How Spray-Paint Stencils Saved a Tablecloth

comments (6) April 25th, 2009     

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JenniferStern Jennifer Stern, contributor
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Heres my stenciled tablecloth. I hung it over the fence so it could dry. All I have left to do is cut off the ripped outside edge and hem it.
You can see where I was practicing my spray-painting technique...
Let the stencils dry completely, then theyre ready to go for the next project!
Heres my stenciled tablecloth. I hung it over the fence so it could dry. All I have left to do is cut off the ripped outside edge and hem it.

Here's my stenciled tablecloth. I hung it over the fence so it could dry. All I have left to do is cut off the ripped outside edge and hem it.

Photo: Jen Stern

In my house, tablecloths are on the table, not in the linen closet...even the good ones! As careful as we try to be, spills happen. Even though I run them down to the washing machine promptly, sometimes the stains don't come out. And sometimes I wish I had a little color on my table (I tend to buy vintage white table linens). I was in a craft store looking for some inspiration for future CraftStylish projects, when it occurred to me that I could use spray paint to camouflage the stains and breathe new life into some of my tired tablecloths. I decided to create a daisy border stencil and a couple of individual blooms to dot around the inside of the border...some to cover up past disasters! 

I have to admit up front that I've never stray-painted anything before, so it took a few times to perfect my "painting" technique. I think the less is more rule that works for most things also works for this. All and all, I'm really happy with the results, and I will be making more! If you like the daisy design, you can click here to download a pdf of it.

Here's what you'll need:

  • A tablecloth that has seen better days
  • A design to use to make the stencil (download mine or draw your own)
  • Plain white paper
  • Oak tag or posterboard
  • An X-Acto Knife
  • Small, sharp paper scissors
  • Spray paint in the color(s) of your choice
  • Pencil
  • Tape

Draw or trace your own design or download the design I used to make my template. Transfer the design to a piece of oak tag or posterboard, repeating it to make a template for a border.

Draw a line across the center of the oak tag
Draw a line down the center of the oak tag so you can line up the design as you trace it.

Here is my design. I cut out all the flowers and leaves with scissors and an X-Acto knife. Position the design along the center line and trace it onto the oak tag. Continue to position the design along the line and trace it until you've made your template as long as you would like.

cut out the paper template
Trace the cut-out design onto the oak tag to make the template.

I repeated my design three times.

cut out oak tag template
This will make a nice border for my tablecloth.

And here is my tablecloth, old and tattered around the edges. I couldn't part with this one because it's basically in good shape except for this boo-boo. I decided that it made a great candidate for my first attempt at stenciling with spray paint.

Here's my old table cloth--just cut off the edge
After I finish with the stencil design, I'll cut off the  tattered edges and sew a new hem.

If you need to trim some of the edges as I do, draw a guideline parallel to the edge all the way around the tablecloth—make sure you leave enough room for a hem when the stencil is finished. Then you can line up the bottom edge of the stencil with the guideline to get an even border.

I wanted to use a few colors in my border. The flowers are blue, and the leaves are two shades of khaki. To create a multicolored border, I covered up the leaves with pieces of oak tag when I was using the blue spray paint.

Put paper behind the edges of the template to protect the fabric
To keep the rest of the tablecloth from getting speckled with paint, put a piece of pattern paper along the edge of the stencil as you spray.

After the flowers were painted, I "spot sprayed" the leaves with khaki.

Then paint the leaves green
I kept reusing the same pieces of oak tag to cover the leaves.

Here is my first attempt at using spray paint with stencils. After some practice, I got better at using an even amount of color.

Here's the design
I think the trick is to "squirt" the spray paint in small bursts while aiming the nozzle at the stencil.  Initially, I was moving that can around like I was air-brushing the stencils...that was harder to get the paint where I wanted it.

As you reposition the stencil along the edge of the tablecloth, make sure the design matches up and you don't have any overlap in the design.

make a pattern
Match up the design as you reposition the stencil along the length of the tablecloth.

After you've worked your way around the edge of the tablecloth, creating a beautiful border, it's time to sprinkle some of the designs in the middle. If there are any stains, you can use the stencil to cover them up!

Use individual patterns to cover stains
I positioned my flower design over a few stains that were in the middle of my tablecloth.
posted in: restyle, stencil, spray paint

Comments (6)

LaserStencils writes: To make things even easier, you can check out 5 mil Adhesive back Mylar stencils so when you apply the paint, the paint will now seap under the stencil. has Laser Cut stencils or you can see some at - but you must request 5 mil adhesive back.

Awesome idea...
Posted: 4:24 pm on September 14th
AngelaaAA writes: This is a great way to recycle fabric household goods. I love to upcycle old things and hand-me-offs from my sister. I have had success with the fabric spray paint called simply spray the fabric stays nice and soft. Covering stains with a stencil can be tricky. They have a great How To video at What type of spray paint do you use? Did it make the fabric stiff? Is it washable? I have used several that are too stiff, and some that crack when you wash. Any recommendations on types or brands that work the best?
Posted: 6:16 pm on May 17th
Kitty7491 writes: What a creative idea. I was thinking of trying this on an inexpensive shower curtain. (like one that is used as a liner).
Posted: 12:51 am on May 4th
socalgrl writes: This is sooo cute! It reminds me of the 40's style table cloths.

I have tried spray painting, but not on tablecloths. From that experience, I would recommend using a spray glue on the back side of the stencil before starting. This will keep the stencil flat against the fabric. And spray won't blur at the edges (your stencil will still pull off the fabric easily).
Also, I used clear plastic, and cut it out with a hot stencil 'knife' that melts the line you are cutting (sooo easy!)
Posted: 2:02 pm on May 2nd
Sister_Diane writes: I love how this came out! What a smart idea for hiding stains!
Posted: 12:09 pm on April 25th
PCHPatti writes: Nicely done!
Posted: 7:49 am on April 25th
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