bought four packs not three. As it turned out having less dye was a fortunate accident but for future reference I would pay closer attention to the manufacturer's instruction along with the weight and content of the fabric. I treated the sofa covers to stain remover and a very good wash before the dye powder was added. They were rather yucky when I found them.
Two wash loads were needed, one for the loose cover and one for the four seat cushions; both were a little too full for my small washing machine. I split the three packs of dye evenly between the two loads and added the required 500gms of salt to each.
My hopes for an even dye between the pads and the cover were not high, the loads were unequal and I could not see how I could get a consistency of colour because the drum was packed tight with fabric and there were few gaps for the dye to circulate. An evenly coloured background was not essential for my purpose of stencilling the fabric BUT the result exceeded expectations, it looked great and the colour was constant throughout.
Originally, my intention was to stencil all the orange fabric with a light beige colour to match the limed wood coffee table; I did this along the bottom of the loose cover using a border stencil from our Ottoman Collection. Already everything looked as though it had been made for the space....a site specific sofa! Because the seat pads were too pale to provide a strong contrast with a beige stencilled pattern I mixed a deep orange colour using acrylic paint and stencilled it onto the seat pads. This had the effect of making both fabrics look like partners.
I used Pyrole Orange acrylic paint with a touch of Cadmium Orange to stencil the seat covers. Both the paints are colour fast when washed on a medium heat so nothing needed to be added to the paint. However, I wanted transucent colour so included some fabric medium to the mix to make it less opaque. I sell the acrylic paints but not the fabric medium, I buy that from Golden Paints
The cover and seat pads were finished and I was happy with the project so far. I might have punned "Sofa, so good" but would I do that? Of course not.
I was enjoying myself so I stencilled cushions to match both this cover and the two others that I have for this sofa.
When I attempted to put my new and zingy orange coloured set onto its new host I realised that it was not made for a two seater Ektorp from IKEA as I had believed. My husband and I cajoled and coaxed the cover over the sofa frame then beat the seat pads into submission, they were totally the wrong shape for each other. It was exhausting. Normally, it is quite easy to dress an Ektorp!
Whenever one is stencilling fabric I recommend that it is fastened in place so that it does not move when the paint is applied. Often I spray my work table with a light mist of repositioning adhesive and smooth the fabric onto the slightly tacky surface. When there are two surfaces to prevent from moving such as pre made cushion covers, pillow cases etc I cut a piece of heavy paper, card or stencil film just smaller than the cover so that it will fit inside it. Then I apply the spray lightly and evenly to the insert and place between the two layers of fabric. Smooth the fabric onto it before stencilling. If using the spray read the safety instructions on the can. I use even less adhesive than they recommend.
Because the seat pads were packed so tightly in their covers I just stencilled directly onto them.
I chose border stencil OTT17 and stencil motif OTT23 because they feature on the stencilled walls of this room. Both patterns were combined on the loose cover and the largest of the cushion covers. The stencil motif was the sole decoration on the remaining cushion covers. The colours were chosen to complement the red and the green sofa covers that will alternate with this one. Spray adhesive was applied to the reverse of the stencil and when the design had been postioned accuratley I pressed it gently into place. The orange paint was applied through all the holes in the stencil before other colours were added.The paint must be almost dry before applying trough the stencil. Do this by taking up a small amount of paint onto a good, non-scratchy stencil brush. Work the paint onto paper towel, use a circular scrubbing motion rather than wiping. Place low tack tape over any parts of the design that you do not want to include.
When the paint is evenly distributed on the bristles and is damp rather than wet apply it through the holes in the stencil. A stippling, tapping motion can be used but as my fabric is held securely I can circle the paint through the stencil allowing greater control in the blend and intensity of the colours. The red and the green shades were stencilled over the leaves and flowers. The cushion cover should be dry enough to place onto the pad within a minute. In the example of the dark green velvet covers the orange colour was replaced by gold paint but all the other actions are the same. The gold paint ties in with the gold of the organ pipes and on dark fabrics it allows colours to be applied over it with sumptious results.
The green, velvet cushions were stencilled around twelve years ago. Now I have a cheery, happy looking sofa for the winter months, when Spring arrives I will put the plain pale green covers back. Dyeing to have a go? Visit Dylon for other colourful ideas.