How to Make Fabric Bowls (Similar to Paper Mache but with Fabric Scraps)

By Brittni • Updated on 02/15/2024

It’s fabric paper mache! Use up those leftover fabric scraps for cute housewares that are also totally functional.

DIY fabric bowls stacked on top of each other.

On a day that I just really needed a creative project, I made a handful of fabric bowls with just a couple of supplies and some leftover fabric scraps. And loved how they turned out, so I shared them on Instagram and then you loved how they turned out too. So, I turned it into a blog post and here we are!

What I love most about these DIY fabric bowls is that they’re so easy to make, but also look pretty unique, if I do say so myself.

When you look at them, they seem like they’d be soft to the touch (especially the ones with visible fabric layers. But they’re actually hard to the touch and function great at bowls for office supplies, jewelry, makeup, etc. Basically anything that’s not food-related is fair game with these.

So, today I’m sharing the tutorial for DIY fabric paper mache bowls.

Stacked fabric bowls in various neutral colors.

Beautiful fabric bowl holding simple, modern office supplies.

How to Make Fabric Bowls with Fabric Scraps

This process is similar to how you would make paper mache bowls, but with fabric scraps.

The results are very unique and textural – much different looking than paper mache imo. But just as easy, so why not give this a try instead.

Materials Needed

Fabric Paper Mache Bowls (Instructions)

Colorful pastel balloons blown up on table.

Step 1: Blow up the balloons.

Blow up balloons. One balloon per bowl.

Don’t blow them up too big, unless you want to make huge bowls. You can reference the photos for the balloon size I went with.

Fabric scraps on a table with scissors.

Step 2: Collect and cut fabric.

Collect fabric scraps and cut them down to rectangles and squares somewhere between 3 to 6 inches.

The exact dimensions don’t matter as much, just something in that range for each piece.

Mod podge on a blue balloon ready for paper mâché alternative craft.

Step 3: Place the balloon and add Mod Podge.

Rest a balloon in a cup or container so it doesn’t roll around. And add a layer of mod podge with a paint brush to the balloon.

Large piece of fabric on a balloon with mod podge on top.

Step 4: Add the first piece of fabric.

Next, add the first piece of fabric on top of the mod podge. Be sure to put the fabric good side down for this particular fabric piece.

It will be the inside of the bowl when finished. So choose a piece of fabric you’d like to look at for the inside.

Step 5: Add more Mod Podge on top.

Add a pretty thick layer of mod podge on top of the first piece of fabric.

Then use the paint brush to further smooth out any areas of the fabric that might need it.

Closeup step of fabric bowls being made.

Step 6: Add another piece of fabric on top.

Then add a second piece of fabric on top of the first. I ran mine second piece of fabric in the opposite direction of the first.

This isn’t required, but it will give your bowl a larger/ wider circumference if you do it this way. So you’ll be left with a bigger bowl than you would otherwise.

Step 7: Add another layer of fabric.

Add another later of mod podge on top of this new layer of fabric, just like you did in step 5.

Balloons being used to make paper mâché alternative fabric bowls.

Step 8: Add additional layers until satisfied with the thickness.

Keep adding layers of fabric and layers of mod podge until you’ve reached a thickness that you like.

I recommend doing at least 4 layers of fabric, all the way up to 12-15 layers of fabric, depending on the fabric thickness and what you want the final bowl to look like.

I included a photo below that breaks down how many layers I have on each bowl as a guide for you.

Keep in mind that some of the fabrics I used (in the 8 layer fabric bowl for example) are very thin fabrics, which result in thinner bowls.

Diagram showing how many layers of fabric each stacked fabric bowl has in it.

Fabric all dry and ready to be removed from ballon for craft project.

Step 9: Give each bowl time to dry.

Wait for the bowls to harden completely. The drying times will vary based on how many layers of fabric you used and how thick the mod podge layers are.

To give you an idea of drying times, my 12 layer fabric bowl took 9 hours to fully harden. While my 4 layer fabric bowl only took four hours.

The main thing is that it feels completely dry to the touch everywhere AND when you tap on it, it sounds and feels hard / solid.

Deflated balloon being removed from a DIY fabric bowl in burnt orange color.

Popping balloon with scissors for paper mâché fabric project

Step 10: Pop the balloon.

Once your fabric bowl is completely dry and has hardened, flip it over and pop the balloon with a pair of scissors.

Remove the ballon gently from the bowl.

Step 11: Cut the edges.

Then, using a shape pair of scissors, cut the jagged edges off to form more of a bowl shape.

Once you cut off the points, you can go back and shape it a little more, with your scissors.

Pastel bowl made of fabric, with office supplies inside.

Closeup detail of fabric paper mâché bowls stacked up together.

Stacked fabric bowls in various patterns and colors.

Simple fabric bowl in burnt orange color, holding wash tape office supplies.

Stacked DIY fabric bowls on a table with abstract wallpaper backdrop.

How to Make Fabric Bowls / Stacking Bowls with Fabric Scraps

Brittni
If you've ever tried paper mache, you know it's easy, fun, and a little messy. But have you ever tried using fabric instead of paper? The results are really interesting and unique. And surprisingly very sturdy too!
No ratings yet

Ingredients
  

  • balloons
  • mod podge
  • paint brush
  • fabric scraps
  • scissors

Instructions
 

  • Blow up balloons. One balloon per bowl. Don't blow them up too big, unless you want to make huge bowls. You can reference the photos for the balloon size I went with.
  • Collect fabric scraps and cut them down to rectangles and squares somewhere between 3 to 6 inches.
    The exact dimensions don't matter as much, just something in that range for each piece.
  • Rest a balloon in a cup or container so it doesn't roll around. And add a layer of mod podge with a paint brush to the balloon.
  • Next, add the first piece of fabric on top of the mod podge. Be sure to put the fabric good side down for this particular fabric piece. It will be the inside of the bowl when finished. So choose a piece of fabric you'd like to look at for the inside.
  • Add a pretty thick layer of mod podge on top of the first piece of fabric.
    Then use the paint brush to further smooth out any areas of the fabric that might need it.
  • Then add a second piece of fabric on top of the first. I ran mine second piece of fabric in the opposite direction of the first.
    This isn't required, but it will give your bowl a larger/ wider circumference if you do it this way. So you'll be left with a bigger bowl than you would otherwise.
  • Add another later of mod podge on top of this new layer of fabric, just like you did in step 5.
  • Keep adding layers of fabric and layers of mod podge until you've reached a thickness that you like.
    I recommend doing at least 4 layers of fabric, all the way up to 12-15 layers of fabric, depending on the fabric thickness and what you want the final bowl to look like.
    I included a photo in the blog post that breaks down how many layers I have on each bowl as a guide for you. Keep in mind that some of the fabrics I used (in the 8 layer fabric bowl for example) are very thin fabrics, which result in thinner bowls.
  • Wait for the bowls to harden completely. The drying times will vary based on how many layers of fabric you used and how thick the mod podge layers are.
    To give you an idea of drying times, my 12 layer fabric bowl took 9 hours to fully harden. While my 4 layer fabric bowl only took four hours.
    The main thing is that it feels completely dry to the touch everywhere AND when you tap on it, it sounds and feels hard / solid.
  • Once your fabric bowl is completely dry and has hardened, flip it over and pop the balloon with a pair of scissors.
    Remove the ballon gently from the bowl.
  • Then, using a shape pair of scissors, cut the jagged edges off to form more of a bowl shape.
    Once you cut off the points, you can go back and shape it a little more, with your scissors.
Did you make this?Mention @paperandstitch or tag #paperandstitch!

So the next time you’re thinking about trying paper mache, I’ll hope you’ll give these fabric bowls a try instead.

So much more unique imo, but I’d love to hear what you think. Let me know in the comments below.

23 comments | Click here to reply

Hi! Thank you so much for sharing!🌺
Can I use synthetic fabric or must it be a cotton or a cotton blend??
Mahalo from Maui! 🌴🌸

Isela

I was going to use 4 or 5 different fabrics. Any suggestions as to how to cut sizes so all different fabrics show?
I was thinking first layer 4-5″ then gradually adding 1-2″ each next layer and perhaps some be rectangle shape.
Thoughts?

pam

Hi Edie. That’s correct – They’re not food safe. I mentioned that at the very beginning of the post. 🙂
-Brittni

Brittni

I do not think food can be placed in these bowls. Perhaps wrapped Candy only. These can’t be washed

Edie Ayer

Hi Pam. If you have something heavy in them they likely won’t roll around. But with the balloons, since they are round as well, there will be a bit of roundness at the bottom of the bowl. If that is an issue, try to flatten the top as it’s drying on the balloon, by pushing it down or adding a small item to weigh it down. Or as another option, use a bowl instead of a balloon as the base to cover with fabric. You’d want to use one that you don’t mind messing up though.
-Brittni

Brittni

My bowl rolls around..how do u fix that

Pam Searles

Hi Katie. Give it 48 hours before you decide on whether it still feels bendy. But… How many layers of fabric did you add? If it’s just a few layers, that might be contributing to the bendiness. The hardest bowls I made were the ones with the most layers of fabric. Hope that helps.
-Brittni

Brittni

I did this and I love my bowl–but 24 hours in, and the bowl, while dry, is still bendy? Is this how it will remain, or will it get fully hardened?

Katie

I use this method to cover plastic containers that I’d otherwise recycle — like yogurt, individual applesauce, etc. You can punch some holes and add a sisal handle to make a little basket.

Ellen Osborn

The idea is very nice. I loved it so much. Cloth plates , would be very nice for fruits, but I was wondering if they stain? How is the cleaning done?
Thank you very much for sharing, also in your answer. Love

Ulunece Ayter

LOVE IT!!! Though instead of a balloon I used a small hanging planter basket, placed it in a grocery bag, stuffed the extra(top) of the bag inside the basket and did the mod podge\fabric how you did the balloon.

Kaitlyn

Hi Julie. I think using a bowl instead of a balloon is a great option for this project.
-Brittni

Brittni

I REALLY like the boho feel of this craft! Really makes me think of Anthropologie – type decor/accessories. I always love stuff that has great visual/ tactile impact w/out lots of cost, and this really hits that mark, totally! Respectfully, I tend to agree w/ person named Gill, who suggested using an existing bowl for the form, instead of balloons. I can envision adding ball fringe, lace, etc. as trim if desired. Thanks for the great inspiration! Blessings 🙂

Julie H.

Can’t wait to try this!

Sandra

Love these bowls! Can you use any type of fabric for these? A relative died recently, leaving a wardrobe full of polyester/acrylic dresses that aren’t good enough for the charity shop (thrift store), but are way too good to just go to the rag-man. I’d appreciate any ideas to re-use all this lovely fabric!

BrummieDeb

I love this idea! However I have a latex allergy. Is there something different that could replace the balloon?

Noelle

I think this will be great for my 4-H Arts & Crafts project group. Thanks for the instructions and tips.

Linda Olsen

i like this idea

shirley dilgard

I like ur idea Gill. The only thing you’d need to do is cover the bowl with a cling wrap first so the mod podge doesn’t stay attached to the bowl, it releases easier!! Good call!!

Cheryl

That is a great point Gill. Yes, you can absolutely use a bowl instead.
-Brittni

Brittni

I love the idea of these, but dislike the use of balloons. Balloons are a major polluter of waterways and deadly to marine life when ingested. Perhaps moulding them over an upturned, reusable, bowl would be better.
Nice way to recycle/reuse fabric scraps.

gill

i love it

Denise Severino

Absolutely love them!

Gail Grimaldi
Leave a reply