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Rotary-Printed Cloth Napkins

Experiment with fun, new printing techniques by trying this Rotary-Printed Cloth Napkins project.

| February 2014

  • These Rotary-Printed Cloth Napkins are great for a dining party event, or for you to enjoy over dinner with the family.
    Photo courtesy Stewart, Tabori & Chang (An imprint of ABRAMS)
  • In "Made By Hand," Lena Corwin curates a "best of" collection of 26 studio classes from rotary-printed cloth napkins to sewn and stuffed toys, all of which include step-by-step photos.
    Cover courtesy Stewart, Tabori & Chang (An imprint of ABRAMS)

In 2009, Lena Corwin turned the top floor of her Brooklyn brownstone into a studio and began to host eclectic classes for designers and do-it-yourselfers. In a short time, her space filled and became a hub for the vibrant “maker” scene. Made by Hand (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2013) is Lena's collection of projects from artists whose work she loves to teach. The following excerpt gives a tutorial for making Rotary-Printed Cloth Napkins.

Purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Made by Hand.

Rotary-Printed Cloth Napkins

While planning this book, I spent time experimenting with printing techniques that were new to me, and I became especially interested in the concept of rotary printing. When manufacturers produce rotary-printed fabric, a large cylinder is carved with impressions and is used to print on long, continuous rolls of fabric. Wondering if I could make a smaller-scale rotating stamp to print an allover pattern, I adhered foam pieces to a rolling pin, and it worked. The foam pieces soak up the ink, and the design can be rolled along fabric or paper. For this napkin project, I chose a simple scattered dot design, which I especially like printed in neon ink, but a more complex design can be used, too. One yard of fabric will make four cloth napkins, and the newsprint used under the fabric while printing can be recycled as wrapping paper.


• Apron (optional)
• Metal hole punch, with 1/4 inch hole or larger
• 1/4 inch-thick foam sheet, approximately 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches
• Small scissors (optional)
• Multisurface waterproof glue
• 18-inch wooden rolling pin (an even cylinder rolling pin, not tapered)
• Paper cup (optional)
• Small paintbrush (optional)
• 1 yard muslin, for test printing
• 4 yards light- or medium-weight cotton, washed, dried, and ironed
• Fabric scissors
• 18 inches by 24 inches pad newsprint paper
• Plastic artist’s palette, at least 18 inches by 15 inches
• Water-based acrylic fabric ink, in colors of your choice
• Old spoon
• Foam brayer
• Rag or paper towel
• Thread in color matching fabric
• Sewing machine

1. Set up: You will need a work surface of approximately 5 feet by 3 feet. While water-based ink is considered nontoxic, it is best to work in a well-ventilated area. Wear an apron if you wish to protect your clothing from stray ink.

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