Make: hand printed fabric napkins

by Bar

DIY Hand Printed Fabric Napkins - Holiday Gift Idea - Free Flower Template | Small for Big

Back in the day, I majored in textile design. I used to wile away my hours silk screening in the art department. I miss making fabric! I once had a dream of becoming a textile designer. Not that there isn’t still time (cue photo of Grandma Moses). I have always loved printing fabric. This tutorial is perfect for the beginner. It uses recycled materials, and you only need to buy a few supplies. The process is not difficult, but it does take some time. Then again… anything hand made is a labor of love.

DIY hand printed napkins {with free stencil} |


~ an old sheet (mine was a white queen)

~ measuring tape

~ fabric dye (optional)

~ a small cardboard box

~ flower stencil (download here)

~ craft foam

~ exacto knife and/or good scissors + a pencil

~ rubber cement

~ newspaper + an old towel

~ opaque fabric paint

~ small flat brush

~ new sponge

~ sewing machine

DIY hand printed napkins {with free stencil} |

Step 1: cut and dye the fabric

~ Begin by measuring out your squares. I made mine 22”, but you can choose to go bigger or smaller depending on your sheet or fabric. (If you have store bought fabric, don’t forget to wash it first to get rid of the sizing).

~ Make a small cut every 22”. Tear the sheet at each cut. You should now have 6-12 squares, depending on size of sheet and size of napkin.

~ If you are not going to dye your squares, skip this step. If you are dying, then read the package directions. I used iDye and loved the results. I dried my squares in the sun, then washed them in the machine and ironed before starting to print.

DIY hand printed napkins {with free stencil} |

Step 2: make the stencil

~ Print out the stencil. Turn the paper over and on the backside, using your pencil press down hard and color in around the flower line. Then turn the paper stencil back over and lay it on top of the foam. Now use the pencil and draw the flower outline. The pencil from the back should come off just enough so that you can see the outline.

~ Cut the flower out with scissors or an exacto. It’s handy to have the exacto for the inside of the flower, but not necessary.

~ Take your cardboard box and cut four equal square pieces (or circle if you want to get fancy), just slightly bigger than your foam stencil. Glue them together. Then, using the rubber cement, glue the stencil on top. The best way to use the rubber cement so that the stencil never comes off is like this: Put glue on both the cardboard and the stencil. Let them both dry. Then put them together.

DIY hand printed napkins {with free stencil} |

DIY hand printed napkins {with free stencil} |

Step 3: stamping the fabric

~ Find a table where you can work. Lay down a towel, then cover it with newspaper (I used my roll of newsprint). Secure with tape under the table. Now lay down your napkin square. I used tape on the corners, stretching it just a teensy bit so that it was slightly taught.

~ I tried several techniques for stamping, but found that the paintbrush method worked best and gave me the most consistent color.

~ After you’ve mixed your paint and made a color that you like, start by painting it on the foam stencil. Don’t put on too much, just enough to keep it wet but not thick. Next, quickly use your damp sponge to blot the paint. This makes the paint a consistent texture. Using a scrap of fabric for the first run, turn the stencil over and press down firmly with your hand. Make sure to push all around where you think the edges of the flower would be. When you are done pressing, slowly peel off the stencil.

~ Always start at a corner of the fabric. Work your way across, carefully placing the flowers at about an inch to two inches apart. Remember to go off the sides!

DIY hand printed napkins {with free stencil} |

DIY hand printed napkins {with free stencil} |

Step 4: sewing the edges

~ After stamping and drying, make a simple hem around the edges.

~ Don’t forget to read the directions on the paint jars for how to set the paint!! When you have finished hemming and setting the paint, give them a wash.

DIY hand printed napkins {with free stencil} |

It’s nice to have a dedicated workspace for this project (and uninterrupted time!). Each napkin took me about an hour to print. The dying took me two hours total, and the making of the stencil took 30 minutes. The sewing was about an hour.

There are many other things you can do with hand printed fabric, you don’t have to make napkins. You can make cushions, placemats, or even sew the squares together to make a quilt! Or print on a t-shirt, an old skirt, or jeans. You could also use this stamp to make note cards, or a piece of art to hang on your wall.

I hope some of you give this project a try. It is so satisfying making your own fabric…I promise it is worth the hard work!

xo Bar

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kristin November 4, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Lovely this DIY. You make stamping fabric look fun. I so want to try this.


2 Bar November 12, 2013 at 2:42 pm

please try! it is not hard, just takes some patience. let me know if you need any more guidance. thanks kristin! xo bar


3 Naomi August 13, 2016 at 11:00 am

Very interesting points you have noted, thank you for
putting up.


4 Fabricsyard January 24, 2019 at 3:57 am

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