Tuesday Tutorial: Distress Stained Muslin

Welcome to my first Tuesday Tutorial!  I am so excited about doing this weekly feature and hope that it will be as fun and informative to you!  I love the tag and technique I am sharing this week.  It is a long tutorial with tons of photos.  Along the way if you need a closer look, just click on the photo for a pop up of a larger view.  As always, the supply list of what I used is included at the bottom of the post.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin
I love working with muslin fabric.  I love that it is so versatile and inexpensive.  It is so easy to add color to with just about any ink, mist, paint, or stain you might have.  Today I want to share an easy way to add color using Tim Holtz’s Distress Stains.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Begin with a scrap of beige or white muslin.  I usually make color a piece much larger than my project so that I will have leftovers for future projects.  You can leave it smooth and flat or wad it up to add some wrinkles.  Adding color over the wrinkles will create some variations in the application making lighter and darker areas as you brush the color on.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Brush assorted Distress Stain colors onto the fabric using the built in applicator.  I usually work in strips, but you could do random patches, criss cross, etc.  You can use any assortment of colors.  In this example I used greens and blues and went for a more monochromatic color scheme.  I used Picket Fence last and made swipes over the other colors.  The Picket Fence created some softer color variations and blending.  If you like the effect at this point, you could stop here or . . .

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Mist the fabric with water.  Adding water to the mix will cause the stains to soften and blend.  Distress products are reactive to water so adding water will create some intresting color washed effects.  If you are happy with the look you have you could stop. . .

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

wad the fabric into a tight ball to add more wrinkles and to allow the fabric to touch other areas of itself and let the color bleed onto other areas.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Blot the fabric with a dry cloth (I keep cloth diapers in my studio to use as studio rags) to help remove excess moisture.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

The fabric now has very crisp wrinkles.  If this is the look I want, I will let it air dry.  It will dry with a somewhat stiff texture.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

If I am in a hurry or if I want as softer look and feel to my fabric, I dry it with my heat gun.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Before using the finished fabric, turn it over and look at the back.  A good amount of color will have bled through creating a nice mix of color and original fabric color.  I often use the back side because of the softer finished look.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

I think this piece of fabric really demonstrates the difference between the front and back of the fabrics and how different and usable they both are.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

To make a fabric covered tag, cut a piece of the dyed fabric and a piece of cotton batting slightly larger than the size of your tag.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Stamp an image on your fabric using Archival Ink.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Apply glue stick to the surface of  your tag.  (Therm O Web’s Super Stick is a great glue for this.  It is a really versatile glue stick that is made for both paper and fabric applications.  It can be used on fabric to tack things in place for sewing and washes out when the item is laundered.  I love that I can sew through it and not gum or ick up my sewing machine needle.)

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Apply the piece of cotton batting to the top of the tag.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Apply more glue stick to the top of the batting.  Place the fabric, stamped side up on top of the batting.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Turn the assembled tag over and trim the edges of the fabric and batting to match the tag.  I trimmed mine with pinking shears, leaving the fabric layers slightly larger than the tag.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Machine stitch around the edges of the tag to secure the fabric layers to the tag.  In place of machine stitching, hand stitching or brads and each corner would work as well.  To add a bit of subtle shimmer, mist the surface of the tag with Biscotti Perfect Pearls Mist.  Use a heat tool to dry the mist.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Dab ink onto a 5-6″ piece of flat lace (mine is vintage) using an ink applicator tool.  Brush the edges of the fabric and batting with the ink as well.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Apply a line of glue stick to the front of the tag.  You can’t see it in the photo, but my line goes from the left side edge to right side edge, directly through the center of the circle (over the O.N.T.).

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Lay the ribbon over the glue.  Pinch and bunch up the lace to create ruffles.  The glue from the glue stick will help hold the lace and ruffles in place.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Machine stitch through the lace to secure it permanently.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Stamp the center area of the large Clark’s stamp on a scrap of Grunge Paper.  Cut the center circle design out.  Brush Distress Ink over the piece.  Use a Cut n’ Dry Pen Nib to pick up color from an ink pad to add color inside the letters.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Mist over the piece with Perfect Pearls Mist.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

If you apply more mist than you prefer, a quick spritz of water and a blot with a towel will help remove excess mist.  In my example, my mist covered my blue letters a bit more than I wanted.  I was able to put a mist of water in just the letter area and was able to lighten the mist in the center.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Apply Distress Ink to the edges of the round piece.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Apply adhesive foam squares to the center back of the round piece.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Place the round stamped piece on the tag, lining it up to match the design of the fabric.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Pierce two sets of holes (for stitching an X) on each side of the circle piece where it lays over the lace.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Thread a needle with 2-3 strands of embroidery floss.  Tab Distress Ink with an ink applicator tool onto the floss to give it a vintage look.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin
Make a running stitch with the embroidery floss through the center of the lace.  Make two X stitches in the pierced holes.  On my example, I left the beginning thread on the right hanging loose on the right and left the remaining thread in the needle on the left, which I pierced through the fabric.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Stamp the scissor stamp on a piece of manila cardstock.  Color the image with markers and cut out.  Stamp of over the cut out scissors with embossing ink.  Cover with clear embossing powder.  Heat the powder covered scissors to melt the embossing powder.  Embossing the scissors not only makes them shiny but also gives them some extra “body”, making them more durable to stand up to any handling of the finished tag.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

Gently lift the foam squares on the back of the circle from the fabric and lace behind it.  Slip the scissors behind the circle between the foam squares and the lace and fabric.  Press the circle and foam back down.  I photographed and made this tag as I went without much of a plan.  When I got to this point it looked a little naked which led me to add the scissors.  If I were making it again, I would add the scissors before the circle.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin
The final touch I added was to include a small button with floss at the bottom of the tag where there was a round part in the lower border design and a large silver eyelet to the tag opening.

tammytutterow distress stained muslin

tammytutterow distress stained muslin


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  1. Leona Nin Sander-Hunter says

    Love all the techniques you shared today,and all on one small tag – amazing. I am very excited about your new Tuesday Tutorial!!
    Thank You

  2. Dolly/scrapthat says

    Very cool! I just love that stamp and the scissors are fab too! TFS! Looking for some muslin! LOL

  3. says

    WOW this is a seriously cool, detailed, beautiful project/tutorial! THANKS for sharing it with all of us! Looking forward to seeing more Tuesday Tutorials! You definitely kicked it off with a *bang* ! Love it!

  4. KimMJ says

    Absolutley adorable! Love the colors and the way you pay special attenion to all the little details. I love theos e little sissors. Thanx so much for sharing!

  5. says

    Well if the rest of your tutorials are like today’s you really should change your legal name to Tammy Tutorial (thanks Tim!)… This is wonderful and I love all the muslin details and step by step!!!

  6. Lori C says

    Love all the details! I see a stamp purchase in my future! LOL….thank you Tammy, for all the inspiration and the time you give us.

  7. Elaine Allen says

    Tammy –
    This is just so beautiful! What a wonderful piece and what an awesome tutorial! Thank you so much for your hard work.
    Elaine Allen

  8. Marijane says

    Great tutorial and tag! I think I need some muslin to try this and I know which of Wendy’s stamp sets will be my next purchase. It’s positively inspiring!

  9. says

    Super I love working with fabric & have just received my fisrt distress stains in the post…time to get the kids off to bed do I can play I think!
    Happy craftin

  10. pam hooten says

    I love this Tammy, great tutorial!
    I need to add the nibs to my Inspiration Emporium list :)

  11. Robin says

    Oh Tammy – tuesdays will never be the same! What a great tutorial. You amaze me with your creativity! So appreciate your clear instructions which always gives me confidence that I can do this!

  12. Linda Waite says

    Thank you very much I love that you use both fabric and paper in your projects two of my favorite things. Thanks for making Tuesday’s better

  13. Penci says

    Thank you so much for sharing your great tutorial! Because of you I am gaining the confidence to work with fabric, first crinoline flowers and now muslin! You are so inspiring and we appreciate the time you put into sharing your projects!

  14. BARB T says

    Thank you for the great step by step. Loved the indications where one could stop if desired. Great tutorial.

  15. Sara says

    so much fun with color! and really well executed – both the tag and the instructions. Thanks!!!

  16. says

    Hello Tammy,
    thanks for sharing the tutorial on this “soft” tag. I know how much time it takes to make a phototutorial and write everything down ! It’s much appreciated.
    Knowing we may expect a tutorial every thursday sure makes me smile !
    I like your ‘soft” tag : I like how the fabric was colored with the distress stains and you’re right : both front and back of the fabric are useable !
    I love the combination of the colors, the stamps, the composition,…
    NICE !
    greetings from belgium

  17. Kelly says

    This tutorial, and the tag, just make me happy…plain and simple :) Those stamped scissors are brilliant!

  18. Jacuelene L says

    Thankyou for this tutorial. It’s just what I needed. I am saving this to my favourites, so that I can use it in the future when I need it. Muslin is my favourite fabric too, there are so many possibilities with it. I really like muslin for making die cut flowers and being able to colour it.
    Jacquelene L

  19. Debra Gibson says

    Thank You for the tutorial on the muslin I have a dress form that I wanted to alter and was wondering how to put color on the muslin for the bottom of the dress ! This was a great deal of helpful information and I love the way you did those scissors with the embossing powders! Awesome !