DIY Protective Bag for Oil Paintings

It’s important to protect a framed painting from abrasion while being shipped in a box and this soft fabric bag, which I make, is what works for me.

I start out with cotton furniture pads from U-Haul, that’s right, they are made from a very soft 100% cotton felted material, which means no static electricity to attract dust to your painting.

Furniture pad from U-haul, about $7.99 each.
Furniture pad from U-haul, about $7.99 each.

What you’ll need for this project is:

  • U-haul pads, ( I can get two bags for 18″  x 24″ paintings from one pad, each pad measures 69″ x 86″ ).
  • sewing machine
  • Straight edge
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Sharpie or other marker
  • Scissors or rotary cutter

I make these in one piece, so there’s a minimum of sewing involved. Begin by drawing a diagram with the height, length and width of the framed painting plus the seam allowance, as below. Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 2.27.49 PM

 

The measurements going across the top from left to right are

  • 1/2″ seam allowance
  • 1″, in this case the depth of the framed painting was 2″, divide in half I have 1″ on each side
  • 28 1/2″ this is the actual measurement of the front wide, plus 1/2″ for ease
  • 1″, the other half of the 2″ depth
  • 1/2″ seam allowance

The measurements going down the right side from top to bottom

  • 1 1/2″ extra at top edge to fold over
  • 38″, the length of the painting
  • 2″, the 2″ depth of the painting, this is the bottom of the bag
  • 38″, the length of the painting, (going up the other side)
  • 1 1/2″ the extra to fold over the topbag2

With a Sharpie and straight edge draw lines on the pad to represent the overall width, on this project 31 1/2″, than lines across for the overall length, 81″ here.

Cut this piece out with scissors or a rotary cutter.

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If making multiple bags I like to pin a tag to each bag with the dimensions and bag #, this saves time trying to figure out which bag is which later.

Fold the fabric in half, bringing the 1 1/2″ edges together and sew a 1/2″ seam down each side.

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Making the corners in order to get the width at the sides; go down to the lower edge and flatten the seam out to make a triangle. Lay the measuring tape across the corner centering the tape, here on 1″ since the bag is 2″ wide.blog9

Using the tape as a guide sew across the corner at this point, (being careful to not sew the tape).blog10

Trim off the corner close to stitching, repeat on other side. You’re done!blo11

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Shipping box before the insulation is inserted

Slip it over the painting, and put it in the box. We usually cut 3/4″ foam insulation sheets (from Home Depot) to fit the top, bottom and sides of boxes.

These boxes are easy to pack up and easy for the people at the other end to repack in case the painting needs to be shipped back. Have never had any damage, and they are reusable several times.

 

What not to do…when shipping a Painting

Boxing the remainder of my paintings for transit to Phoenix, takes me back to the first time I shipped an oil painting …

Vinn
Vinnie by Diane Eugster

Many years ago when my painting “Vinnie” was accepted into the Oil Painters of America Annual Show, hiring  a professional packaging company to box up my work seemed like the best choice.

After arriving home with the prepared, boxed, painting, a temptation to open it up set in. How had they protected the painting, what type of packaging materials did they use?

I finally gave in. Carefully cutting the tape, (didn’t want to destroy what I had just paid for), slipping it out onto my work table I saw several layers of bubble wrap. Unraveling the plastic sandwich revealed the surface of Vinnie’s face… pock-marked with bubble imprints! Panic set in.

John and I stood there silent, trying to take in what our eyes were seeing. When we could finally think straight, the deduction was that the varnish had reacted with the wrap. Maybe removing the layer of varnish on the painting would also erase the textured layer. Carefully messaging mineral spirits over the surface eventually removed the marks, restoring Vinnie to his former self.

My lesson… never use bubble wrap next to an oil painting, and…DIY in the future.

In the next post, I’ll share how I make custom bags to protect my paintings in transit…