Letters and pictures become one design in monogramming.

How to Paint Monograms

by RS Wagner

Personalize your space by painting monograms. A monogram is a person's initials, consisting usually of one to three letters. Monograms are often embellished with swirls and designs. They can be painted onto a wide variety of materials, including paper, clothing, other fabrics or walls. Use painted monograms as wall art in your child's bedroom or any room in the home. Learning to monogram letters and initials takes a bit of practice. Practice your painting skills on scrap paper before applying to the final surface. Free monogram fonts and embellishments are available on the Internet or on your computer.

Monogram Designs

Select a text style with clear, crisp lines. Choose from curly fonts, calligraphy, Roman, Gothic, Celtic or block letters. Choose vertical, nonitalic fonts for the best results.

Design a square or circular shape style for the overall shape of the monogram. In a circular shape, the middle letter, which is usually the initial of your last name, is larger than the first and third. Place your first initial on the left and your middle initial on the right. If letters are all the same height, they are usually printed in regular order: first name, middle name, last name.

Create single letter monograms in your chosen shape. Add embellishments around the lettering, such as vines or leaves, scrolls, baby blocks, toys, butterflies and flowers.

Unify the design by overlapping or combining swirls or serifs when creating two to three monogram letters. Use all elements, such as initials and embellishments as a whole, to create a balanced image that blends together.

Enlarge the image with a grid or overhead projector to the size you need for your project. To make a grid, mark off even intervals horizontally and vertically on the original print. Use a ruler or straightedge to make sure the lines are straight.

Place numbers across the top and bottom of each grid cell and letters on the left and right sides of the template for referencing purposes.

Multiply the size of the print by how many times you would like to enlarge it. For example, if the original art is 8 inches by 10 inches and you want the enlargement 16 inches by 20 inches, multiply by two. Three times the size of the original calculates to 24 inches by 30 inches. Make a larger grid corresponding to the finished size of your monogram.

Draw what you see in the square grid cell, labeled as A1, on the larger grid. Complete one square at a time in sequential order. Draw the outlines lightly for easier removal.

Painting Monograms on Fabric

Select a fabric containing natural or natural-blend fibers. Choose a 50/50 polyester and cotton blend. Wash and dry the fabric without using fabric softener. Place a sheet of wax paper behind the top layer of the material to protect T-shirts, pillowcases and other multilayered items.

Place the fabric in an embroidery or quilting hoop stretching out the fabric for easier painting. Unscrew the lock on the side of the hoop so the two pieces separate. Place the fabric over the smaller hoop.

Lay the larger hoop on the top of the smaller hoop and the fabric. Push the top hoop down and around the smaller hoop of fabric, about 1/16 inch.

Pull any wrinkles out by grabbing the fabric outside the hoop and gently pulling until the fabric flattens. Push the top hoop the rest of the way down. Tighten the screw holding the two hoop pieces together.

Trace the monogram design to the fabric with transfer paper. Place the transfer paper on top of the fabric, then lay the design on the top. Use straight pins to hold the transfer paper and design into place.

Outline around the monogram lettering with a fabric pencil or disappearing ink. Remove the transfer paper and design template.

Open a bottle or tube of fabric paint. Hold the bottle or tube like you would hold a pencil. Squeeze the bottle or tube lightly. Keep the applicator tip directly on the fabric.

Draw around the design. Fill in all areas. Use a paintbrush to smooth the paint if necessary.

Monogrammed Walls

Use transfer paper to draw the design on a wall. Attach the top of the transfer paper and design print with painter's tape on all four corners. Trace the design. Remove the transfer paper and design print from the wall.

Enlarge a design on the wall by using an overhead projector. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the proper sizing and techniques.

Select the base color and place a dab on a painter's palette. Thin the paint by dipping a brush into a container of water. Blend the water and paint by moving the brush back and forth.

Create a clean edge by using a flat brush. Fill in large areas with paint with smooth, one-way strokes. Use flat brushes when painting monogram embellishments, such as leaves or vines. Paint flowing lines, twining plants, scrolls, baby blocks or other baby-themed designs around the letters for a decorative look.

Items you will need

  • Scrap paper
  • Clip art
  • Ruler or strsightedge
  • Overhead projector (optional)
  • 50/50 cotton/polyester fabric
  • Wax paper
  • Embroidery or quilting hoop
  • Transfer paper
  • Straight pins
  • Fabric pencil or disappearing ink
  • Fabric paint
  • Various size paintbrushes
  • Painter's tape
  • Acrylic paint
  • Picture frame (optional)


  • Use small amounts of water when thinning acrylic paint; it's better to add more water than more paint.
  • Always paint light to dark, because dark to light could change your color.
  • When decorating a nursery with a monogram for your child, get ideas for embellishments from coloring books and story books. Reduce or enlarge the image as necessary to fit in or around the letters.
  • Fabric-painted monograms work well as wall art. Choose a simple frame so designs are the focus, not the frame. Use stencils to draw out clear, clean letters.
  • Stencils for monogramming are available in a wide variety of fonts at craft stores or online. Stenciling techniques differ from traditional painting techniques, requiring a special stencil brush.


  • Don't thin paint by blending with a brush in a circular motion, or the bristles may bend or spread, ruining the brush.

About the Author

RS Wagner began writing professionally in 1997 as a frequent contributor to the "Sun Herald's" column, "What's Cookin'." She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design from William Carey University.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images