DIY: applying fabric to furniture

As promised, I wanted to show you a little more about No. 20…here are some tips on applying the fabric. BE WARNED. I decided to do this one NIGHT in my HOUSE instead of the workshop because it was RAINING outside. This makes for kind of crappy photos. Oh well.

After the piece was painted, distressed and cleaned thoroughly, I applied a furniture wax with color/stain in it (on all areas except the panels where the fabric goes). Usually the protective top coat or wax is the last step, but I didn’t want to risk getting the fabric stained. You can see the difference the wax makes- beautiful aging instantly!

applying the wax

Next, I laid out the {ironed} fabric & marked with a pencil where I wanted to cut. I cut it a little big so I can trim it with an x-acto once it is attached.  I don’t really MEASURE because when you are working with old pieces, they don’t always line up the way they should.

marking the fabric

These are the panels cut but not attached….

fabric panels cut

I use Modge Podge Satin Finish to attach the fabric. I think that is what most people use…but in case you haven’t used it, it looks like this and its at all craft stores:

modge podge satin fnish

I poured the modge podge in a plastic bowl and applied it to the panel with a foam brush. I guess you can use a china brush too but probably not as smooth a finish.

Just apply a very even coat- not super thick- on the entire area. You have to do this step quickly and have the fabric ready.

modge podge application

I started in one corner putting the fabric on top of the modge podge and smoothed it out with my hands until the entire thing was down. Then I took a credit card and did some serious smoothing out. Next I trimmed with an x-acto.


final fabric

I took a fine sponge sander over the fabric after it dried. You can either do another coat of modge podge on top of that OR polycrylic will work. Then you are done! Pretty easy once you have done it.

No. 20 after

Here is where I kind of messed up on this piece. I painted the panels GREEN before the fabric was put on- I just didn’t think about it. So, because I used a white fabric, you can see the variations and some of the green showing through.  In hind sight I would have painted them white to prevent this. HOWEVER, after living with it a while, I actually don’t mind it because it makes it look older….but I wouldn’t take the risk next time.

That is all I got! Hope this helps someone!


  • Loren

    I have wanted to use fabric on furniture for a while and had heard to use Mod Podge.  NOW i know!  Thanks!!!!  I love this piece, BTW. I pretty much love all of your pieces though.

  • Sunblewis

    I love it! the green is my favorite! 

  • Jenni Kupelian

    Love THIS! Going to use this idea on my work desk drawers.

  • Mr. Smith

    Did you use paste wax on top of the mod podged fabric after you were finished, or have you ever tried paste wax over mod podge? My application is a map on a desk, I just didn’t want to put wax on before I asked some folks.

    • I used modge podge again on top of the fabric. I have used stain on top of the modge podge before, but not wax. Let me know how it works!

    • We haven’t used paste wax before. On this piece we didn’t apply anything else to the fabric after the mod podge. We’ve actually done a map on a table before and we mod podged it and the applied polycrylic.

    • Anonymous

      I used modge podge again on top of the fab­ric. I have used stain on top of the modge podge before, but not wax. Let me know how it works!

      • Katarina Longino

        I am using fabric on a dresser would you use more modpodge or a clear varnish for best results?

  • dearemmeline

    I wanted to let you know I linked to this post in my Style File: Fabric Furniture!  Love the color and choice of fabric!

    • fiveoeight

       Thanks again- good collection of fabric uses!

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  • Hi – I have been looking for posts on how to put fabric on a whole piece of furniture – any ideas or links?
    Love what you did!!! Great job..

  • Very nice, thanks !

  • Monica Munoz

    Is there a specific fabric I should use when applying mod podge or will any one do?

    • sarah

      Any fabric will do!

  • Claire

    Clever you , it’s fabulous .