Decline Designs

Stencilling Tutorial

January 5th, 2009 by Michelle

Yes, yes, I’m aware this is two days late…I’ve been a bit laid up with a head cold. But here it is now!

You’ll need an x-acto knife, freezer paper (you can purchase it at most grocery stores or butcher shops I think - it’s like normal paper on one side and has wax on the other), a piece of cardboard to put inside the shirt, fabric paint or screenprinting paint, and a brush (you can use the ones that are spongey on the ends, or the ones that are made of several stiff bristles in a circle shape - whatever floats your boat. I like the spongey ones myself).

First off, we’re going to start with a black and white image. Totally black and white, no shades of gray. You can use this method with most photos, but some level of detail will be lost (there are several tutorials online on how to make a stencil in photoshop, here’s one). I’m just using a simple nautical star, as you saw.

You’ll trace the image on to your freezer paper.

Then cut the image out with the x-acto knife.

Do this with all of the stencils you’re using today (if you’re using only one, congratulations, you’ve saved yourself some time, skip to the next step!).

Now put some cardboard in your shirt or item to be stencilled, so that it doesn’t bleed through to the other side. Take your stencils and trim them as needed if you’re trying to fit several in a tight spot, and then arrange them on the shirt or whatever in the way you like. If you ripped something while cutting, it’s not a big deal - just arrange it how it’s supposed to be. Then iron it, on the medium setting (or it’s the medium setting on my iron). The wax on the other side of the paper melts and stick to the fabric, which makes it a lot easier to prevent bleeding - one reason I much prefer this method over cardboard, even if cardboard is reusable.

Now you’ll put some fabric paint on a paper plate or whatever surface you’re using, and dab the brush in it. You don’t want to get too much paint on there, because that’ll make the stencilling uneven and make bleeding slightly more likely. Just do this until you get everything covered, trying to make it as even as possible.

(side note: this shirt wasn’t actually a very good example, the fabric has a slight ’slick’ texture that makes stencilling a little harder and bleeding a little more likely - as you may be able to tell. )

When you’re done, just pull the freezer paper off. It shouldn’t leave a residue or anything. Let the paint dry, then heat treat it by tossing it in the dryer or ironing it from the other side. This’ll help prevent fading.

Using this method, you can get REALLY detailed results. Here’s the best one I’ve ever done (on my uber-ponx vest, ages and ages ago)

Oh yeah. Mad skillz, I has ‘em. haha. Using this method you can even sometimes use ‘islands’ in your stencils, if you iron them down properly.

Anyways! I think that about covers everything. Questions? Comments? Rotten fruit?

Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.