How to Stencil a Tablecloth with a Rainforest Philodendron Stencil

Project Ideas, Tutorials -

How to Stencil a Tablecloth with a Rainforest Philodendron Stencil

Welcome to this Oak Lane Studio fabric stenciling tutorial. In this DIY how to stencil tutorial we will show you how to stencil a tablecloth with our Rainforest Philodendron Stencil Template. In this tutorial, we will cover basic stenciling techniques, how to stencil on fabric, how to stencil asymmetric patterns and how to stencil with multiple colors.  

Scroll down to watch our How to Stencil a Tablecloth video tutorial.

Supplies to Stencil a Tablecloth:

Practice Stenciling First

The most common stenciling mistake is stenciling with too much paint. Stenciling with too much paint will cause paint to seep under the stencil and blur the design (this is known as "Paint Bleed"). To stencil, you will need to use the "Dry Brush Technique" (explained below) to swirl, stipple or roll many faint layers of paint until the color reaches your desired saturation. Practice your stenciling technique first to get a feel for how little paint you actually need for stenciling.

How to Prepare a Tablecloth for Stenciling

First, you need to create a clean and smooth surface to stencil on. Step one is to clean the table cloth you want to stencil. If you plan to wash the tablecloth at some point, be sure to wash it before you stencil. You don't want your newly stenciled tablecloth to shrink the first time you put it through the wash.

Next, dust and dirt will prevent the stencil template from properly sticking thee the tablecloth. Go over the tablecloth with a lint roller or masking tape to remove all the dust.

How to stencil on fabric

Stenciling works best on a smooth and stationary surface.(It would actually be very difficult to stencil on an uneven and unsteady surface). Before you stencil on fabric, secure the tablecloth to a piece of cardboard, which will hold the fabric in place while you stencil.

Spray the cardboard with Repositionable Spray Adhesive. Hold the spray can 6 to 8 inches away from the cardboard to spray, and keep you mouth closed while spraying. Wait 30-60 seconds after spraying before position the tablecloth on the cardboard. Our adhesive spray is very strong, and if you don't wait at least 30 seconds you may have trouble removing the tablecloth from the cardboard after you finish stenciling.

While you wait...

 How to stencil on a tablecloth how to center a stencil on fabric how to stencil a large piece of fabric 

For this DIY stenciling project, we stenciled in the center of our tablecloth. To find the center of the fabric, first fold the tablecloth in half and then in half the other way. The inner corner of the folded tablecloth is the middle of the fabric. Mark this spot with a piece of tape.

Unfold the tablecloth, and drape it over the now sticky cardboard. Smooth the fabric over the cardboard. Keep the piece of tape marking the midpoint on the fabric, this will help you position the stencil template.

 How to Prepare the Stencil Template

For this project, we stenciled our Rainforest Philodendron Stencil, which comes with three stencil overlays (three stencil templates with overlapping designs). We will align these three stencil templates to create an asymmetric, foliage design on the tablecloth.

If you are stenciling with only one stencil template, or repeating a single stencil template pattern across your tablecloth, see our How to Stencil on Curtains tutorial for instructions on how to stencil repeated patterns on fabric.

how to position a stencil template

To position the stencil template, start by spraying the back of all three stencil templates with Repositionable Spray Adhesive, just as you did above. Do this away from the tablecloth you will stencil, you only want the stencil templates to be sticky. Again, be sure to wait 30 to 60 seconds before placing the stencil templates on the tablecloth. 

How to Position the Stencil Template

In each stencil template, there are small triangular marks in the four corners. These are called "Registration Marks" and they act as a guide to repositioning the stencil to repeat the stencil pattern.

For this pattern, we stenciled the vines first. Position the vine stencil in the center of the table cloth (you can see the green tape where we marked the tablecloth midpoint beneath the stencil template).

place the stencil template on the tablecloth tape around the stencil template

Place small pieces of Frog Painter's Tape underneath the registration marks (the triangular cutouts in the corners of the stencil template).

Firmly press the stencil into the fabric, make sure that the none of the cut out edges are sticking up and that the stencil lays flat on the tablecloth. Tape around the outer edges of the stencil with Frog Painter's Tape. This will help prevent accidental paint smudges outside of the stencil design.

Then tape over the stencil cutouts that are near the vine. You don't want to stencil this part of the design just yet.

What Paint to Stencil on Fabric

To stencil on fabric, you can either use fabric paint or mix Fabric Painting Medium with acrylic paint (we use Americana Acrylic Paint).

We mixed Americana Acrylic Paint with Fabric Painting Medium. The ratio is roughly 2 parts acrylic paint to 1 part Fabric Painting Medium (however much acrylic paint you use, mix in half that amount of Fabric Painting Medium). The ratio doesn't need to be exact, you can make a rough estimation as you pour the paint. Mix the two paints together on a paper plate.

For this project, we used two colors of acrylic paint: Avocado Green and a lighter Hauser Medium Green. We mixed each color separately with Fabric Painting Medium. We stenciled the Hauser Medium Green first, and then an overcoat of the darker Avocado Green to replicated the deep, variegated greens found in nature.

How to Stencil on Fabric

Now the paint is mixed, it is time to stencil!

Stenciling is not painting and the key difference is that amount of paint you use to stencil. Your brush or roller should be almost dry to the touch when you stencil, otherwise excess paint will seep under the stencil and cause paint bleed.

The "Dot Test" is a good way to see if you have to right amount of paint on your brush for stenciling.

how to stencil how to stencil with a dry brush

 The Dot Test for Stenciling:

How to check that you have the right amount of paint to stencil with a paint brush.

  1. Swirl you brush in your paint.
  2. Dab and swirl excess paint onto a paper towel. (We recommend holding a roll of paper towels in one hand and dabbing the stencil brush onto the roll).
  3. Make a dot of paint on a scrape piece of paper. Brush the dot with your finger. If the paint smudges you have too much paint. Repeat step 2. If the paint does not smudge, you have a dry brush and are ready to stencil!

 Begin swirling or stippling paint into the vine cutout (brush strokes are not used for stenciling). At first it may seem that the paint color is too faint, that is normal, resist the urge to immediately add more paint to your brush.

how to stencil a tablecloth

Color will gradually accumulate in many thin layers of paint. For fabric stenciling, 5 to 6 coats of paint is normal, but you might need more or less depending on the color paint you are using. Continue stenciling until you are satisfied with the color. (You can peel up a corner of the stencil to see how the color looks). 

For this project, we stenciled with the Hauser Medium Green first, and then went over it in the darker Avocado Green. Before you finish, make sure to stencil the registration marks onto the frog tape beneath the stencil. Stencil each color with a clean stencil brush. 

How to Reposition the Stencil Template

When you are satisfied with the color, it is time to reposition the stencil template. After the paint has dried, gently peel off the stencil template. Leave piece of frog tape with the registration marks on the tablecloth.

You don't need to respray the stencil every time you reposition it. If the stencil template does not stick to the tablecloth, try cleaning the sticky side with a damp cloth to remove any dust. If the stencil still will not stick, you can respray it. 

 how to repeat a stencil pattern how to stencil repeat patterns how to reposition a stencil template

Move the stencil to the side of the vine you just stenciled, and align the registration marks on the stencil template with the registration marks on the frog tape. The vine pattern should move continuously from where you just stenciled to the repositioned stencil template. Again, tape over the leaf pattern nearest the vine in the stencil template, you don't want to stencil that yet. Shade were the vine repeats meet. 

how to stencil a vine pattern how to stencil a vine

Continue stenciling as you did before, then remove and reposition the stencil template until you are happy with the length of the vine pattern. We stenciled 4 repeats of the vine pattern. 

How to Stencil the Leaves

Once you have stenciled the vine, it is time to stencil the philodendron leaves. The larger philodendron leaves are stenciled one half at a time. To begin, place one half of the larger leaves so that it overlaps the vine. Position the stencil as you did above, with frog tape underneath the registration marks. Stencil the leaf as you stencil the vine. 

how to align asymmetric stencil patterns how to stencil leaves how to paint a tablecloth

Once you have stenciled one half of a philodendron leaf, gently remove the stencil template after the paint has dried. Position the other half of the leaf, and align the stencil template registration marks with the stenciled registration marks on the frog tape from the previous stencil template. 

Stencil the leaf. 

how to stencil nature patterns how to stencil a table runner 

Next, we stenciled the smaller leaves. Position these along the vine. Find a place that looks natural and organic, as if they were really growing on your tablecloth. 

how to stencil a jungle scene how to stencil on fabric

Position the stencil template as you did above, using frog tape to hold the edges in place, and stencil with a dry brush. If you are stenciling with two colors as we did, stencil each color with a clean brush. Continue using frog tape to stencil the registration marks.

When you are happy with the pattern, wait for the paint to dry completely before gently removing the stencil template and the frog tape. 

How to Clean the Stencil Template

Our stencil templates are easily washable and reusable!

For this DIY stenciling project, we stenciled with a water-based paint which is exceptionally easy to clean off of stencil templates. To clean the stencil template, first soak it in hot water for five minutes, this will loosen any paint that has dried on the stencil. Then wipe away all the remaining paint with a cloth and store the stencil template for future DIY stenciling projects.

For more information on how to clean stencil templates, please see our FAQ page.

Watch our How to Stencil a Tablecloth video tutorial:

Tablecloth stenciling is an incredibly versatile, DIY home décor project. You can stencil a festive tablecloth for the holiday season, paint a seasonal pattern on your tablecloth, or create a hand painted accent for your dining room table all year round. You can also stencil napkins and placemats to complete your handmade table decorations. 

Stencils are an easy, budget-friendly tool to hand paint beautiful home décor that reflects you and your décor style. We offer a wide selection of stunning home décor stencil templates for you to hand paint your home with. 

Learn more about how to stencil your home and create beautiful home décor in whatever style you like. Visit our Stenciling Blog, or Video Gallery for how to stencil tutorials and projects tips. Browse our home décor stenciling projects Photo Gallery for ideas and inspiration on how to use stencil templates to decorate your home.

Please send us a picture of your DIY home décor stenciling projects or share your DIY stenciling projects with us on social media! We love to see stencils in action.