How to: Stencil on Fabric

As promised, I’ve got an easy tutorial for making your own fabric stencil projects like I did for these last minute baby gifts.  This project is incredibly simple, and it looks fabulous.  I’ve been coming up with every excuse NOT to stencil for months because I was afraid of messing up.  Now I’m hooked, and I’m anxious to make more baby gifts for a few more cousins (hint hint!).  I just know you’ll find it surprisingly simple, too.  Give ‘er a shot!


Make Your Own Stenciled Fabric

1. Round up supplies. All you’ll need are the fabric or clothing you’ll want to stencil, parchment paper or butcher paper, fabric paint, and a stiff paintbrush.

2.  Pre-wash your fabric. This way, the fabric won’t shrink later, and you can wash off all the factory sprays and smells from your project that might restrict paint from absorbing completely.

3. Draw your stencil onto parchment paper or butcher paper and cut out with an exacto knife.  This entire project is great for kids if – obviously – an adult does the cutting.

shirt stencil

4. Prepare to paint. Lay a piece of junk mail between layers of fabric to keep them from sticking and arrange your stencil the way you’ll want the image to appear.  If the paper wants to curl, put heavy weights like books and soup cans on the corners.

5.  Dab the paint on with your brush. For this project, I used Tulip Soft Fabric Paint from Joann’s, color Sunshine Yellow Matte.  To best spread the paint and avoid getting paint under your stencil, place the brush on the stencil paper and make small, steady strokes onto the fabric.

fabric stencil

6.  Wait four hours for the fabric to dry. Now some people say you should leave things like these stencils on the fabric until it’s dry.  The idea is that picking up the stencil will smear the fabric.  But me?  I prefer to pull the stencil straight into the air like it’s a graduation cap I’m about to throw.  I do this will all of my projects partly because I’m impatient and partly because I want to be able to do touchups while everything is wet.  I do the exact same thing when I’m painting our house.  So stencil-on/stencil-off while it dries – it’s your call.  Either way, you’ve got to wait three or four hours for the paint to completely dry.

clothes stencil

7.  Sew your newly stenciled piece into a bag or other project if necessary. It’s much easier to do this step at the end, especially if your paint smudges.

8.  Give ‘er away and wait for the next last minute gift you need to make someone special.

9.  Oh!  Make sure you tell people to wash these items inside out.

So what do you think?  Any cute stencil ideas that come to mind?  If you make any, we’d all love to see the pictures!

If you’re feeling extra crafty today, you might enjoy making recycled gift wrap and handmade gift tags to go with your little gifty.