DIY Block Printed Christmas Napkins

Monday 17 December 2018

This post may contains affiliate links. Read my disclaimer policy here.

I am banning all gravy from the dinner table.

Well, maybe not completely as I do love gravy poured all over drowning my Christmas dinner. I would have to start a very strict rule that you must be careful when eating around my napkins, and not to use them to clean up any messes. That might be defeating the object of actually having napkins placed neatly on the table, but these are my homemade printed napkins, and I am currently having attachment issues.

diy printed christmas napkins

Who else enjoys setting the Christmas table? It's basically like putting together a flatlay, and you all know how much I love doing that. It's just a little less checking angles and placement, and more about practically. Both are the sorts of styling projects I enjoy. I feel like I'm making my way through completely customising my entire tableware, as last year I made these super adorable mini Santa's sack placeholders which you could fill to the brim with festive treats. I had also crafted my very own Christmas crackers so you could write the best (or worst) jokes possible. Now, seeing as I'm not really into making ceramics at the moment, I decided to work with a material I'm a lot more comfortable with; fabric and these block printed napkins.

I remember first dabbling in printing when I was very small and my Mum cut star shapes into potatoes and I would just print, print, print. Throughout school, we would always do art or textiles projects using styrofoam blocks were you'd use a pencil to etch your design. While I was in 6th form, I got chosen to take part in a textiles summer school, which is where I discovered my love for screen printing and I feel like that was the point where I learnt how to really experiment with colour, patterns, and textures; which are the techniques I still use.

diy printed christmas napkinsdiy printed christmas napkins

As much as I would have loved to use screen printing to print on my napkins, I don't think that would have been very practical for all, so instead, I have used lino blocks. I bought mine from eBay - the home of reasonably priced craft materials. You can get different size and thickness, but I decided to purchase a super soft 3mm tile.

To create your design, you carve into the blocks using a carving sculpting tool and remove all the negative space which you don't want to be shown in your design. Please be very careful when using the carving tool, as I have learnt the hard and painful way. So always carve away from your fingers or you'll end up carving your fingers too. Yes, it hurts... a lot. Take your time and practise. It took me a few tries to get the hang of it and get the design that I wanted to use.

I'm learing how to make block printed napkins with @helloaycan

Sketch your design onto your lino block, and first go around the edge, carving very lightly. Fill in any details in your design, and then work into removing any of the remaining negative spaces. I also found it really helpful to test the block on some scrap paper as you go so you can see if more needs to be removed. I chose to do two sets of designs; one set is a group of 3 different trees, and the second set is an Elf's hat and candy canes. You can theme your designs together, or create the ultimate Christmas napkins filled with lots of different designs. You may want to personalise the napkins with a name, but remember to reverse the name when you're sketching on your block so it's the correct way when printing.

diy printed christmas napkinsdiy printed christmas napkins

You can purchase premade fabric napkins, or make your own very easily. I decide to "borrow" some from my Mum and enhance them a little. (She doesn't mind, honestly). Ideally, you would use a roller to apply colour to your block, but I'm not here for the ideals. A straight paint brush worked perfectly fine for me, but if your brush is too bristly, that texture may show up on your print. You can use a damp sponge to help blend the colour. You want to apply a thin layer of paint, which again test on paper as well as any scrap fabric you may have.

diy printed christmas napkins

What I love most about printing in this way is the unexpectancy of it all. You have no idea what it's actually going to look like until you remove your block. If things are a little off placed or smudged, or slightly faded, or you touched your painted filled finger on your napkin, that's totally fine; it's the hand-printed effect you're looking for. Layer up colours too, this works great for a set of my trees, and for showing different dimensions on my Elf's hat. There is honestly no limits here. The more freehand the better. You can also use wooden shapes you may have; I used a wooden star to fill around my Christmas trees, and the end of a paintbrush to create bells on my Elf's hat.

diy printed christmas napkins

Once you have finished printing, leave your napkin to dry, and follow the instructions on your fabric paint on how to secure the colour. All you have left to do is fold them, and set a strict rule about no messes on the napkins.

Let me know in the comments below if you've ever done any sort of printing before. And what do you think of my napkins? My advent calendar is sadly almost finished, but do check back for lots of festive fun.