Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Project: Stenciling on Fabric

If you were with us last week, you have some beautifully dyed shirts (or lengths of fabric) that are just waiting to be embellished! This week we'll be looking at different ways to stencil on your fabric.  You can decide you like your piece as it is after you get done stenciling or you can hold it for next week and see how stamping can add to it.

Materials List:
*100% natural fiber piece of clothing or length of fabric (see last week for explanation/exceptions)
*freezer paper
*fabric paint - there are several ways you can go:
   1.  Versatex Textile Paint - this is screen printing paint that works real well for stamping and stenciling.  Unless you live by a university area art store, you'll probably have to order it.  Pros - covers well, nice and thick.  Cons - a little heavier feeling on your fabric
   2.  Jacquard Textile Paint - a fabric paint that is often available at craft stores, such as JoAnn's and Michael's.  Pros - leaves a nice, soft feel to the fabric.  Con's - is not real thick, so doesn't cover darker colors well (they do have a heavier opaque type available).
  3.  Fabric Paint Medium - this is added to acrylic paint to help it adhere to fabric.  Golden has GAC900 (this would be in the art paint section, not the tole painting section) and Americana has one for their DecoArt line of acrylic paints that should also work with others.  Pros - easy to find, wide palette of colors.  Con's - may not be as durable as fabric paint, can be stiffer.  If you hang your fabrics to dry instead of putting them in the dryer, this helps their durability.
*stiff paint brushes - fabric brushes or anything stiff that can work the paint into the fabric
*craft knife with a sharp blade (like Exacto)
*cutting mat or piece of thick cardboard
optional - stencils, lace, hole punch, decorative edge scissors

Freezer paper stencils
1.  First you need to decide on a design - sometimes this is the hardest part!  Graphic designs without a lot of details are best - like clip art.  I've put together a stencil pattern sheet with a few I use often that you're welcome to use, you can free hand draw, or you can do a net search (but beware of copyrights if you'll be selling these).  Dover books are good sources for copyright free images.

2.  Either draw a design on freezer paper or have a copy of the design you are going to use.  Some people find it helpful to color in the areas to paint.  I did that below in one spot as an example), but I tend to skip that step now.

3.  Put the freezer paper on a cutting mat or piece of thick cardboard.

4.  Cut any details from within the design (like the veins on my leaves) and save them - you'll put them on your fabric.  Next cut out the part of the design you want to paint.  You can throw these pieces away or save them for use as a negative image.  I have a whole shoebox of  "someday I might use these" negative shapes!

If you are using a copy of an image, put it over a sheet of freezer paper and cut around the copy.  When I do this, I add an extra piece of freezer paper to get another image - more for the extra stencil box!

You can also use tools like hole punchers (round or cool designs) and decorative edge scissors to make stencils.

5.  Before you iron the stencil on your fabric, put freezer paper inside your shirt to stabilize the area you'll be painting.  When I'm putting lots of designs on the whole shirt, I put a one large sheet of paper shiny side up inside the shirt - enough so it covers everywhere I'll be putting stencils.  If you are only putting one image on your shirt, you can cut a piece the size of the stencil and put it inside (shiny side up so it is against the inside of your shirt front).

6.  Place your stencil(s) on the fabric and put the small inside pieces in place.  Iron into place with a hot (cotton setting) iron and no steam.  I found that if I move the iron around, it tends to wrinkle the stencil, so I just press the iron on the stencil without moving it for about 20 seconds.  If it's a large stencil, I then move onto the next spot.

7.  When you have the entire stencil ironed on, double check and make sure all edges are down securely.  Re-iron any spots that aren't so the paint won't seep under the edges.

8.  Spread paint in each empty area, smoothing it into the fabric.  Fabric paints are mixable like acrylics, so you can get by fine with red, blue, yellow, white, and black.  I use pieces of waxed paper and paper plates for mixing.  If you're shaky on color mixing, see my page on working with color

You can just use one color of paint or you can blend them.  Pulling one color down through another can give nice results.  Do this when the paint is wet.

9.  Let paint dry ompletely before peeling off the stencils.  While you're waiting, wash the brushes out well - when fabric paint dries it will not come out.

Ready Made Stencils
Ready made stencils can be found at craft stores in the fabric decorating aisle and also by the wood and little bottles of paint.

Paint with these stencils the same way you painted with the freezer paper stencils.  One big problem, however, is they tend to let the paint seep underneath.  I usually use stencils to draw on freezer paper, cut the design out, and then iron the freezer paper onto the fabric.  However, this is how you would use the stencil:

Other Stencils
Be creative!  Look around and see what you have that can be painted over to give an interesting pattern on your fabric.

I'm using lace on one of my shirts.  Look for a heavier lace.  You can cut a T-shirt shape from the lace and stencil the whole shirt, but it's usually easier to do this on a cut of fabric if you want an allover lace pattern. I'm going to be stenciling over freezer paper shapes I've ironed on.

1.  Tape a piece of lace over the stencil opening.  The color of the lace doesn't matter, but I love this red! 

2.  Using a foam roller or a brush, evenly load it with paint.

4.  Roll over the lace.

3.  Take the lace off after you are finished painting.  The paint fills up some of the holes in the lace, so this is really a one shot stencil.

Netting and the sacks produce sometimes comes in can give interesting results, also.

If you are happy with your shirt as it is, take the freezer paper out from inside the shirt and heat set the fabric paint.  Turn your shirt inside out, put a piece of cloth inside your shirt to prevent paint transferring and also use a piece of cloth under your iron. Iron on cotton setting (no steam) for 30 seconds in each area - this time you want to keep your iron moving.

These are my three shirts after stenciling.  I've also done designs on the back and will add to the sleeves.  Since I'm going continue working on them, I'll leave the freezer paper inside the shirt and wait to heat set the paint.

Next week we'll look at fabric stamping.

Happy Creating!  Deborah


  1. wao....super nice..well know what,i was going to follow you but i was already in your nice...

  2. I would like to try this on a bed sheet.