Annie Sloan paints used for dyeing and creating patterns by Anna at Camilla Pearl blog.


Annie Sloan

No doubt you've heard of Annie Sloan!? Her chalk paints have revolutionised the way we up-cycle and breathe new life into our furniture.  But did you know Annie Sloan paint can be used to DYE FABRIC? Well, it was a complete and utter revelation to me and one that got me incredibly excited.  Annie Sloan paints can be painted straight onto fabric freehand or with a stencil, and used as a fabric dye.

I recently undertook a couple of fabric painting projects using Annie Sloan paints which I wanted to share with you using both techniques above, and I really enjoyed them.  The aim of this post is to inspire you to create your own fabric design for a piece of upholstery,  a cushion cover or perhaps a table runner.  (This DIY is also great to do with children).  I would recommend setting aside a whole morning or afternoon to complete this DIY, or even better a whole day to really get into it and experiment a bit more.  The best bit about this...Annie Sloan chalk paints are water based so no fumes and you can easily wipe and clean surfaces as you go.  


So I had two fabric-based projects in mind for Annie Sloan's chalk paint.  The first was to cover an old footstool in a stripe fabric and the other was to create a quirky chevron style print to cover a retro chair seat in.


These are the Annie Sloan paint colours I chose for both projects and as you will see you can achieve completely different looks depending on how much you water down and or/mix the colours, they're so versatile! You can click the picture to browse the full range.  Each tin costs £18.95 so getting a tester is recommended, however for fabric painting projects the paint will last ages because you'll be watering it down.  All of the paints are glorious in colour so you can't go too wrong whichever you pick.  



Anna at Camilla Pearl using Annie Sloan paint for a fabric project.JPG

You don't have to paint stripes, you could paint a freehand pattern or abstract design just with brushstrokes like I did above whilst playing around, it really is up to you, but for this DIY I am going to stick to a stripe design.   


LARGE SURFACE AREA - Everything starts at the kitchen table! So if you have one then this is perfect.  I would recommend covering the surface with a thin piece of MDF to work off.  

PLAIN WHITE FABRIC - Any natural white or cream fabric will do.  I used cotton twill which I bought for £4 a metre from my local fabric shop.  To cover my footstool I needed two metres and that gave me enough to do a few test runs with at the start.   (Note: you do not need to treat your fabric before using Annie Sloan paint).  

RULER + PENCIL - I wanted to create different depths of stripes along the fabric so for this I needed a long ruler and a pencil to mark out the spaces.  Any type of stripe design requires a guide to keep them straight and even.  You can easily make this guide by marking the top and bottom of the fabric in your chosen widths and joining them up with a light pencil line.   

PLATES FOR MIXING UP COLOURS - A separate plate for each colour you're using so they don't get mixed up, water to wash down your colours too and lots of kitchen roll for getting rid of excess paint from your brush.  

ANNIE SLOAN BRUSHES - Annie Sloan brushes will give you a much cleaner finish and they're designed to work best with the consistency of the paint. Here is the full range! 

IRON - After you've painted your stripes you'll need to "fix" the paint by ironing it - simple!

Ok, now you have all your tools and prep done, let's go! 


Mix your colours.  You can stick with the paint colour straight out of the tin or tweak it.  I wanted a softer pink so I added the Old White in with the Scandinavian.  If mixing a colour make sure you have enough to finish the design with otherwise you'll have to try and match the paint colour again!  


Add water to your paint. You'll need to add water to your paint otherwise you'll end up with a very stiff painted fabric.  This stage needs a little bit of testing and as you can see below I did a few test runs of stripes to see how the colour turned out according to the level of water added. 

Anna at Camilla Pearl painting fabric with Annie Sloan chalk paint.


Experiment! In this experimental stage I also added a bit of water to the fabric itself as I quite liked this bleeding effect which I got between the stripes.  I used a piece of wood to help guide my strokes as I painted the stripes following the pencil lines. 

Anna at Camilla Pearl painting fabric using Annie Sloan chalk paint.jpg


After you've done a little bit of playing and experimenting then you can go ahead and paint your stripes.  I decided against the bleeding stripe look this time and went for a more solid stripe by adding less water to the paint.  I used masking tape to mask off stripes and then painted in between them waiting for them to dry a little before pulling off the tape.  I would recommend painting your stripes or pattern onto more than you think you need, just giving yourself a contigency if it goes wrong or you need more than you thought to upholster or make something up with etc.  

Anna at Camilla Pearl using Annie Sloan chalk paint to paint stripes onto fabric. More on this DIY at

I painted a more abstract black freehand stripe in between too. 

Easy steps to create a stripe print fabric using Annie Sloan chalk paint by Camilla pearl.jpg


I then fixed the design with an iron and that was it.  Once you have fixed the paint you can put it in the wash or wipe clean and the paint will not come off.  Next up is to make your fabric into whatever you wish.  Upholstering the footstool was an absolute nightmare and unless I do an upholstering course anytime soon, I'll be outsourcing this for the next project, but I gave it a go and got an ok but messy result - lesson learned here and I'll probably get this re-done properly.   

Anna at Camilla Pearl using Annie Sloan chalk paints for fabrics.


So there was the painting on direct technique which I loved but using Annie Sloan chalk paint as a dye is AMAZING and the results are brilliant. 


A LARGE FLAT WORKTOP OR DESK - If you would like to add a pattern to your dyed fabric then you will need an area large enough to fit all of your fabric onto.  

PLAIN FABRIC - Prefabely linen for this project as the paint will take to it the best (you do not need to treat your fabric before using Annie Sloan paint as a dye).  I've tested the paint as a dye with synthetic fabric and it did not work so well so try and stick to natural fibers which will absorb the colour.  I bought one metre of this textured linen from another local fabric shop called Tinsmiths at £22 per metre.  Linen will cost more but the dye works so beautifully with it and it's great for cushions, table and bed runners or even napkins.    

SCISSORS - Linen does not rip easily so you'll need a good sharp pair to cut your piece. 

PLASTIC BUCKET - Big enough to immerse your fabric into.  I just used a washing up bowl. 

A THICK ASSETATE OR THICK STENCIL CARDBOARD FOR YOUR STENCIL - Either can be bought from a stationery or art shop.  I tried thin acetate with my chevron print and it was hopeless so I moved on a thicker card which was much better.  The bigger or longer the stencil the more likely it is to roll up at the edges which is a nightmare as you then can't place it back onto the fabric to stencil again without excess paint getting on your fabric.  If you don't fancy making your own stencil Annie has a lovely range HERE

SCALPEL - To cut out your stencil design. 

RULER - You'll need a ruler to mark out a grid if you want a really neat pattern for horizontal or vertical designs but random stencil prints look just as lovely, just have an idea of the amount of fabric you need to cover with your print and visualise where your motifs will go to cover the whole piece.

TUMBLE DRYER AND IRON - You'll need to fix the paint dye so popping your linen in the tumble dryer after on a high heat until dry will do the job.  

Now you have your tools and a workspace organised let's get to it.  


Add a good glug of paint to your bowl of cold water.  Mix in with your hands or a spoon until the paint has effectively dissolved in the water to create your dye.  

Test a small piece of your fabric in your bowl of dye first.  I would say this is pretty vital.  You will need to wait until the fabric has dried after you have dyed it to see the end result - the colour will darken slightly in the tumble dryer.  Remember adding more paint to the water will darken the colour and adding more water will lighten it.   

Camilla Pearl project with Annie Sloan dyeing fabric.JPG


After your test, immerse your fabric in the bowl of dye.  Make sure you get an even coat of the dye by rubbing the fabric together and dipping in and out of the water for a good minute or two.  If you spot a concentration of colour on an area make sure you rub this in, otherwise you'll get patches of darker spots.  The string on the fabric above was just a tie dye experiment.  


Dry your fabric in the tumble dryer. 

This light soft pink below was made using a full bowl of water in a standard sized kitchen washing up bowl and a good glug of paint to fill the palm of my hand as the colour indicates above. 



Make sure you're happy with the colour and then give it a good iron! 

Retro style chair covered in fabric using Annie Sloan paint by Camilla Pearl Blog.jpg


Now you can leave it plain, or you could then add a stencil pattern on top.  Again this is all done by using Annie's paint, no other paint or dye required!  I chose to use the Old White to create a chevron print on top of my pink linen.  If using a stencil it's a good idea to use a foam roller brush to get a good and smooth coverage of paint.  Place your fabric on the table and secure with masking tape at the edges to keep it in place.  

Stencil fabric project using Annie Sloan chalkpaint.jpg


Make your stencil out of thick card using a scalpel.  My chevron ended up being a long stencil so I stuck two halves together.  Place your stencil over the fabric and roller on the paint.  I did not water down the stencil paint because I wanted a bold print but again you can water down accordingly if you want a softer look.  I didn't measure my chevron stripes and did it all by eye because I wanted a really irregular and wonky pattern. 

Anna from Camilla pearl using Annie Sloan for fabric stenciling on dyed fabric also using Annie Sloan chalk paint.jpg


After the initial paint has dried a little naturally, fix it properly with an iron or hairdryer making sure you fix the entire piece of fabric. Again I then had a pretty tough upholstery job to do and I neatened up the edges using piping.  I had enough to make a tiny cushion cover too. 

Upholsering the chair using painted fabric using Annie Sloan chalk paint.jpg
Chevron print by Camilla Pearl using Annie Sloan chalk paint.jpg
Chevron print using Annie Sloan paint for fabric stenciling and dye.jpg
Anna at Camilla Pearl using Annie Sloan paint for a fabric project at home.JPG

AND THAT'S IT! Apart from the slightly dodgy upholstery finish (gulp) I love my new additions and I love my new fabric designs.  I really urge you to give this a go and start creating new fabrics or reinventing old bits of bedding or even clothing you have with the dye option using Annie's chalk paints - it's so much fun and easy (at least I hope I've made it look easy). 

What do you think, would you try this DIY? 

I would love to see any finished fabric dyeing or painting projects you've done!  


This post is in collaboration with Annie Sloan.