We love a good DIY. Okay, only sometimes actually. There are some things that should be left to the pros. We love the hand-made look…but in a well-styled way. Enter Darby Smart, the brand new purveyor of custom DIY kits created by various designers to provide you with everything you need to complete just one specific project. We’re loving them as a resource for fun, if slightly lazy, craft nights with your friends (get everyone a kit and you’ve got everything you need!) or for scratching that DIY itch without getting tangled up in several ideas at the art store. We’ve all been there: “I want to weave a dream catcher…but maybe with an art canvas in it that I’ll paint and tie in…and maybe there will be an aromatherapy element…” — Darby Smart kits help to streamline those creative inklings and bring you into a happily productive crafting place quickly.

This block-printing kit is one of our favorite projects on the site. Whether for a table runner, an apron, or an entire tablecloth, we can imagine endless versions of these block-printed fabrics. Pick a favorite pattern and cut your own stamps using the directions below, then hone your skills by creating a second cutting and a new stamp for your next project. We love the idea of this natural fabric with block-prints in silver or gold.

Take notes from Darby Smart’s tutorial below, then try to free-wheel it at home, or enter to win the Block Printing Starter Set we’re giving away at the end of this story!

DIY Block Printing


Speedy Carve Blocks
Lino carver
Acrylic sheet
Soft brayer
Red Fabric Block Printing Ink
Yellow Fabric Block Printing Ink
Blue Fabric Block Printing Ink
Tea towels

Get Designing:

Start by drawing out your design onto your Speedy Carve Block with pencil. Remember that when you stamp your design it will be the reverse of what you see on the pad, so if your design includes text be sure to draw it backwards (we’ve made this mistake once or twice in the past)! From there, decide which part of your design you want to be negative space, and which part you want to be inked so you know where to carve. It may help to shade the areas that you’re going to carve out so you can visualize it before making any cuts!

Carve It Out:

When your design is ready, use your linoleum carver to carve out the parts that you don’t want to be inked. Start with a smaller carver to first outline your design so you can make precise cuts. Then move to a larger carver to remove larger areas. If your design is centered on your rubber pad, you can even cut off large areas all together with a pair of scissors. Remember, always cut away from yourself – safety first!

Ink It Up:

After you’ve carved out your design, it’s time to add color! Squeeze about a nickel-sized dollop of ink onto the center of your acrylic sheet. Use just one color or mix a few to create a killer hue! Using your rubber brayer, begin to roll out your ink, going back and forth in a V pattern until your colors are mixed and your ink is thinned out. It should start to sound tacky (like gum peeling off your shoe – eww!). When it’s mixed up just right, roll a light layer onto your stamp making sure to cover your design completely. If any areas pick up ink that you don’t want to, you can still carve them out before you stamp.

Get Your Print On:

Now it’s time to get your print on! First, make sure the material you’re printing on is on a hard, flat surface to ensure your stamp is applied evenly. If printing on fabric, iron it out so wrinkles and creases don’t get in your way. With your stamp inked and ready to go, place it flat onto your surface and press down firmly. Repeat your design as many times as you want until you’ve created your dream print! For a consistent level of color throughout, be sure to re-ink your stamp between each application. Set your print aside to dry for about 20-25 minutes, or until dry to the touch. The thicker your ink, the longer it will take to dry.

Turn Up The Heat:

If you printed on fabric, you’ll want to heat-set your ink so it will hold up in the wash. Turn your iron to the heat setting that is appropriate for your fabric, then make sure the steam setting is turned off. Protect your design from direct heat by either turning your fabric over to the backside, or by placing a piece of scrap fabric over the front of your design. Set your design by slowly ironing over it for 20-30 seconds.

Win the Set:

We’re giving away one Darby Smart Block Printing Starter Set to a lucky reader who is in the mood to craft! Leave us your comment below and let us know what stamp you’re dying to cut and what purpose you’re hoping to use this kit for. We’ll pick one of the creative ideas we’d most like to see come to life and select a winner from the comments. Good luck!

Open to U.S. residents only. One entry per reader. Giveaway closes Thursday, 7/3 at 5PM PST

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