Simple and Easy DIY Painted Cloth Napkins

Final napkin
Caylin Harris
  • 01 of 06

    Customize Basic Cloth Napkins

    Close up of napkin
    Caylin Harris

    As much as I didn’t appreciate them when I was younger, cloth napkins add a certain something to a finished tablescape. Cloth just screams fancy occasion while adding a touch of texture to a set of dishes. While they might not be practical for a casual weeknight dinner, having a few fancy sets around is always a good idea.

    The one problem is that getting beautiful, custom cloth napkins can be costly. Then consider that most are sold in packs of four (the average home has dining sets that are larger) so you’ll have to buy at least two four packs. Instead of springing for store bought napkins why not DIY your own. Simple items around the house are easy to turn into stamps so you can add your own touch to a simple (and inexpensive) set of napkins.

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  • 02 of 06

    Gather Your Materials

    DIY napkin supplies
    Caylin Harris

    Simple but quality cloth napkins will be needed for this project. Remember that a light color napkin will be more versatile and easy to add a design to. Don’t spend a fortune; stores like Target, TJMaxx, or HomeGoods have great options that will save you money. If you’re not a fan of this particular pattern, you can use other household items or stamps to make a pattern that works with your serveware. Things like straws, erasers, flowers, and bottle caps all work to make shapes with your paint.

    • Simple cloth napkins
    • An iron
    • Craft paint (that can be used on fabric)
    • A plastic fork (or another item of your choosing to stamp with)
    • Painter’s tape (optional)
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  • 03 of 06

    Iron the Napkins

    ironing the cloth napkin
    Caylin Harris

    While no one (or very few people) like to iron, you’ll want each napkin to be as smooth and flat as possible so you can apply the pattern evenly. Use a hot iron and/or steam to really make sure all of the creases are smoothed out. Since the napkins are so small, it makes it way easier than ironing a pair of pants!

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  • 04 of 06

    Figure Out Your Pattern

    Choose your paint pattern
    Caylin Harris

    As always, before you even think about touching the paint to your cloth, you’ll want to figure out a plan for your napkin. You don’t have to use this pattern, but you will want to figure out what you do want to do before you start. You also might need to measure or tape off sections depending. Don’t get too focused on having it look perfect, the beauty of this project is that it’s supposed to look a little faded and imperfect. Practice your technique using a brown paper bag, a piece of construction paper, or a scrap of fabric. If you’re using a fork, you’ll want to roll the tines of the fork forward and back to make sure the paint is equally distributed on the napkin. Practice a few times to get it right before you move to your napkin.

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  • 05 of 06

    Stamp on Your Design

    Stamp on your design.
    Caylin Harris

    Get started stamping on your paint. Move slowly and carefully, trying to rush will only end up with you dropping your fork or stamp by accident. Depending on which hand you use, you’ll want to work so you don’t run the risk of smudging the wet paint as you go. Periodically you’ll want to clean off your fork (or whatever stamp you decided to use) because paint can build-up and mess with your pattern. If you’re going to layer colors, make sure you let each one dry before you add on the next!

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  • 06 of 06

    Let the Paint Dry and Repeat

    Let the napkin dry
    Caylin Harris

    Repeat your design onto the rest of your cloth napkins. Definitely resist the desire to immediately loop a napkin ring around these works of art. While it might look like they’re already dry, the paint does take some time to soak into the fabric, so it might look dry, but it won’t be dry to the touch. Hang it somewhere cool and safe to dry overnight to make sure you don’t smudge your design.

    While these take a little time and patience, it’s worth it to be able to customize the look of your cloth napkins. You can even do a set for a special party or event. And remember, they can be as simple or as involved as you want them to be. Even a little customization breathes new life into these entertaining essentials.