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How to Make a Stencil with a Glue Gun

I just taught myself how to make a stencil with a glue gun. I learned a few things along the way and love the end result. These sunflower stenciled napkins are perfect for our family dinner party later this week!

How to Make a Stencil With a Hot Glue Gun

Next weekend we are hosting our family for dinner in our backyard. I chose a sunflower theme and thought it would be fun to stencil some napkins. Today I am sharing how to make a stencil with a glue gun. I had never done this before and I loved it!

Sunflower Napkins DIY

Aren’t these wonderful?

Stenciled Sunflower Napkins

I absolutely love how these came out!  And the best news is that the napkins cost about $2 each!  They are 20% linen and 80% cotton.

Making a stencil with a glue gun is not hard to do. There are just a few things you need to make sure you do to make it work.

First off, don’t try to make a perfect stencil. As you can see from my stencil, it is far from perfect. But I love it that way!

Glue Gun Sunflower Stencil

What You Need to Make a Stencil With a Glue Gun

Parchment paper (I always get the brand that has lines on it. It’s so much easier to work with!)

Paper or plastic plates

Hot glue gun (not the mini tip) and lots of glue sticks


Acrylic paint


Cloth napkins (mine sold out I love the lace ones I linked. You can also try here, here, and here.)

Stenciled Napkins Supply List

Originally I thought I wanted a pattern to use for my stencils. But I ended up making up the design. If you want to use a pattern, just print any design and place it under parchment paper to use as a guide.

Sunflower Glue Gun Stencil

I did use the pattern to create the outside edge of the design. 

Before you get started, it is important to know that the bottom edge of your stencil will be the side you apply the paint and use as a stencil. That is because the glue will be flat.  (So don’t worry if the stencil looks lumpy on the top as you are adding glue.) Technically, this means the stencil will print right side up so you don’t have to worry about anything printing backward. 

I started making the stencil by just “painting”  with the glue gun.  You need to make sure your design connects to the outside edge. All of your glues lines need to connect so be sure to think about that when choosing your design.

Once I had the glued the flowers, I went back and thickened any of the glue lines that were too thin. I did this by just adding more glue on top of the thin lines.

Making the Stencil

The last thing I did was create an outline all the way around the outside of my design. 

This is what my stencil looked like as I was adding the glue. Once dry, take a pair of tweezers and remove all of the super-thin extra strings of glue.

You can see that the outside edges of my stencil were not straight. That was easy to fix, as all I did was cut off the uneven edge with scissors. 

Glue Gun Stencil

Here is what the bottom side of your stencil will look like. Notice how flat it is!

Glue Gun Stencil Ready for Paint

I have a very important tip that you need to do before you start stenciling. 

In order to prevent paint from getting everywhere, try to set up an area where you can place your napkins flat and not have to remove them until they dry. Trust me, if you don’t do this, you. will end up with paint all over your napkins!  (I learned the hard way.) I used our ping pong table at the beach house!

Also, I didn’t iron them because I wanted to use the fold lines as a guide to keeping my stencil straight.

Stenciling Craft Set Up

Next, mix up your paint. I wanted to use two colors so I mixed them on two different plates. Use a different paintbrush for each color.

Mixing Paint for the Stencil  

Next, decide where you want your stencil design to go on your napkin. I chose the bottom edge.

Sunflower Stencil

Next, apply the paint to the FLAT side of your stencil. I painted part of the stencil orange and other parts yellow.

Adding Paint to the Glue Gun Stencil

Carefully lay the stencil down on the napkin. Use the brayer and roll it over the stencil a few times to adhere the paint to the napkin. 

If you made a thin stencil, be careful to keep the brayer flat. It will have paint on it (as will the top of the stencil!).

Hot to Make a Glue Gun Stencil

Don’t move the napkins until they are dry. You will have paint on your hands. A few extra paint marks don’t really matter but I love how well this system worked out.

Setting Up the Area to Stencil

Technically I didn’t use fabric paint. Feel free to use it if you want. But as long as you iron the paint (after it is dry) then it should survive many launderings. 

How do I know this? I have an entire wardrobe of clothes stained with acrylic paint from my abstract artist painting days!

Ironing the Napkin to Set the Acrylic Paint

I absolutely love these napkins. I can promise you I will be making some for the holidays!

Sunflower Painted Napkins

Time to get focused on the party next weekend. I have a lot to do!


Pin the image below to your Craft or fall decor boards on Pinterest (just click the Pin button in the top left corner). You can also follow along with me on Pinterest!

Glue Gun Stencil

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about leslie


Welcome to My 100 Year Old Home. I started my blog so I could share my passion for entertaining, décor, cooking, and crafts. You will find all this and more right here. Read more…

37 Responses

  1. Leslie these napkins are beautiful! Thanks for the tutorial and all the tips, I may just have to try these. LOVE cloth napkins, use them always at dinners with my family, I am the mom of two boys, I actually think they appreciate it now that they are adults!

  2. Love these , thanks for showing how to make them you have made a simple napkin look a million dollars well done.

  3. I LOVE this idea – it is like the batik stamp style. You are so stinking creative and resourceful.

  4. What setting do you use on the iron? Temperature and steam/no steam? Anything to protect the iron? Many thanks…can’t wait to try this!

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I'm Leslie,
Welcome to My 100 Year Old Home

I started my blog so I could share my passion for entertaining, décor, cooking, and crafts. You will find all this and more right here.

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