How To Stamp Drapes with a DIY Stamp


Thank you for all your super sweet comments on Ian's nursery! I thought I'd post a bit more about how I did the stamped curtains. This was such a fun project and I really love the result. It was fairly easy...although the actual stamping took a bit of time - I had four panels to do - but it was a nice, relaxing labor of love:)

Things you'll need:
  • a rubber carving block (I used Speedball's Speedy Carve that I found at Michaels, here's one on Amazon) 
  • pencil
  • X-Acto knife (and/or carving tools)
  • pieces of scrap wood and Super Glue (optional)
  • your curtains
  • fabric/craft paint
  • small roller/brayer
  • paint tray
  • old sheet or drop cloth
  • piece of cardboard
First up, you'll want to make your stamp. For this you'll need some sort of rubber carving block to cut your design out of. I used two sizes of this Speedball Speedy-Carve that I found at Michaels...the smaller one was perfect for the generic fish and the larger one for the "shark".

I hand drew my designs right onto the carving block with a pencil, but you can transfer yours from another drawing or a computer print out or whatever using any kind of tracing technique. Just remember that when you go to use the stamp, your image will actually come out in the reverse...this is critical when doing say text, but I wasn't worried about it with my underwater creatures.

Now you can begin carving your stamp. I used a plain old X-Acto knife that I already had...I'm very comfortable with a #11 blade and my designs were not very intricate. There are many actual carving tools (like these) that you can use for this if you will be making something more complicated. Basically, you just want to carve away the rubber around your design, so that the shape you want printed is higher than the rest of the block. I've made lots of stamps before, but they were on a much smaller scale, where I could use the bottom of the carving block as the part of the stamp that I would hold in my hand. So with these I started off like this - cutting around the fish to outline it and then scooping out a layer of the block.

Once I got this far, I was worried that with this fish being somewhat larger than I was used to, it might be a bit flimsy for the amount I would be using it. And I was worried about some of the paint/ink transferring from the lower areas of the block onto my fabric. So I decided to cut the fish shapes all the way out of the rubber block and mount them to something much more sturdy as a hand hold.

A couple of scrap pieces of wood (cut to just slightly larger than the fish) did the trick. I simply super glued the fish on top and ended up with these as my final stamps.

Now you're ready to start stamping! So fun! First, make sure you prep your curtains. I used Ikea's Merete panels in white so I had to hem them to the length I wanted using the included iron hemming tape. Then I ironed them to get out as many wrinkles as I could. If you're ambitious, I suppose you may even want to wash your panels, but I'm gonna be honest here...I never wash my curtains, so I didn't feel the need to waste time doing that here! #noshame #pleasedon'tkickmeoutofblogland

Then, you'll need a fairly large, flat work surface to work on. For these, I laid out each panel, one at a time, on top of my kitchen table. Don't forget to put some sort of drop cloth or old sheet underneath to keep the paint/ink from bleeding.

For paint, I used Martha Stewart's Multi-Surface Satin Acrylic Craft Paint, also found at Michaels (but I'm assuming any fabric paint would be fine.). I needed a bunch of the 2 oz. bottles for all four of curtain panels, maybe like 6 bottles?  I also picked up a small paint try and roller from their Martha Stewart line. Unlike a smaller stamp that you'd say use an ink pad with, it is best to roll the paint onto these large stamps than dip the stamp itself into the paint. You'll get better coverage and a more solid transfer onto your fabric.

So then you just start going to town:) If you're going to apply your stamp in some sort of geometric pattern, then you probably want to do a bit of planning and measuring as you go. I wanted a very organic look though, not a pattern at all....more like little schools of fish swimming, so sometimes I'd do two or three fish in a group, sometimes like 6 or 7. You should be able to get a couple of stamps onto your fabric before you need to reapply your paint. I think its important to have some of your design going off the edge of the fabric, this will make your design look more authentic. That's where the piece of cardboard came in...I'd just lay about half of the cardboard under the edge of the fabric I wanted to stamp. Then when I pushed the stamp down, half would transfer to the fabric and the other half would transfer onto the piece of cardboard sticking out instead of my drop cloth (this way there wasn't wet paint everywhere that could run back onto the curtains).

Just keep sliding finished parts of the curtain off of your flat surface so that you can move the unfinished parts up to work on. I did this, working from bottom to top and side to side until the entire curtain was stamped how I liked it:)

When I was putting together this room for Ian, I couldn't find exactly the kind of curtains I wanted. I stumbled along some really cool fish ones from Land of Nod, but the scale of the pattern was just way too small. I'm so glad I was able to get the look I wanted by making my own stamp!

{photo courtesy of Sweet Connolly Photography}

I'm not a very good tutorial writer, but hopefully this is enough to give you some confidence to try this on your own. Remember, you can make your own smaller stamps to use on paper with an ink pad too. Next up, I'm dying to stamp my dining room curtains with a real wood block stamp I bought at Brimfied!

Ps. Here's some helpful videos I found on you tube for carving your own stamp:


  1. Sarah!! You rocked this - I love these so much. They must make you so happy. Does Ian know he must have these in his room until he's 18? I'm going to share away if that's okay with you - the world needs to see these!!!

  2. These are so cool, now I want to make a giant stamp! Ps, Holly shared on her facebook page, that's how I found you!

    1. Thanks so much, Diana!!! Go for it:) Holly is the best!!!

  3. My wife has been after me to do a stamping project for our living room curtains, but I have been worried it would be too difficult. Your post is wonderful, and your outline of the steps fills me with confidence that my wife and I can do this. We now look forward to our own adventure in decorating, and we thank you.

  4. You have inspired me to give this a try for myself. My curtains are plain but I love the color. Now I could see stamping my own design on them. You gave great step by step instructions. Thanks.


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