Ever wondered how to apply gold leaf on fabric? It can’t be that difficult, right? Surely anyone can do it, no?

Well, you’re right, anyone can do it, so long as they’ve got the right know-how! Thus, today we will be exploring three different methods by which you can apply that lustrous gold leaf to more or less any kind of fabric you can conceive of.

Table of Contents

How To Apply Gold Leaf To Fabric – Elevating Fabric With Luxe Leafing

Method 1: Applying Gold Leaf on Fabric

Let’s first look at the more traditional method to adorn your fabrics with gold apparel.

What You Will Need

  • Metal leaf (or flakes)
  • Gel medium
  • Paintbrush for applying gel medium, preferably a small foam brush
  • A soft, full paintbrush for removing excess leaf
  • Parchment paper
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Gold leaf fabric
  • Freezer paper to create a stencil or mask, a commercial or original stamp

Step 1: Applying Gel

Using the foam brush aforementioned, apply an even coat of gel medium to the stamp. Press it firmly onto the fabric to ensure it holds correctly.

Step 2: Laying Leaf

As soon as possible, lay one sheet of metal leaf carefully on top of the wet impression left behind by the gel medium, gently tapping it into place.

Then, use the separator sheets between the leaves to transport them to the fabric to prevent them from crumbling or breaking apart. Metal leaf is very fragile because of its thinness and, thus, must be supported as it’s moved, lest you be left with a fist full of mess.

Step 3: Ironing

After approximately 10 minutes (during which the gel medium will dry), cover the gold foil and fabric with a piece of parchment paper, before pressing firmly with a hot iron. Direct contact is to be avoided at all costs.

Step 4: Cooling

Allow the fabric to cool completely. This will take around five minutes, during which you can prepare yourself for the next steps.

Step 5: Brushing

With the soft brush, you can begin brushing away the excess leaf. The areas where the gel medium was applied will not be affected by the brush, so don’t be afraid to get stuck while still being as gentle as possible.

Step 6: Ending

The beauty of leafing something in this way is that it is “perfectly imperfect”. There will be variations in the edges – i.e. in areas that don’t take the leaf as well – and this is all part of the magic of the rich metallic leaf look.

Method 2: Applying Gold Leaf to Silk Fabric

Next, we take a look at a more specific fabric that, thus, needs a separate methodology for gold leafing.

What You Will Need

  • Genuine gold leaf
  • Adhesive size (glue)
  • Bristle brush
  • Imitation gold leaf
  • Silk fabric

Step 1: Applying Glue

Apply glue in whatever fashion you see fit to the silk fabric in question, bearing in mind that when you apply the gold leaf, it will adhere to these shapes and lines.

Step 2: Drying

Allow the glue to dry for around ten minutes (or however long the packaging says that you should) – ensuring that it is properly set before applying gold leaf will ensure that it is as effective as possible.

Step 3: Leafing

Using the brush, pick up a hunk of gold leaf and brush it into the shapes that you have glued into the fabric, making sure to use up every single morsel of the gold leaf as it dissolves upon brushing.

Step 4: Finishing Touches

Now, you can go ahead and apply any finishing touches to the silk fabric before leaving it to dry in its own time, settling into whatever atmosphere it is in.

Method 3: Applying Gold Transfer Foil to Fabric

Forget applying genuine gold leaf and forget metallic fabric paints! Now, you can get really busy with gold transfer foil, a DIY miracle foil, and a brush-on adhesive designed specifically for fabrics.

What You Will Need

  • Gold transfer foil
  • Foil transfer adhesive
  • Paintbrush
  • Parchment paper
  • Iron
  • Scissors (optional)
  • Paper plate

Step 1: Gluing

Squirt some of the glue onto a paper plate or other surface not used for consuming food, then brush a thin layer of glue onto your fabric item in the shape that you wish to apply the gold leaf.

Load on more glue at the beginning of the brushstroke and lift your brush up and away from the fabric at the end. If you’re nervous about this step, turn your fabric inside out and do a practice run on the inside first.

Step 2: Drying

Allow the glue to dry for around 30 seconds before applying any metal leafing of any sort.

Step 3: Applying the Foil

Place one sheet of the gold transfer foil on top of the glue, ensuring that the silver side is facing down. Gently smooth down the foil with your fingers so that you can see the adhesive shape beneath.

Step 4: Laying Parchment

Lay a sheet of parchment paper on top of the gold foil and iron for 20 seconds, making sure that the iron is as hot as can be beforehand and that you do not exceed this amount of time.

Step 5: Cooling

Let the fabric sit until completely cool to the touch, then peel away the extremely fragile gold foil while it is gently smooth.

Step 6: Repeating

Repeat this process until you are happy with the design and luster of the leaf.

Step 7: Curing

Let the gold foil cure and completely settle for 72 hours before you think about using the fabric out and about. Also, make sure that if you ever wash this fabric it is handwashed only.

Final Words

So, there you have it! Hopefully, you are now feeling ready and able to start applying gold leaf to your own creations!

FAQs Gold Leaf on Fabric

Can I put a gold leaf on a fabric?

Fabrics like leather and polyester won’t work too well when it comes to sizing as the leaf size needs a strong grip on the surface before applying gold on top. Others, though, are well-suited to the task. Using a soft brush, apply a thin even layer of the size onto the area that you want the gold to stick to, and then proceed to apply it accordingly.

How do you stick gold foil to fabric?

Although metal leaf is applied to other surfaces with a special glue, gel medium is the ideal adhesive for applying the leaf to fabric. It’s archival, flexible, has no odor, and is simple to apply, whether that be with acrylic and adhesive foam, a soft brush, or a small foam brush.

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