Tutorial: Fabric Wall Decals

See the whole series here:
This week I thought I’d share Yuki’s nursery with you. I noticed someone had asked about the rest of the nursery a couple weeks ago when I shared this tutorial on delia creates. Most of you have probably seen this post, but I wanted to share it here as well.

So today I’m reposting this tutorial, but later this week I’ll take you on a little tour of the rest of the nursery and share some of the other projects I did. The best thing about these projects is that even though I used them in the nursery, they can really be used in any room of the house!

Anyways, here we go…

These fabric wall decals were my favorite part of decorating the nursery. I can’t say that this is an original idea of mine. I first saw it on How About Orange, and she had seen it on another blog and so forth. But today I’m going to show you how perfect these decals are for a sweet little nursery.

When we found out we were having a baby we moved into a 2 bedroom apartment so our daughter could have her own room. But our building has strict rules about painting the walls so I knew removable decals were the way to go. There are some amazingly cute ones out there, but they can be pricey and I thought it’d be fun to make my own. Not only do you have the freedom to create any image you want, but it’s easy and cheap! You probably already have all the materials you need and it’s super safe for your little one.

And it’s completely removable. Perfect for renters OR people who want to have the option of changing up their decor every once and awhile. I’m going to show you two ways to do it. I’ll call one, “the easy way” and the other, “the easier way.” 🙂

Here’s what we’ll be making today . . .

and here’s what you’ll need:
Paper, pencil and scissors for making your pattern (or you can download this hedgehog, mushroom and grass one I made HERE)
Fabric (lightweight cotton works best)
Fabric scissors
A tub, tray or baking sheet
Towels (to protect your floor)
Disappearing ink pen (optional)
Sponge brush (optional)

And lastly,
for the easy way: cornstarch
for the easier way: heavy starch spray (used for ironing)

The first step (and hardest, in my opinion), is deciding what you want to make and where you want to put it. Once you’ve decided, measure out the wall space. Mark the placement on the wall with pencil if necessary. On a piece of paper, measure out the appropriate size and draw out your pattern.

If you need help with the design, you can do an image search and it helps to use the word “silhouette” in your search, for example, “squirrel silhouette.”

Once you’ve drawn out your pattern, cut it out and trace it onto your fabric. Remember, if you are drawing it onto the wrong side of your fabric, you need to turn your pattern around too!

Cut out your decal pieces and you’re ready to make it stick!

First wipe your wall clean of any dirt or oil and dry it. Place towels on the floor under where you’ll be working to catch any drips.

I’ll start with “the easier way” because, well, it’s easier! This method requires the heavy starch spray.

Place your fabric onto your tray, baking sheet or small tub. Just use whatever you have around your house, but for bigger pieces of fabric, you’ll want a bigger surface. Lay it out flat and spray it with the starch spray. You want it to be well saturated. Using your brush (or your fingers), spread the liquid and remove any excess starch (you want it to be wet, but not necessarily dripping wet).

For small pieces of fabric, you’ll be able to just place the entire decal on the wall and then move it slightly if you need to adjust. Smooth it out using your brush or fingers. Using some of the excess spray on your tray, brush over the entire decal.

For larger pieces, start with one corner or edge and slowly work to the other side smoothing the fabric and pressing out any air bubbles with your brush or fingers. For REALLY large pieces (like the tree), see the helpful hints below.

Your fabric may start to fray a bit around the edges. Just use your brush or fingers to gently push the threads back along the edges of your fabric.

Repeat with all your decals. Use a damp towel or sponge to wipe any excess cornstarch away from around the decal (it may leave a white residue if it dries on the wall). Let it dry for a few hours or overnight, depending on the size of the decal and voila! You’re done!

Now, for “the easy way,” the only difference is that you’ll be making your own corn starch solution out of water and corn starch instead of using the spray. There are a few extra steps involved, but there are some great benefits. 1) You probably have cornstarch at your house and it’s cheap! 2) This method is totally natural! If you are concerned at all with unnatural products around your baby, this is perfect for you. You know, if you’re afraid that your child will, say . . . lick the wall (what!? whose child would do that!?). I don’t know if the starch spray is actually bad for you, but there are ingredients listed that I don’t recognize. There’s no question with corn starch and water. 3) And avoiding aerosol cans is better for the environment!

To make the solution:
Mix 3 teaspoons of corn starch with 2 tablespoons of cold water in a medium bowl. Add 1 cup of boiling water, stir and let cool. The solution will be cloudy and very thin.

The rest of the process is the same. Brush the solution onto the fabric and place it on the wall making sure to smooth out any wrinkles or air bubbles. Wipe away any excess drippings and you’re done!

Step back and enjoy your unique wall decals!


Fabric – Lightweight cotton fabric will be the easiest to adhere and will stick to the wall the best. Medium weight fabrics can work too, but it might be a bit trickier.

Placement – These are removable, even for little fingers. My daughter enjoyed peeling any leaves she could reach from the crib off the wall, but she hasn’t messed with any of the other ones that she can reach. Just something to consider when deciding where to place your decals.

Extra large decals – For large images, cut your fabric into several smaller pieces. It will make it MUCH easier to put up. Just try to line up each piece right up against each other so it looks continuous and no one will be able to tell! The large tree was cut into 5 pieces and the deer was 3.

Removal – You can easily peel the decal off with your fingers when they are dry and then use a wet towel to wipe away any starch residue. This may cause the fabric to fray. For even cleaner removal, dampen the decal with water and it’ll slide right off. These decals CAN be used again if you remove them gently. Rinse the fabric, pat dry and then adhere them the same way you did before!

And really, the possibilities are ENDLESS! I’m already brainstorming new ideas for when I get tired of these. I hope you have fun making yours!


28 thoughts on “Tutorial: Fabric Wall Decals

  1. Pingback: Yuki’s Woodland Nursery: Bird Mobiles | you and mie

  2. Pingback: Yuki’s Nursery: Last Day and a (sorta) tutorial | you and mie

  3. Super cute decals but I’m interested in how the alphabet behind and above your darling daughter was made. Can you tell me how?

  4. Thanks for all the positive feedback!

    To Victoria and Amy: I talked about the ABC cards in this post: https://youandmie.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/yukis-nursery-fun-finds/ but I didn’t make them, I found them in the scrapbooking section of my arts and crafts store! I did a little research and I found a link online here: http://kandcompany.eksuccessbrands.com/product/Handmade+Alphabet+Cards.aspx

    I love them. The illustrations are super cute and the cards are cut and distressed beautifully. And there are two sets in each box. There’s no way I could make something as cute myself 🙂 Hope this helps!

    • Ooh, that would be so cool! What kind of wall do you have? I’m not sure about burlap – it could work. If it’s super thick, it might be tricky, but it is very hole-y, so that helps. Unfortunately, I haven’t tried it out so my best advice would be to try it with a little swatch first. Good luck and if you do it, I’d love to see pictures!!

  5. How well does it work on textured walls? We have plaster walls with some textured paint, wondering how well this would adhere?

    • I’m not entirely sure, as I’ve never tried it. I THINK it should work, but I would recommend testing it out first with a little scrap of fabric first. If you try it, let me know if it works! Other readers might be interested 🙂

    • I’ve never tried before! I think it might, but you should try it on a little bit of the wall with some scrap fabric to test it out. Let me know if it works!

  6. Is it possibly to use clear nail polish to “secure” the fraying edges before “cornstarching” it (I’ve used clear polish on my frayed/cut denim skirt so that they don’t fray as quickly when they were thrown in the wash)? I know it’d be time consuming but it would probably save he cut outs from fraying for a little longer if I were to reuse them again right?

    • I haven’t tried it, but I bet it would work. You’d just want to keep it very minimal because I think the cornstarch works well when the fabric is well saturated and the nail polish will make it water repellent. I would test it out on a scrap before you do it on a large project. And I’d love to know if it works!

  7. Ohhh! This is brilliant and I am definitely going to try it out in our children’s playroom and I am thinking of some lovely designs for my sewing room – very exciting. Thank you so much for this really easy and well written tutorial. 🙂

  8. Reblogged this on Swiss army wife… and commented:
    I was wandering around the blogosphere when I came across this lovely blog with a really good tutorial on making your own fabric wall decals – too good not to share! Thank you ‘you & mie’ 🙂

  9. I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your blog. It’s
    a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for
    me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to
    create your theme? Fantastic work!

  10. Hey there! Fantastic tutorial! I just linked to it on my blog – an added one of your photos to the link, so my readers can have a preview of your great decals… If you don’t agree with that just tell me and I’ll take the photo down.
    All the best!

  11. Pingback: FUNDSTÜCKE: Wandtattoo aus Stoff selber machen | Neues vom Bastelschaf

  12. Thank you for this wonderful tutorial! My husband and i tried it, and it works so well. The cornstarch solution sticks much better than I initially estimated, and yet is very easy to remove. Plus the colour deepens with the solution. We have a rabbit so we also needed something nontoxic in case she tries to nibble on it!

  13. Super cute!! There’s another great method, too – it’s the iron-on method. I just opened my Etsy shop recently, where you can find beautiful hand-cut fabric stickers (iron-on). It’s http://www.etsy.com/shop/FabWallDesign and I’m specialising in children’s designs at the moment (got a million ideas for the future, too!) Or if you have a custom design/idea, just let me know!

    PS You won’t find another shop like us! We’re the FIRST one! :o)

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