DIY Tutorial: How to Hand Stamp Textiles (Block Printing)

dominique kieffer

dominique kieffer

I have wanted to try my hand at block printing for a few years now, and my Home Depot Style Challenge gave me that opportunity.  There’s something so appealing about washed linen covered in imperfect patterns.  A little more ink here than over there.  A little difference in sheen, scale, angle.  I just love it.  It’s comfortable because it’s not…perfect.

Over time, I have been collecting vintage Indian textile stamps.  I will find them at estate sales, or the flea market, or a random antique store.  I even bought one on display at a local boutique (they had it hanging on the wall).  For this project, I used several stamps from this Etsy seller, and she was GREAT!  Highly recommend.  (If you make a purchase from her, please tell her Grace sent you.)  After I had gathered my stamps and fabric, I knew I needed to study how this was actually done.  The beautiful video below was done by West Elm, and you will be in awe of he intricacy in which these stamps are carved, and the strong hands that create this art.

If you want to be even more amazed, I enjoyed watching this video, too.  The artistry!

I really wanted to use the Indian ink for this project, but to be honest, I thought it would be easier to start out with fabric paint.  The ink was a little too intimidating for my first time.  But now that I have stamped (A LOT!), I think my next project with these beauties will involve the real deal ink.

This is part of my block collection, and the stamps I used for my front porch project for Home Depot.  On the lower left hand side, you can see my brayer which is a very important part of this task.

I love all of the carved detail.

I used a large piece of cardboard to put my paint on since I utilized a few different colors.  I squeezed a blob of my fabric paint (you can find this at any hobby store and even Walmart) onto the cardboard and rolled it with my brayer to make it smooth and even.

Then I rolled the brayer onto the stamp and stamped it on a scrap piece of paper a few times to test the pattern.  I would definitely play with how much paint/ink you want on your stamp before starting on your fabric.  It takes a bit to get a good feel for what you want.  After I rolled the stamp with my brayer, I lightly dipped it in my thin paint layer  for a little more coverage.

I wish I was as cool as the guys in the video and just did a karate chop with my hand to get the stamp to press properly on the fabric, but I’m not that skilled yet.  I did put light, even pressure on the stamp, pushing for a few seconds before removing the stamp.  Remove the stamp quickly and all at once so you don’t leave any splotches.

And then, you will have this!

Image by Kat Phillips,

Image by Kat Phillips,

I also stamped the front and back of my “half shirts” for the chairs, and a word to the wise…if you are stamping something like a duvet or something two-sided, make sure you put a piece of cardboard or thick cardstock between the two in case you have any bleeding through the fabric.  I didn’t have a problem with this, but since I was using outdoor fabric, my fabric was pretty thick.

Image by Kat Phillips,

For me, most of the fun of this project was playing with patterns.  I also liked how it ended up looking kind of weathered.  Of course, you can make your pattern look as solid as you want.  I kind of went with whatever happened for this project and didn’t sweat little “mistakes”.  I think it adds to the charm of this particular setting.

Image by Kat Philips,

Image by Kat Philips,

I would recommend washing your fabric before stamping it so your pattern doesn’t get skewed upon laundering.  The napkins I stamped have washed beautifully!  First, I bought a couple of these packs from World Market.

I washed them and followed the steps above.

And created these.

They look so nice with my little basket and gold silverware.  We have already used them a ton, and they still look great!

Image by Kat Philips,

Image by Kat Philips,

Of course, of all the hand blocked projects I did for my porch, the curtains were by far the most labor intensive.  They are over eight feet long and wow, it took awhile, but they turned out so terrific!

Did you notice a few of the birds are upside down?  I did that on complete acccident, but I kind of liked the little quirk, so I decided to do it here and there.  The funny thing is, I only did it on purpose once.  All of the other times were lucky mistakes.

Image by Kat Phillips,

Image by Kat Phillips,

Are you feeling inspired?  Me too.  I’m ready for my next project!  Which will involve the real deal Indian ink and gorgeous washed linen so stay tuned.  Or I may try this.  Wouldn’t a hand stamped set of linen napkins be a great gift?

Image by Kat Phillips,

Image by Kat Phillips,

Would you try hand blocking?  What kind of project would you want to do?

Written by Grace

10 Responses to “DIY Tutorial: How to Hand Stamp Textiles (Block Printing)”

  1. Chris Salek May 2, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    I have two of these stamps that I have packed away in a box. I got them from Ebay. Thanks for your inspiration I think I will have to retrieve them and give them another go !

    • Grace May 3, 2013 at 12:14 am #

      Hi Chris, great! I’m so glad! Here’s to all of your beautiful projects! Thanks so much for reading and your comment, G

  2. Anna May 2, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

    Thanks so much for sharing this. The table linens are so pretty and the curtains are so beautiful. You are right–the slight imperfections make it even more beautiful. I am from India but now live in the United States. I love Indian fabrics especially Indian hand block printing. In my blog, last month, I did two small posts that sort of relate to Indian textiles. If you want to, you can read it. I blog over at Truth,GraceandLife.

    Have a wonderful day!

    • Grace May 3, 2013 at 12:15 am #

      Hi Anna, I love the name of your blog. 😉 I will definitely head over and check out your posts. You could probably teach me a thing or two! Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment, G

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  4. Kristy June 9, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    Grace – Loved how your patio turned out. It’s absolutely gorgeous and looks effortlessly put together. Thanks so much for sharing this tutorial. I’m feeling inspired 😉

    • Grace June 11, 2013 at 8:31 am #

      Hi Kristy, thank you so much! We are still super happy with it! Send me a photo of anything you do with your inspiration. 🙂 G

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  6. Karin January 23, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    Where do the bird hand-stamps come from

    • Grace January 28, 2014 at 12:20 am #

      Hi Karin, I bought them from etsy! There are tons of pretty stamps on there, and the seller I listed in the article was especially great. I’m sure you could type “bird wood stamp” or some sort of variation on that and have some good choices if you do not like what the seller I recommended has to offer. Hope that helps, thank you so much for reading! Grace