Make This: DIY Watercolor Napkins for a Summer Dinner Party or Backyard BBQ

By Brittni • posted on 02/14/2024


I don’t know about you, but I am definitely giving summer a big, fat hug this year to celebrate the most laid-back and color-filled season of seasons.

There will be plenty of tasty popsicle treats, geo drink stirrers, and watermelon donuts for me this year. I’m going all in. And to keep the ball rolling on DIY summer entertaining ideas, I am working with CreativeLive on a little summer series.

I’ll be sharing four colorful DIYs for summer: two on CreativeLive and two here. And it all kicks off today!


So, you can make a set of colorful watercolor napkins here and then pop over to CreativeLive here to learn how to make those cute, edible place cards you see in the photos, for summer parties.

Paint a set of wooden picnic utensils or buy some awesome handmade ones, like mine from Mr and Mrs P, and just like that, you have your place settings covered for a summer get-together with friends.


Here’s how to create a custom set of watercolor napkins in under an hour (including drying time).


set of napkins (I used this metallic set from West Elm – they’re on sale) // paint brush // paper cup // fabric paint (or acrylic paint and textile medium) // bowl of water // iron (optional)

How To Make Colorful Watercolor Napkins

How To:

1. Unfold and soak each napkin in a bowl of water and wring out excess water. You want the napkins to be damp but not soaking wet.

2. Lay each napkin out flat (and completely unfolded).

3. Add a little bit of water to a paper cup (just enough to cover the bottom of the cup) and mix in your fabric paint. This waters down the paint to give you more of a watercolor effect. Since your napkins are already damp though, you don’t want to add too much water and over dilute the paint.

4. Begin painting each napkin in your desired design. I’d recommend keeping any design ideas kind of loose for this project though, just to keep things gestural and unfussy.

5. Once a design has been painted on each napkin, take them outside to dry naturally in the sun. On a sunny day, this will help speed up the drying times considerably and is a good excuse to step outside for a few minutes and enjoy the weather.

6. Once dry, iron out any wrinkles and fold. Done!





Concept, photography, and styling by Brittni Mehlhoff

How do you celebrate summer? Any tips, tricks, or DIY ideas you want to share? Let me know in the comments below. And be sure to visit CreativeLive for the corresponding DIY tutorial for today’s post: how to make edible place card kabobs.

36 comments | Click here to reply

So so cute! Love it!

Eden Passante

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Lovely idea! I like it very much!


[…] The Table If you opt for paper plates, fancy up the tablescape with thoughtful details. Dip cloth napkins in pastel hued fabric paint and dry them in the sun before guests arrive (no one will guess that it only took you an hour from start to finish). Want to be sure that your best friend meets the cute guy from your softball team? Place cards made of sliced fruit guarantee they sit next to each other. Find out how at  […]

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[…] dyed napkins are a great idea for your tables if you’re going for a watercolour theme. Via Paper & Stitch (pic & DIY by Brittni […]

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Good question. My suggestion would be cotton. I think linen would work as well, though I’m not sure about polyester. Hope that helps! Happy crafting!


Would you recommend that the napkins be cotton? Or linen? Would polyesters work? Can’t wait to give these a try!!

Lynley Reeve

Thanks Kristine. I’m happy to hear that you’re finding Paper & Stitch inspiring. If you’d like to repost one photo of the finished project, along with proper credit and a link back to this post, that is completely fine with me. Thanks in advance for the shout out.

I just ask that you do not repost my content any further than that (ie. Please do not repost my entire post or repost the written copy that I have written here). If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at brittni(at) Thanks!


I absolutely fell in love with these lovely napkins! I’m SOOOO happy I stumbled over your inspiring blog.

I run a newly established blog that focuses on the big small details that gives an event that personal touch. I hope it is okay that I reposted this tutorial (with credit). If not let me know 🙂


Rock my Feathers

[…] love the watercolor trend, especially on these beautiful napkins from Paper and Stitch! They’re the perfect addition to your dinner party place […]

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we love inspiration: Eis -

Hi Lily. No, I would not recommend puffy paint. I like Jacqaurd textile paint, which can be found here in tons of colors:

I’ve also used Tulip soft fabric paint before (the 4 oz bottles), which come in a variety of colors:

Jacqaurd is my favorite, but both are good. And again, if you don’t find the color you are looking for, buy it in regular acrylic instead and then add clear textile medium to the paint according to the instructions on the bottle and that will work just as well. Happy painting!


Thanks Brittni. I just want pastel colors like the pictures. When you say fabric paint as an option, do you mean the puffy paint?


I’m not sure what color you’re looking for exactly, but if you buy clear textile medium (which can be purchased on Amazon or at a craft store), you can use any acrylic paint that you’d like for the most part. Which may make it easier to find the colors you want. Hope that helps.


Does anyone have suggestions when doing the napkins for the paint and colors to buy? I’m finding only puffy paint for fabric paint and bright colors for acrylic. Thank you!


Thanks Amy. As long as you are using fabric / textile paint or textile medium, then they should hold up well in the washer, with no problems.


Gorgeous! How does the color hold up when washed??


What a fun idea! I love the watercolor look and it gives everything a little bohemian dreaminess.


Thanks Kevin! They kind of do look like sunsets. Good call!


These are gorgeous, they look like little sunsets!

Kevin | Thou Swell

Thanks Rachel. Loved your Inkodye DIY from the other day!


Absolutely beautiful Brittni! And those fruit skewers are seriously cute.

Rachel | The Crafted Life

Aw, thanks so much Emma. I really appreciate that.


These napkins look absolutely beautiful! I’ll have to bookmark this for summer garden parties in the near future. Such a gorgeous and simple idea, the photography is on point as always!

Emma x | Reverie Lane


Thanks Lina and Barb!


Adorable ideas


These are super simple yet super cute! Love them x

L&L from sisterblend


Thanks Kelly. I’ve been going the more playful route with summer projects so far and really enjoying it. I had a lot of fun with these.


These colors! Amazing! Can I register for a set of those napkins!? 😉 I love the fruit kabobs too, popping over to check those out now!

Kelly @ Studio DIY

Aw, thanks Harmony. I love the little fruit kabobs too. I’ve been wanting to make them for months, but thought I should wait until summer actually hit before breaking out the kabobs. Haha.


The napkins are beautiful but I’m obsessed with the fruit kebobs!


Thanks Carol.


Love this, really cute! 😊

Carol Azeredo

[…] edible name plates, be sure to check out the second summer tutorial in this series on my blog, for DIY watercolor napkins. Here’s how to make fruit kabob place cards in […]

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