Thursday, October 6, 2016

Modern-Folk Artsy Inspired Floorcloth

Hi, everyone! Jill McDowell here! I’m so excited to share with you my Modern-Folk Artsy Inspired Floorcloth created with StencilGirl Products Home Décor stencils and Chalk Paint from American Paint Company. It’s by far the largest project I’ve ever tackled and was extremely intimidating to me it at first. Once I turned down the volume of the self-doubt in my head, I relaxed and my confidence began to grow. I love how it turned out and hope my experience inspires you to be courageous and tackle a large scale project of your own.

I admire floorcloths for their beauty and durability. They’re water resistant and pet-friendly; accidents and spills clean up easily with just a damp mop and a little mild detergent. I’ve seen many gorgeous ones on Etsy, but never found one that fit my needs in my price range. Now I’ve made one that’s customized and sized for my house and décor for a fraction of the cost.

My finished floorcloth is 83” x  66” (approx. 7’ x 5.5') and has a 2” hem around it. Here’s the list of supplies and equipment I used to make it:
  • StencilGirl 12" x 24” Home Décor Stencils: Elegant Fence and Flower Path
  • Other StencilGirl stencils: Doodle it Borders, Pilgrimage to India and the large stencil from Mary Beth Shaw’s Personal Collection from the July 2016 StencilClub set
  • Canvas: I ordered a 70” by 3 Yard Fredrix “Create Your Own Floorcloth” canvas. It came pre-primed, saving me a lot of time and effort. I even have canvas left over for another project.  But if you want to save your art supply budget you could also use 100% cotton duck cloth and gesso both sides of the canvas before painting your design
  • Paint: I used Chalk Paint from American Paint Company, (“APC”)
  • Top Coat: General Finishes Flat Out Flat water based acrylic top coat
  •  Other miscellaneous stenciling supplies including stenciling sponges, a water sprayer, a pencil (chalk pencils works well), a bone folder, a Black Sakura Identi-Pen, etc.
  • Other miscellaneous painting supplies such as: Painters tape in a variety of widths, a high density foam paint roller, paint brushes, a T-Square and other rulers, etc.
  • Sewing machine equipped with a denim needle and heavy thread, (or you could use double 1” double sided carpet tape for a no-sew option)

My design was built around the two StencilGirl’s 12” x 24” Home Decor Stencils designed by Terri Stegmiller. They are proportioned larger than other stencils and have repeating patterns that align without any registration marks. I was pleasantly surprised how quickly I was able to stencil some pretty large areas without a lot of fussy measuring.

I visited Cinda, the owner of my local vintage furniture boutique, to find some chalk paint that would stand up to the wear and tear that a rug takes. She recommended the water based APC line for its durability and broad color selection.The colors can be layered and distressed with a wet cloth to achieve some cool looks. I was grateful that Cinda let me play with the colors on canvas before buying since quality chalk paint can be pricey. Aren’t small business owners great? She saved me from making some costly mistakes.

Here are a few chalk paint tips that Cinda shared with me: A little goes a long way. It’s lighter in color when dry. It takes multiple thin coats to get good coverage. Dampen the surface of your project with water from a spray bottle or dip the paintbrush in water before you load it with paint to help the paint go on smoothly.

Back at home, I cut an 87” x 70” rectangle from my bolt of pre-primed floorcloth and used a T-Square to check that all the corners were square. Then on the front of the cloth, I measured and penciled in lines 2” above all four edges to mark a crease for the hem.
Under the watchful eye of my ever faithful assistant, (aka, my shadow and rescue pup, Penny Lane) I used a bone folder to make a crisp crease along the pencil lines.
I mitered each corner and cut off the excess cloth so the corners would lay flat and then hemmed the floorcloth on my sewing machine. I used a sprayer to dampen the hem so that my paint would go on smoothly and painted the hem the same color I planned to use on the front edge my floorcloth.
Once the hem was dry, I turned the floorcloth over and added a few guidelines with a ruler and pencil.  Looking back, I think I went just a little overboard with the guidelines. In the end, all I really needed was to divide the cloth into four equal quadrants as shown in the next step.  
Time to paint! First I dampened the surface of the center area with a water sprayer and then I used a dense foam paint roller to put down two base coats of APC’s Desert Cactus chalk paint there. Once it dried, I used another dense foam paint roller to stencil Elegant Fence Home Decor Stencil with APC’s Born on the 4th of July. Although the stenciling needed 2 coats, this part went really fast and gave me instant gratification!
I skipped a few rows and moved to the other “feature” section of the design. For me, Flower Path is quintessentially folk art and I wanted it to be the star of my floorcloth. However, while experimenting, I used the stencil as a mask as it was designed but had trouble getting crisp edges and wasn’t happy with how the colors worked together. I decided to trace in the design onto the pre-primed, unpainted canvas and then hand paint. This ended up being where the bulk of my time was spent, but it was worth it as I love how the colors pop. (I figured out another way to do this with the same great results later in the process. More on that a little later.)
I used the Doodle It Borders stencil in another row and added rows of stripes in various colors. 
I needed one more focal point to complete my project. While contemplating what that might be, I received July’s happy mail from StencilClub that included a 9" x 12" Folk Art stencil from Mary Beth Shaw’s personal collection, and I knew that it was meant to be! Unfortunately, I had already put down a dark base coat in that area and knew from my experience with the Flower Path row it wouldn’t give me the clean lines I wanted. Then I had an “a-ha” moment and solved the dilemma by stenciling it with a base coat of Gesso before applying the chalk paint. (Too bad I hadn’t thought of that trick before I hand painted in the entire Flower Path row.)
Time to add my own flair to the design. I used a dry brush to paint over some stenciled areas and added shading in other places to give my floorcloth a hand painted look.  I also did some outlining with a black Identi-pen using short, loose, and light strokes to give it an updated feel.
Finally, I applied 5 coats of General Finishes Flat Out Flat water based acrylic top coat sealer, sanding in between with 220 grit sandpaper.

My floorcloth is now finished and is now on my dining room floor. The whole project took about 2 weeks from start to finish, during which I found both the stenciling and the painting relaxing and enjoyable. I love that my floorcloth is used and seen by my family and friends every day. And my two dogs, Penny Lane and Tobi Wan-Kenobi seem to like it too.
I hope that I’ve inspired your to take on your own large project...
because I know that you can create more than you ever dreamed you could!
Happy stenciling!


  1. This is such a great idea and a cool,project!! It turned out beautiful!

  2. Wow!!! What an incredible piece and accomplishment. So much detail on such a huge piece, I am impressed to say the least. Love!

  3. Wow!!! What an incredible piece and accomplishment. So much detail on such a huge piece, I am impressed to say the least. Love!

  4. Jill that's gorgeous and what s fabulous way to display your art as well. I totally love it !!!❤️❤️❤️

  5. I love your results Jill! The brightly colored flowers around the edges just make the whole thing pop.

  6. WOW! A beautiful and fabulous work of art for your home. It's amazing!

  7. This is fantastic! I love the design and colors. Thanks for the step by step directions.


If you are entering a GIVEAWAY, please add your email address in the event we need to contact you.

To avoid SPAM, please write it like this:

marybeth (at) stencilgirltalk (dot com)

Thank You!