diy project: botanical stencils

From growing up in Oregon, we are used to drizzly, wet springs (and winters and falls . . . ), and with those come rainy-day craft projects. This April, we’ve had a bit of a “rain, rain go away” feeling, but we know that in just a few weeks, we can expect sunshine and May flowers.

To celebrate the beginnings of spring, and to keep us busy while things are especially drippy outdoors, we made table linens using botanical stencils inspired by the first buds of spring. You can liven up any plain napkins you have or stencil onto a vintage tablecloth or table runner. This takes a bit of X-Acto knife precision and patience, but the sky is the limit on what you can stencil!  — bbbcraft sisters

Have a DIY project you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


  • painter’s drop cloth, canvas, napkins, vintage tablecloth
  • paint (we used Benjamin Moore’s sample tubs, available at hardware stores)
  • thick paper or thin cardboard
  • cutting mat
  • X-Acto knife
  • foam brush
  • scissors
  • stencil template


1. Choose a cloth item you want to embellish with a stencil. We used a painter’s drop cloth to make a table cloth, table runners and coasters. We also used plain white cotton napkins.

2. Draw your design. Very simple, graphic images tend to work best. More intricate designs are harder to cut and don’t translate to a stencil as cleanly.

3. Using an X-Acto knife, cut out the design so that negative space is left where the design once was. This is the stencil.

4. Place the stencil on the napkin or canvas in the location you want the print.

5. Using the foam brush dipped in paint, gently pat the canvas inside the stencil. Make sure the paint looks even before removing the stencil.

6. Remove the stencil and let dry. We stenciled napkins to match the runner, and we did a tablecloth stenciled with bright green grass.

  1. Trish says:

    that looks amazing! How do you set the colour? Or is this meant to be used only once and not washed?

  2. Love this!

    The possibilities and combinations are endless!

  3. Katherine says:

    D’ya know what also works wonders with this kind of stencil? Freezer Paper!! Cut it out just as described above and then you iron it onto the fabric and it sticks. This way you don’t have any worries about the stencil moving whilst you are painting your design. But I’m sure that many D*S readers are wise to this trick, too!

  4. hi-d says:

    Such a great idea! Hey, live in Oregon as well. I don’t mind the rain too much, but I am hoping for some sunnier days soon!

  5. This is really awesome! Wanna try this one… I hope I can find the materials here in the Philippines..

  6. I am here in Portland now and it has been SO rainy and….well, you know. Anyway – I’ve been looking for projects to keep me busy and this is perfect! I love it. Thank you.

  7. hena tayeb says:

    Oh this is super cute. Can’t wait to try it out.

  8. Kathryn says:

    This is a great idea – what a fun way to personalize your napkins. I’m going to have to try this out soon.

    I’m also curious about whether these are washable after you paint them.

  9. Susana says:

    oh dear, this is so beautiful, so simple, so elegant! this project + cookies = remedy for a rainy day

  10. Samantha says:

    I love the simplicity of this! Cannot wait to try this out!

  11. Biscuit says:

    I love that idea! I always see such cute napkins, table clothes and dish towels for sale and I just can’t justify it because I have so many at home… Perhaps it’s time to spruce up all my old clothes! Thanks for the tip!!!

  12. I know someone who did something like this for her wedding. They did this for like 20 hundred napkins!

  13. Alexandra says:

    I would love to try this, but am I the only one that can’t access the stencil? It keeps saying “Not Found.”


    1. grace says:

      sorry about that alexandra- should be fixed now :)


  14. this is great..looks so easy..thanks for sharing..have a lovely day! xx meenal

  15. mmc says:

    Freezer paper stencils and then use fabric paint!!!!!

    We’ve been having a blast making t-shirts, but I think I may have to do some napkins.

  16. Rachael says:

    I love stenciling and making projects my own – I think freezer paper would work really well with this project, like mmc mentioned! Thanks for the inspiration!

  17. Charlotte says:

    Love the look of these, but was surprised by the paint choice. I love the idea of using interior latex paint over fabric paint – there are so many more colors available and you can really match the palette to your decor. How do the napkins stand up to the wash?

  18. danielle says:

    what a wonderful, easy DIY! all of my linens are now in danger of being painted. i am also curious to know how the paint stands up to washing.

  19. ninjac says:

    I’ve done this using contact paper. It will stick to the fabric like freezer paper, but it can be used over and over again.

  20. Love this project and the finished project is beautiful. Thank you for the clear instructions.

  21. Barbara says:

    My daughter will be getting married in Cuba and since we don’t know if there will be any decorations this will be an easy idea to transport with us and work on the beach b/4 the wedding. Thank you for such a great idea.

  22. Mary Jo says:

    Neat project, but I wish someone would address the question about washability. Also, with freezer paper do you have to cut a new stencil each time?

  23. Blake Eames says:

    just my 2 cents but I’m pretty sure the BM sample paints are not the best choice for this!
    1. sample paints from most paint stores are the bottom of the barrel for any real finish…they don’t recommend them for finish painting of any kind
    2. washing repeatedly will not hold up and they are not meant for fabric.

    fun project though…

  24. Katherine says:

    Is that paint colorfast/washable? I’m having trouble finding good fabric paints that aren’t florescent or 3D.

  25. Leisney says:

    That is Fantastic! I love it!

  26. Pippa says:

    I’ve looked into this..consider buying the fabric paint medium to mix in with your standard acrylic paints, then iron to set, you have the range of colours you want then and the fun of mixing them up too :)

  27. Maure Briggs- Carrington says:

    LOVE it !

  28. Karin says:

    I love stenciling on fabric. I do a lot of stenciling celtic knot designs on items for my Irish step dancing daughter. If you have an intricate design that you can’t find a stencil for (and you’re not great at cutting your own) you should check out They will custom cut your stencils for you. It’s a great service for specialty crafters and artists.

  29. Charcha says:

    I tried the paint samples as suggested in this post to make my napkins, and for those who are wondering if it lasts through washing–it does! The color did not fade at all during the wash. See mine at:


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