Many companies make some great linen panels, but they're too expensive for me. While the initial cost of buying a full roll of linen can be steep, making your own panels will be much less expensive in the long run.
-Claussen's Oil Primed Linen (I use the #12 style)
-MDF or Masonite boards, cut to size (Having a couple small sizes helps you minimize scraps)
-Matte Medium, Miracle Muck Glue, or Elmer's Glue
-Cheap bristle brush
-Soft Rubber Brayer (Speedball brand. Used for printmaking)
-Rubberized Cutting Mat
Begin by lightly sanding your wooden panels. I like to make sure the edges are cleaned up and any burs are removed. Run the sandpaper across the side to be glued as well, to provide better adhesion for the glue.
Take the brayer and firmly press down, rolling from the center outwards. Make sure to really get the edges to stick down. If you don't use enough glue and pressure the edges have a habit of peeling away from the board.
Notice a little seam of glue on the edge. The panel below has just the right amount of glue. The edges will stick down well. Too much glue will ooze out and make a big mess on your working surface (and potentially get on the primed side of your linen panels!)
Take all of your panels at this stage and stack the like-sizes together. Place a couple heavy books on each stack. Let this sit overnight to dry.
Once the panels have dried, take your rubberized cutting mat and an X-Acto knife. Place the panel upside down on the cutting mat. With firm pressure and using the edge of the wood panel as a guide, cut away all the extra linen.
After trimming off the extra linen, inspect each panel. If you have an edge or corner peel up because you didn't use enough glue, it's ok! Peel the corner back just a little bit, and put on some extra glue with a small brush or palette knife. Run the brayer over the trouble spot a couple more times until it really sticks down. Leave the panel under a book for another day.
And there you have it. Hopefully this little tutorial can help you make some nice panels. Happy painting!