Alina Sewing and Design

First of all, I’m sure there are hundred of tutorials on this very thing and many of you will scoff at the fact that I even took the time to write this out because OBVIOUSLY you already know how to do this. Wellll….I wrote it anyway. 🙂 While sorting through before-and-after pictures of furniture I have re-done (for the upholstery & sewing services page!), I realized I had taken photos of my herringbone dresser during the painting process, but never had time to share. So, since I already have the photos, I’m writing the tutorial. I hope it’s helpful!

Let’s back up…some of you may remember the red dresser with hand-painted herringbone drawers I did back in April for The Red Barn Outdoor Market. Some of you might be newer than that. So, here she is…seriously one of my favorite pieces! It sold to a lady who was putting it in her son’s nursery, which makes it that much easier to let go of!

And this is what she looked like when I picked her up…

Not pretty, but she had good bones! So, I sanded her down and painted her red (with a coat of mint green underneath to peek through!). Unfortunately (or so I thought at the time) there was some graffiti in the bottom of one of the drawers, all done in permanent marker, and even three coats of Kilz Stain Blocker wasn’t doing the trick. So, I decided to camouflage it and really go the extra mile on the drawers! I thought about doing a chevron, but wasn’t sure if customers would be completely tired and over it, so I decided to go slightly different and do herringbone.

I sort of made it up as I went, but it worked well, so here’s how I did it!

  1. Choose your two colors. In my case, I wanted white and gray, so I painted the bottoms and sides in white.
  2. Decide how big you want your pattern to be. In my case, I made wanted the colors to alternate every 2 inches from top to bottom and every 4 inches from side-to-side. So, I measured out my pattern, marking every four inches on the top and bottom. Because I wanted to paint on one side of the tape first, I didn’t center my tape on the lines every four inches, but rather placed my tape to one side. It will look uneven! The concept is the same as if you were painting stripes on a wall. Once those “vertical” pieces of tape were in place, I marked every two inches down the side of the tape where I would be painting the herringbone. I then took smaller pieces of tape and placed them on a diagonal from one mark on the left to the next 2-inch mark below on the right Once I had everything taped off, I painted! It took two coats to get enough coverage, but I removed the pieces of tape while the second coat was wet and set them aside to reuse. You now have half of your herringbone!
  3. Once the second coat is dry enough to place tape onto (I waited until the next day so I wouldn’t have to worry about pulling it up), repeat the process, filling in between the first round of diagonals. You’ll now want to make your diagonals go down from right to left, opposite of what you did the first time. And make sure you’re painting the “off” rows, otherwise you’ll end up with a chevron, which is fine, but definitely not a herringbone. Your tape should look like this before you paint:

And voilá! Does that make sense? It was a pretty “quick” process once I had done my math and figured out what I was doing, so you might just have to DO IT for it to make sense, but I hope this takes some of the guesswork out of it and provides some direction!
Are you guys still loving chevron? After spending HOURS familiarizing myself with the construction of the herringbone, I feel a certain attachment to it, but it’s definitely not caught on in the fabric world (which, obviously is the main medium I’ve been working with lately). Well, I should clarify that I haven’t found any modern takes on the herringbone. Always a classic, I suppose. 🙂


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