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How To Make A DIY Custom Tablecloth & Napkins

You can easily make a custom tablecloth and custom napkins for your next dinner party. This simple painted tablecloth and napkin tutorial will teach you how to paint a custom design in just a few easy steps. You can create stunning DIY tablecloth and napkin designs that will wow your guests.

I love to plan a beautiful tablescape for different party themes.

I’m always looking for unique table linens to make the tablescape special.

One problem I have is finding what I envision and, if I find it, being able to afford the price.

I love a custom look, especially hand-painted designs on tablecloths and napkins.

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What are Custom Tablecloth and Custom Napkins?

A custom tablecloth is designed for a specific use.

It could be a custom size or a custom design. This is true with custom napkins as well.

They can be personalized with embroidery or hand-painted to reflect a specific theme, like these Italian-inspired napkins.

Bow Tie Napkin fold with DIY Flour Sack Towel Napkins for unique one of a kin custom napkins.

How To Make Custom Table Linens?

First, determine the size of table cloth and napkins you desire.

Next, find fabric that will work with your design.

Custom Table cloth - Hand painted Tablecloth and Napkins for a Spring Fling Tablescape

What Fabrics Are Best for Table Linens?

I prefer to use natural fabrics such as cotton or linen to make custom table linens.

You can also customize plain linens or use other unique materials, such as the flour sack tea towels used for napkins.

For today’s project, I am using 100% cotton fabric for both projects.

Be sure to wash and dry the fabric before cutting to the desired size.

Custom Napkins made from flour sack towels with blue tile print with blue and white dishes for Italian Tablescape.

Measure and Cut Fabric Custom Tablecloth

When determining the amount of fabric needed, measure your table first.

Then, determine the length of drop you desire.

A casual tablecloth usually has a 6 – 10-inch drop on all sides.

A formal table usually has a tablecloth drop to the floor or a minimum of 12 inches.

Wash and dry all fabrics before cutting because the material may shrink and be too small for your table.

When cutting your fabric, allow for any seam allowance and hem.

What Are Standard Cloth Napkin Sizes?

In addition, you will want to allow for a hem when planning your napkin size.

However, you may leave the edges raw and make a fringe edge.

Determine your napkin size based on your planned usage.

  • Formal Napkins are 22 – 26 inches square
  • Dinner Napkins are 18 – 20 inches
  • Lunch Napkins can be as small as 14 inches.

I prefer to go the safe route and make all my napkins 18 inches square.

Cut napkins from cotton fabric and lay on protected table top for Custom Napkin tutorial

Create Your Custom Design

Once your tablecloth and napkins have been made, you can add your custom design.

Many options exist, such as embroidery, stamping, hand-painting, dying, etc.

However, we are painting the design with a decorative paint roller for today’s super easy project.

Leaf Pattern Decorative Paint Roller to make DIY Custom Tablecloth for a Spring Fling tablescape.

What Supplies Are Needed?

First, you need to protect your table surface. I am using my kitchen island to create my custom design.

Therefore, I want to prevent any damage to the surface.

I began by taping parchment paper to cover the area I needed for the project.

You can also use less expensive wax paper, but I didn’t have any.

Tabletop covered with protective parchment paper and supplies to make custom table linens

Here are the supplies I used for both tablecloths and napkins.

Supplies to make DIY custom tablecloth and custom napkins for unique one of a kind table setting.

What Type Of Paint Should You Use For DIY Painted Tablecloth?

You can purchase fabric paint that has a permanent bond. However, unless you do several painted fabric projects, the cost can be prohibitive. I use craft paint all the time, and it is cost-effective to use craft paints that I have on hand and add a fabric or textile medium to create a pliable paint.

You can also use Annie Sloan Chalk paint. It works really well on fabrics. You can purchase sample containers if you only need a small amount. The paint colors will be more limited and not as budget-friendly. I try to use what I have on hand and if I have the colors of chalk paint needed, I’ll use it. Otherwise, I prefer to mix acrylic craft paint with textile medium.

How To Mix Paint

To begin, you need to mix your craft paint with a fabric or textile medium to make the paint pliable once dry.

Otherwise, your custom tablecloth and custom napkins will be stiff and brittle.

Add two parts of paint to one part fabric medium and mix well.

Use fabric medium and craft paint mixed to paint on fabric for unique table linens

I am using two colors of green paint because I want an authentic leaf design on the custom tablecloth.

Pour the medium and paint mixture onto the pallet and flatten it with a Brayer Roller.

Roll paint to flatten before applying with a decorative paint roller. Two shades of green paint for custom linens

This prevents the paint from adhering to the decorative roller between the design.

Notice the paint is only on the leaf design. If you see paint elsewhere, wipe it off before applying the roller to your fabric.

This will provide you with a clean pattern on your tablecloth.

Use decorative leaf roller with green paint for a custom tablecloth.  Farmhouse Style Tableware.

How To Apply Paint Roller to Fabric

This step will be subject to your desired pattern.

I wanted a random display of leaves on the custom tablecloth.

Roll the leaf paint roller randomly onto the 100% cotton fabric to make a custom tablecloth for Spring decorating.

Therefore, I applied the roller randomly until the fabric was covered.

Leaf Pattern Tablecloth made from 100% cotton gauze fabric and two shades of green paint.

Notice how the two paint colors create a high-low effect on the fabric.

Once the paint has dried thoroughly, you will want to heat set. You can use an iron or a heat press to set the paint.

Place a protective fabric between the hot iron and the paint. Press until you’ve heat set the entire table cloth.

See high low green paint colors in the leaf pattern on DIY Custom Tablecloth for farmhouse style table setting.

I plan to use the custom tablecloth on my Spring Fling tablescape in the greenhouse.

Leaf Custom Tablecloth on Greenhouse Table for a Spring Dinner Party in the She Shed.

DIY Custom Napkins

Because I had my island taped off and I had some leftover fabric, I decided to make some custom napkins as well.

The steps are similar for the DIY Custom Napkins, with a few exceptions.

I used a floral pattern roller for the napkins and yellow paint.

Yellow Paint and Decorative Floral Paint Roller to make DIY Custom Napkins for Spring Fling Supper Club

I also chose to only add the pattern around the edges of the napkin, leaving the center bare.

DIY Napkins with yellow flower pattern around the edges for a unique custom dinner napkin.

The pattern looks amazing on this gauze fabric.

You will want to heat set the napkins as you did the tablecloth.

Close up of the unique yellow floral pattern on the DIY Napkins for a farmhouse style dinner party

I wasn’t sure if I would use the custom napkins on the Spring Fling tablescape until I saw the gold and acrylic flatware on the design.

The entire table will be revealed in our monthly Super Club Series, and I can’t wait for you to see it.

How To Finish Edges of Custom Table Linens

Once your design is applied to the fabric, you can hem your tablecloth and napkins by turning the raw edges under and stitching with a sewing machine. This will create a formal table linen.

Or you can fray the edges by removing the end threads and creating a fringe for a rustic, farmhouse style.

Another option is to cut the edges with pinking shears to keep the ends from fraying.

Regardless of your choice, the tablecloth and napkins look great on the table.


Click the images below for all resources.

Additional DIY Tableware Ideas

Here are some additional DIY Tableware Ideas you may enjoy.

Thanks so much for stopping by and I look forward to sharing my next adventure with you.

Pin It To Remember It

Did you find some great ideas you’d like to save for future reference? Hover over the images you’d like to save and pin to your favorite Pinterest Boards when you see the PIN button.

Easy DIY Custom Tablecloth tutorial and Custom Napkins Tutorial for creative tableware ideas.
Napkins and Tablecloth Custom Tutorials for Easy DIY Table Linens Projects.


Monday 11th of March 2024

Lovely idea, as are all your projects :) Blessings


Monday 11th of March 2024

Susan, I really appreciate this. Thanks for stopping by.

Cottage on Bunker Hill Weekly | Vol. 82 - Cottage On Bunker Hill

Monday 27th of March 2023

[…] is a project that I have had on my “someday DIY” list forever! See how Rachel made not only napkins but a tablecloth too !! Look how pretty that napkin is…I have to try this project […]


Tuesday 28th of March 2023

Thanks for sharing.


Thursday 23rd of March 2023

Love, love, love the way this came together, Rachel! I love the pattern and the color you chose. They're both so pretty! Hugs, CoCo


Thursday 23rd of March 2023

CoCo, I really appreciate this.


Tuesday 21st of March 2023

This is such a great idea. I love it. So pretty!


Wednesday 22nd of March 2023

Renae, I'm so glad you like it.


Tuesday 21st of March 2023

What a fun idea! The possibilities are endless.


Wednesday 22nd of March 2023

Gloria, Yes and so inexpensive to make.