Easy Gingham Backgrounds with Watercolor

Pattern making on my handmade cards is one of my favorite things to do! I love to head into my craft room and experiment with different stamps and products to see what kind of patterns I can come up with. Today’s video is a product of one of those experiment sessions! I’m sharing how to create VERY easy gingham backgrounds that can be made with watercolor!

Easy DIY Gingham backgrounds made with watercolor!

The Video Tutorial

Some supplies used in the video tutorial above were sent to me free of charge for design purposes. To see who I currently or have previously designed for head HERE.


Making the Patterns

There are so many different products you can use to create these gingham backgrounds. You can use different brushes and watercolor to create a ton of different patterns. One thing will be the same on each of these cards, though, and that’s the paper. For each of these backgrounds I am working on heavyweight (110 lb.) white cardstock, NOT watercolor paper. It’s a little different, but it works so much better for this technique!

Also, I am using the Arteza Water Brush Set, specifically the flat brushes included in the set. There are three different sizes of these brushes and they make really wonderful stripes! I used all three for different looks!

Waterbased Ink Pads

Using waterbased ink pads is one way to create the gingham backgrounds. I specifically love Catherine Pooler ink pads for this. They are highly pigmented and even with water added, they create really solid stripes. For my first background I used the largest brush in the Arteza set. This create really wide stripes that filled up the card quickly! The ink color I chose was Midnight from Catherine Pooler.

**Tip** Reinkers work, too!! They will just be a more concentrated pigment.

Watercolor Gingham Background with Catherine Pooler Midnight Ink and large flat waterbrush.

I finished this very simply. Because I didn’t want to cover up the background I used a Zig Zag Rectangle die to die cut vellum paper. This is one of my favorite tricks to use when I need some separation from elements, but still want the background to show through.

Watercolor Gingham Background card made with Catherine Pooler Midnight ink. The card is finished with the Botanical Beauty die cut from The Stamp Market.

The leafy die cut was made from the “Botanical Beauty” die from The Stamp Market and black cardstock. And to finish the monochromatic theme I used the “Hi, You” sentiment from the Concord & 9th “Feathered” stamp set. To make sure the stamping stayed place on the slick vellum I used Piano Black Staz On Pigment Ink.

Hi, You sentiment stamped on vellum with Staz On Pigment ink in Piano Black.

Liquid Watercolor

There are so many different kinds of liquid watercolor and they have different properties. I am using Dr. PhMartin’s Hydrus Watercolor and they differ from your normal watercolors. With the Hydrous watercolors, once they are dry they do not move, even when you add water over the top. That is not how normal watercolors behave, so keep that in mind!

DIY Gingham Watercolor Background. Made with Liquid Watercolor.

I used a teal color and added quite a bit of water since these are so pigmented. Also, I switched up the brush size and went with the medium width brush. One thing to note about this background, I dried the watercolor stripes between layering. What I mean is that I added the stripes horizontally, then dried the panel. Once is was completely dry I added vertical stripes. This makes it so that colors don’t bleed together as they overlap!

Dr. Ph Martin's Hydrus Watercolors make a very solid line that doesn't budge on this DIY gingham background!

I did smear this panel as I was working. If this happens to you don’t throw it away, just die cut it! I used an oval die cut and added a kraft mat behind it. To finish the card I used the Kat Scrappiness Condensed Alphabet Die Set to create a custom “HI!” sentiment.

A custom sentiment on the DIY Gingham Background. The "Hi!" sentiment is made with an alphabet die set.

More with Dr Ph.Martin’s Hydrous Watercolors

Because of the unique properties of the Dr. Ph Martin’s Hydrus Watercolors you can easily take this technique up a notch! While I LOVE the gingham look you can also use the same technique, add in another color or two, and create plaid backgrounds!

Dr. Ph Martin's Watercolor and their unique properties allow for two toned watercolor backgrounds! This plaid background is super easy!

For this it’s best to use these specific watercolors because again, once they’re dry they won’t budge. That means where the colors overlap, they won’t reactivate those underneath them and blend together!! I used a pink and yellow and two different widths of waterbrushes to create a very simple plaid background.

Hydrus Watercolors don't bleed once they are dry! These are the perfect medium to use when layering colors.

I finished this card with several different heart die cuts from different colors of cardstock. For the sentiment I added a “Hugs” die cut that I built up to create a chipboard effect.

Layering die cuts, in this case hearts, is a fun way to finish your handmade cards!

Distress Inks

As I was filming this technique, I tried to think of what ink pads are most accessible (online stores and big box stores) to all of us and something a lot of card makers probably already had on hand. Distress inks were the first that came to mind. You can use either the pads themselves or the reinkers for this!

DIY Gingham Background with Distress Inks! Faded Jeans is a gorgeous color to use for a country look!

I used the “Faded Jeans” ink pad and smooshed the color onto my palette. For this background, I used the smallest brush in the set. While making this gingham background, I didn’t wait for the layers to dry and you can tell in the finished product. Where the colors overlap they are bleeding into each other. I like this look, but if you don’t or want a more subtle version, let the layers dry!

This gingham background made the perfect center background for the Wood Grain Frame die! Adding the cluster of flowers and Hello sentiment finished this card beautifully!

To finish this card I added a Wood Grain Frame from Kat Scrappiness to create a base for my bouquet of flowers I added in the bottom left hand corner. These flowers are from the mini “Floral Elements” stamp set from Altenew. I also die cut each element with the coordinating die set. For the sentiment I used the “Scripty Hello” die from Lawn Fawn.

Flower clusters can be tricky to layer! I love the Altenew Floral Elements stamp and die set for easy flower bouquets!

Powder Watercolor

I wanted to mention that powder watercolor will also work for this technique! In the video above I do show how they work and how rich in pigment they are, but I didn’t turn the background into a completed card.

To be honest I wasn’t feeling my color choice on the day I made the cards, so I sat this one aside for when I have an idea that I truly love! So I want to share this tip with you. If you are having a session in your craft room where you are creating a ton of background, experimenting, etc. and you create something that you just aren’t loving that particular day, don’t try and force a completed card from it. Instead, sit it aside and come back to it later!

More Catherine Pooler Ink Pads

For my final project I wanted to go back to my favorite method, the Catherine Pooler ink pads, and one of my all time favorite gingham colors, RED! This is the gingham pattern that started this entire experiment. I used the Rockin’ Red from Catherine Pooler and the smallest brush in the Arteza water brush set to create the tiny little checks.

Red Gingham Background with Catherine Pooler Rockin Red Ink. This pattern is what inspired the entire cardmaking technique!

One more thing I want to mention that will affect your results is how much water you are adding to your watercolors. On the first card with Catherine Pooler Midnight ink I added a fair amount of water which created a more washed out look. Here on this card, I added less water. This gives me a more pigmented result. Both are fun and gorgeous, it’s just about what look you are trying to achieve!

I added die cut cupcakes on this watercolor gingham background. I love the Stitched Cupcake die set from Lawn Fawn

Again, to finish this card I need a bit of separate from my background to my dies so I added a vellum Zig Zag circle die cut, which still allows the background to show through. On top of the circle I added cup cakes that I made from the Lawn Fawn “Stitched Cupcakes” die set. Aren’t they ADORABLE?!?! And finally, I added a happy birthday sentiment banner. That stamp is from the “Succulents” stamp set from The Stamp Market!

The strawberries on top of the die cut cupcakes are the perfect addition to tie the entire handmade birthday card together!

Tips and Tricks for Creating Watercolor Gingham Backgrounds

  • There are so many different products and brushes you can use to change the results you achieve, so play around and find what works best for you!
  • The amount of water you add to your watercolor will change the results of your gingham. For a more saturated, pigmented color use less water. For lighter colors with less saturation, use more water.
  • Drying in between layers or letting the layers remain wet will alter the look of the gingham. If you want a more true watercolor look, keep them wet. If you want more solid stripes where they won’t bleed at overlapping sites, dry before adding your second set of stripes!

I LOVE gingham. And I think it’s because it reminds me so much of my Mom. I have to share this picture from My Mom and Dad’s wedding, where her bridesmaid’s dresses were gingham! Don’t you just love the big hats?

I hope you all enjoyed a look at how easy it is to create these watercolor gingham backgrounds and how to use them to create your own handmade cards! If you give this technique a try, be sure to tag me on social media! I would love to see them!! And if you are interested in any of the supplies I used to create my cards, you can find them all listed and linked down below!

Until next time, happy crafting everyone!!


Supply List

The supply list above contains affiliate links which can be used at no additional cost to you. For more information on affiliate links and the full disclosure head HERE.


More Videos You May Enjoy! Just Click the Photos to Watch!!

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