Stencils, Paint, & Grainsack, Oh My!

Recently, I had a client who wanted a shabby chic look for her new dining space, but she just couldn’t come to terms with the idea of using old grainsacks. Sure, she wanted an authentic look, but the thought of sitting on used (and possibly dirty) grainsacks wasn’t her cup of tea.  

So, we went to work hunting down a few stencils to make our own grainsack. One was a stripe stencil and the other had the design. Then we selected just the right shade of hemp fabric. If you’ve never used stencils on fabric, it’s the easy thing in the world. Here’s how you do it.

Find a flat workspace with plenty of room.  Cut a much larger piece of fabric than you’ll actually need to cover your chairs.  Using paint and a sponge, blot the paint so it won’t come out too dark. I wanted to add in a detail of a stripe, so instead of trying to freehand this, I used a stencil and rolling sponge. 




Remove the stencil right away and let the paint dry. Then place the other stencil on top of the stripe. Blot gently with paint. You don’t want it to look too dark. I chose to omit the bow at the bottom. 


Lift the stencil away and let the fabric dry. This doesn’t take very long at all, maybe 30 minutes max. 


The light wood from the 90s just wasn’t going to work anymore. So, I prepped the chairs for paint and got busy transforming the finish with a creamy white paint.


 Then I distressed the finish and added a layer of dark wax. The wax makes the finish a bit more yellow and aged. The chairs look like they’ve been around a very long time. 



The fabric went on last and here you have it! To be completely honest, this was my very first time for stenciling fabric and it came out great. Anyone can do this. 


Of course, the shabby chic look is not complete until we add in a few arm chairs with faux fur to make it bit more whimsical! 


And the set is complete! We could have easily taken out the cane and stenciled on top, too, but my client happens to love cane (and so do I)! 

Let me know what questions you have about this process or the materials that I used. Don’t let this intimidate you…it truly is as easy as it looks. Good luck!

2 thoughts on “Stencils, Paint, & Grainsack, Oh My!

  1. I am sure you have seen the upholstered French Bergere chairs with the single wide stripe down the center. I have two gorgeous Bergere chairs but mine are a fancy satin gold stripe from the 90s. I want to update them with a white twill or linen and paint a stripe on my fabric. Should I paint the fabric and take it to my upholsterer or have it upholstered and then paint on the chair? Either one scares me but painting the fabric makes the most sense. What do you think? I wish i could just buy the fabric.

    1. Hi Kathy,
      Paint the fabric first, then let the upholsterer put it on the chair. It’s too difficult to paint after its already been upholstered and if you make a mistake at that point, its going to be crooked. Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *