With apartment decorating on my mind, I did a fun and simple DIY project last weekend – stenciled napkins! I have been thinking about how I can bring my own personality into my new space and one of the things I came up with was my very own set of cotton napkins. I had bought a pack of four from Michaels a couple of weeks ago and hadn’t done anything with them yet. So last weekend, I decided to turn them into a “new apartment” project. I came up with four different designs, one for each napkin because I wanted to have a set of four individual pieces, and got to work stenciling.
Here is a tutorial just for you, so you can try stenciling your own! (Remember, this doesn’t only apply to napkins. You can stencil anything you want, from napkins to pillowcases to t-shirts!)
What you’ll need:
– a design (keep in mind that this is a stencil, so fine lines can be tricky!)
– transparency paper (this is what I used as a stencil)
– permanent marker
– x-acto knife/razor blade
– scrap fabric
– fabric ink
– stencil brush
– masking tape
– hard surface and some cardboard or newspaper to keep things clean
1. Pre-wash and iron your napkins. You will also need some test fabric, so it’s helpful if you have this ironed and ready to go as well.
2. Create your design – either draw or print your design onto paper (the black areas in my design are what will be cut out and made into a stencil) *Note: if you’re confident enough and don’t feel the need to pre-draw a design, then just draw it directly onto the transparency and skip to Step 4!
my 4 designs all on one sheet of paper
3. Place a sheet of transparency paper over your design and trace it with a permanent marker.
as you can see, I traced two designs on each sheet of transparency, just to save paper
4. Once you have traced your design, cut out the shapes using an x-acto knife. (don’t forget, you’re going to cut out all of the areas that were black)
5. Now that you have your stencils made, you’re ready to print. I suggest doing some test runs on scrap fabric before you stencil on your actual napkins. Unforeseen accidents are always possible, but it’s easier to avoid them if you do some tests prints first.
first test run of all four designs
I didn’t like the way the blue looked, so I decided to try the circles in yellow. I like the yellow better!
6. If you’re happy with the way your test prints turned out, then you’re ready to print on your napkins. Take your napkin and lay it flat on your table. Make sure it is smooth and tape the sides down with some masking tape so that it doesn’t shift.
7. Then line your stencil up along the bottom of the napkin, tape down the sides, dip your stencil brush into ink, and stipple the ink onto the fabric.
my stencil was not as wide as my napkin, so once I stenciled the first half, I just lifted the stencil, being careful not to smudge anything, and moved it over so I could stencil the remaining section.
I decided I wanted to have my designs on the bottom and top of my napkin, so once I finished one edge, I just moved the stencil to the opposite end and repeated the process.
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 on the remaining napkins with your other designs.
9. When all of your napkins are stenciled, let them dry thoroughly and then iron them to heat-set the ink. (*Fabric ink must always be heat-set)
Once they are ironed, they are ready to use however you please! You can place them around your table…
Arrange them in a basket for display…
Or even hang them over a towel bar on your refrigerator or in your bathroom – they are decorative, yet useful!
now you can see why I printed both ends
Here are a few more shots…
I really love the way they look. I love the simple geometric designs and the colors I chose and I think they are going to be great for my new apartment!
I hope this post inspires you to go do a stencil project! If you have any questions about the process, please feel free to drop me a note 🙂