Some people go all out decorating for the Fourth of July. I am not one of those people.
Red, white, and blue just aren’t colors that I use in my house. So when I decided to step up my game and actually paint a few dishtowels in a patriotic theme, I went with a neutral black and white color scheme.
Materials and supplies
Here’s what I needed for my Fourth of July dishtowels:
- Flour sack dishtowels*
- Masking tape in various widths
- Star-shaped stickers
- Chalk paint
- Water (to thin the paint)
- Paint brush
- Cardboard (to put under the towels as you’re painting)
*I washed, dried and pressed the towels before I started this project. And I made sure not to use fabric softener because it leaves behind a thin film that can affect paint adhesion.
Using chalk paint on fabric
Did you know you can use chalk paint on fabric? You have to thin it down a bit with water, but in my opinion, it works just as well as more expensive fabric paints. For this project, I poured about a quarter cup of chalk paint into a bowl and added about a tablespoon of water to it.
The water-to-chalk paint ratio is not an exact science. You just want to make the paint thin enough that it spreads easily and won’t dry in a thick layer that could crack.
One word of warning: If you take a break and wash your brush out midway through the project, make sure you dry the bristles before you start working again. If you don’t, your first couple of brushfuls of paint are going to be extra watery and could seep under your tape lines. I learned this lesson the hard way. Thankfully there was only one small section where my paint bled, and it isn’t all that noticeable, but I won’t make that mistake again.
Dishtowel No. 1: The Grain Sack Stripe
I painted three different designs on my towels. The first one was a basic grain sack stripe.
To mark the design on the towel (with minimal measuring), I laid a strip of 1 1/2-inch-wide masking tape right down the center. Then I laid 1-inch-wide masking tape strips down on either side of the center strip.
Next, I pulled up the center strip …
… and pounced the paint on in the space between the tape lines.
I made sure I had a piece of cardboard under the dishtowel to absorb the paint that bled through the fabric.
Once the center stripe was dry, I laid down two more strips of tape, about a quarter inch away from the two outside pieces.
Then I pounced paint into the exposed lines.
If you’re impatient, you can pull up the tape when the paint is still wet, as long as you’re careful.
Obviously, this towel can be used year round, which I love. But I also wanted to make a couple that had more patriotic flair.
Dishtowel No. 2: Stars and Stripes
For my second dishtowel, I laid down two strips of masking tape about 2 inches apart, near the hemmed edge.
Then I peeled the backing off of the star stickers …
… and pressed them onto the towel between the strips of tape. I placed the stars in kind of a random pattern, with some of them spilling off the edge of the towel and onto the tape line.
Then I pressed the paint into the area between the tape lines, taking extra care to get up close to the stars, all the way around them. (Here’s a link to the stars I used. Painting around the stars would have been easier if they were flat stickers, instead of puffy foam ones, but the puffy foam variety were all my local craft store had.)
Next, I peeled up the stars …
… and the tape lines.
When I was sure the paint was dry, I laid down four more tape lines, so I could make two thin stripes on either side of the strip of stars. I didn’t measure these lines. I just eyeballed them, trying to make them about the same width and the same distance away from the strip of stars.
Then I filled in the gaps with paint …
… and pulled the tape up to expose the new stripes.
Here’s what this towel looked like when it was done:
Dishtowel No. 3: The Flag Effect
I wanted my third towel to look kind of like a flag, with a field of stars in the middle. I started by laying six strips of 1-inch-wide masking tape down the center of the fabric.
Then I folded the towel in half and placed a few thick strips of tape on both sides of the fold.
When I unfolded the towel, the center was masked off. This was the area I was going to use for my field of stars.
But first I had to fill in the stripes.
Next, I removed all of the masking tape except for the two outside pieces.
To make the field of stars, I lined up five rows of them as evenly as I could. Once I had the stars where I wanted them, I peeled off their backings and pressed them into place.
Then I filled in the area with black paint, taking extra care to get the paint right up close to the stars.
Here’s what the towel looked like when I pulled the stars and tape off:
And here it is hanging up on a towel bar:
When I had all of my towels painted, I heat set the paint by running a hot iron over them. I layered an extra flour sack dishtowel over the paint to protect it while I was ironing.
Voila: Three chalk paint on fabric patriotic dishtowels
They’re not your traditional red, white, and blue Fourth of July decor, but they work for me. Obviously, you could substitute red and blue chalk paint for black if you prefer that look. And I know I keep referring to these as “Fourth of July” decor, but I’ll be using the towels all summer and probably well beyond that. 🖤 🇺🇸 🖤