Furniture Makeover Using Fabric + Liquid Starch

I have a very colorful furniture makeover using fabric to show you today. One that doesn’t require paint, but uses fabric and liquid starch in a fun way that can be temporary or changed out seasonally without damaging your furniture. Plus…no sewing or ironing needed.

Furniture makeover using fabric and liquid starch For my Waverly Inspirations challenge I take part in every month, I was sent yardage of 5 spring fabrics to use for March. The challenge was to create something for Spring using as many of the fabrics as I could.

I used all of them on this…

Before and After Furniture Makeover Using Fabric + Liquid Starch
…plain white dresser.

In an few hours I transformed it into…

Furniture Makeover Using Fabric + Liquid Starch

…a very colorful dresser complete with fabric flower drawer knobs.

Colorful Furniture Makeover Using Fabric + Liquid Starch
Liquid starch acts like a temporary glue. When I tire of the color or want to change it up, all I have to do is spray the fabric with water to dampen it and I will be able to peel it off without damage to the original finish.

Fabric wet with liquid starch will adhere to almost any surface. Consider using starch as you would glue or Mod Podge. Look around your house to see what surfaces you can transform. Flat simple pieces of furniture work best, but it can be done on any surface big or small. I would not do this on a pricey antique, but it works great on painted furniture as well as:

  • Kitchen cabinets
  • Lining the inside of drawers
  • On china cabinets backdrops
  • Covering window panes
  • On painted walls in place of wallpaper

Furniture makeover using liquid starch and fabric

The fabric flower knobs were created by layering fabric flower cut outs under the drawer knobs. The fabric flowers make the dresser perfect for a spring re-fresh or a little girls room that can be coordinated with bedding and curtains.

Using fabric and liquid starch is also a very budget friendly way to transform furniture since you don’t need a ton of fabric yardage to make the piece take on a new life. A bottle of liquid starch costs around $3.00 a bottle. For this dresser I used about 2 cups.

Furniture Makeover Using Fabric and Liquid Starch

Supplies needed for Furniture makeover using liquid starch and fabric
supplies needed:
All supplies can be purchased at Walmart
  • Waverly Inspirations Fabrics – I used 5 different fabrics – Measure your piece of furniture to figure out yardage you will need
  • Liquid starch – aisle where laundry detergent is sold
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Small tipped paint brush
  • Bucket
  • Plastic drop cloth or dollar store shower curtain liner

How to attach fabric to furniture using liquid starch

1. I only covered the top and sides of my dresser, but you can cover the drawers also.  I laid the fabric over the top and taped it to the sides so I could cut it close to the size I needed. Leave a little extra for shrinkage. It does not have to be cut straight or to exact size yet.  You will cut it later exactly to size once the fabric has dried on the furniture.

Step by step Tutorial for Furniture Makeover Using Fabric + Liquid Starch
2. Place a plastic drop cloth under furniture. Working with fabric soaked with liquid starch can get messy.

3. Pour a few cups of liquid starch in a bucket. Place fabric in and swish it around to saturate it with starch. (You can pour more starch in bucket to cover fabric, but you will only need a few cups. Once you have the fabric on the furniture, you can pour the unused starch back into the bottle).

How to attach fabric to furniture using liquid starch
4. Once fabric is saturated, pull fabric out and remove some of the starch by running your fingers over it. Place the wet fabric over the surface and smooth with a plastic spatula making sure to keep the pattern straight and removing all air bubbles and wrinkles. Let dry.

How to cut fabric to fit furniture when using liquid starch

5. Wrap the fabric around the corners and edges of the furniture and use a small tipped paint brush to make sure there is enough starch under and over the fabric to hold it in place. Let dry.

Furniture makeover tips using fabric and liquid starch

6.When fabric is dry, use scissors to cut excess fabric from corners as shown above.

Furniture makeover ideas that don't use paint

7. Use a small-tipped paint brush with starch on it over cut sections to make sure they are glued down.

Little girl bedroom ideas

8. When fabric is dry, use a craft knife with a sharp blade to cut excess fabric wrapped around edges. Hold excess in one hand and use knife to cut in the other. It will slice right through the fabric.

Fabric cutting tips

9. Use the craft knife to cut away excess fabric along bottom edges. Follow grooves or use a straight edge or ruler to make a straight cut.

Spring time decorating ideas using fabric

How to Make Fabric Flower Drawer Knobs

Fabric flower drawer pull DIY

supplies needed:

  • Existing or new drawer knobs – Similar ones found, here.
  • Flower pattern .pdf to make template
  • 4-1/4″ diameter plate
  • Scissors
  • Plastic spatula to smooth fabric
  • Awl
  • Pencil
  • Plastic wrap

Fabric flower drawer pull template

  1. Download: Patterns for Fabric Flower Drawer Pulls

How to make a fabric flower drawer pull

2. Make fabric yo-yo rosettes.  Trace a 4-1/4″ diameter plate on fabric. Cut out. With a needle and thread, use a basting stitch about a 1/4″ in from the edge of the circle. Once you have stitched all around, pull thread to gather fabric. Stitch raw edges together using a few stitches. Flatten and set aside.

How to make fabric rosette draw pulls for a girls bedroom

3. Trace small and large flower pattern on fabrics. You will need one of each for each knob. Cut around the flower shape, but do not cut out in detail yet. Wait until the fabric is stiff from the starch to cut the traced lines of the flower shape to keep cut edges from unraveling.

Decorating with fabric ideas

4. Pour starch on plate and soak cut squares with the flower tracings on them into starch.  Remove excess starch with your hands and lay each on plastic wrap to dry.

Fabric cutting tips

5. When fabric is dry it will be slightly stiff, cut flower shapes out following the traced line. When cutting a few pieces, pin them together and cut them out all at once.

Furniture drawer pull ideas DIY

6. Assemble fabric flower cut outs and rosette as shown.

Creative ideas for drawer pulls and knobs

7. Use an awl or snip a small hole using scissors to make a cut for the knob screw to go through the fabrics.

Creative uses for fabric scraps

DIY drawer pull idea

8. Attach to drawer using nuts that came with the knobs.

Flower drawer pulls or knobs to make

I used a mix of fabrics in each flower, but you can use all one color or pattern of fabric to create different looking flowers.

Transform furniture with fabric and liquid starch

Do you have a piece of furniture around your house waiting for a spring refresh with some colorful fabric and liquid starch?

Furniture makeover using liquid starch and fabric. How to tutorial shows you how easy and inexpensive it is to transform a piece of furniture without having to use paint.


Furniture makeover idea. Take your next furniture makeover up a notch by making colorful fabric flower drawer knobs. Making them is a great way to help coordinate the fabrics you use to decorate a room. as well as a way to use up scraps of fabric.

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  1. Our Hopeful Home says:

    What a pretty and colorful dresser! Great tutorial. Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm. xo Kathleen

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thank you Kathleen and for hosting the Vintage Charm link up. I enjoy seeing all the ideas every week.

  2. Linda L Weeks says:

    that is one happy looking piece of furniture! I am wishing that I had some fabric kicking around now, since it is Spring! Once I get out again, I’ll mos’ def look up some nice light weight cloth at Joannes! Keep well,

  3. Shweta Shah says:

    There can be so many ways in which you can use the fabric . This can be a very useful guide for manufacturers like us . Now we can look for the textile designs that not only are comfortable and in accordance to the the trends but also will take into consideration its utility.

  4. How cute. Wondering if one could redo the fabric on a chair in this method or would it be impractical after sitting on it many times???

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Bj – Thanks – The technique only works well on flat surfaces. It would eventually come off a chair with the constant rubbing against it when the chair is used.

  5. That’s a very cute idea. You can also use bits of old wallpaper that you have left over from, say, after wallpapering a room. You can accent your furniture with the remainder for an added accent touch! Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jamie – Thanks for sharing the tip to use old wallpaper. Great idea.

  6. We are moving into a new home and the basement walls are like sound proof fabric wall panels.. so needless to say you can’t paint. Would we be able to use this technique to change colors. Use the liquid starch to apply a colored fabric. I guess my question is, would fabric stick to another fabric for a decent amount of time with the liquid starch?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Amanda – Good question. I am not sure since I have only applied it over wood and painted walls. If you really want to do it, test it out with a small piece of fabric. I would apply lots of starch since it sounds like the walls might have some padding under the fabric that may suck in all the starch, check for air bubbles and then let it dry. If it stays in place after a few days, then I would say it works.

  7. Hi Diane ,

    What do you think about using this technique on a jewelry box ?
    I love the look . Thanks for the inspiration !

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Melissa – It would work very well to cover a jewelry box if you use a lightweight fabric like I did. Just make sure the fabric you choose is not too thick. Cotton fabric works the best. If the box has rounded corners, you may have to make a few cuts in the fabric to fit around the corners. Experiment a little before using your actual fabric. Wrap them as if you were wrapping a gift. Using the the starch as a glue will give nice crisp looking corners.

  8. How do you take it off when you want to change it out,and does it leave resadue?

  9. Misty Shortridge says:

    Could I use this on unpainted wood? We’ll be making toy boxes for our daughter and this would be so cute! I’d love to skip painting if I could.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Misty – Yes, starched fabric will stick to almost anything as long as it is free of dirt, grease and dust.

  10. It’s really great to read your articles. Such nice pictures

  11. Jaime Costiglio says:

    Diane this is lovely! So creative and beautifully executed, you never cease to amaze me. Beautiful work and photographs.

  12. Michelle Powers says:

    I LOVE this! I have the perfect dresser in need of an update!

  13. Diane! Another WINNER! This little dresser looks so fresh, sweet and just like Spring!

  14. Phoenix Plumber says:

    Such a cute idea! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Molly Beatson says:

    wow! 3 great finds this week! your blog, waverly and this DIY!

    I have a guest room that I am in the design planning stages of and this will really bring it the pop it needs!

    Thank you!

  16. Lovely fabrics this month! and very clever idea.

  17. About 45 years ago my sister and I attended a decorating class that taught this method. We then went home and wallpapered her kitchen using striped sheets. It turned out beautifully, but was very messy!

  18. Melissa Leach says:

    How cute is this!? Love it, Diane. Does the material stretch at all?

  19. Georgia Smith says:

    I did this several years ago to a wooden desk that my brother beat up when he was little. The fabric covered all the scratches and stayed on until I took it off when we moved. It lasted years like that and it was upholstery fabric too. Washed it down with a wet sponge to get the residual starch off the wood and good to go!! Works great on walls for renters that want something temporary. Thanks Diane!!

  20. TerriC/HoustonLady says:

    Hi Diane,

    I love this tutorial!! I have an old dresser that can use an update : )

    Have a great weekend!

  21. I love this idea! Thinking about doing this for the inside of a china cabinet. I’m just not ready to paint it, so this would be a good substitute to make it pop, without the permanency of paint!

  22. Charlotte Lindsay says:

    Your creativity never sises to amaze me. This dresser turned out great, especially the flower handles such a cute touch. It is also great that the fabric will come of cleanly, makes it ideal for a little girls room. When she tires of the design you can simply remove it and keep the furniture in tact. Thanks for sharing.

  23. I’m wondering about applying it to the back of a china cabinet. Would it be better to apply directly or apply it to foam core board and wedged into place?
    How about applying it to the standard corkboard? Most frames will not snap off so I can re-upholster.

    Love this idea.

  24. You’ve got me thinking of doing this on a simple furniture piece in my home for spring/summer. What fun! :-D

  25. Diane, this project is so clever and beautiful. I am wondering how durable it is and is it easily removed?

  26. This fabric project is so clever and beautiful. I’m wondering about the durability and if it’s easily removed.

  27. Deborah Lazarou says:

    I used this method years ago for my daughters furniture; the only draw back is that the fabric does get dirty from day to day use. I did cover it with at that time poly but it yellowed. I am sure there are better products for protecting now. I would not recommend using it in the kitchen unless there is a clear coat on it as there is grease in the kitchen and this is not washable.
    Very Pretty and I love the handles

  28. Carabiensplash says:

    This is so pretty! I love this idea and I appreciate your detailed tutorial. I’m thinking of a permanent project and I’m wondering about durability. Do you know how long the fabric will stay adhered or if it will start to lift after a time? Would it be compatible with a water based polyurethane over it to make it more durable? I’ve used Mod Podge before but the starch would be a lot cheaper than anything else. Thanks!

  29. mary heicher says:

    My gosh, I haven’t seen starch since my mom used it in our wringer washing machine when I was a kid. lol
    What a fantastic idea! I have the perfect dresser to use this on. Thanks Diane!

  30. That dresser with the knobs is so cute. I didn’t know that you could use starched fabric on furniture. Thanks so much for the tutorial. The Waverly materials are so pretty.

  31. Love this. the flower knobs would be so adorable for a girls room.

  32. Elaine Butler says:

    A wonderful technique! I did something similar using fabric as a border in my pantry to add more zip. Great job, particularly love the drawer pulls.

  33. So cute! Love the idea for a little girls room. You continue to amaze me. Love the Waverly Fabric too.

  34. What a great project! You’ve inspired me! I’m going to use this technique to cover an old pine table in a textured, off-white fabric. This might also work as an easy way to add beautiful pattern to the bottom of outdoor trays and closet storage boxes. Thank you for sharing your brilliant ideas!

  35. It amazes me how you come up with unusual ideas and actually follow through. And, it seems, so effortlessly. Your piece is exquisite and especially with the drawer pulls – a detail most would omit.
    You mentioned walls. I’m wondering about textured apartment walls.

  36. Hi Diane,
    What a clever idea! I was just pondering ways that I could cover two oversized obelisks for a new look without destroying the original finish. If I understand correctly, the starch can be a temporary glue and will –when dampaned– let go without damage to the original finish. If so, would be such a great option for an outdated accessory upcycle.
    Thanks so much for sharing.
    Susie from The Chelsea Project