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5 Easily Achievable ways to Homemade Prints

Dress up Your Home with a Decoupage Treatment, Fabric Stamping, Cloth Transfers, and Stencils

© 2010 by Jessica Ackerman All rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without written permission.

Circular couch and seating area

Personalizing your home with your own design couldn’t be easier. Your chosen images will allow you to create a theme in your room; homemade prints are particularly handy in children’s bedrooms, the bathroom, even the kitchen, and they can be used on almost every surface by following some simple tried and tested techniques:


Decoupage, the French word for “the process of cutting,” is the perfect way to put a complicated or highly detailed design onto any surface you like, from junk furniture to walls. The technique involves your beautifully printed design, taken from a book, magazines, wrapping paper, wallpaper or any other source.

The design is then photocopied as many times as needed to decorate your chosen surface, out cut and glued on to your chosen surface. To seal and make it permanent, it is then varnished with several coats of clear, acrylic non-yellowing varnish, until the images seem hand painted.

Decoupage on a chest of drawers Preparation, like in any decorating job is the key to a successful finish: properly fill and sand any holes, refit detached hardware or remove old paint. Spend all the time you need preparing your surface for a professional finish. Now that your piece is prepared, follow these steps:

  1. “Key” your surface by gently sanding the surface, and then wipe it down with soapy water and let dry. This will allow the paper images to adhere properly.
  2. Cut out your designs and lay them out, planning how you’d like to arrange them.
  3. Glue each image into place with watered-down PVA glue. For a smooth finish, press each image in the center and work the glue towards the sides. Let the piece set for a few minutes as you continue to apply the remaining images and then wipe away any excess glue with a sponge.
  4. Allow the entire piece to dry thoroughly.
  5. After an hour or so, stir the varnish well and apply several THIN coats over the images to avoid runs and an uneven finish. Let each coat dry then gently sand with fine sandpaper, applying additional coats as needed until the design is smooth against the surface.

This technique is particularly good on flat wooden surfaces, such as a homemade tray from an orange box available from your greengrocer. Or give an old tray a revamp with a lick of new paint and a dried flower decoupage.

Decoupage can also work on glass. In fact, it’s often used in an Italian homes for decorating displayed glass items, such as vases, bowls, or glass Christmas baubles.

When using dried flowers, find the petals you’d like to use; press them flat between two sheets of paper and place them in a book to dry. Once dry, paint your surface or, if on glass, press them on with a bit of glue and varnish to seal.

Stamping on Fabric

Stamps can be bought in a variety of shapes, but it’s far more fun and cost-effective making them. Stamps can be made out a potato or even a sponge, which you may have done when as a childhood school project.

This technique is best for simple designs where the outline of your image will suffice. This technique will not give you a detailed image, but rather a recognizable shape of your chosen image.

  1. Slice open a potato and draw a simple design onto the large flat surface.
  2. Cut along the image, following your drawn lines with a cutting knife and cut away the edges outside your design, so that your image stands out like a relief.
  3. Decide where to place your design on the fabric and dip the potato stamp into the fabric paint. Take care not to wet the edge of the potato, dab excess paint on a newspaper and then onto your curtain, bed linen or lamp shade.
  4. A sponge can be used in a similar way, except that you will cut out the shape from a normal flat sponge. Once again, use simple shapes, such a car for your boy’s toy-box. Sponge stamps are also available from a craft store.
  5. You can also use ordinary items for stamping, such as an unripe apple, pear and apricot; cut them down the middle and stamp on your image. Once it’s dry you can outline details with a black fabric pen.
  6. Whatever object you use, after printing your shape on the fabric let it dry completely. Then, place a sheet of white paper over the design, iron it on with a dry iron; do not use the steam setting.

Fabric Transfers

For fabric transfers you’ll need a special image transfer cream made by home-dye manufacturers.

  1. As with decoupage, your chosen design can be as complicated or detailed as you like. However unlike decoupage, your image will not be stuck onto your surface, but as the name suggests be transferred on instead. This is why this technique can be used on fabric, too.
  2. Cut your design out and photocopy as many as you will need; the ink from your photocopy will be the color of your print. So black and white photocopies would provide you with a black and white design.
  3. Paint the special cream on your image and place it face down onto the fabric.
  4. After a few hours the ink would have transferred onto your fabric. You can then seal it by ironing it on, making your fabric washable.


Packaging labels are great fun to use as decoration on any surface.

  1. Soak the labels off bottles, such as wine bottles or olive oil bottles by soaking them in water overnight. Peel them off, taking care not to tear them.
  2. Allow them to dry on a flat surface.
  3. Affix them to a drawer front or a chest to create a travel chest look, using wallpaper paste.
  4. Varnish with several coats of non-yellowing matt varnish, available from art or craft stores.


Stencils are possibly the most common way of printing a design on walls, but until now, a less used method when creating designs on fabric. Stencilling is nevertheless an effective way of printing your own textiles, from curtains and kitchen cloths, to tablecloths, table runners and bed linen.

Stencilling can also be used on furniture and walls. Stencils are available to craft stores, and come in many beautiful designs from traditional to modern, or themed. However, if for some reason you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can make your own:

  1. You’ll need transparent projector paper, a permanent marker pen, and a sharp cutting knife.
  2. Find your required image and by placing your transparent projector paper over it, then trace it with your permanent marker pen.
  3. Color in each item of your design as you go along. For example, in a flower design, color in the stem separating it from the leaves and each petal from the petal next to it, separating them with two fine parallel lines. By coloring them in, you would be able to quickly see what your design is going to look like and consequently which pieces to cut away and remove when cutting.
  4. After looking over your design, making sure that every line is in the right place and that the fine parallel lines you created are not too thin, start cutting out the colored part of your design.
  5. Armed with your stencil, place it on the surface you intend to decorate and position it, sticking it down with some masking tape if necessary. By the way, if your image was cut where it shouldn’t have, masking tape may be used to repair it.
  6. Now dab a sponge or the tip of a flat or round brush into the appropriate paint; remove excess paint, and dab lightly onto your perfectly placed stencil, building up the layers until all the gaps of your stencil image are filled with color.
  7. With stencilling, the flowers can be rendered in a different color from the branches and so forth. Or one stencilled image can be a different color from the one next to it.

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About the author:

Jessica Ackerman, author and staff designer at, specializes in wall art and decor and fish wall sculpture .

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