painterly skirt tutorial

May 30th, 2012

For my contribution to Skirt Week 2012, I made this little tutorial for turning an old, rather boring skirt into something a bit more interesting. Sometimes you don’t need to make a new skirt, but you need to liberate one from the back of your closet. I had planned on doing a tutorial for a button placket, but then I saw this picture and could not stop thinking about it:

These pants are from a shop in New York that specializes in super awesome Japanese children’s clothes. The idea is so simple and so effortlessly cool that I had to steal it.

painterly skirt tutorial

painterly skirt


  • 1 unloved skirt
  • a bit of cardboard or freezer paper
  • paint of your choice, fabric or acrylic or even house paint*
  • stamps
  • very small paint brush

painterly skirt materials



1. The first thing I did was carve some starts out of an old eraser. If you’ve never done this before it may sound hard, but I assure you it is not. I carved two stamps from a big eraser and two from the tiny erasers on a pair of new pencils. It took me all of 10 minutes. There are many good tutorials for carving stamps from erasers out there (this one and this one for example). The stamp you make should be quite small, so stick to a simple shape–stars work well!

starting the stars

2. Put a piece of cardboard under where you will be stamping, or you can iron a bit of freezer paper to the back. You need something under your design, so the paint doesn’t bleed through to the other side.

3. Start stamping! You can be as fussy or as messy as you want. The look we are going for is paint wiped on the side of your skirt, so there aren’t too many rules you have to follow. It looks nice if the stamps are concentrated a bit in one area and then fade out towards the edges.

stars painted

3. After you have stamped to your heart’s content, take a very small paintbrush and go over some of the stamps with more paint. This will make some of the stars stand out better and give the design a little more dimension.

4. Let the paint dry and go over it with an iron to set it.  Waalaa! a new skirt! One that will be loved and worn again!

before after painterly skirt

*a note on paint: I don’t paint on my clothes very often, but when I do (like here and here) I like to use a product called fabric meduim. You mix the meduim with any acrylic paint and it makes it into a fabric paint. A good friend of mine turned me on to it. Another good friend told me to get out of the not-so-great craft acrylic paint aisle and go to the actually-an-artist acrylic paint aisle: the colors and the quality are better.

painterly skirt after


Posted in tutorials.

12 Responses to painterly skirt tutorial

  1. Anna says:

    Nice idea and quite simple to execute! I think I may just have to copy the kiddies pants idea directly though…my 2 yr old will get a bigger kick out of stars on her pants than me.

    Btw the term is ‘voila’ ( Waalaa is not a real word …although seems to be a common mistake on design blogs strangely enough.

    • meg says:

      anna–don’t worry, I know voila is the real word. Waalaa is just a funny way of saying it!

  2. anna says:

    i love this meg! it looks awesome!

  3. ~Heather says:

    Gonna have to put stars on everything. That’s a great way to make something blah into a double take.

  4. Nikki says:

    So cute! Basic brand acrylic paint works really well for fabric painting.

  5. Nikki Hill says:

    I’ve found your blog to be wonderfully creative and chock-full of delightful eye candy. With gratitude for your imaginative offerings I am passing along a Kreative Blogger Award nomination. (For more information go to Thank you for inspiring and entertaining me.

  6. kristin says:

    Really cool, Meg. Love that it just looks like paint splatters at first glance but more specialer close up. I would guess your daughter is now asking for a mini-version? I know mine would.

  7. Stacey says:

    Wow, this looks really amazing! What a cute way to spruce up something that looks a little plain.

  8. Corinnea says:

    I love reusing clothing like this. Most of the time I cut it up to make something different but painting it could be very fun! Thanks for the idea!

  9. Anshu says:

    Cool find and neat tutorial! I’m pinning it. Ohh and Did I say I loved the style?

  10. jacqueline says:

    Love the print!
    Some of my favorite clothes for my boys are from Japan.
    Great work.

  11. Lisa says:

    Love this! So simple, but makes a big difference