Making Paper Cloth
“Paper cloth” is a very unscientific term for combining scraps of papers on fabric. It creates a sturdy new material that you can sew, cut, collage and play with. I’ve seen it here and there, but thought you needed a little tutorial to get you stated. You glue small pieces of paper onto a larger sheet of fabric and then cover it with a silk paper! My papers are mostly recycled from gift wrappings. I will describe how I did mine, there are lots of ways you can do yours different. No rules, just glue glue glue!

Tutorial on Paper Cloth (Photo by iHanna - Hanna Andersson)

Let’s go through how to do it and then start playing!

Setting up for play

Stuff you’ll need when making Paper Cloth

  • Muslin or cotton fabric.
  • Scraps of thin papers like wrapping paper, silk-, tissue-, napkin- mulberry-, Japanese paper, text pages etc.
  • Big sheets of (white) tissue paper.
  • White glue, a mixing cup and a brush.
  • A plastic surface to protect your table. I used a plastic table cloth, you can cover your table with baking parchment too. Everything will get gluey and messy, but it’s fun so set it up and start experimenting!

Setting up for play

  • Extras: glitter, stamps, ephemera, shimmer paint, sequins, acrylic paint, leftover threads, stickers, pieces of fabric, yarn etc.

Paper Cloth Tutorial

1. Cut a piece of fabric and lay it out flat on your working surface.

2. Mix the glue with water. You can probably use any white glue (Elmer’s, Craft glue, modpodge etc). I used a white all-craft glue, it says you can use it for wood, fabric and papers. Mix 1 part water to 1 part glue, or 2 parts glue to 1 part water, you will have to experiment to get the result you want. I mixed 1 to 1 and the fabric came out quite stiff after it had dried. Maybe if you dilute your glue a bit more it will be less stiff.

Materials for making Paper Cloth

3. Gather all the paper scraps and materials you want to add to your surface before you start gluing. Tear them into small pieces, wrinkle them if they feel to stiff and make a pile of yummy colors.

Making Paper Cloth

4. Paint the glue+water mix onto the paper and press down paper scraps like you’re making a background collage. I mostly added pieces next to each other but also layered a few colored silk papers on top of each other to create layers and depth. The glue will seep through the fabric, that’s good I think.

Making Paper Cloth

5. When you’ve covered the whole surface add another layer of glue on top of everything and press down a sheet of white tissue paper (one that is just a bit larger than the fabric piece) on top of your collage. I use recycled white gift papers that I?ve collected after Christmas. They are already crinkly from the wrapping, but you can smooth it out as you press it down into the glue. Tissue (or silk) paper becomes very fragile when it touch the glue and becomes wet, so be careful not to rip it.

Making Paper Cloth

6. Paint a thin layer of the glue mix on top of the tissue paper and you’re finished!

If you want to you can further decorate your paper cloth with acrylic paint, glitter glue or more layers, but this is optional. I did not paint my cloth paper because I was oh so curious on how it would look when it dried. It was a fun surprise to see how transparent the white silk paper because when wet. And when it had dried for 24 hours it still look colorful and cool. I’m happy with the result.

Making Paper Cloth
One of my first pieces of “paper cloth” is finished! I did mine in quarters as you can see, so the glue would not dry before I added the last layer. I will cut it up later and do “various projects” with it… I don’t have a plan, just a few ideas.

For options on what to do with your paper cloth check out Kristin Roach’s cool e-book Paper. Card. Ribbon. that I recently reviewed here. In it you’ll find patterns for cool sewing projects designed for cloth paper. I made postcards (!) from some of my paper cloth – I’ll show them in my next post.

Making Paper Cloth

This is the paper cloth looked like when it was dry:
Making Paper Cloth

You can keep adding layers to your paper cloth when the glue is dry. Paint acrylic washes, inks, doodle with markers or crayons or add glitter glue here and there. Machine embroider it. Cut it up. Make flowers, or hearts. Or book covers or postcards or… Keep experimenting. Enjoy.

Let me know what you make!